Justice Antonin Scalia, Known For Biting Dissents, Dies At 79 Saturday, Feb 13 2016 

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps the leading voice of uncompromising conservatism on the nation’s highest court, has been found dead of apparent natural causes at a ranch in West Texas. He was 79 years old.

In his 29 years on the court, Scalia achieved almost a cult following for his acerbic dissents, which in many ways shaped the ongoing legal debate over how courts should interpret the Constitution.

For decades Scalia railed against the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion, affirmative action, gay rights and religion. He lived to see many of the decisions he so reviled trimmed and even overturned after President George W. Bush replaced two conservative justices with even more conservative justices. But Scalia remained impatient with the pace of change. His influence continued, not by brokering consensus, but by goading his colleagues with biting dissents.

He was a fundamentalist in both his faith and his constitutional interpretation, according to former Solicitor General Paul Clement, a one-time clerk to Scalia.

“I think that he looks for bright lines in the Constitution wherever he can. I think he thinks that his faith provides him clear answers,” Clement said, “and I think that’s sufficient unto him in most areas.”

A fine example of that was Scalia’s landmark 2008 decision declaring that the Constitution confers on individuals a right to own a gun. The decision was greeted with cheers by gun enthusiasts, but denounced by police chiefs and big city mayors.

“We hold that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to have and use arms for self defense in the home,” Scalia said in striking down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns.

Unanimous Confirmation

Scalia was born in 1936, the only child of a Sicilian immigrant and a first-generation Italian-American mother. Scalia, whose parents were both teachers, was educated largely at Catholic schools until he went to Harvard Law School, where he became editor of the law review. At Harvard, he met Maureen McCarthy, a feisty Radcliffe student with views as conservative as his. The two married and had nine children.

In the years after law school, Scalia at first practiced law, then taught it. But his love was politics and government, and he soon became a force to be reckoned with in Republican administrations.

Shortly after President Nixon resigned in the Watergate scandal, President Ford assigned then-Assistant Attorney General Scalia the task of determining who owned the infamous Nixon tapes and papers. Scalia decided in favor of Nixon, a reflection of his belief in a strong executive. But the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, and by a unanimous vote declared that the tapes and papers belonged to the government and the public.

Scalia returned to academic life when Democrat Jimmy Carter won the presidency, but when Republican Ronald Reagan succeeded him, Scalia was appointed first to the federal appeals court in Washington, and four years later, he was appointed to fill the Supreme Court seat being vacated by William Rehnquist, who was being promoted to chief justice.

That pairing turned out to be a lucky break for the quick-witted conservative. Democrats, in the minority in the Senate, could fight only one battle. Rehnquist’s conservative judicial record was well known, while Scalia had only a four-year record, not to mention the fact that Italian-Americans were ecstatic about their first Supreme Court nominee. So opposition focused on Rehnquist, and Scalia skated to confirmation by a unanimous vote.

Once on the Supreme Court, Scalia almost immediately began pounding the table far more forcefully than the very conservative Chief Justice Rehnquist, particularly on the hot-button social questions. While Rehnquist, for example, consistently sought to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court’s abortion decision, he sided with those who sought a buffer zone at abortion clinics to protect women from being harassed. Scalia vehemently disagreed.

“Does the deck seem stacked? You bet,” he thundered. “The decision in the present case is not an isolated distortion of our traditional constitutional principles, but is merely the latest of many aggressively pro-abortion novelties announced by the court in recent years.”

A ‘Great Writer’

Scalia was a staunch advocate of free speech in general, surprising many when he provided the fifth vote to strike down laws banning flag burning.

Over the years he wrote many important majority decisions on the First Amendment and other topics — from property rights to environmental questions, gun control and states rights.

But, as legal scholar Cass Sunstein observes, like the great Oliver Wendell Holmes, Scalia will likely be remembered most for his dissents.

“The thing to remember about Scalia is he was one of the great writers in the court’s history,” he said.

And he didn’t pull his punches. When the court struck down a state law that made private homosexual conduct a crime, Scalia was outraged.

“It is clear from this that the court has taken sides in the culture war, and in particular in that battle of the culture war that concerns whether there should be any moral opprobrium attached to homosexual conduct,” he said.

Sunstein says dissents like this one are illustrative of Scalia’s Achilles’ heel: “He was a hysteric in cases he cared about most.”

