Court voids crime victims' amendment

The Kentucky Supreme Court has voided a proposed amendment on crime victims' rights because the question posed to voters was too vague.

Voters in November approved the amendment on Kentucky's version of Marsy's Law, which would guarantee the rights of crime victims, including the right to be notified of more court proceedings. It passed with 63 percent of the vote.

A circuit court judge ruled before last year's election that the question on the ballot was misleading, and the Supreme Court agreed in a 22-page ruling on Thursday. The high court ruled that the General Assembly is required to submit the full text of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electorate for a vote.

Kentucky was one of six states that approved versions of Marsy's Law last year.

Lexington woman crowned Miss Kentucky

Alex Francke of Lexington was crowned Miss Kentucky 2019 in the annual scholarship pageant Saturday in Louisville. Through a decades-long partnership of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the Miss Kentucky Organization, Francke will serve as the official spokesperson for Kentucky Proud.

"Congratulations to Alex Francke on winning the Miss Kentucky competition," Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. "On behalf of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, we look forward to working with her in the coming year to talk about the health and economic benefits of fresh, nutritious Kentucky Proud foods."

Francke earned an $18,000 scholarship for winning the title of Miss Kentucky.

"Serving as Miss Kentucky 2019 is a dream come true," Francke said. "I cannot be more thrilled to get started traveling the state to promote the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the state's official agricultural marketing program, Kentucky Proud."

As part of her responsibilities, Francke will visit schools throughout the commonwealth as an ambassador for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Kentucky Proud. She will educate students of all age groups about farm safety, agriculture basics and maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle.

Tennessee launches law targeting cell use

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is partnering with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to launch "Hands Free Tennessee."

The purpose of this campaign is to educate Tennesseans about the state's new "Hands Free Law," known as Public Chapter No. 412, which takes effect on July 1. This new law requires drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.

It makes it illegal for a driver to:

•hold a cellphone or mobile device with any part of their body,

• write, send, or read any text-based communication,

•reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt,

•watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, and

•record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device.

In 2018, there were more than 24,600 crashes involving a distracted driver in Tennessee. On average, that is sixty-seven crashes every single day. A recent study listed Tennessee as having the highest rate of distracted driving deaths in the nation -- nearly five times the national average.

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