Rick Howlett

Broadcast Managing Editor

Rick has been a member of the WFPL News team since 2001 and has covered numerous beats and events over the years.   Most recently he’s been tracking the Indiana General Assembly and the region’s passion for sports, especially college basketball.

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Local News
5:13 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Efforts Continue to Address Propane Shortage

Wikimedia Commons

Government officials and suppliers say they’re continuing efforts to help ease the region’s propane shortage.

Demand and prices for the heating gas have soared as temperatures have plummeted.   Supplies were already affected by a record harvest that required farmers to dry large amounts of grain.

Midwestern states are the hardest hit by the shortage, but many Kentucky homes have been in short supply as well.

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Local News
3:12 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Surveillance Bill Wins Indiana House Approval

Wikipedia

The Indiana House has approved a bill that would restrict law enforcement access to surveillance drones, GPS trackers and cell phone searches.

The measure easily won passage today by a vote of 85-11.

The legislation comes amid growing concern over the National Security Agency's access to citizens' phone and Internet records.

Under House Bill 1009, law enforcement agencies would first have to obtain court orders before using technology such as unmanned aircraft, real-time tracking devices or requesting passwords for electronic data.

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Local News
11:30 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Ford Investing $80 Million in Kentucky Truck Plant, Hiring 350

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company says it’s investing $80 million at its Kentucky Truck Plant to increase production and meet growing demand for F-Series Super Duty trucks made at the Louisville facility.

Ford director of manufacturing John Savona says 350 jobs created by the expansion have been filled and the plant upgrades are already underway.

"It’s going to be completed at various stages of the year, but we expect to be getting the higher volume for these particular upgrades in the second half of the year and beyond," he said. 

Local News
4:55 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Officials Responding to Propane Gas Shortages in Indiana, Kentucky

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says the state is working to help Hoosiers alleviate a shortage of propane gas.

Supplies of propane are running low throughout much of the country. 

In Indiana, use is high in the midst of one of the harshest winters in recent years.  That comes after a wet growing season that forced farmers to use more propane for drying grain.

"Today, I am declaring an energy emergency and suspending limitations on divisible loads for propane suppliers," Pence announced Wednesday. 

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Local News
3:55 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Coalition to Conduct Count of Louisville's Homeless Population

Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless will conduct its annual point-in-time count of the city’s homeless population Thursday morning. 

In addition to counting residents of Louisville’s homeless shelters, some 200 volunteers will break into teams to survey homeless people living on the streets and in camps.

Coalition executive director Natalie Harris says the recent bitterly cold weather has forced more people into shelters, but many others seek warmth in 24-hour restaurants and other sites.

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Local News
4:39 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Altered Gay Marriage Ban Amendment Clears Indiana House

A proposal to place a ban on gay marriage in the Indiana constitution has been approved by the state House of Representatives.

The altered measure leaves the door open for civil unions and employer benefits for same-sex couples.

Lawmakers in the Republican-led House passed the proposal 57-40 after removing language that would ban recognition of anything “similar” to same-sex marriage.     

That change would also lengthen the process of amending the state constitution, but the clause could be reinserted by Senate Republicans.

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Local News
3:42 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Preschool Voucher Plan Sails Through Indiana House

File photo

The Indiana House of Representatives has approved a pilot program that would pay for low-income children to attend preschool.

The  House measure won bipartisan support today.

Under the program, families earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level would get state aid to send their children to preschool.

It was first proposed by House Republicans last year and is loosely connected to Gov. Mike Pence's call for an early childhood education plan.

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Local News
7:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Soon To Be Big In Japan, Jim Beam's Roots To Stay In Kentucky

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., maker of Jim Beam and owner of other popular bourbon brands, including Maker's Mark.
Bruce Schreiner AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 10:48 am

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.

Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.

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Local News
6:13 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Indiana Lawmakers Hear Testimony on Proposed Gay Marriage Amendment

Supporters and opponents of a proposal to amend Indiana’s constitution to ban gay marriage testified Monday before a legislative panel.

The House Judiciary Committee heard more than three hours of testimony but did not take a vote.

Committee Chairman Greg Steuerwald said he would give panel members more time to weigh the testimony before calling for a vote.

The amendment would ban gay marriage and anything “similar” to gay marriage. There’s disagreement over whether it would also bar certain benefits for same-sex couples.

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Local News
12:00 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Richie Farmer to be Sentenced This Week in Corruption Case

File photo by Rick Howlett

Former Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer will find out this week how much time he’ll have to spend in prison for misappropriating government resources while in office.

Farmer pleaded guilty to two corruption-related counts in September and could spend about two years behind bars.

Federal prosecutors say that, among other things, Farmer used agriculture department employees to peform personal tasks and put friends on the department payroll who did little or no work.

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