And yet, as it turned out, Scalia was more right than his critics foresaw on one point. He was dismissive of the majority opinion’s denial that it was supporting same-sex marriage. A decade later, same-sex marriage had been legalized in 13 states. And the Supreme Court, with Scalia in loud dissent, struck down a federal law that had denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Scalia wrote with a sure pen. When the court, for instance, upheld the independent counsel law, Scalia alone dissented, declaring that the law would lead to unrestrained and politically driven prosecutions, a prediction that both Democrats and Republicans came to agree with when they refused to renew the law after the impeachment of President Clinton.

Constitutional Interpretation

On questions of separation of church and state, Scalia was a consistent voice for accommodation between the two, and against erecting a high wall of separation. When the court, by a 7-to-2 vote, struck down a Louisiana law that mandated the teaching of creationism in school if evolution is taught, Scalia was dismissive of evolution, calling it merely a “guess, and a very bad guess at that.”

And when the court struck down a spoken prayer at a public school graduation, Scalia angrily dissented. The
Founding Fathers, he said, viewed nonsectarian public prayers like this one as a mechanism for breeding tolerance and unifying people of diverse religious backgrounds.

“To deprive our society of that important unifying mechanism in order to spare the nonbeliever what seems to me the minimal inconvenience of standing or even sitting in respectful nonparticipation is as senseless in policy as it is unsupported in law,” he said.

On death penalty questions, Scalia consistently dissented from decisions limiting its use, as he did when the court ruled unconstitutional the execution of the “retarded.”

“The principle question,” he said, “is who is to decide whether execution of the retarded is permissible or desirable? The justices of this court or the traditions and current practices of the American people? Today’s opinion says very clearly, the former.”

When the court struck down the death penalty for juveniles and pointed to what other countries do as evidence of what is considered cruel and unusual punishment, he dissented again.

“The underlying thesis that American law should conform to the laws of the rest of the world is indefensible. It is our Constitution that this court is charged with expounding. The laws of foreign nations and treaties to which this nation has not subscribed should have no bearing upon that exercise,” he said.

Scalia’s concept of constitutional interpretation became the focus of huge debates on the court and in the legal community. Is the Constitution a living document that adapts to the times, so that, for example, punishments once accepted could now be viewed as unconstitutionally cruel and unusual?

“The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring,” he said. “It means today not what current society, much less the courts, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”

And since the death penalty existed when the Constitution was adopted, for instance, Scalia believed it could hardly be viewed as cruel and unusual punishment.

But Scalia’s critics contended that there were some issues on which the justice ignored the plain meaning of the times. For example, on the question of affirmative action, proponents note that the framers of the 14th Amendment specifically approved measures that helped the newly freed slaves and not similarly situated white people.

Scalia, however, maintained he was a textualist, that in constitutional matters as in interpreting statutes, legislative history was immaterial. All that mattered were the words on the page.

More than anything else, Scalia was an advocate for bright lines in the law, lines that everyone could follow easily. He disdained the balancing tests advocated by more moderate conservative justices like John Marshall Harlan, Lewis Powell and Sandra Day O’Connor.

That meant that in some criminal law cases, he sided with defendants. In several cases involving the defendant’s constitutional right to confront accusers, Scalia said that meant earlier recorded statements could not be substituted for real live witnesses being cross-examined in front of the defendant at trial. And in search cases, too, he drew firm lines, ruling for instance that police could not attach a long-term tracking device to a suspect’s car without a warrant.

Even in some terrorism cases he was something of a purist, declaring that the administration of George W. Bush could not imprison an American citizen indefinitely without charge. On this, his opinion was the most radical on the court, rejecting the more equivocal and prevailing approach of other justices.

“If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime,” he insisted, “it must be done openly and democratically as the Constitution requires, rather than by silent erosion through an opinion of this court.”

Such unexpected liberal moments, however, were rare. More often, Scalia’s aggressive conservatism, even when it failed to prevail, often framed the debate, and justices once considered centrists came to be viewed as liberals compared to Scalia.

Pushing The Envelope

Scalia changed more than legal doctrine. When he came to the court, the justices asked few questions during oral argument. And Scalia, the junior justice, jumped in, pummeling lawyers relentlessly with questions. Soon other justices took a more active approach to questioning, so that most lawyers could get less than a sentence out of their mouths before being interrupted.

