Lisa Autry

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum.  She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years.  Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville.  She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky.  Many of her stories have been heard on NPR. 

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Government
4:05 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Simpson County on the Verge of Passing Local Right-to-Work Law

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 3:21 pm

Simpson County has become the third Kentucky county to give preliminary approval to a right-to-work law. 

The Simpson County Fiscal Court voted unanimously Tuesday on a local ordinance that allows workers to decide whether to join a union and pay dues without fear of losing their job.  Simpson County borders Tennessee which has a right-to-work law.  For Judge-Executive Jim Henderson, it’s an economic development issue.

"It is perceived by many new and expanding businesses throughout the country that Kentucky is not as business-friendly because we don't have right to work," Henderson told WKU Public Radio.  "Whether it's real or perceived doesn't really matter because when those companies are looking at locating a plant somewhere in the country, many of them simply won't look at Kentucky."

Eldon Renaud, president of the United Auto Workers Union in Bowling Green, spoke out against the ordinance at the fiscal court meeting, arguing right-to-work laws drive down wages and benefits for employees.

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Government
4:12 pm
Fri December 12, 2014

Deadline Approaching to Purchase Health Insurance on Kentucky's Exchange

Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 2:39 pm

An important deadline is just days away for Kentuckians needing health insurance. 

Although the second enrollment period on Kentucky’s health care exchange runs until February 15, residents must sign up for coverage by Monday in order to be covered when the new year begins. 

"If you wait until February 15th the soonest your effective date can be is March 1st," explains Kynect Executive Director Carrie Banahan.  "If you're wanting coverage by January 1st, you really need to enroll by Monday, December 15th."

More than 18,000 Kentuckians have been filed applications for private insurance or Medicaid since open enrollment began a month ago.  The first month of last year’s enrollment period resulted in 32,000 applications. 

"Keep in mind that last year we enrolled more than 400,000 people," adds Banahan.  "There was a lot of pent up demand among people who didn't have insurance coverage, and now a lot of folks do."

Most of the uninsured have gained coverage through an expansion of Medicaid. 

According to one poll, Kentucky's uninsured rate fell from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 in 2014.

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Business
10:24 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Western Kentucky County Could See Coal Jobs Cut in Half

Originally published on Mon December 8, 2014 3:13 pm

A western Kentucky county could lose half of its coal-mining workforce in the next couple of months. 

Coal mining employs about 1,200 people in Union County, but that could change, according to a layoff notice issued by Patriot Coal Corporation. 

The company is warning that up to 670 workers could be laid off in February at the Highland mine on the Union-Henderson County border and at the Dodge Hill complex.

Union County Judge-executive Jody Jenkins says, unfortunately, the news is familiar.

"For the last 60 years, I guess, coal mining has been the life blood of this community, Jenkins told WKU Public Radio.  "Historically, we've had mine closures and layoffs, but it doesn't make it any easier."

Union County's unemployment rate in October was 4.8%.  The statewide rate was 6.2%.

Patriot emerged from bankruptcy reorganization a year ago and had earlier closed its mines in Henderson County.  In a news release, the company said low natural gas prices and tougher EPA regulations continue to drive down coal prices, resulting in operating losses at many mines.

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Politics
3:39 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Paul Asks Congress to Declare War on ISIS

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, R-KY

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 2:41 pm

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul introduced a resolution Wednesday in the U.S. Senate declaring war against the Islamic State. 

Paul said he believes the president should have come to Congress before authorizing military action against the terrorist group.

"Our founding fathers wanted to make it difficult to go to war," explained Paul.  "They wanted to have the authority of Congress, you had to have some consensus from the public at large before going to war, and they didn't give the power unilaterally to the president.  The president for the last four or five months has been acting illegally and unconstitutionally."

The U.S. began air strikes in Iraq and Syria a few months ago.  Senator Paul argues the current war must be made valid or be ended. 

The Bowling Green Republican says he does support a military campaign against ISIS, claiming the American embassy and consulate are threatened.

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Government
10:51 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Crit Luallen Ponders Political Future

A mainstay in Kentucky state government is keeping an open mind about her political future.

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Government
3:34 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Still Mum on Presidential Run, Rand Paul Announces U.S. Senate Re-election Bid

With no fanfare, Rand Paul announced Tuesday he’s running for a second term in the U.S. Senate in 2016.

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Agriculture
10:06 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Kentucky Seeking Hemp Growers for 2015

WKU Assistant Gardener Jenny Comer assists agriculture student Corinn Sprigler with cutting down hemp plants on the WKU farm.

