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Kentucky unveils new campaign to promote HPV vaccine

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –Kentucky will start a statewide campaign July 20 to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against human papillomavirus, a virus that can cause cervical and oral cancer.

Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, Health and Family Services Audrey Haynes and state Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield announced the campaign Monday at a Capitol news conference.

Luallen said a $500,000 federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will pay for the campaign that will run through September and feature TV, radio and print ads developed by Louisville-based Doe Anderson.

The vaccine is for girls and boys.

Kentucky trails the national average of children vaccinated for the virus.

Currently, only 27 percent of Kentucky girls ages 13 to 17 have received the recommended three doses of the HPV vaccine compared to 38 percent throughout the nation, and only 19 percent of the state boys have received only one dose.

Dr. Hatim Omar, a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine who runs an adolescent health clinic at UK, said in a statement that nearly everyone will get one or more types of HPV in his or her life.

That will cause in some, he said, genital warts, cervical, vulvar, penile, oral and other cancers.

“The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing 70-90 percent of these diseases, which makes it a no-brainer to have everyone eligible immunized,” Omar said.

The target group for the vaccine is children 11 or 12 years old. Teens who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should ask their health-care provider about it, said Mayfield.

Women can get the vaccine through age 26 and men can get vaccinated through age 21.

The vaccine includes three injections in the arm over a year.

Health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine. The Vaccines for Children programs helps families of eligible children who do not have access to vaccines.

KY Sen. Chris Girdler of Somerset will not seek re-election next year

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — State Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, announced Thursday he will not seek re-election to the Kentucky Senate next year.

Girdler, a former aide and district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, said in a statement that after more than “a year of prayerful consideration and conversations with my wife and close friends, I have confidently come to the decision that I will not be seeking re-election in 2016.”

Girdler, who won an election in 2012 to represent the 15th Senate District that includes Pulaski, Lincoln and Boyle counties, said he has a deep passion for public service but his wife, Courtney, and he are expecting their second daughter soon “and my passion for public service pales in comparison to the love and passion I have for my family and my faith.”

Girdler noted that he suggested many times on the campaign trail in 2012 that he did not plan on serving in the Senate for a long time.

“I feel I made that abundantly clear when I opted out of the legislative retirement plan upon being sworn in to prove that I was not in the General Assembly for the perks and privileges, but there to do the people’s business, and that is exactly what I have done,” he said.

Auditor Edelen to hold statewide meetings on untested rape kits

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT – State Auditor Adam Edelen and officials with the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs will hold 14 meetings across the state this summer to talk about the state’s problem with untested rape kits.

Edelen, a Democrat who is seeking re-election this year, said the meetings are part of his office’s efforts to conduct a statewide count of untested sexual-assault kits.

He also plans to make recommendations to the state legislature to reform how evidence in cases of sexual violence is handled.

The statewide count was prompted by legislation sponsored this year by Sen. Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville.

Senate Joint Resolution 20 calls on Edelen to count the number of untested sexual-assault evidence kits in the possession of law enforcement. Kentucky State Police officials have said there might be as many as 2,000 to 5,000 untested kits sitting on shelves in police stations and prosecutors’ offices across the state.

Edelen said the kits contain biological evidence collected from assault victims during investigations and might contain DNA from assailants who can be identified by comparisons with the national DNA database.

“These meetings are an important part of our examination of the complex issues surrounding untested rape kits,” Edelen said in a release. “I hope to hear from law enforcement, prosecutors, survivors and others as we begin working toward recommending reforms to the system.”

Edelen said he wants to talk to survivors, victims’ advocates, nurses, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges and others who are involved in sexual assault investigations and gather testimony about the issues and challenges they face.

He said his office is focused on issues such as how kits are logged, tracked and stored, how decisions to test kits are made, whether victims are notified of the status of their kits and whether law enforcement have sufficient policies, procedures and training to handle kits and deal with victims.

Survivors, victims’ advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors and others who are involved in sexual assault investigations are invited to attend the meetings to voice their concerns and experiences.

Persons who would prefer to share privately their concerns with the auditor’s office may request time in advance of the meetings to do so, Edelen said.

Also, individuals may share their stories, concerns and opinions via email at stephenie.hoelscher@ky.gov. Confidentiality may be requested.