Witty and savagely funny, Scalia could also be bombastic and impolitic. In 2013, he referred to the Voting Rights Act as a law of “racial entitlements.” On occasion, he could even alienate fellow justices. In 1989, for instance, when O’Connor, a fellow Reagan appointee, deprived conservatives of a fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, Scalia attacked her opinion as one that “cannot be taken seriously.”

Cmments like that lessened his influence. But Scalia happily observed that he looked to push the envelope, that if he had a 6-to-3 majority, he hadn’t pushed it hard enough.

Sometimes when he pushed, his views prevailed. When they didn’t, he took the fight to the printed page, knowing that his carefully crafted words would live to fight on long after he was gone.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Kentucky Lawmaker Proposes Informed Consent Bill — For Men Friday, Feb 12 2016 

Men would need to clear new hurdles to get prescriptions for erectile dysfunction under a bill filed Thursday in the state House.

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, a Louisville Democrat, said the bill seeks to balance the recent legislative scrutiny of women’s reproductive health with a dose of attention to men.

“The current legislature does not mind inserting itself into personal, private decisions of the 2 million women of the commonwealth that may need reproductive health services,” Marzian said.

“So if we’re going to start inserting ourselves into reproductive issues and health issues, then I think we should also insert them into men’s reproductive health issues.”

The bill would require men to have two meetings with a doctor before receiving a prescription for products like Viagra.

Men would also be required to make a sworn statement — hand on Bible — that the prescription would only be used during sexual relations with their current spouse.

Spouses would have to provide a signed and dated letter providing consent.

When asked how her colleagues received the bill, Marzian said “all of them claimed they don’t know anything about erectile dysfunction.”

Marzian said her bill is in reaction to the handful of anti-abortion measures that the legislature has either passed or is considering this year.

“It’s inappropriate and ridiculous to have one abortion bill after another, and it’s all political, it’s all politicized and it’s taking votes on the backs of women,” Marzian said.

Gov. Matt Bevin recently signed into law an “informed consent” abortion bill that would require women to have a face-to-face or videoconference meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours before the procedure.

The state Senate last week passed a bill that would defund the state’s contribution to Planned Parenthood clinics.

A Senate committee earlier this week approved a bill that would require abortion providers to describe the sonogram image of the fetus before a woman goes through with the procedure.

The anti-abortion trend comes at a time when Republican ranks are growing in the Capitol. With Bevin and a GOP-controlled Senate, the House is the only Democratic-led body in the legislative process.

The House blocked anti-abortion bills in past legislative sessions. But not this year.

State Rep. Tom Burch, a Democrat from Louisville, said his caucus is afraid of losing the votes of abortion opponents.

“I think that they think that there’s a large vote out there that might cause them some problems back home,” Burch said.

Democrats have a slim 50-46 lead in the House, and all 100 seats are up for re-election in what many observers say is an increasingly conservative state.

Burch said he’ll hear Marzian’s bill if it’s assigned to the Health and Welfare Committee, which he chairs, and if she asks.

“Women have a right to make their decisions too, just like men do. And I don’t see men having a right to tell women anything,” Burch said.

Marzian said she plans to ask for that committee hearing.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Clash of the Governors Friday, Feb 12 2016 

This week in Kentucky politics, former Gov. Steve Beshear returned to confront current Gov. Matt Bevin over health care, lawmakers took another crack at the local option sales tax and, once again, anti-abortion legislation maneuvered its way through the General Assembly.

That and more in this week’s installment of Kentucky Politics Distilled.

Suggested reading:

Bevin’s Proposed Cuts Include Government Watchdog Agency Friday, Feb 12 2016 

As part of his proposed budget cuts, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin exempted what he considered to be key government services. Not protected: The government agencies charged with holding him and his administration accountable.

Matt Bevin

Matt Bevin

The executive director of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission said the proposed 4.5 percent budget cut this year and the 9 percent cut over the next two years will devastate the agency. She said it would force her to lay off the agency’s sole investigator and auditor, two employees who already work part time.

Bevin defended the cuts as necessary to help fix the state’s multi-billion dollar pension shortfalls for state workers, public school teachers, police and firefighters. He said the commission should be able to find other ways to cut its budget

Louisville Metro Council OKs ‘Google Fiber Ordinance’ Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

An ordinance meant to streamline the process for bringing ultra-fast Internet service to Louisville won easy approval Thursday from the Metro Council.

