News Around the State

Ky. lawmakers eye more tax breaks on final day

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers have begun the final day of the 2019 legislative session by proposing some last-minute tax breaks for big companies and making changes to the state’s open records law.

The state legislature can only meet 30 legislative days during odd-numbered years. Thursday is the 30th day. The state House and Senate convened shortly after noon on Thursday.

State senators began the day by amending House bill 458 to allow companies with locations in multiple states to spread their losses evenly among subsidiaries. Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel said it would cost the state money, but said he did not know how much.

Senators also proposed protecting employees at the state Department of Revenue from criminal charges if they release taxpayer information pursuant to a court order.

Official: School districts should change sick leave policy

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s education commissioner says school superintendents who had to cancel classes while teachers protested at the state Capitol should close loopholes in sick leave policies.

News outlets report Commissioner Wayne Lewis sent a memo to 10 school superintendents recommending they have teachers use personal leave instead of sick leave to engage in political advocacy. He said on Wednesday that he has “no intention” of punishing teachers, but districts should investigate to determine if discipline is warranted.

His comments come after superintendents turned over the names of teachers who used sick days to protest at the Capitol. Some districts had to cancel days of classes.

Teachers protested as lawmakers considered proposals to change who manages the teachers’ pension fund and indirectly support private schools with tax credits.

Judge extends temporary ban on 2 new Ky. abortion laws

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge has extended a temporary order preventing two new Kentucky abortion laws from taking effect while the court determines their constitutionality.

The Courier Journal reports U.S. District Judge David Hale extended the order Wednesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the laws, and Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is defending them.

One of the laws bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy. The other bans abortion because of gender, race or disability of a fetus.

The bills were passed this month by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Bevin, an anti-abortion Republican.

ACLU lawyers called the suspension of the laws a victory for women seeking abortions. State officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

Teen sentenced to 15 years in stepmother’s killing

DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky teenager has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing her stepmother and stealing her car.

News outlets report lawyers for 17-year-old Jenna Oakley tried to argue she should serve time in residential treatment, saying she shouldn’t be incarcerated with adult offenders. At Wednesday’s hearing, witnesses who worked with her at a juvenile holding facility testified about her good behavior.

But Circuit Court Judge Darren Pecker said the 2016 killing of 52-year-old Rhonda Oakley was “particularly cruel.” Her body was found by her 13-year-old son. The then-15-year-old Jenna Oakley was found two days later with her stepmother’s car in New Mexico, along with her 20-year-old boyfriend, Kenneth Nigh. Nigh died by suicide in jail. Oakley was later charged as an adult.

The victim’s husband and teen’s father, Phillip Oakley, called her sentence too short.

Fort Campbell soldiers return from deployment to Africa

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Fort Campbell says more than 100 soldiers are returning from a deployment to Africa.

The Army says the 101st Airborne Division Soldiers are expected to return Thursday to the post on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. The “Blue Spader” soldiers are assigned to 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. The deployed to Djibouti in October.

The soldiers made up elements of the East African Response Force, which can provide a combat-ready rapid deployment around much of the country to support crises operations.

Soldiers were sent to Gabon in January due to potential unrest in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. They monitored the situation, but anticipated violence did not occur and they returned to their base.

Bevin appoints justice to Kentucky Supreme Court vacancy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky lawyer has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s office said Wednesday he appointed David Cowan Buckingham to the First District seat left vacant by the retirement of Justice Bill Cunningham. The district covers 24 counties in western Kentucky.

David Cowan Buckingham has served as a Court of Appeals judge, circuit judge and district judge since beginning his judicial career in 1982. He retired in 2011 and returned to private practice.

He lives in Murray.