89.3 WFPL http://wfpl.org Louisville's NPR® News Station Wed, 01 Apr 2015 21:40:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 What the 2-Year Closing of Louisville’s Convention Center Could Mean for Downtown http://wfpl.org/2-year-closing-louisvilles-convention-center-mean-downtown/ http://wfpl.org/2-year-closing-louisvilles-convention-center-mean-downtown/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 21:40:29 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34668 Each year, farmers in Louisville for the annual Farm Machinery Show spend a lot of money at Sully’s Saloon and Restaurant on Fourth Street, manager Benjamin Yates said. The same thing happens throughout the year during events at the Kentucky International Convention Center in … Read Story

]]> Each year, farmers in Louisville for the annual Farm Machinery Show spend a lot of money at Sully’s Saloon and Restaurant on Fourth Street, manager Benjamin Yates said. The same thing happens throughout the year during events at the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville.

Businesses in the vicinity “thrive” off the foot-traffic from the conventions—they’re “things we map our year around,” Yates said.

But that’ll change when the convention center shuts down for two years beginning in August 2016 for nearly $180 million in renovations, Yates said.

“The two years that they’re going to shut the convention center down is going to hurt downtown Louisville, as a whole,” he said.

The convention center has a yearly economic impact of about $60 million, said Rip Rippetoe, the president and chief executive of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which operates the convention center. Every year, about 180 events are held at the convention center, located at 221 South Fourth Street.

He wouldn’t speculate as to what the economic loss would be to the downtown area during the shut down.

“We don’t know what kind of impact that will have,” he said. “We hope we can mitigate any kind of challenges of losing the building for that two-year period and be able to supplement that with a different kind of business.”

Local officials are working to secure locations in the area for events that would otherwise visit the convention center, he said.

The Yum! Center, the fairgrounds and hotels can accommodate certain events, he said.

“The idea and the goal is to be able to have the same number of people come (to Louisville ) for those two years,” he said.

Rebecca Matheny, executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership, said she is “hopeful” the closing of the convention center for two years won’t have a noticeably negative impact on the downtown area.

“I think what we are really seeing in downtown in the last several years is a really big increase in just general vibrancy,” she said. “We have a lot of leisure travelers.”

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And locally, she said people are beginning to think more positively “about coming downtown, being downtown and just experiencing the city.”

Rippetoe wouldn’t say specifically which conventions won’t be coming to Louisville during the two-year shut down.

But he said it’s important to think long-term about the renovations.

More events are expected to schedule with the convention center once it reopens in summer 2018, he said.

“We’ve already booked two events because we announced we were doing the renovations,” he said. “The shows we have talked to are excited that they’re going to have new product with enhanced technology.”

The added economic impact once the convention center reopens is expected to be about $20-$30 million, he said.

Rippetoe said extensive discussions were held about possibility keeping the convention center open during the renovation, but none of the options were feasible.

“It just added months to the project and higher costs,” he said.

The expansion, he said, looks to add more than 200,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space and increase “market potential” by nearly 25 percent.

Funding for the expansion will come via $56 million in state bonds to be paid off from the state’s general fund, $41.8 million in bonds from the Louisville convention bureau board to be paid off from hotel room tax, $60 million from the convention agency’s refinancing of outstanding bond debt and about $20 million in annual contributions from the convention agency, according to a report by the Courier-Journal.

As for Yates at Sully’s, he said the two year shut down “will hurt.” To ease the pain, the bar and restaurant will likely look for thirsty locals to fill the stools tourists have been drinking on for years.

“We’re gong to have to find a way to get locals out more so than we do now,” he said. “Maybe get some more events down here, random events during the week and weekends to really give them an incentive to come downtown.”

]]> http://wfpl.org/2-year-closing-louisvilles-convention-center-mean-downtown/feed/ 0 The Only Physician In a Small Indiana Town Opens an HIV Clinic http://wfpl.org/physician-small-indiana-town-opens-hiv-clinic/ http://wfpl.org/physician-small-indiana-town-opens-hiv-clinic/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:13:41 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34679 Dr. William Cooke knew he wanted to practice medicine in a rural town. He’s been a physician in Austin, Indiana, for 10 years—and he’s the only physician in town. “I went there specifically to bring access to care,” he said. … Read Story

]]> Dr. William Cooke knew he wanted to practice medicine in a rural town. He’s been a physician in Austin, Indiana, for 10 years—and he’s the only physician in town.

“I went there specifically to bring access to care,” he said.

Austin is in  Scott County, which is at the center of national focus because of an HIV outbreak attributed to intravenous drug use.

To meet the crisis, Cooke is providing a much-needed free HIV clinic for the small city of about 4,300 people. So far, more than 80 people Scott County have tested positive for HIV since the end of the year.

On Tuesday, Cooke and his team at Foundations Family Medicine opened an HIV clinic in their existing office in Austin, about 40 miles north of Louisville.  They were joined by representatives from the Indiana State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indiana Family and Social Service Administration and local health departments.

On its first day, about 30 people stopped by the HIV clinic either for testing or to initiate HIV treatment, he said. All of the services and care were provided free of charge.

“The people of Austin deserve to have their own clinic to get treatment from and not require them to travel to Louisville or Indianapolis,” he said.