City leaders have said ultra-fast Internet access can boost Louisville’s economy. Google Fiber is considering Louisville for its coveted service, and AT&T has announced plans to operate ultra-fast Internet in the city.

The ordinance, called the “one-touch make ready” policy, affects companies and utilities needing to attach new cabling to existing utility poles. It allows contractors to rearrange existing equipment as long as they submit certain notices to the owners of the equipment and the utility pole.

The new law is expected to reduce the time and work needed to fit new cabling onto existing poles, said Ted Smith, chief of innovation for Louisville Metro.

The 23 present council members voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.

Under the ordinance, companies or utilities wishing to attach new cabling to existing utility poles may do so if they submit notice to the owner of the pole and other affected equipment within 30 days of completion of the work. A prior notice of work must only be submitted if the work is expected to result in any power outage for consumers, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance also allows the owners of the existing infrastructure to conduct an inspection of the work within 14 days of its completion date. The inspection would be paid for by the entity that attached the new infrastructure.

If the inspection shows any repairs need to be conducted or fails to meet the pole owner’s standards, the owner may complete the repairs themselves or have the entity attaching the new infrastructure do it. Whichever option is chosen, the entity attaching the new infrastructure will be required to cover any and all costs of the work.

Councilman Kevin Kramer, Republican from District 11, said ultra-fast Internet service providers need these types of policies to efficiently install necessary infrastructure.

“At the end of the day, it’s great for Louisville. It makes things possible for Google, but it also opens the door for competition,” he said.

Councilman Bill Hollander, a Democrat from District 9 and the ordinance’s sponsor, said the measure is an integral step for advancing Louisville’s ability to remain competitive in the future.

Smith said the ordinance allows the city to clear a major barrier to attracting ultra-fast Internet service providers.

“It makes it predictable to do business in Louisville,” he said.

Chris Levendos, director of network deployment and operations for Google Fiber, said the ordinance isn’t just important for bringing his company to Louisville but all ultra-fast Internet service providers.

“It makes things go smoother,” he said. “There is nothing exclusive here.”

He also noted it’s a practical move, as it decreases the intrusiveness of high-volume construction work with heavy trucks and traffic congestion.

The ordinance was the subject of controversy throughout Thursday, ultimately leading to an amendment calling for the requirement to submit a notice within 30 days of work completed.

Representatives of Time Warner Cable and AT&T came out in opposition of the ordinance, voicing concerns the entities would be left in the dark about adjustments to their property –utility poles — that could lead to a loss of service to their customers.

The president of the local communications workers union, Matthew Embry, also had concerns the ordinance would violate contractual agreements the worker’s union has with AT&T.

He said Local 3310 workers are the only people authorized to adjust or work on AT&T utility lines. Bringing in independent contractors to do the work would undermine that deal, he said.

“We have no problem with inviting Google into the marketplace,” he said. “Our main concern is to ensure our agreement with AT&T is not circumvented by this legislation.”

But council President David Yates, a Democrat from District 25, said the union workers will have plenty to do under the approved ordinance, as they’ll be called to inspect nearly 20,000 utility poles owned by AT&T following potential adjustments by ultra-fast Internet providers.

“It’s going to create work right then and there,” he said. “All around the base we have increased jobs, increased work.”

The council also approved an ordinance creating an agreement between Louisville Metro and suburban cities to condense the franchise-granting authority for communication services into a single entity.

Under the agreement, local governments and Louisville Metro will together bid and award the telecommunication franchise for ultra-fast Internet access.

Smith said securing the agreement clears a major logistical barrier to bringing fiber Internet to residents. Without the agreement, the franchise would have to be negotiated with dozens of government entities in Jefferson County.

In a released statement, Mayor Greg Fischer praised the council’s action.

“Tonight’s vote puts Louisville one step closer toward becoming a Google Fiber city — and lays the groundwork for expansion of gigabit services by other providers,” Fischer said.

The city is expected to begin soliciting applications for ultra-fast Internet service providers as soon as next week.

Louisville Ky part of regional plan to bring in foreign business Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

BEAM Selected to Develop Regional Plan to Attract Foreign Direct Investment as Part of the Global Cities Initiative

Plan will strengthen region’s global economic connections and competitiveness

LOUISVILLE, KY (February 9, 2016) – Today, Mayor Greg Fischer announced that the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) has been selected to develop a regional plan to attract and leverage foreign direct investment, building off its existing BEAM Regional Economic Growth Plan,as part of the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.