Here is the schedule of the meetings:

June 23
2 p.m. CST
New Beginnings Sexual Assault Support Services, 1716 Scherm Rd., Owensboro

June 26
10 a.m. CST
Purchase Area Sexual Assault and Child Advocacy Center, 1605 North Friendship Road, Paducah

June 30
10 a.m. EST
Women’s Crisis Center, 3580 Hargrave Drive, Hebron

July 1
11 a.m. EST
Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services, 751 South Provident Way, Elizabethtown

July 7
10 a.m. EST
Cumberland River Behavioral Health, 1203 American Greeting Road, Corbin

July 7
2 p.m. EST
Adanta Sexual Assault Resource Center, 130 Southern School Road, Somerset

July 8
1 p.m. EST
Center for Women & Families, 927 S. 2nd Street, Louisville

July 9
10 a.m. CST
Economic Justice Institute, 2109 Old Louisville Road, Bowling Green

July 9
2 p.m. CST
Hopkinsville Municipal Center, 715 S. Virginia Street, Hopkinsville

July 13
10 a.m. EST
145 Constitution Street, Lexington

July 14
11 a.m. EST
Mountain Comprehensive Care Center’s Healing Program for Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, 104 S. Front Street, Prestonsburg

July 14
2 p.m. EST
The Rising Center, 637 Morton Blvd., Hazard

July 21
10 am EST
Mason County Health Department, 120 West Third Street, Maysville

July 21
2 p.m. EST
Park Place, 1701 Central Avenue, Ashland

–Jack Brammer

Conway and Overly agree to appear at six forums or debates with Bevin and Hampton

conwaysetupJack Conway’s Democratic gubernatorial campaign on Monday released a schedule of six forums where Conway or his running mate, state Rep. Sannie Overly of Paris, plan to appear alongside their Republican opponents, Louisville financier Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton.

“I look forward to a serious discussion with my opponent about the issues that matter most to Kentucky families,” Conway, finishing his second term as attorney general, said in a statement.

Ben Hartman, Bevin’s campaign manager, said: “We have agreed to some (of the forums) and are in the process of scheduling the rest. As Matt has said numerous times since Election Day, we would like as many debates as possible.”

Matt BevinThe schedule offered by Conway is:

June 19: Kentucky County Judge-Executive Association summer conference at the Galt House in Louisville.

July 23: Kentucky Farm Bureau “Measure the Candidates” forum at KFB state headquarters in Louisville.

Oct. 6: Centre College in Danville. This will be broadcast on television.

Oct. 19: Kentucky Educational Television’s Kentucky Tonight forum for lieutenant governor candidates in Lexington. This will be broadcast on statewide television.

Oct. 25: Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. This will be broadcast on television.

Oct. 26: KET’s Kentucky Tonight forum for gubernatorial candidates in Lexington. This will be broadcast on statewide television.

Secretary of State Grimes takes economic development trip to China

HERALD-LEADER FRANKFORT BUREAU

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is joining four other secretaries of state on an economic development trip to China.

The trip, which started May 30 and runs through June 7, is being coordinated and completely funded by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Grimes said in a release that she is working to advance Kentucky’s economic development efforts by providing information about Kentucky, its business climate and economic development opportunities in the state.

The American delegation will spend time in several cities in China and meet with various government and business officials.

“Since taking office in 2012, I’ve worked with our General Assembly to update our laws and expand our online business services so that Kentucky truly is open for business,” said Grimes. “Encouraging businesses to make Kentucky their home and growing our economy is the next step.”

China ranks as Kentucky’s fifth largest export partner, with more than $1.6 billion of Kentucky exports in 2014. The aerospace industry accounted for more than 40 percent of total Kentucky exports to China last year.

Several Kentucky companies, including Lexmark, KFC/Yum! Brands, Brown Forman and Ashland Oil, have offices in China.

Ahead of the trip, Grimes visited Birtley Industrial Equipment Corporation’s Lexington headquarters. Birtley, a manufacturer of advanced coal preparation products, was the first Chinese manufacturer to locate in Kentucky, investing approximately $10 million and creating as many as 50 new full-time jobs.

–Jack Brammer

Economic Development Secretary Hayes announces retirement

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT – Kentucky Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes announced Thursday he will retire from the position later this year after seven years in the job.

Gov. Steve Beshear, as chair of the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board, said the board will conduct a national search to replace Hayes.

No firm departure date has been set for Hayes, of Louisville, to step down.

Timing will be based upon completion of a successful transition period so not to disrupt ongoing project activities and discussions, said a release from the Economic Development Cabinet. The job pays $250,000 a year.

Richard Heath seeks recanvass in GOP race for agriculture commissioner

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT –State Rep. Richard Heath of Mayfield, a Republican candidate for agriculture commissioner in Tuesday’s primary election, asked Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes Thursday for a statewide recanvass.