Cooke said he wants the clinic to be a resource for people who are seeking treatment for HIV or substance abuse.

Last week, Gov. Mike Pence declared a public health emergency because of the HIV outbreak; since then the Indiana State Department of Health has begun arranging a 30-day needle exchange program.

Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana’s health commissioner, said the state is considering setting up needle exchanges at local health departments and doctor’s offices.

“We want to do it in a way that’s actually safe for the community and that people will actually come to. They’re not going to come to the middle of the town square and exchange needles,” Adams said.

Adams said it is important that needle exchange programs are operated properly, which includes an environment with a health care professional who can be a bridge to therapy, treatment, health insurance and other services.

“Needle exchange programs are not paraphernalia in and of itself, but it’s important that it be part of a comprehensive package and that the community is involved and embraces the program so that it can be functional,” Adams said.

Adams said the agency has to contact more than 200 people who may be unaware that they could be HIV positive.

Cooke said he wants to spread a message of hope to the people of Austin. He and a colleague recently walked around the town to connect with former and current addicts to let them know about the HIV clinic, and to ask them about their struggles with addiction.

Cooke has plans to open a behavioral health and addiction center in Austin as well as specialty clinics for diabetes, physical therapy and cardiology. He’s also trying to recruit a pediatrician.

The HIV clinic will run every Tuesday for the foreseeable future, Cooke said.

]]> http://wfpl.org/physician-small-indiana-town-opens-hiv-clinic/feed/ 0 5 Things to Know About Funtown Mountain (Including When It’s Opening) http://wfpl.org/5-things-know-funtown-mountain-including-opening/ http://wfpl.org/5-things-know-funtown-mountain-including-opening/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:48:50 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34661   WHY Louisville and Lebowski Fest founder Will Russell made headlines early this year when he announced that he was moving beyond his efforts to keep just Louisville weird with his purchase of Guntown Mountain in Cave City. He plans … Read Story

]]> ac-logoFuntown Mountain

 

WHY Louisville and Lebowski Fest founder Will Russell made headlines early this year when he announced that he was moving beyond his efforts to keep just Louisville weird with his purchase of Guntown Mountain in Cave City. He plans to transform the roadside attraction—which for years has included rides and shops—into Funtown Mountain.

Russell released details of his plans for Fundtown Mountain on Wednesday. Here are the five things you need to know:

1. When is the Opening Date?

The “wickedly weird,” as it’s being marketed, attraction will officially open on June 19. Though the date was announced on April 1st, Russell promises that this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

2. What’s Up With the Clown?

The clown sketch that has become the literal face of Funtown Mountain is actually inspired by a real clown bust acquired by Russell which is originally from Fontaine Ferry Park. Fontaine Ferry was an amusement park in West Louisville from 1905 to 1969. Located on 64 acres at the edge of the Ohio River, it offered over 50 rides and attractions, as well as a swimming pool, skating rink and theatre. The most popular attractions were its wooden roller coasters, of which four were built over the years.

3. How Did Will Oldham Influence the Park?

Louisville singer-songwriter Will Oldham, also known as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, served as a major inspiration for Russell. Russell, who has been open about his struggles with depression, went to a Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy concert after receiving treatment late last year.

“That night he [Oldham] dedicated a song to me at the end of a show, ‘I See A Darkness,’ which really spoke to me,” Russell said.

Right after that experience, Russell went for a walk in Cave City and saw that the Guntown Mountain’s Wild West road-side attraction was for sale. The potential loss of the attraction was devastating to Russell, so he decided right then that he would bring the park back to life as Funtown Mountain. Even the name Funtown Mountain is partially inspired by a Will Oldham album “Funtown Comedown.”

4. What Can You Do at Funtown Mountain?

During the main opening event on June 19, several attractions will be open including The Haunted Hotel, The Sky Lift, Puttin’ N Kentucky, Zippity Do Dah Zip Line, Funtown Souvenir Shack, Hillbilly Tea Shack, The Mega Boom Boom Box and carnival rides.

Between the fall of 2015 and 2016 additional attractions will open, including The Lucky Lady Saloon, Imagination Land Museum, The Kentucky Wondershow Theater, The Treetop Village, Lolley Land, The Mountaintop Amphitheater, Kentucky Rushmore, Funhouse Clown Palace, Yolo Coaster, Sunset Dragon and the Kraken Waterside.

5) What Does Funtown Mountain Look Like Right Now?

Here’s a video tour of Funtown Mountain:

Additional information about the amusement park can be found at Funtown Mountain’s website.

]]> http://wfpl.org/5-things-know-funtown-mountain-including-opening/feed/ 0 Bat Species Put on ‘Threatened’ List Due to White Nose Syndrome http://wfpl.org/bat-species-put-threatened-due-white-nose-syndrome/ http://wfpl.org/bat-species-put-threatened-due-white-nose-syndrome/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 18:42:56 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34671 Citing drastic population loss, the federal government has listed the northern long-eared bat as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. This is the first bat species to be protected under the act solely because of the toll the disease … Read Story

]]> Citing drastic population loss, the federal government has listed the northern long-eared bat as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act. This is the first bat species to be protected under the act solely because of the toll the disease white nose syndrome has taken on its population.