The BEAM region, 22 counties that include and surround Louisville and Lexington, will join Charleston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Phoenix and Wichita in developing their foreign direct investment plan. These six metro areas were selected by Brookings after undergoing an extensive application process. BEAM was selected for its readiness and commitment to strategically pursue foreign direct investment through such activities as greenfield expansions, mergers and acquisitions, and other types of foreign investment, including EB-5, private equity, joint-ventures and sovereign wealth funds. BEAM is well positioned to make foreign direct investment a central component of broader regional economic development strategies.

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“Foreign investment is an important and growing part of the ecosystem that supports our regional economy,” said Fischer. “These investments have helped build robust and innovative activity, particularly in our manufacturing economy, because excellence seeks excellence. Domestic and foreign firms are drawn to what we offer here, and they help make it better.”

BEAM was launched by Fischer and Mayor Jim Gray of Lexington in 2011. This strategic partnership implements a regional economic development approach for the state’s two largest metropolitan areas. BEAM seeks to build on the region’s existing strengths of robust manufacturing and innovation. Working together, the Mayors believe they can foster increased growth in manufacturing, and strengthen the foundation of a prosperous future for companies, employees and entrepreneurs.

Kentucky has had four straight years of record-breaking export growth, with 2014 exports totaling $27.5 billion. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, 31% of Kentucky’s announced investment in 2015 came from foreign direct investment – dominated by the automotive industry, and 20% of Kentucky’s new jobs are a result of foreign direct investment.

Launched in 2012, the Global Cities Initiative is designed to help metropolitan leaders advance and grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness on key economic indicators such as advanced manufacturing, exports, foreign direct investment and traded sectors. GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating a peer-learning network. This opportunity is part of the next phase of the Global Cities Initiative’s Exchange, a network that assists metropolitan areas as they create strategies to support sustainable economic growth, first through addressing exports, and then foreign direct investment

“For this next cohort, we selected metro areas that have shown a commitment to attracting, expanding and leveraging foreign direct investment as part of a comprehensive global trade and engagement strategy,” said Marek Gootman, Brookings fellow and director of strategic partnerships and global initiatives. “The six metro areas selected will be strong role models for other regions and represent a growing group of leaders who understand the need to embrace the global market and solidify and strengthen international connections and competitiveness.”

Foreign direct investment has long supported regional economies, not only by infusing capital, but also by investing in workers, strengthening global networks, and sharing best business practices. As the world’s largest economy with a stable investment environment, the United States has been a top destination for foreign direct investment. Yet in the world’s increasingly competitive investment market, America’s global share of foreign direct investment has fallen. Metropolitan leaders, in partnership with their states, are best equipped to attract and retain foreign direct investment by promoting their areas’ unique specializations and establishing strategic and mutually beneficial relationships.

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to be a part of the development of BEAM’s foreign direct investment plan and to support innovative planning that will contribute to our region’s future economic success,” said Paul Costel, Market Manager of Middle Market Banking, JPMorgan Chase. “International trade and investment represent a promising pathway for local businesses to grow and, in turn, create jobs and expand our local economy.”

The BEAM region will be represented by a team of local leaders including the offices of Fischer and Gray, World Trade Center Kentucky, Kentucky Cabinet of Economic Development, U.S. Commercial Service, Commerce Lexington and Greater Louisville Inc.

As part of this phase, the BEAM region will develop a foreign direct investment market assessment and plan, along with an implementation plan and a policy memo. This work, added to the region’s existing regional export plan, forms the second core component of a global engagement strategy that will strengthen the region’s global economic connections and competitiveness.

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Louisville Ky’s GLI issues plea to state legislature Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

Working For A Cause: Our Push For B Corps

By Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, SVP of Public Affairs & Strategy for Greater Louisville Inc.

Our region has the potential to realize an incredible opportunity during the 2016 Kentucky legislative session by passing HB 50, sponsored by Representative Kelly Flood (Lexington) and co-sponsored by Representative Steve Riggs (Louisville). By passing Public Benefit Corporation legislation, which has made it through the House and is now under consideration in the Senate, we can access more than $1.5 billion in philanthropic dollars that are presently under-utilized statewide.

Public Benefit Corporations give businesses the freedom to consider public benefit in addition to profit.  There is no added burden or cost to the state if Public Benefit Corporation legislation is passed. This voluntary status has no impact on existing corporate forms, taxes, or government regulation.  Essentially, this creates a no-cost economic development program for states by permitting a new market of social enterprises and impact investors.


