89.3 WFPL http://wfpl.org Louisville's NPR® News Station Wed, 01 Apr 2015 11:02:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.3 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.”

Related Story

Where Do Kentucky's Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Climate Change?

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.

]]> http://wfpl.org/metro-council-committee-oks-tax-break-to-lure-new-luxury-apartments-to-butchertown/feed/ 0 Kentucky Gubernatorial Candidate Comer Calls For Reducing Medicaid Rolls, Repealing Obamacare http://wfpl.org/kentucky-gubernatorial-candidate-comer-calls-reducing-medicaid-rolls-repealing-obamacare/ http://wfpl.org/kentucky-gubernatorial-candidate-comer-calls-reducing-medicaid-rolls-repealing-obamacare/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:56:56 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34526 Republican gubernatorial candidate Jamie Comer says he wants Kentuckians off Medicaid and onto private insurance. At a press conference on Monday, the state agriculture commissioner said if he became governor he would work to decrease the number of people on Medicaid … Read Story

]]> Republican gubernatorial candidate Jamie Comer says he wants Kentuckians off Medicaid and onto private insurance.

At a press conference on Monday, the state agriculture commissioner said if he became governor he would work to decrease the number of people on Medicaid by changing the eligibility requirements in the state.

He also called for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

About 400,000 Kentuckians have signed up for Medicaid coverage since eligibility was expanded in 2013. About 25 percent of Kentuckians are now eligible for Medicaid coverage.

Related Story

HealthRural Kentucky Hospitals Struggling Because of Decline in Private Insurance, State Audit Says

Comer endorsed a report released Monday by State Auditor Adam Edelen, a Democrat, which showed that a majority of Kentucky’s rural hospitals are suffering financially.

Edelen said that the growing number of Kentuckians on Medicaid has burdened rural hospitals. Fewer patients are using private insurance, which typically provide hospitals with larger reimbursements.

Comer’s healthcare platform also argued for implementing medical review panels, removing Medicaid from the oversight of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and increasing household income to combat the state’s poor health statistics.

Comer will release planks on the economy, reducing the size of government and education in coming weeks.

]]> http://wfpl.org/kentucky-gubernatorial-candidate-comer-calls-reducing-medicaid-rolls-repealing-obamacare/feed/ 0 Rural Kentucky Hospitals Struggling Because of Decline in Private Insurance, State Audit Says http://wfpl.org/rural-kentucky-hospitals-struggling-decline-private-insurance-state-audit-says/ http://wfpl.org/rural-kentucky-hospitals-struggling-decline-private-insurance-state-audit-says/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:49:23 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34514 An increase in Medicaid services and a decline in the private insurance market in rural Kentucky has hit rural hospitals hard, according to State Auditor Adam Edelen. More than two-thirds of Kentucky’s rural hospitals are below the national average on … Read Story

]]> An increase in Medicaid services and a decline in the private insurance market in rural Kentucky has hit rural hospitals hard, according to State Auditor Adam Edelen.

More than two-thirds of Kentucky’s rural hospitals are below the national average on a financial strength rating system, and more than one-third are considered to be in poor financial health, according to a report released Monday.

At a press conference, Edelen said rural hospitals used to assume that many clients would be covered by private insurance, which reimburses hospitals more handsomely than Medicaid.

“That helps you balance out your government-insured customers,” Edelen said. “When that disappears it becomes very difficult to keep these hospitals open.”

About 400,000 Kentuckians have become covered by Medicaid since the state expanded the government health insurance program in 2013.

The American Hospital Association reported that in 2012 Medicare paid only 86 percent of the cost of hospital services, and private insurance paid 149 percent.

Despite the painting a dire picture for rural hospitals, Edelen said that the report isn’t a criticism of the Affordable Care Act, which has insured about 400,000 Kentuckians through the expansion of Medicaid.

“Big pie in the sky arguments about ideology don’t do anything to keep the hospital network in Kentucky sustainable,” Edelen said. “You cannot fix and create sustainable network of rural hospitals if you don’t understand the individual condition of those rural hospitals.”

