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March 27, 2016

 

State Rep. Jim Wayne

State Rep. Joni Jenkins

State Rep. George Brown

State Rep. Mary Lou Marzian

State Rep. Darryl Owens

State Rep. David Watkins

State Rep. Tom Burch

 

The superbly accurate reporting of the Louisville Courier Journal's Deborah Yetter, which outlines in detail the outrageous lies and subterfuge perpetrated upon Kentuckians by Gov. Matt Bevin regarding kynect, Benefind and expanded Medicaid, has pushed our outrage to the limit.

Gone are our assumptions that the Bevin Administration is just incompetent and ignorant of Kentucky's complicated healthcare systems.

Instead we are now unequivocally convinced that Gov. Bevin's goal is to deprive hundreds of thousands of families, children and seniors of the excellent healthcare kynect and expanded Medicaid is providing.

Despite incontrovertible evidence that Kentucky's expanded Medicaid and kynect programs have created historic increases in Kentuckians' access to healthcare and produced unprecedented economic development in the healthcare industry, Gov. Bevin refuses to believe the proof of these programs' successes.

He turns a blind eye to the evidence and continues to repeat his dark promise to get rid of these programs.

Look at the evolution of chicanery, deception and fabrication the Bevin Administration has employed to date.

• Matt Bevin sailed into the governor's office with the promise to get rid of "Obamacare", the Republicans' deliberately misleading moniker for Kentucky's home grown, nationally recognized and highly successful healthcare programs.

• Gov. Bevin, in his first weeks in office, cancelled the contract for all advertising for kynect and eliminated the vitally important kynectors. This dramatically complicated and reduced access for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.

• Next, we Democrats on the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources fumed as Cabinet Sec. Vicky Glisson spent weeks dodging our requests for information and fiscal evidence these programs weren't sustainable as was being constantly brayed by Gov. Bevin.

• When we reached the point where we considered using subpoena power to extract the requested information, Sec. Glisson provided a PowerPoint which used questionable accounting methods to justify Gov. Bevin's promise to dismantle kynect.

• To make matters worse, the new administration has even managed to bungle the roll out of another program, Benefind, which was engineered by former Gov Beshear solely for the purpose of complementing kynect to help consumers find supplemental assistance such as food stamps.

• Inexplicably, the Bevin administration has attempted to convert many people off of kynect and onto Benefind for healthcare purposes.

• Since the rollout of Benefind two weeks ago, massive, potentially catastrophic results have occurred.

• Thousands of Kentuckians have received letters requesting information already provided, been denied services by their doctors because their policies are unknowingly cancelled, and refused life saving medications at pharmacies because their medical cards are invalid.

Why? Because the Bevin administration has gerrymandered the Benefind program to be something it is not, the online portal and rules engine for Medicaid in Kentucky.

Gov. Bevin, obviously realizing the disastrous consequences of his administration's deceit as his very voters are being terminated from their policies, has now ramped up his mendacity and harmful intent to mislead.

He has laid the blame of the dreadful Benefind rollout on Gov. Beshear and his IT team stating in a video message this week to his own employees (experiencing colossal call volume and frustration with the new program) that "we were told this was ready to go, it's a program that's been developed for years."

This message flies in the face of Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover's comments on the House floor last week as we passed House Bills 5 and 6 to preserve kynect and expanded Medicaid.

Republican Hoover said "The shift to healthcare.gov will not cause a single person or policy to be cancelled or a single person to lose coverage."

The ultimate, outrageous irony of Gov. Bevin's and the Republicans scheme is that they want to take a state program and convert it to a federal government program. This is in direct conflict of their own party's often touted doctrine of Americans needing smaller government and less federal intrusion.

We now stand at a terrifying crossroads in Kentucky history.

Are we going to allow this governor to rip away a healthcare system that has provided coverage for 1.4 million people, created 14,500 healthcare jobs, decreased emergency room visits, made hospitals profitable, poured billions into local economies and fostered a healthier population?

