Kentucky

Updated May 1, 2021 at 10:03 PM ET

Medina Spirit overcame tough odds to win the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, giving trainer Bob Baffert a record seventh Derby victory.

Medina Spirit, mounted by jockey John Velazquez, broke out of the gate with an early lead and held fast as the race met the final stretch.

Hopkinsville Funeral Home Adds Drive-Through Window

Apr 29, 2021

  The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of more than 6,400 Kentuckians. The grief has been intensified by health precautions that limit how many people can attend a funeral.

newport on the levee
Newport on the Levee / Facebook

Developments at Newport on the Levee and PromoWest Pavilion at Ovation, the new riverfront music venue, were discussed Wednesday morning in a virtual meeting of the Newport Business Association.

  Kentuckians will have more time to get a Real ID, which will be necessary to board domestic flights and enter federal facilities like military bases.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland will investigate the Louisville Metro Police Department and Metro government to see whether the LMPD has a “pattern or practice” of using excessive force and violating constitutional rights.

The investigation will be led by the civil rights division of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, and conducted in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the western District of Kentucky.

State Auditor Mike Harmon says at least 10 workers in the state unemployment office improperly filed for benefits last year and used their official positions to access their accounts.

The findings come after a series of reports this year of state employees wrongly filing for jobless benefits despite keeping full-time jobs with the state.

In the audit released Wednesday, Harmon said he couldn’t determine if employees actually made changes to their claims. He said he is referring the findings to the attorney general’s office for possible prosecution.

Harmon, a Republican, said the report shows Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration mishandled the system during the pandemic.

How Many Coronavirus Cases In Ky. Jails? We Don’t Know, And State Won’t Say

Apr 20, 2021

  Michael Taylor thought he might die alone in the Shelby County Detention Center. 

A newly released poll suggests Kentucky has a good chance of reaching herd immunity with the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Herd immunity is achieved when a significant amount of the population is vaccinated or immune to infection. Experts believe herd immunity will be possible when that applies to 70-85% of the population. 

The poll found 71% of Kentucky adults have already received or intend to get the vaccine. The 29% of Kentuckians who said they hesitant to get the shot were more likely to be male, Republican, and live in suburban or rural communities.

Ben Chandler heads the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which funded the survey. He says much of the hesitancy toward the vaccine can be attributed to misinformation.


Cory Sharber / WVXU

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says the recent pause on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine isn't "helpful," but it shouldn't hinder the state's vaccine rollout.

The governor was in Erlanger Wednesday to congratulate St. Elizabeth Healthcare for administering its 100,000th COVID-19 vaccine.

andy beshear
Timothy D. Easley / AP

Gov. Andy Beshear said he would lift several capacity restrictions currently in place across the state once 2.5 million Kentuckians get at least a first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. He said that represents about 70% of Kentucky residents currently eligible to get a vaccine.

Cory Sharber / WVXU

The head of the Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department is stepping down. Lynne Saddler, MD, is leaving her position effective Dec. 31.

get out the vax
Cory Sharber / WVXU

Community leaders launched a regional effort to vaccinate 80% of the population of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky by July 4.

"Get Out The Vax" weekends will take place during the second and fourth weekends in April and May. According to the Health Collaborative, there will be more than 20,000 appointments across the Cincinnati region spread out across 20 providers. Free Metro and TANK rides will be available for the Get Out the Vax weekends, as well as free Lyft rides.

Kentucky lawmakers shepherded dozens of bills through the legislature on the last day of this year’s session, quickly passing measures limiting open records laws, limiting no-knock warrants and paving the way for a constitutional ban on abortion.

Ronny Salerno / WVXU

They're hidden among staircases and curbs in the Mansion Hill neighborhood of Newport, Ky.: fairy doors, the size of your hand or smaller. Children knock on them, but story has it, the winged creatures only come out at night.

andy beshear
Timothy D. Easley / AP

Gov. Andy Beshear signed 29 more bills into law on Thursday, including a measure doing away with Kentucky’s automatic transfer law, which requires minors to be tried in adult court if they are charged with gun-related crimes.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill aimed at reforming Kentucky's teacher pension program. The measure would create a new tier for teachers hired in 2022 that requires them to pay in more and work longer to receive their benefits.

andy beshear
Bruce Schreiner / AP

Gov. Andy Beshear signed eight bills on Tuesday, including measures that create tougher penalties for child predators, ban the solitary confinement of pregnant inmates, and ease pension payments for quasi-state agencies like rape crisis centers and health departments.

Cory Sharber / WVXU

State and local officials broke ground Friday on the Turfway Park revitalization project.

Amazon

Real estate agents and landlords are looking ahead to later this year when the first of 3,000 Amazon Air employees start moving into the area.

Former Kentucky state representative Charles Booker announced Sunday he’s “strongly considering” a bid for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s seat in 2022.