White nose syndrome is caused by a white fungus, and it’s deadly to bats. Since 2006, it’s killed nearly 6 million bats in five Canadian provinces and 25 states, including Kentucky.

Under the Endangered Species Act, species can be listed as either “threatened” or “endangered.” White nose syndrome has affected the northern long-eared bat to “the point that it’s basically a species that could become endangered in the foreseeable future,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Georgia Parham. “And this designation of ‘threatened’ extends some of the protections of the Endangered Species Act to this species.”

The northern long-eared bat is found across Kentucky, as well as throughout many Northeastern, Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states. Parham said these bats are among the hardest-hit by white nose syndrome, and are the first to be protected under federal law solely because of the diseases.

“Now, white nose has affected other bat species, and some of those are already endangered—the Indiana bat is a good example,” she said. “It was listed as endangered back in the ’60s and it has been affected by white nose syndrome, but it was already listed before that happened.”

The new federal designation for the bat goes into effect on May 4. It makes it illegal to harm, harass, capture or kill the northern long-eared bat, and also puts certain restrictions on human activities in the bats’ natural habitat. The Fish and Wildlife Service also is proposing a separate rule that will exempt certain activities—including forest management practices and the removal of hazardous trees—under some circumstances in the bats’ habitat, because regulators don’t believe those activities will affect the bats.

]]> http://wfpl.org/bat-species-put-threatened-due-white-nose-syndrome/feed/ 0 Kentucky’s Beer Battlers Topped Lobbying Expenses Early-On During Legislative Session http://wfpl.org/kentuckys-beer-battlers-topped-lobbying-expenses-early-legislative-session/ http://wfpl.org/kentuckys-beer-battlers-topped-lobbying-expenses-early-legislative-session/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:20:26 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34646 The opposing sides of the 2015 beer battle topped the list of lobbying spending during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly, according recently released numbers from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission. Spending reports only become available a … Read Story

]]> The opposing sides of the 2015 beer battle topped the list of lobbying spending during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly, according recently released numbers from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.

Spending reports only become available a month later because of filing deadlines.

Anheuser-Busch, Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth and Kentucky Beer Wholesalers were among the top-five spenders during the session, dropping a combined $483,830 on lobbying expenses and advertising in January and February.

Anheuser-Busch unsuccessfully fought against a bill that will forbid out-of-state beer brewers from owning distributors in the state. With the backing of craft beer and local distributors, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear in early March.

Both Anheuser-Busch and Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth aired TV and radio advertisements across the state, with AB over doubling KEG’s advertising dollars.

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Anheuser-Busch says it will have to close the distributorships it owns in Louisville and Owensboro by the end of this year, but is still “reviewing its legal options,” saying that the law violates the Kentucky and U.S. Constitutions.

About $4.2 million was spent on lobbying in total. Here’s a rundown of the top spenders.

  • Anheuser-Busch Companies ($290,908, including $261,000 on advertising)
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network ($132,453, including $104,000 on advertising)
  • Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth (KEG) ($117,085, including $97,500 on advertising)
  • Altria Client Services ($92,199)
  • Kentucky Beer Wholesalers ($75,837, including $50,000 on advertising)
  • AT&T ($68,955, including $23,089 on advertising)
  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($64,840, including $4,477 on advertising)
  • Kentucky Hospital Association ($60,842)
  • Kentucky Retail Federation ($58,061, including $26,250 on “patch-through calls” from citizens to the legislative message center)
  • Kentucky Medical Association ($40,196)

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentuckys-beer-battlers-topped-lobbying-expenses-early-legislative-session/feed/ 0 Ark Project Is Using Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Law to Sue the State http://wfpl.org/ark-project-using-kentuckys-religious-freedom-law-sue-state/ http://wfpl.org/ark-project-using-kentuckys-religious-freedom-law-sue-state/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:00:50 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34634 A religious freedom law, similar to the one that has recently drawn national attention in Indiana, has been on the books in Kentucky for two years and is currently being used as an argument to sue the state. The proprietors … Read Story

]]> A religious freedom law, similar to the one that has recently drawn national attention in Indiana, has been on the books in Kentucky for two years and is currently being used as an argument to sue the state.

The proprietors of the Ark Encounter project in Northern Kentucky are suing state Tourism Cabinet Secretary Bob Stewart and Gov. Steve Beshear for excluding the 500-foot-long Noah’s Ark replica from a tourism tax break.

In the lawsuit, the proprietors of the project, Answers in Genesis, say that the state discriminated against the ministry under the Kentucky Religious Freedom Act by pulling a promised $18 million in tax incentives.

The state withdrew funding, saying that public dollars couldn’t go to a project that hires employees based on religious background.

University of Kentucky law professor Scott Bauries said the religious freedom law allows the plaintiffs to argue that the state discriminated against them.

“Because the state of Kentucky seeks to hold them to a higher standard than what the ordinary anti-discrimination laws would hold them to—and because it doesn’t seek to do that with any non-religious employers—that it’s discriminating against them based on their religion,” Bauries said.

Under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, religious employers are allowed to hire “coreligionists” if doing so furthers the religious purpose of the organization.

