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Kentucky officials report a 3.5 percent drop in tax collections for December, but say state revenue is up slightly for the first six months of the fiscal year.  State Budget Director Jane Driskell says December’s General Fund revenue totaled almost $913 million, a drop of over $33 million for the same month in 2012.  Driskell says 2012 collections included a $25 million windfall due to a taxpayer amnesty.  

lrc.ky.gov

Democratic State Senator Jerry Rhoads of Madisonville says he won’t seek re-election this year. 

http://www.kcjea.org

McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry and Deputy Judge-Executive Doug Harnice face a charge of tampering with public records in connection with unauthorized zone changes affecting at least 500 pieces of property in the county.  

dpd.cdc.gov

The region’s dangerously cold temperatures could bring some benefits later in the year in the form of a smaller flea and tick population.  But according to entomologist Doug Johnson of the University of Kentucky’s Princeton extension office, they’re resourceful animals.  He says fleas, once indoors on a human or a pet brought in from the cold, can thrive, surviving on waste or debris until they mature.  Johnson says ticks, by contrast, live mostly outdoors, and are more susceptible to cold.

blackpast.org

Paducah poet Etheridge Knight is among the thirteen finalists for the 2014 Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.  Knight was born in Mississippi but moved with his family to Paducah when his father got a job working on Kentucky Dam.  

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A crush of health insurance shoppers in Illinois have been calling a telephone help line set up to answer their questions, as an important deadline looms for the nation's health law.  More than 1,600 people called the Get Covered Illinois Help Desk over the weekend. That's more than double the call volume from the previous weekend. The state's health insurance website saw more than 26,000 visitors over the weekend, an increase of 4,000 from the weekend before. 

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The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has awarded about $2.3 million in recycling grants.  Commissioner Bob Martineau says the grants are meant to help reduce landfill waste in the state.  Most of the money comes in the form of "Recycling Hub and Spoke Grants," which are used to expand regional facilities to collect, transport and process materials from several counties and municipalities.

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Kentuckians who want to switch political parties and vote as Republicans or Democrats in next May's primary have until December 31st to do so.  Voters will be choosing Republican and Democratic nominees for a variety of local government positions, plus judicial seats, legislative posts, and, at the top of the ticket, a U.S. Senate seat. 

kynect.ky.gov

Kentucky has seen a surge in sign-ups for Medicaid and medical insurance as Monday’s deadline approached for those who want coverage to begin next week.  Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange spokeswoman Gwenda Bond says about 100,000 people have signed up, most of them on Medicaid.  Bond says enrollment has gone from about 1,000 to 3,000 people a day in the past week. 

weather.com

Paducah native and former WPSD alumnus Sam Champion has been tapped to become managing editor at the cable network The Weather Channel.  He will also anchor the network’s new flagship morning show, set to debut in early 2014. 

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