Round-Up: Wednesday January 16
Here's what's making news around Covington and around the Commonwealth:
CHAMBER: NEW BRIDGE WON'T BE BUILT WITHOUT PRIVATE FINANCING
We'd all have to wait till after 2030 to see work begin on the Brent Spence Bridge project, according to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and its sub-organization, Build Our New Bridge Now:
The federal government won’t allocate $2.4 billion for the bridge or raise the federal gas tax to do it, proponents of private financing said Tuesday. That means either allow for private funds to pay for the bridge or wait for the bridge traffic in the region to fill area highways with gridlock, said Johnna Reeder, vice president of community relations and economic development with Duke Energy and chairwoman of the Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition.
More than 120 businesses in Greater Cincinnati have joined the coalition to push for a financing plan for the bridge.
With some private financing, the new bridge could be built by 2018, proponents have said.
“The realistic piece is that there are no more earmarks at the federal government,” Reeder said. “ I wish we could go get a federal earmark, but we can’t.”
Private financing doesn’t make tolls inevitable, said Robert Hans, chief district engineer for the Transportation Cabinet’s office in Northern Kentucky. Some states have used “availability payments” similar to bonds where a private company fronts the money and gets the money back with interest, he said. The $1 billion Port of Miami Tunnel in Miami used this method, said Thomas Gabelman, counsel for Build Our Bridge Now.
Some have proposed fees on vehicle registration.
Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/Scott Wartman
SEE ALSO: More coverage on the issue from cn|2
SEE ALSO: Chief of Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments talks about the bridge project on 700 WLW
AFTER DEADLY SHOOTING ON CAMPUS, KENTUCKY COLLEGE PRESIDENT RELEASES STATEMENT
Following a shooting on campus that left two people dead and a teenage girl wounded, the President of Hazard Community & Technical College released a statement Wednesday afternoon:
Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) is sad to learn one of the shooting victims, Caitlin Cornett, has been identified as a former student. She was enrolled at HCTC in 2010-11 and had recently registered for a course scheduled to begin in February. We send our condolences to her family and friends, as well as the HCTC faculty, staff and students who may have come in contact with this young lady. Our thoughts continue to be with all of the victims’ families and loved ones.
This incident has certainly shaken our community and has caused us to evaluate the safety and security procedures we already have in place. Our crisis planning and safety drills prepared our team to take the necessary action to secure the campus during this recent incident. We will continue to look for areas of improvement and ways to strengthen our security procedures. The Hazard Campus will remain closed today and there will be no evening classes. It will reopen on a normal schedule Thursday, January 17. We want to thank the Hazard Police Department, our area first responders and the Hazard community for their assistance and support during this difficult time.
-Dr. Steve Greiner - HCTC President/CEO
EVER NOTICE THAT YOU PAY MORE FOR GAS IN NORTHERN KENTUCKY THAN IN CINCINNATI?
Ever wondered why?
Lately, that gap has gotten bigger, with spreads as much as 10-12 cents on any given day, leading some people to wonder if Speedway’s increased share of the market might be responsible.
But industry experts say that rise has nothing to do with Speedway’s purchase and conversion of nine area convenience stores last year that pushed another national brand almost out of the three-county area. In fact, they say that Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky remain one of the most competitive regions in the nation with local prices routinely below the national average.
The oil experts aren’t sure what accounts for the rising gap, saying that the reformulated gas required throughout Northern Kentucky usually only costs more in the summer months.
Full story: Cincinnati Enquirer/James Pilcher
MEET THE REAL "PAPA JOHN"
John Schnatter, the owner of the Papa John's Pizza empire and familiar face from TV ads, wants to clear his image after he became entangled in the 2012 US Presidential election as a prominent opponent of President Obama and as a support for Republican Mitt Romney:
After Muhammad Ali, Schnatter may be Louisville’s most-recognized resident. But until he stepped into the politically charged health care debate by answering questions about President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, he was known mostly for his energetic TV spots, in which he trades quips with quarterback Peyton Manning and effuses about “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.”
