Tobacco farmers notch legislative victory
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Tobacco farmers have long been on the defensive but they notched a victory when the U.S. Senate defeated an attempt to eliminate the federal insurance program for the embattled crop.
The vote came Thursday as the Senate crafts a 5-year farm bill.
The amendment proposed ending $33 million a year in insurance policies for tobacco farmers.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the amendment's defeat a "big victory" for tobacco growers.
Kentucky is the nation's top burley tobacco producer. But production has fallen sharply since the tobacco buyout nearly a decade ago.
University of Kentucky agricultural economist Will Snell says crop insurance is crucial for tobacco growers.
Not only do they depend on it for risk protection, but he says it helps them obtain financing.
Critics say federal contributions to crop insurance are too generous.
Tea party vs. old guard in Senate GOP rift
WASHINGTON (AP) - A long-simmering feud between establishment Republicans and tea partyers is in full view again with Sen. John McCain accusing younger colleagues of using tactics that might tempt Democrats to change Senate rules that now protect the minority party.
How to deal with the government's debt and spending became the latest quarrel between the GOP's 2008 presidential candidate and tea party champions such as Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.
Cruz and Lee expressed fears Thursday that Republicans might give up their ability to use a filibuster to wrest more spending cuts from Democrats and President Barack Obama.
McCain said Americans expect Congress - even though divided - to accomplish things through compromise.
Pikeville hospital joining Mayo network
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Pikeville Medical Center says it will join the Mayo Clinic Care Network.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the network connects doctors with Mayo Clinic specialists for diagnosis, therapy and care management through an online information system.
Joining the Mayo network is a collaboration, not an acquisition or merger.
The Pikeville center is a 261-bed hospital that is undergoing a $150 million expansion. It employs more than 2,300 people.
The eastern Kentucky hospital is the second medical center in Kentucky to join the Mayo network. Saint Elizabeth Healthcare, a system with hospitals in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, also is a member.
UofL trustees panel backs 3% tuition hike
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A University of Louisville trustees committee has recommended a 3% increase in undergraduate tuition for the next academic year.
The Finance Committee on Thursday also gave its approval for a $496.5 million general fund budget for UofL in the upcoming year.
The full board of trustees will consider the budget and tuition increase next month.
UofL President James Ramsey calls it a "no-frills budget" that does include pay raises for faculty and staff.
UofL says the 3% tuition boost would be the smallest percentage increase in undergraduate tuition in 14 years.
The state Council on Postsecondary Education set a 3% ceiling for tuition increases at public colleges and universities for the upcoming academic year.
At UofL, undergraduate tuition would rise to $4,875 per semester for full-time, in-state students.
Possible layoffs at Paducah plant delayed
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) - A company that sent layoff notices to about 260 workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant says it will delay implementing them for at least 30 days.
LATA Kentucky project manager Mark Duff told The Paducah Sun that Congress approved a "reprogramming request" from the Department of Energy that could mean more funding for cleanup efforts at the Paducah site.
The layoffs that were scheduled to go into effect on June 3 would have affected 80% of LATA's workforce.
Duff says the company is now "optimistic" that it could receive enough funding to keep workers on through the rest of 2013.
Tea party wins round in health care reform lawsuit
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The tea party has won the first round in a lawsuit that questions the legality of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange that Gov. Steve Beshear set up last year by executive order.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip J. Shepherd refused to dismiss the lawsuit on Thursday, as had been requested by attorneys for the state.
The state argued unsuccessfully that taxpayers don't have legal standing to challenge the legality of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange, which is intended to help uninsured people arrange insurance coverage under the federal health care overhaul.
Tea party activist David Adams filed the lawsuit last month, claiming Beshear created the exchange without necessary legislative approval. Adams wants Shepherd to order work on the exchange to cease.
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