Booker discussed his future on the KET program Connections with Renee Shaw. The interview aired the day after protesters marked one year since Louisville Metro Police shot and killed Breonna Taylor.

“When Breonna’s door was kicked in, all of our doors were kicked in,” Booker said during the interview. “I think in those moments you can fall into your corner, you can give into fear, you can turn away and give up, or you can come together and push harder to cast a new vision. Coming into 2021, I believe that’s where we are.”

breonna taylor protest
Timothy D. Easley / AP

Breonna Taylor was killed one year ago this week. Here is WFPL’s series remembering her.

The night they killed her, police did not say her name.

In states like Georgia and Arizona, there are fierce partisan battles going on right now over voting proposals. But in Kentucky's Republican-led legislature, a bill to boost voter access and election security has gotten widespread support from both parties.

The legislation is now at the Senate, after passing the House 93-4 late last month.

Beshear: Kentucky Likely Undercounted COVID-19 Deaths

Mar 2, 2021

Kentucky likely underreported the true toll of the deadliest months of the pandemic, Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.

When COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in November, at least one state official stopped auditing death certificates as part of the state’s review process, Beshear said. Instead, they relied on confirmation from local health departments, leaving some death records to fall through the cracks.   

Kentucky has reported a lower than average number of COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic in spring of 2020. Beshear has repeatedly cited the low number of deaths as evidence of the effectiveness of the state’s response.

But on Monday, Beshear acknowledged the state’s count is incomplete. Kentucky is now performing an audit similar to those done in other states that resulted in as many as 4,000 additional COVID-19 deaths in Ohio and more than 1,500 deaths in Indiana.

The Brighton Center has served Northern Kentucky for decades and now the large social services agency based in Newport has a new chief executive officer. Wonda Winkler has taken the reins from Tammy Weidinger. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order on Tuesday recommending that all school districts offer some type of in-person learning starting March 1 or within a week of vaccinations for school personnel. The order recommends that classes resume seven days after teachers and staff have received their second COVID-19 vaccinations, though the decision is being left to districts. 

The order also states that masks must be worn at all times in schools and during transportation to and from schools.  

“This is one of the number one ways that we can keep everybody in that school safe,” Beshear said. “And it’s going to be incredibly important, especially for districts that may go back for the first time, that this is strictly enforced as all of the studies that suggest there is low transmission are of districts that had and enforced a strong mask mandate.”

The Republican president of the Kentucky Senate filed a bill that would restrict “no-knock” search warrants, the type of warrant used in the Louisville police raid that killed Breonna Taylor last year.

Senate Bill 4 would still allow no-knock warrants to be issued in cases where someone allegedly committed a violent crime, or if giving prior notice would endanger someone’s life or result in the loss of evidence related to a violent crime.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said the Breonna Taylor raid wouldn’t have happened under his proposal.

“You’re not going to have a situation that occurred here that you’re going to create a no-knock search warrant to search for papers, stolen items, drugs, anything like that,” Stivers said.

Kentucky To Open Vaccine Access To Phase 1C In March

Feb 23, 2021

More than a million Kentuckians will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning March 1 when Gov. Andy Beshear says regional distribution centers will enter distribution phase 1C.

The state is expanding access to the vaccine following a sixth week of declining cases. Residents over the age of 60, those with high-risk health conditions and essential workers all fall under phase 1C — marking the single largest increase in access to date in the commonwealth.

Beshear said it’s an exciting moment, but with vaccine supplies still limited the state will first prioritize Kentuckians between the ages of 60 and 70.

“Understand there’s a lot of people in 1C,” Beshear said. “It means it may be challenging to get signed up in the beginning, but remember a lot of vaccine is on its way.”

A Republican-sponsored bill in the Kentucky legislature would require the governor to replace a departing U.S. senator with someone from the same political party.

The proposal is supported by Kentucky’s 78-year-old U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and comes as state lawmakers continue to try and chip away at Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s powers.

Senate Bill 228 would be a big change from how Kentucky governors currently fill senate vacancies — picking whomever they want.

Instead, the governor would have to pick a replacement from a list of three nominees selected by the state party of the departing senator.

Republican state lawmakers and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul are rallying around a yet-to-be-revealed bill that would make changes to Kentucky’s election laws, though it’s unclear what exactly the bill would do.

Rep. Jennifer Decker, a Republican from Waddy and the bill’s sponsor, said Thursday she won’t unveil the contents of the bill to the public or Democratic lawmakers until the day before the bill receives its first vote.

Decker said she has received input from county clerks, the State Board of Elections and current and former GOP officials.

“We combined our list and we’re paring it down in an attempt to include only those ideas that would help advance the goal of enhancing the integrity and trust in our election system,” Decker said.

kentucky state capitol building
Peter Fitzgerald / Wikimedia

The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would raise the bar for what counts as felony theft in the state.

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