Byline | Ohio River Bridge Tolls; Cellphones in JCPS; 4 a.m. Liquor Sales; Ban the Box

Here are the topics covered in this edition of Byline (full audio available below):

At the top – After years of research and debate, a bi-state panel has approved toll rates to help pay for two new Ohio River Bridges and the reconfiguration of Louisville’s Spaghetti Junction.We talk with WFPL’s Devin Katayama about how much it will cost motorists to cross the downtown and east end spans, what is still unknown, and why some say tolling will cause them financial hardship.

5:30 – This week the Jefferson County Board of Education gave its approval for eight high schools to apply for waivers to allow cellphone use by students during instructional hours. But there are many questions about how will it work, and there are many details to be addressed. We speak with WFPL’s Devin Katayama as well as Iroquois High School teacher Seth Pollitt.

12:45 – A proposal to limit alcohol sales between 2 and 4am in certain stores in Louisville was up for a vote last night by the full Louisville Metro Council, but after a lengthy debate, it was sent back to a committee for consideration. Democratic Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton sponsored the measure. Most of the stores that would be affected are in the West End. Hamilton says West Louisville has become a haven for such stores, which she says they are responsible for high crime and detour economic development. WFPL’s Phillip Bailey gives an overview of the situation.

16:45 – A 1-percent local option sales tax would generate $138 million in revenue for Metro Government, but adds to an already heavy tax burden for residents, according to a just-released University of Louisville study. Mayor Greg Fischer has been a vocal proponent of the financing tool to help pay for special projects, which has been used in other municipalities, like Oklahoma City. This new report from the Urban Studies Institute shows the city has the highest income tax rate among its 14 peer competitors and the second highest overall tax burden. But the projected revenues in the report are much higher than estimates by Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, which has been the  chief cheerleader for the tool. Phillip Bailey and Joseph Lord sort out the findings.

23:20 – A group of Metro Council Democrats want to block the city and its vendors from asking potential employees about their criminal backgrounds on job applications. The legislation is known as “ban the box” Advocates say many applicants with prior records are sometimes disqualified from jobs, and deserve a second chance. Similar bills have passed in states and cities across the country, but critics argue it could endanger employers and the public alike. It would not forbid the city from looking into a person’s criminal history later in the hiring process. Phillip Bailey recaps the discussion at the Metro Council meeting last night.

26:30 – Last month, the U.S. Justice Department announced it would not challenge two state laws, in Colorado and Washington, that legalize recreational marijuana. It came as good news to Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who believes that gives this state the go-ahead to implement an industrial hemp program okayed by state lawmakers this year.  But some of Kentucky’s Capitol Hill lawmakers, chief among them Sen. Rand Paul, have been pushing for a change in federal marijuana law to allow states like Kentucky to grow hemp and now seem ready to call the government’s bluff on the matter.

Here to talk about it is WFPL’s Jonathan Meador.

30:30 – No trip overseas is perfect. There can be hotel mishaps, squabbling family members or translation difficulties. But few vacations involve a constant military presence and a prohibition on leaving the hotel after dinner. That’s what Louisvillian David Thomas encountered recently when he took a vacation to North Korea. He talks with WFPL’s Gabe Bullard about the experience.

36:45 – Weekly arts segment with WFPL’s Erin Keane.  Today Erin talks about the latest Louisville Ballet production, and an INKY poetry event, then speaks with director and actor Bill McNulty about the new production of Dracula at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

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