Or will Kentuckians mobilize in solidarity against Gov. Bevin's deplorable mission to destroy kynect and expanded Medicaid, a mission that is already causing much pain, anguish and suffering for so many?

In the days remaining in the General Assembly, the Senate can still act on House Bills 5 and 6 passed overwhelmingly by the Democratically controlled House, to preserve the successful kynect program that is saving human lives and investing in our state's economy.

We implore Kentuckians to immediately contact Gov. Bevin and their state senators to let them know how important the continued healthcare of our citizens is and demand they pass House Bills 5 and 6.

Shortly after 7 P.M. Saturday evening March 26, Lawrence County E-911 received a call of an ATV accident on Irish Creek Road between the Webbville and Blaine area. The caller reported that a single person, a male individual who was the driver of the ATV, had went over a steep hillside ravine and had suffered "significant" injuries and was mostly unresponsive.

Multiple fire and rescues agencies quickly responded to the accident scene, where emergency crews and personnel discovered the injured party was located around 150 feet down a steep hillside ravine.

Rappelling equipment was brought in to help retrieve in the rescue of the injured man, whose identity has not yet been revealed by emergency officials.

The rescue took well over an hour to bring the injured man from the precarious hillside terrain to a waiting ambulance that brought the patient to a landing zone to transport him via an air medical ambulance helicopter from Healthnet 7 / Kentucky 9, out Debord, Kentucky; in Martin County; to a hospital trauma center in Huntington, West Virginia. The man's condition remains unknown at this time.

The following fire and rescue departments that responded to help get the the injured ATV rider off the hill and to a landing zone so he could be flown to a trauma center were: Netcare Ambulance Lawrence County, Lawrence County Emergency Management, Fallsburg Fire Department, City of Louisa Fire Department, Lawrence County Search and Rescue, Webbville Volunteer Fire Department and Healthnet 7 / Kentucky 9 air medical transport.

The ATV accident marked the second vehicle accident of the day in the local area.

Shortly before 5 P.M., the City of Louisa Fire Department and Netcare Ambulance Lawrence County responded to a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of KY 2565 and U.S. 23.

Two unidentified individuals who were involved in the car accident were transported by ambulances to Three Rivers Medical Center with what was described as "minor to moderate" injuries.

The Levisa Lazer will provide further updates on both accidents (especially the ATV wreck) if any additional information can be gathered.

Brian Wilkerson

Communications Director

Office of the Kentucky House Speaker

502.564.2363

502.564.0858 (Fax)

859.619.2507 (Cell)

America Needs The Message of Easter

By Glenn Mollette

The story of Easter is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Biblical story is about his crucifixion, burial and resurrection from the grave. His victory over the grave brought exhilaration to his disciples and other Christians who were beaten down by fear and exhaustion. After seeing Jesus again their strength and lives were renewed to go forward and live their lives proclaiming Jesus as the way to Knowing God and experiencing peace.

Ever since the first Easter many more have found new life and renewed strength in the message of the risen Christ.

The noise level of our country is often shattering. We are engulfed by the noise of politicians, cable news, negativism, human failure and comparing ourselves to others. All people experience disappointments and pain. All of these and much more are a part of this life. You can't escape it and the more you live the more you will experience.

As humans we have grown gifted in adding to each other's hurts. We hurt with our speech, indifference and sometimes with outright condemnation. Jesus was the recipient of cruelty from the hands of the supposedly good people of his day. They were the religious crowd. They hated Jesus and pushed for his death. Some of the best people I've met in life go to church. Some of the meanest people I've met go to church. Billy Graham said years ago that the Devil doesn't fight churches but that he joins them. You can find Jesus in most churches and you can usually find the devil.

Wherever you find people you will find good people acting like people. People act like people at church, political gatherings and places of employment. Jesus was different. He acted like a man, but he was different. There was something incredibly
renewing, saving, life giving and joyful about being around Jesus. The disciples loved him and loved being around him.

