A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

The Week’s Roundup ICYM: CovCath student sues Wash Post; bills on nonprofit sales tax, KERS

Nicholas Sandmann through his parents Ted Sandmann and Julie Sandmann are suing The Washington Post Company for $250 million for the paper’s reporting on an incident that occurred during a Covington Catholic High School trip to participate in the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

The story reported by The Post involved a viral video on a meeting of Sandmann, 16, and Native American activist Nathan Phillips, 64, on January 18 at a gathering at the Lincoln Memorial.

The 38-page suit asks for $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages for “false and defamatory” and “malicious” reporting of the incident that caused “substantial and permanent damage to Nicholas.” It says The Post “bullied an innocent child.”

It was filed by attorneys L.Lin Wood of Atlanta and Todd V. McMurtry of Ft. Mitchell in United States Eastern District of Kentucky, Northern Division at Covington.

The suit outlines the errors in The Post’s reporting on the incident through several days of stories that, it says, continued to mischaracterize Sandmann and the incident.

The suit refers to a video they consolidated from the available footage called “Nick Sandman: The Truth in 15 Minutes.”

The attorneys have said that other suits will follow.

See the full suit here.

Bill would exempt non-profits from sales tax

Churches and other non-profit groups would be exempt from having to collect sales tax on admission fees, under legislation approved by the Kentucky House this week.

Legislature in session

Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah, sponsored the bill, noting, when lawmakers pass major bills, such as last year’s tax reform bill, some clean-up needs to be done.

In addition, he said, “Some of the sections deal with what I believe to be incorrect interpretations that were not intended by the General Assembly, by the Revenue Cabinet.”

The bill also exempts some large companies from paying sales tax on utility costs that are more than three percent of their total overall costs, and that drew objections from some members.

Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg, said she would support the bill, to fulfill a promise she made to charitable organizations in her district.  “But I’m very disappointed to find some surprises in this Christmas Tree bill, in the form of corporate tax cuts.”

The measure passed 96-4 and now heads to the Senate.

Bill would allow public universities to leave KERS

Legislation passed a House committee would allow the state’s public universities to leave the Kentucky Employee Retirement System and move new hires to a defined contribution pension system, like a 401 (k). It now heads to the full House.

Rep. James Tipton, R-Taylorsville, is sponsor of the bill and told the House State Government Committee the schools found their required contributions would nearly double and came up with the alternative.

David McFaddin, a vice-president at Eastern Kentucky University, testified that even with state budget cuts and escalating expenses, “The single biggest threat that public higher education in Kentucky today, is this looming pension crisis and the expense it drives.”

McFaddin told the panel there is a consensus among the schools for the plan.

There are 2,800 university employees in the KERS, a fraction of the total 135,000 public employees in the system.

Employees of the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville are not part of the system with the regional universities.


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