Impact investors and social entrepreneurs are constrained by current law that makes it difficult to know when they are allowed to consider additional interests, such as public benefit.   Due to this legal uncertainty, directors still fear civil claims if they depart from their fiduciary duties to maximize profit.  This point was recently reaffirmed by the case eBay Domestic Holdings, Inc. v. Newmark, in which the Delaware Chancery Court stated that a non-financial mission that “seeks not to maximize the economic value of a for-profit Delaware corporation for the benefit of its stockholders” is inconsistent with directors’ fiduciary duties.

Make no mistake: this legislation directly impacts our region.  For that reason, I am traveling to Frankfort this week with multiple individuals, some interested in establishing their own public benefit corporations and others wishing to invest in them.

Thirty-one other states have passed such legislation and some have even reported revenue gains because of it. It has wide-ranging, bipartisan support; in fact, thirteen states that have such legislation passed it unanimously. Indiana’s own Public Benefit Corporation law took effect on January 1st, 2016.  

Public benefit corporations are accountable and transparent.  With a publicly available annual report outlining the company’s benefits to the community, shareholders are given the materials they need to enforce their rights and investors are able to determine if the company accomplishes their stated mission. Public Benefit Corporations produce this annual report of their benefits through a third-party standard. This allows investors and consumers to review the report to make an informed financing or purchasing decision. It also differentiates good actors from bad and prevents “green-washing,” which is dishonest representation of environmental impact.

Passage of public benefit corporations allow businesses, operating in the free market, to decide how they can improve society then actively work to bring the vision to life.  There are many public benefit corporations that are already household names such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, and Warby Parker.  With the success found in other states, Kentucky must pass this legislation to attract, grow, and retain great businesses that specifically declare a specific public benefit as central to their existence.


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Senate Panel OKs Bill Requiring Sonogram Before Abortion In Kentucky Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

The state Senate has approved a bill requiring women who seek an abortion in Kentucky to view or hear a description of a sonogram image of their own fetus.

The legislation is one in a handful of anti-abortion measures being pushed through the General Assembly this year.

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, a Hopkinsville Republican and the bill’s primary sponsor, clashed Thursday morning with opponents of the bill, who say it would violate women’s right to have an abortion.

“If you think this isn’t about making sure that mother has all the information that she needs and that this is no more than a political stunt, well, we’re just going to have to disagree,” Westerfield said

The bill would require a doctor to provide a “simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting,” including the location of the fetus in the uterus and a medical description of the body.

The committee approved the bill 11-1. State Sen. Perry Clark, a Louisville Democrat, was the lone no vote.

Doctors who refuse to conduct the ultrasound explanation could be charged with a Class D felony and face a $100,000 fine.

Derek Selznick, reproductive freedom project director for the ACLU of Kentucky, the bill would take away a woman’s autonomy.

“A woman can be saying, ‘No, I don’t want to hear this information.’ And the doctor has no choice but to do that or to risk a Class D felony and $100,000 fine. That is absolutely ridiculous,” Selznick said.

A federal judge ruled a similar law in North Carolina unconstitutional in 2014. The Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal of the ruling last year.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has already signed a bill that would require women to have an in-person or video conference with a doctor 24 hours before getting an abortion.

A bill that would eliminate the state’s contribution to Kentucky Planned Parenthood clinics has passed the Republican-led Senate and a growing pro-life contingent is pushing to have it heard in the Democratic-led House.

In past legislative sessions, the House typically ignored anti-abortion bills, but this year the chamber has warmed up to the issue.

All 100 House seats are up for re-election in November and the Democratic majority is defending a dwindling 50-46 margin. The chamber has veered increasingly conservative after Bevin’s election in November and the defection of two House Democratic to the Republican Party.

State State Sen. Albert Robinson, a Republican from London, said this session is a “golden opportunity” for anti-abortion legislation.

“This a year that there will be some major decisions that could change the entire legislature this November,” Robinson said.

“If the Democrats will go and vote according to their own districts, there probably won’t be as many changes in the House of Representatives.”

The bill heads now to the full Senate.

