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2:19 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Will Kentucky 'Religious Freedom' Bill Gut Protections for Women, Minorities and Gay Residents?

Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Executive Director John J. Johnson
Credit Kentucky Commission on Human Rights

Joining other civil rights group, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights is urging Governor Steve Beshear to block a bill that would allow people to ignore laws and regulations violating their religious beliefs.

Last week, the Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly approved HB 279 by an 82-7 vote. It has now moved on the state Senate, where observers predict it is likely to pass in the GOP-controlled chamber.

Supporters say the bill strengthens the rights for people of faith and clarifies religious freedom in state law. But civil rights groups such as the ACLU of Kentucky and Louisville Fairness Campaign argue it will gut protections for women, racial minorities and gay residents.

John Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, tells WFPL the commission agrees "wholeheartedly" with civil rights proponents, adding there is a potential risk for people to use their faith to discriminate.

"If this bill is adopted people can hide behind religious freedoms and discriminate in anyway they feel. They could say based on my religion I don’t think I should serve people based on interracial marriage. I don’t believe I should serve people because they are of a different religion," he says. "People can hide behind it in anyway, and it just makes it more difficult for the human rights agencies to pursue equality in our state."

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Politics
12:24 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Indiana Specialty License Plate Bill Close to Final Passage

Indiana Youth Group

Groups with specialty auto license plates would face new sales and financial reporting requirements under a proposal endorsed today by an Indiana Senate committee.

The bill would create an eight-member bipartisan panel to review requests from nonprofit groups and universities for specialty plates.

Bill author Rep. Ed Soliday says all groups with plates would have to sell at least 500 a year and undergo a financial review once a decade.

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Local News
12:14 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Overnight Snow May Not Stick to Roads. Morning Commute May be Awful, Anyway.

Credit National weather Service

Above-freezing daytime temperatures Tuesday may keep Louisville roads from being blanketed in snow before the Wednesday morning commute—but driving issues are still possible.

Metro Louisville is expected to get as much as four inches of snow by Wednesday afternoon, the weather service said. Rain will become snow in the late evening and continue through Wednesday morning.

Louisville and surround areas are under a winter weather advisory from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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Politics
11:18 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Beshear Signs Pill Mill Fix Legislation

Credit Melanie Tata/Creative Commons

  Gov. Steve Beshear signed on Tuesday legislation aimed at "fixing" 2012's crackdown on pill mills.

The so-called pill mill fix bill, House Bill 217, exempts hospitals and long term care facilities from constantly running prescribing reports on patients in their care.

But supporters of the bill, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers and Beshear said the new legislation doesn't weaken the 2012 efforts to tackle pill mills—pain clinics that abuse their prescription-writing authority for people seeking pain medication for recreational use.

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Environment
8:30 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Budget Cuts May Lead to Reduction in Toxic Air Monitoring in Louisville

The air monitoring program's funding has decreased significantly since 2008.
Russ Barnett KIESD

Without some additional grant funding, the air toxics monitoring run out of the University of Louisville will have to scale back next year.

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Politics
6:35 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Bill Granting Ethics Commission Subpoena Powers Passes House Panel

A bill giving the Louisville Metro Ethics Commission subpoena powers sailed through a state House committee on Monday.

In 2011, a report by the commission complained to the Metro Council about its inability to compel witnesses to testify. Last November, Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, put that lack of power on display when she twice walked out of her ethics hearing at the instruction of her attorney.

From The Lexington Herald-Leader:

Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, said the bill was in response to alleged ethics violations of council members in Louisville.

SB 117 would give ethics committees administrative subpoena power to gather documents and compel witnesses to testify.

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Arts and Humanities
5:38 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

An Interview with Humana Festival Playwright Sam Marks

Bruce McKenzie and Jim Frangione as Frank and Thomas, feuding novelists in Sam Marks' The Delling Shore.
Alan Simons Actors Theatre of Louisville

Actors Theatre of Louisville’s annual Humana Festival of New American Plays is underway, and the first production to open is Sam Marks' “The Delling Shore.”

Directed by associate artistic director Meredith McDonough, "The Delling Shore" is a dark comedy about two feuding middle-aged novelists and their daughters who reunite for a disastrous weekend in the country.

WFPL’s Erin Keane spoke with playwright Sam Marks about fatherhood, success, and his play’s journey from draft to the Humana Festival.

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Politics
5:21 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Comer Says Hemp Bill Will Get Vote Wednesday

Adrian Cable/Creative Commons

It looks like an industrial hemp bill will get a vote in the House Agriculture Committee after all.

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Environment
5:04 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Department of Labor Announces $5 Million in Emergency Grant to Help Laid-Off Kentucky Coal Miners

Decumanus Wikimedia Commons

The Department of Labor is sending more than $5 million to Eastern Kentucky to help laid-off coal miners and their families. $5,192,500, to be exact.

The federal government announced the emergency grant today. In a press release, the agency said the money would go to providing re-training for miners and their spouses.

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Business
5:01 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Louisville Food Truck Operators to Gather Downtown Tuesday

Linda Golden

The Louisville Street Food Alliance is planning what it calls a street corner “invasion” of downtown Louisville, during which the LSFA aims to raise awareness about its businesses and meet prospective food truck operators, in addition to serving lunch. 

Matt Davis says food trucks like his are an important part of Louisville’s “foodie” culture, but awareness is geographically limited.  

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