Unofficial vote totals currently show Heath wth a 1,427-vote deficit to his opponent, state Rep. Ryan Quarles of Georgetown.

Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said she will forward Heath’s request to all county clerks and remind them of the procedures for a recanvass.

“Our office is always available to assist county boards of elections in any way we can,” Grimes said. “Integrity in our elections processes is crucial, and Kentuckians deserve to know that their votes are properly counted and tabulated.”

On Wednesday, Grimes received a statewide recanvass request from James R. Comer and Chris McDaniel, Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. They trail the GOP ticket of Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton by 83 votes out of 214,187 cast.

County boards of elections will convene at 9 a.m. May 28 to recheck and recanvass the voting machines. Immediately upon completion of the recanvass, the county boards of elections will file their recanvass reports with Grimes.

Grimes prepares for potential recanvass in GOP gubernatorial primary

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com
FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Wednesday that her office is prepared for a potential recanvass in Tuesday’s razor-close Republican primary election for governor.
Unofficial results show Louisville businessman Matt Bevin with an 83-vote lead over state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville.
Comer has said he plans to ask for a recanvass.
“Both candidates and the public are entitled to confidence in election results, and I stand ready to facilitate any proceedings necessary to provide those assurances,” said Grimes, the state’s chief election official in a statement.
“My office is prepared and will continue to provide updates regarding any recanvass requests we receive and the procedures being followed.”
To obtain a recanvass in a statewide election, a candidate must submit a written request to the Secretary of State’s office no later than 4 p.m. Eastern Time on May 26.
The request may be limited to certain precincts or counties or seek a statewide recanvass.
Once the request is made, Grimes’ office will communicate it to all county boards of elections involved.
Under Kentucky law, the county boards of elections for the counties in which a recanvass was requested will convene at 9 a.m. on May 28 to recheck and recanvass each voting machine and make a return to the county clerk.
That will become the official return for the county.
Each candidate and both political parties are entitled to have a representative present at the recanvass. In addition, the county board of elections shall authorize members of the media to observe.
The purpose of a recanvass is to verify the accuracy of the vote totals reported from the voting machines.
The method for conducting the recanvass depends on the type of voting machine and is set forth in an administrative regulation.
No voting machines are unlocked during the recanvass. If there was an error in the original canvass, the returns will be corrected.
The county board of elections must file its recanvass report with the secretary of state immediately upon completion of the recanvass.
On May 11, Grimes office sent to all county clerks vote total certification forms and a memorandum with the procedures and forms to be used in the event a recanvass is requested.
Since January 2011, the secretary of state’s office has received five recanvass requests – three for legislative offices and two for judicial offices.
The recanvass results did not change the outcome of those elections.
The last statewide recanvass occurred in the 2011 Republican Primary for the office of Secretary of State between Bill Johnson and Hilda Legg.
The recanvass resulted in a change of 6 votes in favor of Hilda Legg, the losing candidate, but did not change the outcome of the election.

James Comer confirms that Rand Paul reached out with encouraging message

By Sam Youngman
syoungman@herald-leader.com

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Comer, under fire for allegations that he abused his college girlfriend, confirmed a report that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul reached out recently with a supportive message.

Politico reported Friday that Paul texted Comer after Monday night’s gubernatorial debate on KET with the message to keep his head up during trying times.

Comer did not elaborate on what Paul told him, but he did confirm to the Herald-Leader that the senator, who is running for president, contacted him with a supportive message.

Comer has repeatedly denied allegations that he was physically and verbally abusive to his college girlfriend.

Both Paul and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have declined to get publicly involved in the increasingly contentious Republican primary featuring Comer, retired state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott and Louisville businessmen Hal Heiner and Matt Bevin.

Grimes predicts only 10 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election

By Jack Brammer
jbrammer@herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is predicting only 10 percent voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election.

Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said a review of absentee data from county clerks and historical turnout for similar elections indicates that about 10 percent of the 3.1 million people registered to vote in Kentucky will go to the polls Tuesday.

Races in play are for governor and the state’s other constitutional offices.

In 2011, the last election for statewide constitutional officers in Kentucky, 10.35 percent of voters went to the polls for the primary, said Grimes.

About 17 percent of the Kentucky electorate voted in the 2003 primary election, which is the last time there was not an incumbent candidate for the office of governor.

As of May 11, she said, 3,388 voters had voted absentee on machines in county clerks’ offices and 3,586 absentee ballots had been mailed to voters.

Grimes urged voters to prepare to vote on May 19 by checking their polling places and viewing sample ballots.