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 4:25 pm

The application window is now open for Kentucky farmers and processors who want to grow hemp for research in 2015. 

Several Kentucky universities, including WKU, grew hemp this year for the first time in decades.  The application deadline for the next round  is January 1.

The first round of pilot projects yielded a lot of data about production methods, seed varieties, and processing techniques. 

"This past year we were as far west as Murray and as far east as Bath County.  We'd like to see that continuation or even expansion on either end," said Adam Watson, Industrial Hemp Program Coordinator in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.  "Definitely, we have different growing environments in Kentucky."

Applications are available on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's website at www.kyagr.com/hemp.  Applicants who are selected will undergo background checks and site visits.

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Culture
6:26 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Hardin County Woman Chosen to Help Decorate the White House for Christmas

Kate Bateman of Radcliff will join an all-volunteer pool of Americans who will decorate the White House for Christmas.

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 10:33 am

Never mind that it's not even Thanksgiving yet, Kate Bateman has Christmas music playing inside her Radcliff, Kentucky home.  When you visit, you'll find she's obsessed with Christmas.

"Bad enough that I put up five trees.  I have Santas in a showcase that stay out all year long.  I have a six-foot tall Santa in the foyer and he's out all year long," explained Bateman.  "It's kind of an overkill I guess, but I love Christmas."

The retired Hardin County Schools art teacher will soon combine her passion and talent to help America’s First Home sparkle for the holidays.  Bateman is part of an all-volunteer group of people from all over the country selected to help decorate the White House for Christmas.  She first learned about the opportunity while watching a special on HGTV. 

"I thought to myself 'Man, I'd love to do that!' but it wasn't a good time for me," she said.  "I was still teaching and I said 'I'm going put that on my list for when I retire."'

Fast forward a few years to the end of last month when Bateman learned the application she submitted over the summer had been accepted.  She leaves for Washington on Thanksgiving Day.  The opportunity puts a crimp in her traditional Thanksgiving plans, but she doesn’t mind.

"My youngest daughter had already said she wanted to host Thanksgiving at her house this year and I was all for that," stated Bateman.  "I'm making the pies the day before.  Their dad will take the pies over, and I'm on a plane.  And I'm so okay with that!"

Bateman will join a group of about 100 volunteers ranging from florists to lawyers who will put their mark on the 132-room White House.  She doesn’t have her assignment yet, but the suspense, she says, is part of the fun.

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Government
12:46 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Greer Announces Run for Kentucky House Speaker Pro Tem

Kentucky State Representative Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 11:11 am

A state lawmaker from Brandenburg plans to run for House Speaker Pro Tem when the Kentucky General Assembly convenes in January. 

Representative Jeff Greer is sending out letters Friday to his Democratic colleagues announcing his plans to run for the leadership post. 

Elected in 2007, he represents Meade and portions of Bullitt and Hardin counties.  Greer told WKU Public Radio that joining House leadership would be good for his constituents. 

"Normally, the leadership team gets the last look at the budget before it comes up for a vote," explained Greer.  "You get to negotiate with the Senate on the budget, and that's a huge responsibility."

The pro tem position became vacant this week when Representative Larry Clark of Louisville announced he’s stepping aside from the post he’s held since 1993.

Democrats maintained their 54-46 advantage in the Kentucky House in last week’s election.  Leadership elections will take place on the first day of the 2015 legislative session which is set for January 6.

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Politics
3:04 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

McConnell and Grimes Criss-Cross Kentucky on Final Full Day of Campaigning

Sen. Mitch McConnell and Sec. of State Alison Lundergan Grimes

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 2:57 pm

One of the most expensive Senate races in U.S. history will come to an end Tuesday evening when voters decide between Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Grimes spoke to supporters at the Bowling Green United Auto Workers Hall Monday morning. She was dismissive of recent polls that show Sen. McConnell with a growing lead. An NBC/Marist poll released over the weekend gave McConnell a nine point lead.

“That’s the Washington D.C.-beltway punditry.  As you can see, the energy is palpable,” Grimes said, in reference to supporters at her Warren County event. “Kentuckians will have the final word in this election, and I do believe that they are bringing this race home, and will bring us across the finish line successfully.”

Grimes is hoping to become Kentucky’s first female U.S. Senator. On the final day of campaigning before votes are cast Tuesday, the Secretary of State is flying around the state, making appearances with Governor Steve Beshear, Former Governor Martha Layne Collins, and Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo.

McConnell is spending Monday alongside his fellow Kentucky Republican Senator, Rand Paul of Bowling Green. The two are flying around the state and speaking at airports across the commonwealth, including those in Bowling Green and Owensboro Monday afternoon.

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