The state said it doesn’t have an obligation to subsidize any project and last week requested that the court dismiss the lawsuit, saying that Kentucky hadn’t placed a burden on Answers in Genesis’ religious beliefs.

“Kentucky has not barred AiG from constructing the Ark that it continues to build,” the state said in the motion to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit is still pending in a U.S. District Court in Eastern Kentucky, though AiG has continued to construct the $27 million project without the tax incentives.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who signed that state’s religious freedom law last week, said the law protects private businesses from government overreach.

“We have given our courts in Indiana the ability to discern with the highest level of scrutiny where the people of our state believe where government action has intruded on our religious liberty,” Pence said.

Pence has compared the law’s protections to those enjoyed by Hobby Lobby, which successfully sued the government to be exempted from providing contraception under the Affordable Care Act.

The law that provided those protections is the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Pence is defending the law from critics who say that it would allow businesses to discriminate on the basis of religion

“This law does not create a license to discriminate and this law does not give business a right to deny services to anyone,” Pence said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Several national businesses, including Indianapolis-based Annie’s List, Gap and Levi’s, have voiced opposition to Indiana’s law.

This week’s NCAA Final Four will be held in Indianapolis, drawing criticism from former NBA star Charles Barkley and Mark Emert, president of the Indianapolis-based NCAA.

Kentucky’s religious freedom law passed both houses of the General Assembly in 2013 but was vetoed by Beshear. The legislature then overrode the veto, voting it into law.

The law was originally written in response to a Kentucky Supreme Court decision in which members of the Amish community refused to put reflective signs on horse-drawn buggies based on religious grounds.

]]> http://wfpl.org/ark-project-using-kentuckys-religious-freedom-law-sue-state/feed/ 0 Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday to Retire http://wfpl.org/kentucky-education-commissioner-terry-holliday-retire/ http://wfpl.org/kentucky-education-commissioner-terry-holliday-retire/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:41:09 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34651 Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says he will retire on Aug. 31 of this year. Holliday’s decision was announced this morning at the monthly Kentucky Board of Education meeting in Frankfort. In a letter read by chairman Roger Marcum, Holliday … Read Story

]]> Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says he will retire on Aug. 31 of this year.

Holliday’s decision was announced this morning at the monthly Kentucky

Holliday1Board of Education meeting in Frankfort. In a letter read by chairman Roger Marcum, Holliday said, “I am humbled and very proud to end my 43 years in public education by serving the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

During his tenure, Holliday oversaw the implementation of education reforms—known in Senate Bill 1 as Unbridled Learning—that moved the the state’s education philosophy toward making students college- or career-ready once they graduated from high school.

Holliday also led the charge to implement the controversial Common Core standards; Kentucky was the first state to move to the standards, which are more rigorous than previous efforts and involve more critical thinking to meet global demands.

Holliday has served on the board of directors for the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Assessment Governing Board and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation’s Commission.

In a statement, Marcum said, “Dr. Holliday is a leader in education reform on the state and national levels. He has a global vision that has helped renew Kentucky’s standing as a national leader in education.”

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentucky-education-commissioner-terry-holliday-retire/feed/ 0 Louisville is Attracting Young Residents at Among the Highest Rates in the U.S. http://wfpl.org/louisville-attracting-young-residents-among-highest-rates-u-s/ http://wfpl.org/louisville-attracting-young-residents-among-highest-rates-u-s/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:00:45 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34581 In the years when the economy started recovering from the Great Recession, Louisville had the third-greatest influx of people ages 30 to 34 among large metro areas in the U.S., according to a recently released study by the Census Bureau. … Read Story

]]> In the years when the economy started recovering from the Great Recession, Louisville had the third-greatest influx of people ages 30 to 34 among large metro areas in the U.S., according to a recently released study by the Census Bureau.

To determine this, researchers examined “inmovers” into metro areas across the country. An inmover is considered to be someone whose previous residence was in a different metro, micro, or nonmetropolitan area than their current residence, according to the report.

Researchers then looked at how many of the total amount of inmovers were younger than 34. In Louisville 11.4 percent of inmovers were aged 30-34, per the report.

That’s lower than only San Francisco (12.7) and San Jose (13.3).

Young adult inmovers accounted for nearly half of all inmovers in the country during the 2010-2012 period. It’s the same rate during the recession years of 2007-2009, but fewer people were moving post-recession—about 500,000 fewer.

Inmovers in the 30-34 age range are more likely to seek areas with affordable housing and jobs—elements favorable for starting a family, researchers said. People in the 25-29 age group are looking to establish a career, and those in the 18-24 age group are likely moving to attend college or university, according to the report.

Here is a list of where people aged 18-24 were moving from 2010-2012.

jobs 3

Here is a list of where people aged 25-29 moved during the same time.

jobs 2

Michael Holtz, 31, moved to Louisville about 18 months ago after living in Nashville, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

He works as an attorney in downtown Louisville and said the move stemmed partly for his job and also to be closer to family.

He said Louisville has what he is looking for—character, concerts, cuisine. But in order to maintain the sense of community and culture that makes the city a destination for young, educated residents, the city needs more jobs that will enable more young people to live and thrive, Holtz said.

“I know that Louisville has more jobs coming, but it needs even more white collar jobs,” he said.

