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FEBRUARY 23, 2015
The Appalachian Regional Commission "has helped county economies grow with nearly $4 billion in spending, but the region still lags in key measures of educational, economic and physical well-being," according to a study done for the commission's 50th anniversary, Jonathan Drew reports for The Associated Press. President Lyndon Johnson signed ARC into law on March 9, 1965 as part of his War on Poverty. (AP photo: Johnson visiting Eastern Kentucky in April 1964)
The ARC's mission is to bring Appalachia to socioeconomic parity with the rest of the nation. It has a long way to go. While poverty rates in the region have fallen by about half, "researchers noted that other problems persist, including disproportionately high mortality rates and dependency on government checks," Drew writes. "The commission’s leaders acknowledge that even after half a century, the need for aid is as great as ever, a sentiment echoed by heads of charities in the region." Earl Gohl, the commission’s federal co-chair, told Drew, “We have serious work to do.”
In 1969, Appalachia's per-capita income was 78.7 percent of the national average, with many Central Appalachian counties under 50 percent. (Click on map for larger version) In 2012, the regional percentage was 81.1 percent of the national, "but that’s at least partly because safety-net programs such as Social Security and unemployment make up about 24 percent of personal income in the region, compared to 17 percent nationally," Drew writes.
The report focuses no attention on the neediest part of the region, Central Appalachia, which has been hard-hit recently by job losses in the coal industry. The executive summary of the report doesn't even mention "Central Appalachia," and the subregion gets only three mentions in the 181-page technical report. Central Appalachia as defined by ARC is the counties in yellow on the map above.
Health remains a serious problem, and the region is "losing ground," the report says. Infant mortality rates in the region have dropped significantly, but overall mortality rates remained the same while mortality rates nationally have dropped. "The report cites higher rates of obesity and diabetes in Appalachia as possible contributors," Drew writes.
"Researchers did find that county employment and income levels in the region grew faster than a control group of similar counties elsewhere in the country," Drew reports. "Over the 50-year period, counties that received ARC investment averaged 4.2 percent higher employment growth and 5.5 percent higher per capita income growth than the control group counties."
"The report’s authors estimate that more jobs were created by the ARC in its early years when it received higher funding from the government," Drew writes. The Reagan administration wanted to abolish the agency, but Congress refused. However, "The funding levels changed dramatically, and with that the commission changed dramatically as well," Gohl told Drew. "We moved from large appropriations funding big public works projects. And it’s now, I would say, a leaner commission that focuses on developing strategic partnerships.” (Read more) For the full report, click here.
Written by Tim Mandell
Kentucky is one of only four states in the U.S. that don’t allow victims of dating violence to seek protective orders unless they have been married to or lived with their abuser, or they have a child together. Our current law leaves very little to no protection for many young adults, including teens and widowed senior citizens, who may be in dating relationships that have gone bad.
This year, co-sponsors of the HB 8, Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville and Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, hope that Kentucky lawmakers finally get the message that human lives are at stake. The bill, which would allow dating couples to seek civil protective orders in cases of domestic violence, abuse, sex abuse or stalking, passed the House and has been sent to the Senate. If the bill passes and becomes law, a victim would be able to file an emergency protective order and their abuser’s name would instantly be added to a nationwide database.
It appears that there is momentum this legislative session to get the bill passed, and rightly so, as domestic violence prevention advocates say this is a growing problem in Kentucky that needs to be addressed. State officials say that Kentucky’s number of domestic violence victims is much higher than the national average and women ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely to be victimized. Research has proven that domestic violence can be a problem long before couples move in together, particularly with teens and young adults in their early 20s.
By expanding protective orders to those who are just dating, society will reduce the violence over time, so we can break this ugly cycle of domestic violence.
Some opponents worry that this new law could be a costly measure, literally, in dollars and cents. But a University of Kentucky study showed that for every $1 spent in the protective order system, $31 is saved in other costs. The study estimated that Kentucky could save $85 million per year, on average.
Dating violence is costing our society money. Victims are calling the police and clogging up the court system for long-term protection — because they have no other course of action. Giving dating victims access to emergency protective orders is desperately needed for not only their well-being and safety, but to curb society’s costs associated with this tragic evil.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of unhealthy and abusive relationships, seen the tears and witnessed the fear that these victims encounter. Emergency protective orders won’t be the complete answer, but having that option could mean life or death for dating violence victims and a chance to experience healthy relationships.
The Kentucky Standard
February 19, 2015
Bernie Sanders is one-upping President Obama's college proposals, calling for the government to pick up the tab for two years of tuition not just at community colleges but at any public college or university.
“We need a revolution in the way higher education is funded,” the Vermont independent said Tuesday in a speech at Johnson State College in Vermont. “In the United States, all people who have the desire and the ability should be able, in this changing economy, to receive all the education they need regardless of their income."
Sanders, a self-identified socialist who caucuses with Democrats, has sought to push progressive policies as the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee this year.
In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama called for the federal government and state governments to partner in funding two years of community college tuition-free for students. The president also proposed increasing tax credits for college expenses and for measures aimed at lowering student debt.
That measure has gained no traction in Congress since Obama announced it in January. Nevertheless, Sanders went even further Tuesday, calling for the government to fund freshman and sophomore years for students at all public colleges and universities.
Sanders did not specify how those years would be funded, instead simply noting that the U.S. now lags some countries with advanced economies in terms of higher education attainment. Obama's proposal would have cost federal and state governments about $80 billion.
"This is absurd," Sanders said about some students who may be dissuaded from college because of the costs or taking on debt to graduate. "This is absolutely counter-productive to our efforts to create a strong economy."
