News Around the State

After protest, lawmaker’s bill begins moving

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr in a vote that quickly followed committee action.

Kerr said Tuesday the bill had been delayed by GOP leaders to punish her for not supporting a pension bill that would temporarily cut benefits for retired teachers. But Wednesday, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved Kerr’s bill by a 9-1 vote. The measure later cleared the GOP-led Senate on a 34-2 vote. It now goes to the House.

Kerr’s bill would require pharmacists to tell patients about the importance of disposing of unused opioid medication. It had been a priority bill for the Senate and was scheduled for a vote Tuesday. But GOP leaders sent it back to committee. Kerr posted on Facebook it was to punish her for not supporting the pension bill. GOP leaders said that wasn’t true.

Police search for suspect in officer’s killing

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Police have released the name of a man wanted for questioning in the fatal shooting of a Kentucky police officer.

Kentucky State Police spokesman Jody Sims says 55-year-old John Russell Hall of Pikeville should be considered armed and dangerous.

Sims’ statement Thursday says police have obtained an arrest warrant charging Hall with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and they also want to question him about the killing of Pikeville Police Officer Scotty Hamilton.

The officer was killed Tuesday night while patrolling the Hurricane Creek area with a state trooper.

Police said they came upon a suspicious vehicle, spoke with occupants, and then began canvassing the area for other possible suspects when gunfire erupted. The trooper later found the officer with a fatal gunshot wound.

House panel advances bill banning most child marriages

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill to outlaw most child marriages in Kentucky is one step away from final passage.

The measure was approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. It goes to the full House, and passage there without any changes would send it to Gov. Matt Bevin.

The bill would outlaw the marriage of anyone 16 and younger. Seventeen-year-olds could still get married, but they would need the approval of their parents and a judge.

Kentucky currently does not have a minimum age limit for marriage. Girls under 16 can marry if they are pregnant and have the permission of a judge.

Supporters say a review found Kentucky had nearly 11,000 marriages between 2000 and 2015 that had at least one minor. Of those, 93 percent were minors marrying adults.

The legislation is Senate Bill 48.

Some state school districts to get more resource officers

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. (AP) — Two Kentucky school districts are getting more law enforcement officers for their campuses.

The Boyd Fiscal Court voted Tuesday to add five officers to the Boyd County and Fairview Independent schools districts. Each currently has one school resource officer.

Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods requested more officers after last month’s school shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida. The Daily Independent quotes the sheriff as saying an onsite officer is the best way to deter active shooters.

Four of the deputies will work at the county schools and one will work in the Fairview system. The new officers will cost the county $55,500 for the 2018-19 school year.

The sheriff says three former Ashland Police Department officers have been formally hired for the roles so far.

Senate revises bill to regulate online eye exams in Ky.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill to regulate online renewals of prescriptions for contact lenses and glasses but first made some changes that will send it back across the Capitol.

The Senate overwhelmingly passed the measure Wednesday. The amended version goes back to the House, which will decide whether to accept the changes.

The bill had required real-time interaction between an eye doctor and a patient seeking a prescription. The Senate voted to strike that requirement.

The measure comes as more companies are offering eye exams through a smart phone app, marketing it as a way to save a trip and some money on something as simple as a prescription renewal. The bill would regulate the industry for the first time in Kentucky.

The legislation is House Bill 191.

Family: Woman kills disabled granddaughter, then self

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A family in Kentucky says a woman fatally shot her disabled granddaughter and then killed herself.

Samantha Castillo tells WAVE-TV that her 14-year-old daughter Aurelia, who had cerebral palsy, was killed by her mother, Julia Cash-Owens, who then killed herself.

Shelbyville police responded to the shooting at about 2 p.m. Monday. Cash-Owens was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner said Tuesday that the girl died at a hospital of a gunshot wound to the head.

Authorities have not described a motive for the shootings.

State parks showing NCAA basketball tournament

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — State parks around Kentucky will have their TVs tuned to college basketball for the NCAA tournament.

Park officials say in a news release that fans and visitors to state parks will have several options to watch their favorite teams.

Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade has Trail’s End Tavern with TV sets and a variety of beverages available. The tavern is inside Hemlock Lodge. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park at Prestonsburg also has its newly renovated Dewey’s lounge, with several TV sets and a view of Dewey Lake.

Games will also be shown at General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton, Lake Barkley State Resort Park and Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville.

Bill would move up filing deadline for political office

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Political candidates in Kentucky would have to file for office about a month earlier under a proposal in the state Senate.

Right now, the deadline to file for office is the last Tuesday of January. Wednesday, a state Senate committee passed a bill that would change the filing deadline to the first Friday after the first Monday of January.

Republican Sen. Damon Thayer said the change would make it easier for the legislature to pass bills. The legislature convenes on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. But lawmakers typically don’t do much until the filing deadline has passed.

A Senate committee amended House Bill 97 to include the change. If it passes the Senate, the House would have to agree before it would go to the governor.

Councilman who failed drug test after drug plea indicted

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. (AP) — A city councilman in Kentucky who failed a drug test has been indicted on a perjury charge.

The Daily Independent reports that Catlettsburg Councilman Richard “Andy” Brown was indicted Tuesday based on an allegation that he lied under oath last week while pleading guilty to drug charges.

The newspaper reports that a judge had asked the 38-year-old if he were under the influence before entering a plea, as required by law. He was then sentenced to five years’ probation and reported to the local probation office, where Boyd Commonwealth’s Attorney Rhonda Copley says he tested positive for heroin, cocaine, meth, ecstasy and marijuana.

He was immediately arrested. It’s unclear whether he has a lawyer.

He remains on the city council.

Meeting will focus on Laurel River Lake fisheries

LONDON, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is holding a public meeting about fisheries on Laurel River Lake.

The agency says in a statement that the meeting on March 20 at the Laurel County Cooperative Extension Office in London will focus on changes that have been made to the fisheries on the lake.

Fisheries Director Ron Brooks says officials want to discuss the changes given the intense public interest in Laurel River Lake.

Ex-officer may be probed in 2 wrongful imprisonment cases

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky police officer involved in two cases that wrongfully imprisoned three men for a combined 55 years could now be investigated.

The Courier Journal reported Wednesday that Louisville Metro Council Public Safety Committee Chairwoman Jessica Green is calling for the state to investigate former Metro police Detective Mark Handy. If the full council approves Green’s measure, the city would formally ask the Kentucky attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to review Handy.

In January 2017, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine’s office told police there wasn’t enough evidence to criminally charge Handy. Federal prosecutors also declined saying their investigation was limited to possible perjury in one civil lawsuit.

Handy retired in February as a Jefferson County deputy sheriff. His attorney did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

Driver in fatal crash says she was looking at cellphone

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) — A motorist involved in a crash that killed one man and his twin toddler grandchildren says she was driving while looking at her cellphone.

Jessica Hood pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple counts of manslaughter and assault, nearly three years to the day of the crash that hit six pedestrians in Florence, Kentucky on March 15, 2015.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports Hood told the court during her plea that she was driving distracted. She says she was looking at her cellphone while trying to plug in an auxiliary cord and change the music player from a CD to her cellphone. Accident reconstruction showed Hood had traveled almost 1,000 feet (305 meters) in 14 to 16 seconds before colliding with the pedestrians. Two other pedestrians were injured.

Hood will be sentenced April 16.