Earlier this year, the annual State of Downtown presentation by the Louisville Downtown Partnership reported the number of young people living in the downtown area is up about 2 percent since 2000.

Matthew Ruther, director of the Kentucky State Data Center, said young residents, specifically those between the age of 25-34, are important to cities because that’s when they commonly start families.

“Which of course implys future population stability,” Ruther said in February.

But in December, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the population of young adults living in Louisville is at a 30-year low.

At the time of that report residents aged 18-34 years old made up just 22 percent of the current population. In 1980, the same group accounted for nearly 30 percent of the Louisville population, according to the analysis.

The same report also shows that, in December, the poverty rate among 18-34 year old residents hit a 30-year high mark at nearly 19 percent.

Josh Pinkston, assistant professor of economics at the University of Louisville, at the time reassured residents that the seemingly high poverty rate “is not that alarming.”

The reason, he said, is that the 18-34 age group is not “apples to apples” comparison. That means that people on the younger end of the spectrum are more likely to be working their way through school or just getting started in a job. Older residents are more likely to be out of college and employed.

Laura Youngquist, 28, moved to Louisville about 18 months ago from Minnesota. Said she did so because she got a job.

“I had an offer in Texas, but when I came down here it reminded me a lot of home because it has a little tiny downtown, but then it’s got all the little neighborhoods,” she said. “I like it down here.”

Joe Cortright, director of City Observatory, said attracting people in the 20s can have “major ramifications for future city population and economic growth.”

He said the older people get, the less likely they are to migrate elsewhere.

“A 35 year-old is roughly half as likely to move as a 25 year-old, and that probability declines steadily with age,” he said.

age migration

]]> http://wfpl.org/louisville-attracting-young-residents-among-highest-rates-u-s/feed/ 0 Mitch McConnell to Rest of World: ‘Proceed With Caution’ on Climate Deal http://wfpl.org/mitch-mcconnell-to-rest-of-world-proceed-with-caution-on-climate-deal/ http://wfpl.org/mitch-mcconnell-to-rest-of-world-proceed-with-caution-on-climate-deal/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:21:28 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34624 The U.S. has submitted its carbon emissions reduction plan to the United Nations, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already warning the rest of the world that America may not follow through on it. Today is the informal deadline for … Read Story

]]> The U.S. has submitted its carbon emissions reduction plan to the United Nations, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is already warning the rest of the world that America may not follow through on it.

Today is the informal deadline for nations to submit their plans to the U.N., prior to global climate talks scheduled for December in Paris. The U.S. plan includes carbon dioxide reductions of 26 to 28 percent over 2005 levels by 2025, which is the same promise President Obama made last year in an address in China.

But Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is advising the rest of the world to think twice before making similar carbon reduction pledges.

“Even if the job-killing and likely illegal Clean Power Plan were fully implemented, the United States could not meet the targets laid out in this proposed new plan,” he said in a released statement. “Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn’t even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal.”

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McConnell has been a vocal critic of the Clean Power Plan, which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Most recently, he urged all 50 states to delay submitting compliance plans to the federal government and to instead wait to see if legal challenges to the rule are successful. If the EPA’s rule prevails and states haven’t created customized plans to meet the goals, they’ll have to follow the federal blanket plan instead.

But McConnell’s latest statement is an echo of the recent letter sent by all 47 Republican senators to Iran’s leaders. The letter warned Iran that any nuclear weapon agreements reached with the Obama Administration could be revoked or modified any time by Congress or the next U.S. president.

]]> http://wfpl.org/mitch-mcconnell-to-rest-of-world-proceed-with-caution-on-climate-deal/feed/ 0 Asthma Study Will Focus on Aging Population in Louisville http://wfpl.org/asthma-study-will-focus-on-aging-population-in-louisville/ http://wfpl.org/asthma-study-will-focus-on-aging-population-in-louisville/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 19:16:22 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34565 People age 60 or older living with asthma will be the focus of a new study by the University of Louisville. Researchers will examine the personal and environmental influences of asthma in older adults. A $2.3 million grant from the … Read Story

]]> People age 60 or older living with asthma will be the focus of a new study by the University of Louisville.

Researchers will examine the personal and environmental influences of asthma in older adults. A $2.3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging will help fund the project.

Dr. Barbara Polvika, chair and professor for UofL’s School of Nursing, said this study is a unique opportunity to look at a population of people who are usually not thought of when examining asthma.

“It’s an increasing problem with the increasing age of the population and also the environmental triggers and potential issues in the environment may cause issues with asthma,” she said.

Asthma prevalence in Kentucky is highest among adults age 55 to 64 years old and lowest among those age 25 to 34, according to Kentucky Asthma Surveillance Report.

Co-principal investigator Dr. Rodney Foltz said there are many differences between elderly people living with asthma compared with children or younger adults.

“Generally they are on lots of other medications. Many of them have chronic co-morbidities, there are other chronic medical conditions that you don’t see in kids or otherwise healthy adults,” he said.

There are also issues related to memory loss and cognition.

Researchers hope to recruit 190 asthma sufferers who are 60 and older, and are also non-smokers with no other lung diseases. They’ll perform pulmonary function and skin-allergy tests as well as collect blood work and information related to medical history.

