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Bullitt County Waits For Smoking Ban Response

Bullitt County is waiting to hearing whether smoking will be banned in restaurants, bars and other public places. A county judge is expected to make a decision before Sept. 19, when the ban is scheduled to take effect.

The Bullitt County Health Department passed a smoking ban that puts restrictions on where people may smoke, citing health reasons for the ban. But the county government says it can’t do that.

“They said the board of health is not a legislative body so therefore they cannot adopt new regulation unless there’s a law in the books,” said Swannie Jett, executive director of the Bullitt County Health Department.

Bullitt County officials and several city governments say it’s not in the health department’s jurisdiction to pass the regulation without writing it into law, and the county government says that’s something it can’t do.

“The board of health’s response is that according to a KRS statute (212.230) they have been given the legal right due to general assembly which passed it down to the cabinet of health and human services,” said Jett.

Bullitt County Circuit Judge Rodney Burress is now deciding whether the board of health has the right to passing the regulation.

In January the health department conducted a survey that shows 60 percent strongly favor a smoking ban.

The regulations include banning smoking in bars, restaurants and 20 feet from service lines or seating in sports arenas. It also bans e-cigarettes that release water vapor instead of smoke.

Bullitt County’s counsel would not respond until after a decision is made.

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Local News Politics

Indiana Equality Considering Options to Fight Same-Sex Marriage Ban

An Indiana advocacy group is planning its next step in the fight against a ban on same-sex marriage.

The Indiana General Assembly this week approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions. It must pass the legislature again in two years and then be approved in a public vote before becoming official.

Indiana Equality President Rick Sutton says his organization is considering various strategies to stop the amendment. He says several people have called for a campaign against lawmakers who supported the measure so they won’t be in office when it comes up again in the 2013 session.

“I don’t know that that’s the wise thing to do or not,” he says. “We have to survey our members and see what they want to do and plot our strategy politically. But it could include individual action against individual members and it must include a public education campaign. We have to do that.”

The amendment passed the Indiana Senate with a 40-10 vote and the House with a 70-26 vote.

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Local News

Governor Bans Texting While Driving in State Vehicles

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

An executive order issued by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear prohibits text messaging by state employees driving government-owned vehicles.

Beshear admits the ban will be hard to enforce, but says violators, if caught, could face personnel action.

“We’re not going to put out some elaborate kind of enforcement scheme,” says Beshear. “We are going to request state government employees to honor this policy. We’re going to ask the public to call us if they see any state employee in a government-owned vehicle text messaging.”

Beshear says the ban also includes emailing, instant messaging or engaging in any other form of electronic data transfer, retrieval or communication while driving government vehicles.

It does not include talking on a cell phone while driving.

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Local News

Follow the Swedes?

According to this recent story in the British paper the Guardian, Sweden has decided to lift a ban on new nuclear power plants. Apparently, the country wants to replace 10 older reactors.

A ban has been in place since 1980, but officials decided nuclear power could be handy in the fight against climate change. Nuclear plants emit no carbon, although there are other wastes, of course!

Kentucky officials are considering the same action: lifting a ban on new nuclear power plants. The idea is to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and become less dependent on coal.

Many environmental groups believe nuclear power is less than ideal. First, there’s the sticky problem of where to put the radioactive waste. There’s the difficult engineering decision about where to site a plant. There’s the extraordinary cost to build a new plant. And there’s the amount of time that would elapse before a new plant ever came online – from financing to design to permitting, etc. Some also point to the energy expended to get the necessary uranium out of the ground, and the amount of water used at a plant.

Still others insist we should be investing resources in renewable energy, not handing out loan guarantees to nuclear power giants. One slight problem with the most obvious renewable energy sources here in Kentucky, however, is that we don’t have huge wind or solar resources. Some technological innovations could perhaps help improve our ability to harness those sources, though.

Supporters of nuclear say it’s clean and efficient power. They also believe it’s much safer than people might believe, especially with the most recently designed reactors. Last but not least, Kentucky is home to the nation’s only uranium enrichment plant, which means transportation costs – and the resulting emissions – wouldn’t be as high as they might otherwise.

What do you think? Should Kentucky pursue nuclear energy?

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Local News

U of L Committees Considering Extended Smoking Ban

The University of Louisville may follow the University of Kentucky in broadening a ban on outdoor smoking.

UK President Lee Todd said this week that the school could approve a ban by next fall.

Committees in U of L’s governing bodies are considering a similar proposal, but no timeline has been set. U of L College of Health Sciences spokesperson Ellen de Graffenreid says before a rule is put in place, the school wants to help students, staff and faculty quit smoking.

“Definitely they would want to support people having a healthy workplace environment and understanding that it is difficult to quit smoking, some of those resources would be available and in fact are available through the U of L health plans at this time,” she says.

Smoking is already prohibited on U of L’s Health Sciences campus. Currently, Campbellsville University is the only college in Kentucky to have a ban on outdoor smoking.