How many people do you love being around? By the way are you fun to live with? Does your spouse or children enjoy being around you? We want to spend time with some people. Some people just drain us. They look like a commercial for an iodine bottle. They are miserable and make everybody else miserable. I don't want to be that kind of person. I don't want to be around people like this either.

Jesus came to live. He died. He was treated the way ISIS would treat someone, except these were supposedly the good religious people of his day. There was nothing good about them. His story is one of overcoming the grave. He brought joy to people like Thomas who touched his hands and exclaimed my Lord and my God. Jesus was already in the practice of giving joy and new life. He gave it to a woman caught in adultery and was about to be stoned. He gave joy and new life to a leper who no one else would touch. He gave joy to the beaten down, the ostracized and those frazzled out by life.

This year why not take some time and focus on Easter? Jesus once told his disciples, "The Thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full," John 10:10. We need Easter in America. We have become a discouraged nation. We need some new life and joy. This was the message and life of Jesus.

Glenn Mollette is an American Syndicated Columnist and Author. He is the author of eleven books and read in all fifty states.

This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.

Find out more at www.keepourfreedom.com

 

Trumping Freedom of Speech

By Glenn Mollette


Whether you like Donald Trump or not doesn't give you the right to obstruct his right to free speech. The Chicago mob that shut down Donald Trump's campaign speech last week should have been put in jail. Trump's campaign was hosting the rally. This was Trump's party. Your right to free speech does not Trump someone else's right to free speech.


Ronald Reagan's most famous line may be, "I am paying for this microphone Mr. Green." The statement was made in Nassau, New Hampshire leading up to that state's primary. Reagan was trying to explain to the crowd why the debate was being delayed when the Nassau Telegraph newspaper editor told the soundman to turn off Reagan's microphone. Only he and George H.W. Bush had been invited to debate but Reagan thought that was unfair not to include the other candidates and insisted that Bob Dole and the others running at the time be on the platform. Dole had previously complained to the Federal Election Commission about the debate stating the Telegraph was making an unfair campaign contribution to the Bush and Reagan campaigns. The Commission agreed and hence Reagan's campaign agreed to foot the bill. The Nassau Telegraph newspaper editor whose name was Jon Bren and not Green asked that Reagan's microphone be turned off when Reagan began to say something. Reagan responded with the famous statement.

When Lyndon Johnson paraded through Inez, Kentucky in 1964 nobody dreamed of trying to yell down the President. I was there. When Barack Obama came to Indiana I stood in line for three hours to hear the Senator speak to almost 13,000 people. Everyone was courteous. No one yelled out or tried to interrupt Obama. My son and I went to hear Hillary Clinton a few years back. We went down and shook hands with her. No one tried to disrupt her speech. In each scenario it was Johnson's, Obama's or Clinton's party, people were invited to listen and not to make buffoons of themselves.

If you have something to say free speech gives you the permission to say it. Rent your own convention space. Announce you have something to say and then stand up and say it. Have a party at your house, subdivision or stand in front of your courthouse or state house and say what you want to say. People should listen without interrupting you if they are interested in what you want to say.

Freedom of speech does not mean forgoing all civility. If you are having a hamburger party in your backyard and want to espouse all your reasons for smoking Cuban cigars then so be it. You don't expect people to show up and shout you down.

There are many ways to foster your first Amendment right. However, trying to Trump someone else's speech with your speech is out of line especially when that person is paying for the microphone.


Glenn Mollette is an American Syndicated Columnist and Author. He is the author of eleven books and read in all fifty states.

This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.
Find out more at www.keepourfreedom.com



Date: 03-16-2016

Extreme budget cuts could end Ky. court operations as we know them,

says Minton;  Says judges, clerks need pay raise

MintonFRANKFORT – Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. sounded the alarm late Tuesday night after getting a copy of the proposed House version of the Judicial Branch budget bill for Fiscal Biennium 2016-2018.

“Unfortunately – in spite of early indications to the contrary – the news is very grim,” he said in an email sent at 11 p.m. EDT to justices, judges, circuit court clerks and non-elected court personnel statewide.