The team will also measure chemical emissions from outdoor and indoor allergens associated with asthma.

The five-year study will focus on people living in the Louisville Metro area.

]]> http://wfpl.org/asthma-study-will-focus-on-aging-population-in-louisville/feed/ 0 You Can Play Pac-Man on Louisville’s City Grid Today http://wfpl.org/can-play-pac-man-louisvilles-city-grid-today/ http://wfpl.org/can-play-pac-man-louisvilles-city-grid-today/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:26:53 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34607 So if you head to Google Maps today, you’ll find a button on the bottom left of your screen. Click it, and whatever you’ve searched will become a playable Pac-Man game. The feature, presumably launched for April Fool’s Day, works practically … Read Story

]]> So if you head to Google Maps today, you’ll find a button on the bottom left of your screen. Click it, and whatever you’ve searched will become a playable Pac-Man game.

The feature, presumably launched for April Fool’s Day, works practically anywhere with plenty of roads. That includes plenty of places in Louisville. (You’ll need to zoom in pretty close to get a specific area.) Here’s Pac-Man near Louisville Slugger Field.

Google MapsGoogle Maps

And Pac-Man near Churchill Downs:

Google Maps2Google Maps

 

Again, the game won’t work if there aren’t enough streets on the map, but Louisville has plenty of areas with interesting grids. If you find one that’s particularly fun, let us know on Twitter.

]]> http://wfpl.org/can-play-pac-man-louisvilles-city-grid-today/feed/ 0 Residents Argue LG&E Rate Increase Would Burden the Poor, Stifle Energy Efficiency http://wfpl.org/residents-argue-lge-rate-increase-would-burden-the-poor-stifle-energy-efficiency/ http://wfpl.org/residents-argue-lge-rate-increase-would-burden-the-poor-stifle-energy-efficiency/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 17:01:26 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34585 Kentucky state regulators are set to consider whether to raise Louisville-area utility bills, in response to a proposed rate increase by Louisville Gas and Electric. The Public Service Commission held a public meeting last night to take comments; about 50 … Read Story

]]> Kentucky state regulators are set to consider whether to raise Louisville-area utility bills, in response to a proposed rate increase by Louisville Gas and Electric. The Public Service Commission held a public meeting last night to take comments; about 50 people showed up, and unsurprisingly, no one testified in favor of the rate increase.

LG&E’s proposal would increase the monthly service charge customers pay for electricity from $10.75 to $18. The monthly gas meter fee would increase too—from $13.50 to $19. The actual rates customers pay for the electricity and gas will decrease slightly. The company estimates that the bill for the average residential electric customer would increase by about $2.75—for gas, the bills will rise by about $2.62. The company says it need the money to pay for several projects, including building a new natural gas power plant at Cane Run.

The arguments made at the public meeting against the proposal were varied, but many fell in three main camps: the rate increase would be a burden for low-income residents, and those on fixed incomes; the change would discourage energy efficiency measures; and it could stifle the growth of renewable energy in the state.

“Who gets a 67 percent raise?” Doug Belongia of Prospect asked the commissioners, referencing the 67 percent proposed increase in monthly charges. “Has anyone in this room gotten 67 percent added to your wages in the past 10 years? Well then which one of you gentlemen can explain to me why you should get a 67 percent raise in any rate of any kind?”

Iroquois resident Tammy Stewart told the commissioners that she makes $19,000 a year, and already struggles to pay her monthly bills. “When will you all tell them no?” she asked about LG&E. “It’s not fair for them to always get their increase. You all have not stood up for the consumer and said ‘no. Enough’s enough.’”

Many at the meeting disagreed with the way the rate increase is structured. Rather than raise the charges that customers pay for electricity and gas, LG&E is proposing increases to the fixed monthly rates that are constant across customers, regardless of how much energy they use.

Cathy Hinko of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition told the commissioners that that change went against every policy the state has enacted to encourage energy savings. If anything, Hinko argued, the rates that should rise are the per unit costs of electricity or gas, so residents can lower their bills by conserving energy.

“The last 25 years of scholarship on both behavioral sciences and environmental sciences are completely ignored by switching to fixed costs instead of the costs we can control and do something about,” she said.

Along that vein, others worried that raising the monthly cost would affect the return on investment for both energy efficiency upgrades and home renewable energy systems, like solar panels. People who have invested in these technologies—or are thinking about investing in these technologies—are counting on lower LG&E bills to pay for the solar panels. An increase to the base monthly rate will make it take longer for them to recoup their investment.

Louisville Gas & Electric representatives didn’t present at the public meeting—they’ll have their turn at a hearing on April 21. In a fact sheet passed out prior to the meeting, the company argued that the rate increase should affect everyone, regardless of how much energy they use, because every ratepayer uses certain services.

“These costs include, but are not limited to, maintaining the meter (meter rental, meter reading and processing), billing, and payment processing,” the handout said. “Even with these adjustments, the basic service charge will be less than the cost to serve customers.”

Now, according to Kentucky law, it’s up to the Public Service Commissioners to decide whether the proposed rate increase is “fair, just and reasonable.” The PSC will also accept written comments on the proposal.