Now he has been mocked and vilified by pundits and late-night comedians for saying the health care overhaul might add 14 cents to the cost of each pizza — and that some franchisees might cut workers’ hours to avoid paying insurance costs.
In his first extensive interview since his explosive remarks last summer and fall, Schnatter said his only regrets are that they were “misconstrued” by the media and that he didn’t respond to “false stories” quickly enough.
Full story: Courier-Journal
KENTUCKY SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO BE HIT WITH $50 MILLION ASSESSMENT
The dissolution of an insurance program will hit nearly every school district in Kentucky to the tune of a combined $50 - 60 million:
Representatives for the Kentucky League of Cities, which manages the Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust, said the final cost for each district will be announced in a few weeks, but Fayette County Public Schools likely will owe the largest of any district — between $1 million and $2 million — while Jefferson County Public Schools is expected to owe less than $1 million.
The final amounts are to be based on districts’ claims and participation in the program over the years.
The trust was created in 1978 to provide school boards with affordable workers’ compensation and property and liability insurance, but it has been building deficits since the early 1990s.
Officials said it would cease operations at the end of June and transfer all policies and claims to a company that specializes in re-insuring troubled insurance programs.
Almost all of Kentucky’s 174 school districts and about 10 others entities — such as some colleges and universities — have paid into the trust at some point and will be assessed a portion of the liability.
Full story: Courier-Journal
SEN. RAND PAUL TO GRILL HILLARY CLINTON ON BENGHAZI ATTACK Business Insider
KENTUCKY FALLS SHORT IN PREPARING FOR FUTURE RECESSIONS KCEP
GOV. BESHEAR, ATTORNEY GEN. CONWAY TOUT BENEFITS OF DRUG LAW Herald-Leader
US REP. GUTHRIE DOWNPLAYS INTEREST IN KY GOVERNOR'S RACE cn|2
PRESCHOOL, DROPOUT PREVENTION TOP LEGISLATIVE AGENDA FOR EDUCATION OFFICIALS KY Teacher
92 BIRDS KILLED IN KENTUCKY SANDHILL CRANE HUNT WFPL
SOME FIGHT TO KEEP STRIP CLUBS FROM GROWING IN THEIR COUNTY News Democrat Leader
LOUISVILLE ORDINANCE WOULD REMOVE GUNS FROM LIST OF DEADLY WEAPONS
The Louisville Metro Council is considering this:
The Louisville Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee will discuss a proposed ordinance this week that would take out guns in the city’s definition of deadly weapons.
The ordinance seeks to change Metro Government's safety codes to include such things as knives, nightsticks, ninja star, nunchuck karate sticks and brass knuckles as violent weapons, but not firearms.
It also makes it illegal to sell those items to a minor or for residents under the age of 18 to carry them.
A new state law passed last year forbids cities from creating any gun control measures dealing with regulations on the sale, possession and transportation of firearms. As a result, city lawmakers are forced to take out language dealing with guns.
"The state passed legislation that takes any authority away from local municipalities from passing anything in regards to regulating firearms," says Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24, who is sponsoring the amendment, adding the county attorney advised the state could bring charges against the city if the law isn't changed.
Full story: WFPL
DANVILLE, KY WON'T STOP PRAYERS BEFORE MEETINGS
The Boyle County fiscal court will no longer pray, but will instead have a moment of silence before its meetings. At the Danville City Commission meetings, though, the folks will still be praying:
The manner in which city officials pray is not in violation of constitutional law, said City Attorney Stephen Dexter during Monday’s City Commission meeting.
“This is an issue we’ve discussed in prior city commissions,” Dexter said. “The question is, is it appropriate or constitutional for this body, or any legislative body, to open its session with a prayer.”
Full story: Advocate-Messenger