The Obama administration has been very timid in dealing with the growing threat of ISIS, not even referring to them as Islamic extremists, which they are.
Several days ago, Americans watched or read about 21 Christian Egyptians being beheaded by members of ISIS in Libya in front of the Mediterranean Sea, their offense being they were Christians, as indicated by one of the killers.
Again, we hear from the White House the same old song and dance that they regret the deaths, but again President Barack Obama will not call them what they are and that is Islamic extremists.
It's embarrassing and humiliating to have a president that acts so timid toward our enemy, and also one who is more concerned about his legacy of ending wars than he is of helping countries such as Egypt and Jordan really go after ISIS and destroy it. If that means targeting those responsible for killing American citizens James Foley, Kayla Mueller and many others, including Jordanian pilot Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, who was burned alive in a cage, then that's what we should do.
The language used by those in Obama's administration, such as calling ISIS an "armed insurgency," is beyond troubling and makes us also look very weak to our allies. The administration referred to those killed in Libya as Egyptians, ignoring the fact they were murdered simply because of their Christian faith.
Apparently, now the Obama administration has a new way to try to defeat ISIS – giving them jobs.
This is unbelievable.
Appearing on MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Monday evening, State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the U.S. cannot "kill our way out" of the war against ISIS, bringing up job creation as a long-term solution to stopping the terror army.
"We’re killing a lot of them, and we’re going to keep killing more of them, so are the Egyptians, so are the Jordanians. They’re in this fight with us. But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war," Harf said. "We need, in the longer term, medium and longer term, to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs.
"We can work with countries around the world to help improve their governance. We can help them build their economies, so they can have job opportunities for these people."
Really? It apparently doesn't occur to Harf that ISIS is attracting followers who are simply attracted to their perverted interpretation of Islam.
Does Harf believe ISIS members, who have taken over much of the Middle East, North Africa and said they plan on coming after us, are going to lay down their arms and get jobs?
Even Matthews, a well-known Democrat, took issue with Harf's comments by telling her essentially that you don't offer jobs to people that behead others, and that's not the solution to destroying ISIS. He went on to say that the administration's policy in battling ISIS is humiliating us as a country.
Harf is obviously in the wrong profession or simply has been brainwashed by this administration if she believes members of ISIS are going to stop their crusade against Christians, Jews and Muslims.
You don't offer jobs to those who behead and burn people alive, Ms. Harf. You crush them, just as the U.S. and its allies had to crush an evil Nazi regime in World War II.
To suggest that offering murderers jobs is a solution is just one more example of how out of touch this administration is. It is long past time for it to acknowledge the threat these mad dogs pose to Western civilization and come up with a strategic plan to address them.
Bowling Green Daily News
October 14, 2015;
FRANKFORT – Heading into the 2015 session, many Capitol observers noted that lawmakers were facing a particularly heavy agenda. Major legislation was expected on issues like heroin abuse, the minimum wage, a local option sales tax, prevailing wage, telecommunications deregulation, dating violence, the teachers’ retirement system, charter schools and a proposed statewide smoking ban in public places.
Today, just 13 working days into the session, votes have already been cast on each of these issues and dozens of others. Bills are moving through the committee system and, in many instances, have already been approved by one chamber and sent to the other for consideration.
No bill has yet been sent to the governor for his signature. But at the pace lawmakers are moving, it won’t be a surprise if the first new state law of 2015 arrives soon.
Bills that took steps forward today alone include an anti-heroin bill, smoke-free legislation and a proposal to permit a new lottery game that would be based on the results of live horse racing.
Today’s anti-heroin bill, House Bill 213, would create more treatment options for addicts while establishing tiered penalties for traffickers, with the greatest prison time for felons who sell over a kilo of the drug. The bill also includes a “good Samaritan” provision that gives immunity to those who call for emergency help when someone overdoses.
The bill would make the rescue drug nalozone more readily available. The drug can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose if promptly administered.
HB 213 also would allow local governments to set up needle exchange programs to stave off Hepatitis C and HIV infection from shared needles.
The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.
HB 213 is the second anti-heroin bill to pass a legislative chamber this year. Senate Bill 5 was approved by the Senate last month and is currently awaiting consideration in a House committee.
Another high-profile issue that surged forward today would establish a statewide smoking ban in restaurants, bars and other public places.
House Bill 145, which passed the House on a 51-46 vote, would prevent smoking within 15 feet of enclosed public areas and workplaces. The bill includes exemptions for private clubs, cigar bars and tobacco shops.
Private residences would be unaffected by the proposal except in areas used for paid lodging, childcare, adult care, or health care.
HB 145 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
In the Senate today, members voted to advance Senate Bill 74, a proposal that would allow the Kentucky Lottery to begin selling a game of chance based on live horse racing.
If it becomes law, the measure would make Kentucky the first state to sell tickets for a game known as “EquiLottery.” It is like most lottery games, except the winning numbers are determined by the outcome of a horse race. For EquiLottery to remain a pure game of chance, numbers would be randomly picked by a computer rather than by players.
SB 74 now goes to the House for consideration.
With so many big issues moving through the Legislature, it’s an important time for citizens to stay in touch with lawmakers and share their views on the issues that will be voted on in the days to come. There are several easy ways citizens can provide their feedback to the General Assembly.
The Kentucky Legislature Home Page, www.lrc.ky.gov, provides information on each of the Commonwealth’s senators and representatives, including phone numbers, addressees, and committee assignments. The site also provides bill texts, a bill-tracking service, and committee meeting schedules.
To leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. People with hearing difficulties may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at 1-800-896-0305.
You may also write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.