]]> http://wfpl.org/residents-argue-lge-rate-increase-would-burden-the-poor-stifle-energy-efficiency/feed/ 0 What ‘Outside Money’ Means For Kentucky’s Gubernatorial Primary http://wfpl.org/what-outside-money-means-for-kentuckys-gubernatorial-primary/ http://wfpl.org/what-outside-money-means-for-kentuckys-gubernatorial-primary/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 16:18:46 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34570 Money supporting Kentucky gubernatorial candidates from outside their campaigns will play a role in this year’s primary—a new development for the state. The spending from political action committees on the state-level election means voters may see differences compared to Kentucky’s last … Read Story

]]> Money supporting Kentucky gubernatorial candidates from outside their campaigns will play a role in this year’s primary—a new development for the state.

The spending from political action committees on the state-level election means voters may see differences compared to Kentucky’s last governor’s race, a political experts says.

One potential change: more negative ads.

The Courier-Journal reported this week a political action committee with ties to the Koch brothers has filed paperwork with the state. The Bluegrass Action Fund is throwing its support behind former Louisville Metro Council member Hal Heiner.

The C-J also reports a political action committee called Kentuckians for Growth, Opportunity and Prosperity has begun airing ads for James Comer.

Last year’s heated Senate race attracted a great deal of outside spending. But outside spending on a state-level race in Kentucky is “new territory,” said Dewey Clayton, a political science professor for the University of Louisville.

“You know, even though the Senate races are statewide, these are still federal offices. But here you are talking about state offices,” Clayton said. “So you are talking about this sort of infusion of cash now sort of filtering down even to state races, and that’s something new.”

D. Stephen Voss, an elections expert and professor at the University of Kentucky, said the timing of this outside spending is what he finds most interesting.

“It’s a little surprising to see money flowing in during the primary season, though, squaring off over candidates who have not really distinguished themselves ideologically yet,” Voss said.

Voss said he’s not shocked outside groups are eyeing smaller races, though. He said federal elections are currently saturated with outside spending and political groups are getting “less bang for their buck.”

“It does make sense that the money is going start oozing out into other places in the political system where it is likely to have a little more impact than what we have been seeing with these overfunded campaigns in the last cycle or two,” he said.

But because this is relatively new for gubernatorial elections in the Bluegrass State, voters could see some differences during this election.

Negative ads, Voss said, will be more common this during this year’s election. He said outside money also tends to run negative ads that are nastier than negative ads from a candidate’s own campaign.

“The fear with outside money is that unlike politicians who are trying to have long-term careers someplace, the outside money doesn’t need to worry as much about reputation, the outside money doesn’t have to worry as much about playing fair because they are not building the same relationships,” Voss said.

Also, Clayton said among the biggest problems with too much outside money in state elections is the potential shift a candidate’s focus to issues outside of the state. He said it is important that outside spending does not surpass what Kentuckians are spending on elections in their own state.

“If you’ve got a state election, ostensibly you would prefer that that election be funded by the residents of that state because they are the ones that have a clearly vested interest in the policies and programs that are being funded,” he said.

Kentucky’s gubernatorial primary this year is May 19.

]]> http://wfpl.org/what-outside-money-means-for-kentuckys-gubernatorial-primary/feed/ 0 Indiana Governor Stands By ‘Religious Freedom’ Law But Promises Fix http://wfpl.org/indiana-governor-stands-by-religious-freedom-law-but-promises-fix/ http://wfpl.org/indiana-governor-stands-by-religious-freedom-law-but-promises-fix/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 12:04:00 +0000 http://wfpl.org?p=34574&preview_id=34574 "We'll fix this and we'll move forward," Gov. Mike Pence says, adding that he was "taken aback" by criticism of a law that's seen as allowing businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians. Read Story

]]> A new Indiana law that has set off a firestorm of criticism and threats of boycotts should be repealed or revised, says Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, whose city is hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s Final Four this weekend.

Around mid-day Tuesday, Gov. Mike Pence said the controversial legislation will be clarified instead of being annulled. He added, “We’ll fix this and we’ll move forward.”

Titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law has drawn protests from critics who say it allows businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians. Mayor Ballard tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep that those who support the law are “missing the bigger trend.”

He added, “Everything changes over history. We have to get to a certain point where we have that balance.”

Those remarks came after Steve asked Ballard about renewed support for Indiana’s new law that has come from potential Republican presidential contenders, including Jeb Bush.

Update at 11:12 a.m. ET: Governor: ‘I Stand By The Law’

“I was pleased to have signed it, and I stand by the law,” Gov. Mike Pence said at a news conference Tuesday. But Pence also said his state’s legislature will clarify the law, saying, “We’ll fix this and we’ll move forward.”

Pence said the new legislation could come sometime this week.

Asked if he had expected a backlash like the one his state has experienced, Pence said of the law, “I just thought it was an appropriate addition to Indiana’s statues.”

“When this erupted last week… I was taken aback,” he said.

He later added that the bill had been hit by a “smear” that mischaracterized it as a license to discriminate.

Pence also repeatedly blamed the media for what he called its “reckless” handling of the story. But he also said that he’s pleased that the reporting has recently improved.