Rural hospitals surveyed by the auditor reported that 72 percent of their clients receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits and 22 percent were covered by private insurance.

In 2013, about 58 percent of rural hospital patients received Medicaid or Medicare benefits, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Edelen said hospitals that were geographically isolated generally fared poorly; those that were part of larger healthcare provider networks fared better.

Financially below-average hospitals in rural Kentucky serve about 838,000 Medicaid and Medicare patients in the state every year.

Gov. Steve Beshear cautioned that the hospitals that responded to the auditor relies on 2013 data; the report doesn’t take into account $506 million in federal funding that hospitals received in 2014.

“The administration is well aware of how health care delivery changes are impacting rural hospitals, and we have partnered with those hospitals for the past several years to help them navigate the new health care economy,” Beshear said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the Auditor’s report supports our continuing work.”

]]> http://wfpl.org/rural-kentucky-hospitals-struggling-decline-private-insurance-state-audit-says/feed/ 0 Louisville Police Hosting Crime Prevention Workshops In Southwest Louisville http://wfpl.org/louisville-police-hosting-crime-prevention-workshops-southwest-louisville/ http://wfpl.org/louisville-police-hosting-crime-prevention-workshops-southwest-louisville/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 18:05:18 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34494 Louisville Metro Police Department is encouraging residents to attend a meeting in southwest Jefferson County on Tuesday night to discuss crime prevention and conflict resolution. Sgt. Todd Brimm, from the department’s 7th division, said events such as Tuesday’s are important … Read Story

]]> Louisville Metro Police Department is encouraging residents to attend a meeting in southwest Jefferson County on Tuesday night to discuss crime prevention and conflict resolution.

Sgt. Todd Brimm, from the department’s 7th division, said events such as Tuesday’s are important because “they lend validity to our partnership.”

“Citizen involvement, community involvement is interwoven into any long-term strategy, any mission plan,” he said.

Brimm said police will provide strategies residents can use to prevent crime from occurring.

“We’re going to be focused on how to remove opportunities” for crime, he said.

Crime depends on certain elements, Brimm said. Those elements include opportunity, a victim and a motivated offender.

“If you remove one element, like a fire, the problem will cease to exist,” he said.

About 85 percent of thefts from automobiles in the southwest Louisville area are committed in unlocked vehicles, Brimm said. But reports of thefts from automobile are down nearly 30 percent from this time last year in the 7th division, he said. He said the drop is due, in part, to better communication between the police and the community.

Meetings between the two entities, he said, can give residents an idea of how they can improve their quality of life.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Summit Heights United Methodist Church gymnasium at 7400 Outer Loop. More than 100 people are expected to attend.

A separate crime prevention forum will begin at 6 p.m. at the Southwest Government Center at 7219 Dixie Highway. Police at this forum will also be accepting expired prescription pills for disposal.

 

]]> http://wfpl.org/louisville-police-hosting-crime-prevention-workshops-southwest-louisville/feed/ 0 Bacardi Buys Louisville-Based Maker of Angel’s Envy Bourbon http://wfpl.org/bacardi-buys-louisville-based-maker-angels-envy-bourbon/ http://wfpl.org/bacardi-buys-louisville-based-maker-angels-envy-bourbon/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:41:14 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34508 International spirits company Bacardi Limited has made its entry into the booming bourbon market with the purchase, announced today, of a Louisville-based bourbon maker. Bacardi is the new owner of Angel’s Share Brands. The company includes the popular Angel’s Envy bourbon, developed … Read Story

]]> International spirits company Bacardi Limited has made its entry into the booming bourbon market with the purchase, announced today, of a Louisville-based bourbon maker.

Bacardi is the new owner of Angel’s Share Brands. The company includes the popular Angel’s Envy bourbon, developed by the late Lincoln Henderson and his family. Henderson was a longtime master distiller for Brown-Forman Corporation.

Angel’s Envy is currently distilled off-site and aged in port wine barrels.

Angel’s Share Brands, which also produces a rye whiskey, is building its own distillery in downtown Louisville.

In a news release, Bacardi said no changes are planned at Angel’s Share, and the Henderson family will continue to be directly involved in the production of its brands.

The terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

]]> http://wfpl.org/bacardi-buys-louisville-based-maker-angels-envy-bourbon/feed/ 0 Ethics Committee to Investigate Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, Wife’s Lobbying Work http://wfpl.org/ethics-committee-investigate-kentucky-congressman-ed-whitfield-wifes-lobbying-work/ http://wfpl.org/ethics-committee-investigate-kentucky-congressman-ed-whitfield-wifes-lobbying-work/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:00:49 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34498 This story has been updated with comments from Whitfield’s office. A congressional ethics subcommittee has been directed to investigate whether U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield violated House rules in connection with his wife’s lobbying work for The Humane Society of the … Read Story

]]> This story has been updated with comments from Whitfield’s office.

A congressional ethics subcommittee has been directed to investigate whether U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield violated House rules in connection with his wife’s lobbying work for The Humane Society of the United States.

The investigative subcommittee will determine whether the Kentucky Republican used his office to benefit himself or his wife, Connie Harriman-Whitfield, and whether he “dispensed special favors or privileges” to her or her organization.

Harriman-Whitfield is senior policy adviser for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, which describes itself as “a separate lobbying affiliate” of The Humane Society of the United States.

The current probe does not appear to address ethical issues raised in a series of stories last summer by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. KyCIR reported that Whitfield, his wife and another lobbyist, Juanita Duggan, had a longstanding financial partnership and joint ownership in property at a West Virginia luxury resort.

The KyCIR investigation found that both Harriman-Whitfield and Duggan lobbied for clients that had legislative business before Whitfield in Congress. While Duggan was involved with them, those clients and the trade associations where she worked donated more than $300,000 to his political campaigns.

Although the House Committee on Ethics cautioned in a statement last Friday that its creation of the investigative subcommittee “does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred,” the mere fact that it was established is relatively unusual.

Connie Harriman-Whitfield

Connie Harriman-Whitfield

During the past two years, for example, the Committee on Ethics began or continued work on 89 separate matters, but appointed just four investigative subcommittees. In three of the four cases, the House member under investigation resigned from Congress before the subcommittee concluded its work. Two had pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

In the fourth case, following a 14-month investigation by the subcommittee into alleged misconduct by Alaska Rep. Don Young, the Committee on Ethics found that Young had violated House rules and issued to him what it called a “letter of reproval.”

In response to the announcement of the subcommittee investigation, Whitfield’s office issued a statement saying that he looks forward to “fully cooperating” with it. He added that any allegation his wife “lobbied my office or my staff to convince me to introduce and pass” legislation favored by the Humane Society “is absurd.”

Appointment of the investigative subcommittee follows a November report by the federal Office of Congressional Ethics that determined there was “substantial reason to believe” that Whitfield violated “House rules and standards of conduct” by having lobbying contacts with his wife and by permitting her to have lobbying contacts with his staff.

Harriman-Whitfield repeatedly contacted her husband’s office during the past three years concerning legislation she was supporting, and Whitfield’s staff responded by providing assistance, including scheduling meetings, to further her agenda, according to the OCE inquiry.

The OCE is an independent, non-partisan body charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against House members, officers and making referrals to the Committee on Ethics.

Whitfield, from Hopkinsville, in western Kentucky, easily won re-election last November to an 11th term.

Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

This story was reported by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

]]> http://wfpl.org/ethics-committee-investigate-kentucky-congressman-ed-whitfield-wifes-lobbying-work/feed/ 0 President Obama to Visit Louisville This Week http://wfpl.org/president-obama-visit-louisville-week/ http://wfpl.org/president-obama-visit-louisville-week/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:05:05 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34490 This story has been updated. President Obama is scheduled to visit Louisville this Thursday to talk about the economy, according to The White House. He’s planning a visit to the Louisville-based company Indatus. Obama hasn’t visited the city since becoming president … Read Story

]]> This story has been updated.

President Obama is scheduled to visit Louisville this Thursday to talk about the economy, according to The White House.

He’s planning a visit to the Louisville-based company Indatus. Obama hasn’t visited the city since becoming president in 2009.