Based on the amount appropriated by the House, the Judicial Branch would be short $36.3 million in Fiscal Year 2017 and $40.6 million in FY 2018, an AOC news release said.

“This means we’re facing a $76.9 million shortfall for the biennium on top of the 49 percent overall budget reduction the court system has endured since 2008,” Minton said in the news release. 

“The consequences of the House version of the Judicial Branch budget, if enacted, can only be described as catastrophic,” he said. “Because personnel costs make up 87 percent of our budget, the shortfall will have a significant impact on our non-elected employees.

“The Kentucky state court system – considered among the strongest in the country – would no longer be able to operate as we know it today.”

Minton called the amount the House appropriated for the Judicial Branch budget “discouraging in light of our intensive efforts to detail what our structural imbalance and these extreme cuts would do to court operations. Through meetings, phone calls and testimony before the House Budget Review Subcommittee, I repeatedly asked that the Judicial Branch be exempt from the 9 percent cuts in FY 17 and FY 18 that the governor proposed.

“While we had a lot of support from House members for full funding of the Judicial Branch budget, that didn’t happen,” he said. 

The House’s proposed budget bill did exempt the Judicial Branch from the 4.5 percent cut for the remainder of FY 2016, which the governor is requiring from many state agencies. To have returned $9.4 million to the General Fund, the court system could not have met payroll and would have had to shut down statewide for approximately three weeks.

 

The House version of the budget bill adds language to raise the salaries of circuit court clerks to full pay parity with county officials although the Judicial Branch did not request that funding. The bill excludes judges and non-elected court personnel from any salary increases.

 

“This is the second budget cycle that the House has specifically shut out judges from any pay increases in spite of the Judicial Branch making improved judicial salaries a top priority in our budget requests,” Minton said. “This was very disappointing to me and to many of the judges I’m hearing from across the state.

“Kentucky judges have not had a significant salary adjustment in a decade and are among the lowest paid in the country. Our ability to attract high-caliber, experienced judges to the bench is becoming compromised.”

In anticipation of reduced funding, the Judicial Branch has already announced a statewide hiring freeze for non-elected court personnel effective March 11. Minton is also working with the Administrative Office of the Courts to determine what cost-saving measures to take next.

Minton said in the release he will continue working with Senate leadership, which will be considering the budget bills in the next two weeks. “I’ve already been in contact with members of the Senate and I will also ask them to exempt the Judicial Branch from further cuts and restore an appropriate level of funding to the court system.

“Crippling the courts will have a ripple effect on our justice and law enforcement partners throughout the commonwealth,” he said. “I must continue to warn our legislators about the statewide ramifications of further deep cuts.”

He did not mentions the billions of state dollars used to pay off bonds on extravagant new state courthouses across the state paid for by the taxpayers, or Kentucky's leading retirement policies for retired judges.

This Week in the State Capitol...

2016 Lazer legislative coverage

FRANKFORT—Like the rest of the country, lawmakers at the Capitol are bracing for an incoming wave of March Madness.

Yes, there are plenty of enthusiastic college basketball fans at the Capitol. But this March is also a time when hallways, legislative offices, committee rooms and legislative chambers are getting increasingly busy as the 2016 General Assembly heads deeper into its final half.

With only 14 legislative days remaining in the regular session, the pace of actions on bills already picked up. The House passed bills this week on local option sales taxes and student-athlete safety, among others. Meanwhile, the Senate sent bills regarding judicial redistricting, abortion clinic standards and Kentucky schools’ academic calendar to the other chamber.

As the NCAA selection committee has been busy selecting the tournament’s field of 68 teams, committees in both chambers of the Capitol have been similarly occupied, moving dozens of bills along the legislative process before Selection Sunday.

Among legislative topics this week:

Local option sales tax. On Friday, the House approved HB 2, a proposed constitutional amendment that could ultimately give cities and counties the ability to levy up to a penny in sales tax for specific local projects. If the Senate also approves the bill, it would put the proposed amendment on statewide ballot this November. If the amendment is approved by Kentucky voters this fall, it would allow the General Assembly to give cities and counties the power to hold a local option sales tax referendum. Local voters could then decide whether to allow their local government to levy a limited sales tax of up to one percent to pay for a proposed infrastructure project, like sewer plants or convention centers.