Original post continues:

Ballard says that while the law might be seen as acceptable on its own terms, when it’s combined with Indiana’s lack of legal protections against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, “then it has a problem.” He suggested that people outside the state might not understand the situation.

“The business community is very vocal about this, as they should be,” Ballard said on Morning Edition. “And so many other people have been standing up and saying, you must change the direction of all of this.”

The mayor’s actions come as Indianapolis prepares to host the NCAA Final Four this weekend, and its championship game next week — high-profile events that have increased the focus on the law.

“It really is hurting the definition of the state, and by definition almost, the city also,” Ballard says of the new law. “And we just can’t have that. We spent 30, 40 years building up this reputation as a great convention city, as a great sports event city. People love coming here. And we just can’t have that hurt as much as it has been hurting.”

The mayor said of his Republican colleagues at the state house, “Sometimes, they’re having trouble understanding the breadth and the depth of what’s happening here.”

On Monday, Ballard called for the law to be either repealed or for Indiana to adopt protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Indianapolis has also asked the state legislature to exempt the city from the new law, with Ballard signing an executive order titled a “Declaration of Non-Discrimination.”

Republican leaders in Indiana say that repealing the law isn’t an option – but they said Monday that they’re working on legislation to clarify the law and ensure that it doesn’t allow people or businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

But Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane disagrees with that approach, reports Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith.

Lanane said:

“My mother used to tell me if you bring home a bag of potatoes and you’ve got a rotten potato in there, you throw it out. You don’t let it contaminate the rest of the bag. And I think that’s what we have here — and unfortunately it’s our reputation that’s being tainted.”

Mayor Ballard says that any attempts to refine Indiana’s laws must include provisions that make sexual orientation and gender identity a protected class. “There’s just no getting around that right now,” he says.

When he signed the bill into law last week, Gov. Mike Pence said that his state isn’t alone in enacting its version of the law, citing a U.S. statue and laws in Kentucky and Illinois.

As the Two-Way noted over the weekend, “Although the law is similar to a federal one and those in 19 other states, sexual orientation is not a protected class in Indiana, leaving the door open for discrimination, critics say.”

The Indianapolis Star is devoting its entire front page to the issue Tuesday, with an editorial running under the huge headline, “Fix This Now.”

At least two states — Connecticut and Washington — have announced that they’re boycotting Indiana over the law, forbidding state-funded travel to the state.

And in Republican-controlled states such as Georgia, Arkansas, and North Carolina, the backlash in Indiana has prompted leaders either to consider tweaking their versions of similar legislation or to back away from it entirely.

In other signs of fallout, Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in The Washington Post that laws like the one in Indiana are “very dangerous.” Companies with roots in Indianapolis, such as Eli Lilly, Anthem, and Angie’s List, have also spoken out against the law.

The men’s basketball teams in the Final Four that’ll be played in Indianapolis this weekend include Duke, which issued a statement Monday saying:

“Duke University continues to stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal and inclusive world, and we deplore any effort to legislate bias and discrimination. We share the NCAA’s concern about the potential impact of the new law, and will be vigilant to ensure that our student-athletes, supporters, and indeed all citizens and visitors are treated fairly and with respect.”

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

]]> http://wfpl.org/indiana-governor-stands-by-religious-freedom-law-but-promises-fix/feed/ 0 Metro Council Committee OKs Tax Break To Lure New Luxury Apartments To Butchertown http://wfpl.org/metro-council-committee-oks-tax-break-to-lure-new-luxury-apartments-to-butchertown/ http://wfpl.org/metro-council-committee-oks-tax-break-to-lure-new-luxury-apartments-to-butchertown/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 11:06:08 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34444 Proposed luxury apartments in Butchertown may get some help from the city. Louisville Metro Council’s Labor and Economic Development Committee signed off on a plan last week that would give a tax break for a new building between Main and Clay streets … Read Story

]]> Proposed luxury apartments in Butchertown may get some help from the city.

Louisville Metro Council’s Labor and Economic Development Committee signed off on a plan last week that would give a tax break for a new building between Main and Clay streets housing 263 luxury apartments.

Jeff Mosely, the deputy chief of Louisville Forward, told council members the plan amounts to a local tax abatement of as much as $4.4 million dollars over 20 years or about $220,000 a year.

He said the city is looking at multiple urban housing projects right now. Mosely said city officials want to bring more people downtown for economic reasons, but they don’t want to cut into other services to do so. During the meeting, Mosely said this particular financial model is a good way to manage both those interests.

“In other communities, as we have been developing and there has been this urban revitalization, there have been efforts to use some source of revenue to make sure that the affordable housing stock remains available,” Mosely said.

Metro Council President David Tandy said this deal allows the city to benefit from increasding property values from that plot of land while also giving an incentive to developers.

“Because of the way the property evaluation is for land in the downtown area it, at times, becomes difficult for a private development to be able to develop as the market currently exists,” he said.

Tandy said that’s why the city is trying to give developers a financial incentive to develop in areas such as Butchertown. He wants the city to have a diversity of housing, which includes luxury apartments aimed at bringing in young professionals to the area.

The project will cost about $50 million and rent is planned to run an average of $1,500 a month.

The council will have to give final approval to this tax increment financing deal.

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