Louisville ‘Google Fiber Ordinance’ May Violate State Law, Public Service Commission Says Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

A proposed Louisville Metro Council ordinance aimed at easing the installation of ultra-fast Internet infrastructure could lead to a violation of state law, says a spokesman for the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

The ordinance, which the council is expected to consider on Thursday, would allow anyone needing to attach new cabling to utility pole to rearrange existing cables with notice. The legislation sailed through a council committee earlier this month.

The ordinance could help attract ultra-fast Internet providers, including Google Fiber, to Louisville.

Councilman Bill Hollander, a District 9 Democrat who sponsored the ordinance, said it would “reduce disruption and inconveniences on our streets and make the whole process faster, and make the community more broadband-ready.”

An attorney representing Time Warner Cable is questioning the legality of such a measure, saying the council lacks legal authority to regulate equipment attached to utility poles, The Courier-Journal reported Thursday.

And he may be right.

The ordinance, as it currently stands, has the potential to violate state law, said Andrew Melnykovych, a spokesman for the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

“It’s not a matter of if the ordinance is illegal or not, it’s what happens after the ordinance passes,” he said early Thursday afternoon. “The ordinance should not be construed as overriding PSC jurisdiction.”

The PSC is the state agency that regulates the service and rates of public utilities.

Melnykovych’s statement altered his earlier stance. On Thursday morning, he said the ordinance would violate state law because the PSC has exclusive jurisdiction over utility poles.

“The ultimate jurisdiction over pole attachments rests with the Public Service Commission,” he said. “The test will be how do people put that ordinance in to pracitce.”

Melnykovych said the PSC does not have authority over Time Warner’s utility poles.

But the utility poles owned by Louisville Gas & Electric and AT&T of Kentucky are under the PSC’s jurisdiction. It’s the state agency’s authority to dictate what and how equipment is attached to those poles, he said.

He said the PSC has procedures allowing Internet service providers to attach needed infrastructure to standing poles.

“That spells out how you hang it, how much it will cost you for the privilege of hanging it and anybody, Google or whoever else it is, that wants to use another companies infrastructure to hang their fiber or whatever it is, there is a process to doing that,” he said. “Anybody that wants to do it has to follow the process.”

Hollander said he is unaware of the ordinance’s conflict with PSC regulations.

“We went through the normal process of working with the Jefferson County Attorney,” he said. “A municipality has a right to control work in its rights-of-way.”

Neither Ted Smith, the city’s chief of innovation, nor Time Warner’s attorney responded Thursday to a request for comment.

Councilman Kevin Kramer, a District 11 Republican and chair of the Republican caucus, echoed the notion that the council followed the guidance of the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office.

“That’s not to say that every time we pass something there’s not an issue that might come up again later,” he said. “It is something we might have to deal with.”

A spokeswoman for the county attorney’s office said the ordinance is not meant to circumvent PSC regulations.

This story has been updated.

Bill Would Penalize Sites Charging To Remove Mugshots Thursday, Feb 11 2016 

The owners of websites that charge people to remove jail or prison mugshots could be penalized under a bill heading to the state House floor.

The Judiciary Committee approved the legislation 17-0 on Wednesday.

Websites such as mugshots.com, which publish photos obtained through open records laws from corrections facilities across the U.S., assess fees to people seeking to have their photos removed.

State Rep. Gerald Watkins, a Democrat from Paducah, said the practice amounts to extortion.

“It’s just an extortion ring, and we need some penalties to try and discourage companies from doing this and wrecking people’s careers and lives,” Watkins said.

Mugshots.com did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Booking photos are regularly published on state and local government websites. The photos are subject to open records requests. The websites regularly scrape government websites for new additions.

“People have lost jobs and have problems created for them when an employer Googles and finds this information after they’ve been hired or during the interview process,” Watkins said.

The bill would fine website owners $500 to $1,000 for each offense.

State Rep. Tom Riner, a Democrat from Louisville, suggested that the penalty be increased “substantially.”

“$500 to $1,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money to discourage a company that’s pulling in as much money as they are,” Riner said.

Websites that don’t charge to remove the photos would not be affected.

Rep. Stan Lee, a Republican from Lexington, questioned whether the bill would allow individuals or law firms to sue on a mass-scale.

“If you wanted to bring an action for 1,000 people who have their mugshots on mugshots.com or whatever that website is, seems to me you could bring that. Or a law firm could just start filing these actions,” Lee said.

A bill that would have charged mugshots websites with criminal penalties passed out of the House in 2014 but wasn’t taken up by the Senate.

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