But some recent developments may explain why he’s finally making a stop in Louisville, said Dewey Clayton, a political science professor at the University of Louisville.

Late last year, Obama appointed former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson to the position of the director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House. Clayton said that relationship makes a trip to Kentucky for the first time in a while “appropriate” for the Democratic president.

Also, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell—and Louisville resident—recently became the Senate majority leader. That may also make the state a draw for the president, Clayton said.

But Clayton said the president is most likely in town to highlight the city’s efforts to attract more jobs and industries.

“I suspect possibly he is going to be meeting with (Louisville Mayor) Greg Fischer and others in looking at economic development, and looking at what role the federal government can play—if any—in helping Louisville and the state of Kentucky attract industry,” Clayton said.

Earlier this month, the White House highlighted Louisville’s effort to increase access to high tech jobs, specifically. During a conference call with the White House, Fischer was identified as one of the community leaders working with employers and the federal government to extend technology training opportunities to residents.

Federal officials said the White House was launching an initiative nationwide aimed at getting Americans to fill the increasing number of vacant information technology jobs in the U.S.

Whatever the reason, though, Clayton said the president visit is a positive thing for Louisville.

“It’s not often that a president visits your hometown and you get national news coverage of that type of event,” he said.

During his re-election campaign last year, McConnell challenged Obama to visit Kentucky. Following McConnell’s re-election, the senator has said the two intend to meet over bourbon.

But on Thursday, McConnell “is leading a congressional delegation trip outside of the U.S. and will not be in in Kentucky on Thursday,” according to the senator’s office.

White House officials said more information about the president’s trip will be announced later.

Earlier: President Barack Obama will visit Louisville on Thursday to discuss the economy, Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday via Twitter.

We’ll have details coming up.

]]> http://wfpl.org/president-obama-visit-louisville-week/feed/ 0 Regulators to Hear Public Comments Tonight on Proposed LG&E Rate Increase http://wfpl.org/regulators-to-hear-public-comments-tonight-on-proposed-lge-rate-increase/ http://wfpl.org/regulators-to-hear-public-comments-tonight-on-proposed-lge-rate-increase/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://wfpl.org/?p=34427 Kentucky’s Public Service Commissioners will be in Louisville tonight to take public comments about a proposed utility rate increase. Louisville Gas and Electric is asking the PSC to approve the rate increase to help the company recoup the costs associated … Read Story

]]> Kentucky’s Public Service Commissioners will be in Louisville tonight to take public comments about a proposed utility rate increase.

Louisville Gas and Electric is asking the PSC to approve the rate increase to help the company recoup the costs associated with several projects, including constructing a new natural gas-fired power plant at the site of the Cane Run coal plant. The new gas plant is expected to be in service in May, and the coal units will be retired.

Related Story

Public Service Commission: LG&E Can Convert Cane Run Power Plant to Natural Gas

LG&E’s proposal would raise the monthly service charge customers pay from $10.75 to $18. The actual electricity rate per kilowatt hour would decrease—from 8.076 cents to 7.618 cents. The company estimates that the bill for the average residential customer will increase by about 2.7 percent.

When LG&E originally proposed converting Cane Run to natural gas, the company told the public that it didn’t expect the project to raise customer’s rates (though Kentucky Utilities customers were told to expect a 4 percent hike). PSC spokesman Andrew Melnykovych said when the agency gave LG&E permission to move ahead with the natural gas plant, it did so based on the fact that the commissioners deemed the project the most reliable least-cost option; the company wouldn’t have necessarily had to quantify the effect on ratepayers in that application.

In the past decade, the PSC has approved four rate increases that affect LG&E customers. Those changes have increased the electric bill of the average LG&E customer (using about 1,000 megawatts a month) by $11.22 a month. The average customer’s gas bill has increased $21.56 a month.

The public meeting on LG&E’s proposed rate increase is tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Durrett Auditorium at Louisville Male High School (4409 Preston Highway). The first hour will be a presentation on the PSC process, and a public comment period will follow.

]]> http://wfpl.org/regulators-to-hear-public-comments-tonight-on-proposed-lge-rate-increase/feed/ 0