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Federal highway authorities have notified the state that the proposed Interstate 69 will be designated a “corridor of the future,” marking it for accelerated development. I-69 would pass through Kentucky and seven other states – Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana and Michigan – all of which jointly applied for the “corridor of the future” designation. In Kentucky, I-69 will stretch about 150 miles through western Kentucky – Fulton to Henderson – along the Pennyrile, Western Kentucky and Purchase parkways and a section of I-24. The state unveiled signs designating the future interstate last year. Construction and upgrades for the corridor are estimated at $796.7 million.

AT&T
has launched a new directory assistance service throughout Kentucky that enables callers who dial 1-800-YellowPages to receive numbers for business listings at no cost. Callers hear short audio ads before receiving the number either for the business they have requested or if a general category – such as florist – is requested, up to three ads in that category are played. Other ad options are also available. The service is accessible from landline and wireless phones of any type.

The Kentucky Office of Financial Institutions (OFI) has announced that it will join in the new Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) when it begins its first day of operation on Jan. 2, 2008. The system will be used by state residential mortgage regulators to accept and process national, uniform license applications and license renewal requests. The system will manage the licenses of all mortgage companies, branches and individuals operating in Kentucky. Beginning Jan. 2, OFI will require all companies who wish to apply for a license, as well as existing licensees who wish to amend their license, to access the system for the first time to create a record and submit it to OFI for approval. All licensees must create a complete corporate record on the system and submit it to OFI for approval by June 30, 2008. Information about completing and submitting the pre-entitlement information can be found on OFI’s Web site at www.kfi.ky.gov.

Kentucky has been awarded a highly competitive grant from the National Math and Science Initiative to fund training and incentives for advanced placement (AP) and pre-AP courses in Kentucky high schools. Research has shown that students who have access to strong AP programs are better prepared to handle college-level work in math, science and engineering. The grant will provide up to $13.2 million over six years.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has granted Columbia Gas of Kentucky
Inc. a 4.6 percent increase in annual revenue from natural gas base rates. The new monthly fixed charge for residential customers will increase from $6.95 to $9.30, but will no longer include the cost of delivering the first 1,000 cubic feet of gas used each month; Columbia had been the only one of Kentucky’s five major natural gas distribution companies with such a charge. The monthly fixed charge is intended to cover those costs of providing service that are independent of the amount of gas a customer uses. The settlement leaves the volume-based delivery charge unchanged. For the average residential customer, the result is a $2.35 increase in Columbia’s monthly fixed charge and a shift of the $1.87 delivery cost for the first 1,000 cubic feet of gas to the variable part of the bill, for an increase of $4.22 per month.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has launched a new Web site designed to make it easier and less expensive for small businesses to comply with regulatory legislation. RegWatch is a free service that enables users to register with state government agencies to receive notification of changes to existing administrative regulations or to receive notice of newly proposed administrative regulations. Users have the ability to register by agency, by topic, or a combination of both. In addition, new legislation now requires state government to detail the costs and benefits of new or revised regulations and provides that each agency will have a small-business ombudsman to respond to inquiries from small businesses. Administrative contacts for each state agency are listed on the site, which can be accessed at https://secure.kentucky.gov/Regwatch.

Kentucky recently ranked fourth among all states in an annual “e-government analysis” published by researchers at Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy. The study analyzed nearly 1,500 Web sites and evaluated the extent to which state governments and selected federal agencies use Internet-based technology to improve public access to governmental services. Based on the criteria measured, Kentucky has made huge strides in the technology realm: The same study in 2002 ranked Kentucky 44th. During the 2006 calendar year, citizen visits to www.Kentucky.gov reached 24 million, averaging more than two million visits per month and representing a 62 percent increase in use over 2005.

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