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12:55 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

As Session Nears Close, Kentucky Legislators Grapple with Smelter Issue

The smokestack of an aluminum smelting plant, 1973.
Credit Doug Wilson / Environmental Protection Agency

With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.

Under state law, the smelters are required to purchase electricity from the nearest company—Big Rivers Electric, in this case.  The smelters say lower aluminum prices have them struggling to pay the bills; they're asking for more options for where they get electricity.

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Politics
9:55 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth: Ryan Budget Plan is the Enemy of Growth

Speaking at the House Budget Committee this week, Kentucky Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth said government should be a partner with business and the Republican-crafted 2014 budget will hurt economic growth.

Among the highlights GOP lawmakers have touted are $6.4 trillion in deficit cuts and reducing the corporate tax by 10 percent.

But Yarmuth told his congressional colleagues on Wednesday the GOP proposal is an "enemy" to growth, adding cuts to education, infrastructure and child-care programs are not what business leaders in Louisville are asking for.

"They want Washington's help, not its avoidance," he says. "I think the Ryan-Republican budget is a dismal failure. All of the things that are businesses are crying out for the Ryan budget would emphasize or in fact dramatically reduce."

Watch:

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Arts and Humanities
7:00 am
Thu March 14, 2013

The Big Break: Reaching and Teaching

This week on The Big Break, our audio diarists talk about being on both sides of the showcase process. Actors Theatre of Louisville apprentice Samantha Beach is rehearsing for her short scene showcase, which will be seen by casting directors and other influential industry members during Humana Festival. That's one way the apprentice program helps young actors like Samantha set up their post-Actors career. Over at the Louisville Ballet School, where ballet trainee Claire Horrocks teaches, her young students are preparing for their annual recital.

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Local News
7:54 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Louisville's Archbishop Joseph Kurtz: Pope Francis Brings 'Enthusiasm' for Catholics

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz
Credit Joseph Lord/WFPL

The election of a pope from South America is recognition of where the Roman Catholic Church has strength, Louisville's Archbishop Joseph Kurtz said on Wednesday.

And Kurtz said he's hopeful Argentina's Jorge Mario Bergoglio—now Pope Francis—will bring enthusiasm to Catholics worldwide, including in Louisville.

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Politics
7:34 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Mitch McConnell Congratulates Pope Francis

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is praising the selection of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio to head the Catholic Church as the new pope.

From McConnell's office:

"Catholics across Kentucky and the entire U.S. celebrate the election of Pope Francis I, and I join Americans of all faiths to congratulate him on becoming the spiritual leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics.

As a voice of clarity and force on the great moral challenges of our time, the Pope plays a uniquely constructive role in world affairs, and as a herald of the Christian message of charity and reconciliation he calls all of us to a greater recognition of the inherent dignity of all men and women.

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Politics
4:19 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Special Prosecutor Named in Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin's Public Integrity Case

Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin
Credit Louisville Metro Council

The Louisville Metro Ethics Commission will make a ruling on its case involving Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, this week while the criminal investigation against the embattled lawmaker is moving forward.

Shanklin is facing five charges of violating the city's code of ethics, including accusations that she misused taxpayer money in relation to an upholstery training program her office championed.

The commission has a range of options in the case, from declining any punishment to recommending Shanklin be booted from office.

It cannot bring criminal charges against the councilwoman, but a separate investigation conducted by the Louisville Metro Police's Public Integrity Unit could.

The police have finished their probe and forwarded the case to a special prosecutor, First Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Robert Schaefer.

Schaefer tells WFPL he hasn’t had a change to review the extensive caseload, including a large number of binders, an internal audit and hundreds of pages of documents, but his office is taking the case seriously.

"Obviously this case has attracted a lot of interest, and we take all the cases that we do seriously. So I’m not going to rush and put something out there before I’ve had a chance to go through it," he says.

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Politics
3:10 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Kentucky General Assembly Nears End. What Passed, What's Left and What's Left for Dead.

Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers working late Tuesday night.
Credit Rae Hodge/Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky legislators have returned home for the next 12 days after passing a flurry of bills in the recent days of the 2013 General Assembly session.

But many big issues still remain on the table and lawmakers will have two days left—March 25 and 26—to hammer out any remaining issues, including pensions and military voting bills. 

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Local News
2:48 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Kentucky's Child Abuse Review Panel Here to Stay, Pending Gov. Beshear's Signature

Kentucky’s 17-member panel currently reviewing certain child abuse cases will remain a permanent part of state accountability and child advocates say the recently-passed law creating the panel adds more transparency and accountability.

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Politics
2:38 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Congressman John Yarmuth: Democrats Trying to ‘Sabotage’ Ashley Judd Are Making a Mistake

Actress Ashley Judd
Credit Salon

Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth is defending actress Ashley Judd against fellow Democrats who he says will regret trying to "sabotage" the Hollywood star's candidacy against Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.

For weeks, state Democratic consultants and donors have voiced caution, arguing Judd is too liberal to win in Kentucky and could cost the party seats in the General Assembly. And national Democratic groups are reportedly having second thoughts about Judd running in 2014 as well.

Yarmuth says those naysayers have often been wrong and haven’t presented a viable candidate of their own to take on the GOP leader, adding many should accept Judd is running.

"I absolutely think that some of the Democrats who are trying to sabotage an Ashley Judd campaign are making a very big mistake. There is no alternative to Ashley Judd right now. She is widely popular in Kentucky. She has generated an unprecedented excitement in the media both locally and across the country," he says. "And I think a lot of these people are going to be very embarrassed and have to eat a lot of crow when they have to support her—and they will aggressively support her—in the general election."

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Arts and Humanities
2:01 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Last-Minute Louisville Orchestra Line-up Change

Dror Biran

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning pianist Chu-Fang Huang has canceled her solo appearance with the Louisville Orchestra this Thursday and Friday. Performing a solo instead will be the University of Louisville's Dror Biran, playing Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto. 

Here's a look at the revised program: 

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