Judicial redistricting. On Thursday, Senate Bill 8 passed a floor vote in the Senate. The bill, if approved by the House, would add a proposed constitutional amendment to the November ballot. When ratified, the amendment would lead to redistricting of circuit and district courts every 10 years, during the same years are legislative redistricting. The amendment would ensure judges are assigned to courthouses with higher populations, which usually translates into higher caseloads. It would bring the first such adjustment to the state judiciary since 1976. SB 8 was forwarded to the House, where it awaits consideration.

Abortion. The Senate passed a bill on Wednesday requiring abortion clinic operators wanting to open new facilities in Kentucky to meet higher operating standards. Senate Bill 212, if it becomes law, mandates that clinics have full operating suites with oxygen, crash carts and other medical supplies in addition to having a physician on staff with admitting privileges at a hospital within 50 miles of the clinic. SB 212 advanced to the House for consideration.

Minimum Wage. The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee passed House Bill 278 on Tuesday, which would raise the minimum wage to $8.20 an hour. The proposed increase, the state’s first since 2009, would reportedly affect an estimated 26,000 Kentuckians currently working for minimum wage. The bill would not, however, affect small businesses -- companies with an average annual gross sales volume of less than $500,000 would be exempt. HB 278 is now awaiting full House action.

School calendar. The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that, if passed by the House as well, would allow for a later start to the school year. Under Senate Bill 50, schools would have the option to start later, a move that would help tourism, according to sponsors. Schools that start later would not be required to adhere to the current 170-day academic year, instead slightly extending each school day to reach the required 1,062 instructional hours a year. The bill is now under consideration in the House.

Rape kit testing. Senate Bill 63, which advanced out of committee on Thursday, directs the state’s 300-plus police departments and 120 sheriff’s departments to retrieve sexual assault kits within five days’ notice from a hospital that the evidence is available. SB63 would also require law enforcement to submit kit samples to the state crime lab within 30 days, prohibit the destruction of any kits and notify victims of the progress and results of the tests. The bill will now be considered by the full Senate.

Animal cruelty. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill geared toward thwarting dog fighting in Kentucky. House Bill 428 would make it a Class D felony – punishable by a fine and a 1-5 year prison term – for the possession, training, breeding, and selling of dogs for the purpose of dog fighting. The bill is now awaiting a vote by the full House. A similar bill has also been approved by the Senate.

Student-athlete safety. House Bill 217, approved by the House and delivered to the Senate, would clarify the circumstances under which a high school athlete suspected of having a concussion may return to play. If the bill becomes law, any athlete suspected of having a concussion would be prohibited from returning to play if no physician or other licensed medical provider is present at the practice or competition to evaluate them. Athletes who aren’t evaluated would not be able to play in any future practice or game unless they have written clearance from a physician

Tanning teens. The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed a bill that would make tanning salons off limits for youngsters on Wednesday. Senate Bill 108 would prohibit anyone under 18 from using a commercial tanning bed in a commercial location, except for medically necessary treatment. It now awaits a vote by the full Senate. Currently, state law requires teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 to have a signed parental consent form to use commercial tanning beds.

College scholarships. House Bill 626, passed by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Tuesday, could help pay tuition for thousands of community college students. The bill includes the “Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program,” which would help pay KCTCS tuition not covered by scholarships, federal or state grants. To qualify, students would have to be enrolled full-time and maintain a 2.0 grade point average, among other stipulations. HB 626 is now being considered by the full House.

Finally, just as the NCAA tournament has its late “play in” selections, the final four teams chosen to join the field, the Capitol this week is preparing to welcome four new House members who were winners of Tuesday’s special election for vacant House seats. The new members will be sworn in next week.

The General Assembly works best when citizens are informed and engaged. To offer feedback on issues under consideration or to ask questions about legislative topics, call the Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181.