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Lobbyists and their employers reported spending $6.98 million in the 2017 session of the General Assembly. The total matches the record spent in the 2015 session, the most recent 30-day odd-year session.

In the past year, the number of lobbying organizations has increased by nine percent, as Kentucky follows the national trend toward more state lobbying by businesses and interest groups, and more lobbying spending in state capitols. As an illustration of that upward trend, the amount spent in the first three months of 2017 exceeds the amount spent in the entire 12 months of 2001, the first year in which Kentucky held a 30-day session.

As it was in the 2016 session, the top spending lobbying organization this year was the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, which spent $126,801 in the three-month session. On its website, the Chamber proclaims 2017 as “a record year of legislative victories”, and says its advocacy against minimum wage and maternity leave bills saved the business community $244 million; while its work toward repealing the prevailing wage law saved businesses $190 million.

The Chamber also estimates that businesses will save $117 million thanks to the Chamber’s work to block 1) “transgender bathroom” bills that would have required public schools and state and local governments to designate that bathrooms they control only be used by persons based on their biological sex; and 2) a "religious freedom" bill that would have required that no law shall impair the exercise of rights guaranteed by the constitutions of the United States and Kentucky, including a person's “right of conscience" or freedom of religion.

Although the Chamber did not include businesses’ estimated cost savings for the “right-to-work” legislation, the charter school bill, or legislation requiring medical review panels, those issues are also characterized as legislative victories by the Chamber.

After the 2016 General Assembly, in which the Chamber spent $149,000 on lobbying, the group’s website called that session “one of the most successful the business community has seen”, citing “pro-business legislative victories” on bills relating to public-private partnerships to finance government projects and services, and additional money for the state’s pension system, along with the defeat of “anti-business tax reform” and renewable energy legislation.

The second-leading spender in the 2017 session was the U.S. Justice Action Network, a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) group that spent $89,125 lobbying on Senate Bill 120, which was enacted, and includes reforms to the reentry process for convicted felons, including access to occupational licenses for those with a criminal record, and a reentry substance abuse pilot program. 

Other top lobbying spenders in the recently concluded General Assembly are:

Altria ($85,347); Marsy's Law for All ($79,218); Kentucky Hospital Association ($71,132); Kentucky League of Cities ($68,969); Kentucky Justice Association ($57,156); Kentucky Bankers Association ($54,240); Anthem Inc. ($51,000); Greater Louisville, Inc. ($49,329); Kentucky Retail Federation ($46,371); Kentucky Medical Association ($44,472); Norton Healthcare ($44,325); Humana ($41,440); Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives, Inc. ($40,012); Home Builders Association of Kentucky ($38,626); Excellence in Education Action ($38,458); AT&T ($38,216); Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation ($35,951); and Kentucky Association of Realtors ($35,272).

 


Harassment Begging In America

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

My wife and I visited New York City a couple of days recently. We were walking through Times Square and masses of people on a Saturday night after a show when someone called out to us for money. "Will you please give me a couple of dollars I am hungry," came the first plea. I barely heard this out of my right ear, as we were moving forward with the crowds. I hadn't really noticed this guy as I was trying to watch where we were going, not trip on someone or the sidewalk while trying to enjoy the lights and sounds of Times Square. People begging for money have become a common sight in America. I see it in Cincinnati, Nashville, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland and well you get the picture...begging is everywhere in America to some extent. There is no American that can hand money to every beggar they pass on the street. My wife and I try on occasions to help people. We've seen mothers with their babies on the street begging. We've seen families on the street begging. We've seen Veterans on the street begging. We have passed people and then gone back with a few dollars if we had it to give.

Last Saturday night I was more attuned to walking with my wife and trying to enjoy a brief NYC visit. For some reason this beggar in NYC tuned in on me when I did not turn my head and look at him or respond. He moved toward me, got in my face and yelled at me, "You are a S.O.B. and I hope that you choke on your food tonight." I looked at him for just a moment. He was a very angry man obviously from the Middle East. I don't know if he was from Syria, Yemen or who knows but definitely Middle East. My wife and I moved forward. I wasn't scared but it's irritating to be accosted for money when someone is calling my mother the B word. I was happy that I had not given that man a penny.

I understand that people get desperate and hungry. I understand poverty is rampant in this nation. I understand people are victims of unfortunate circumstances. I do believe we should help people and I've tried throughout my life to always be involved in charitable projects. I don't feel sorry for people who feel they are entitled to harass, accost and literally try to rob people. Thieves and robbers who break into people's houses rationalize that they need stuff and however they can get it is justifiable in their minds.

What I am seeing more and more in America's cities is what I've seen in Africa, Turkey and other foreign countries, which is harassment, begging and pleading. Our tour group was warned about leaving the ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey back in 2005. Our guide told us the people would beg vehemently for anything you have. Do not even make eye contact with them we were told. Sure enough it was a mob who did everything but try to take our wallet and purses. They literally got in our faces and begged, pled and cried for anything we might give them. I've seen this same demeanor in other parts of the world. More and more of these people are coming to America and more of them will end up on our streets and prowling our neighborhoods. Taking a carefree, delightful stroll down Michigan Ave in Chicago, a leisurely walk through Times Square or most any major American city has changed. We've always had the poor and needy. However, we are now facing a different attitude and in reality a frightening mentality that does not mind getting in your face to get some of your money or whatever else they feel possessed to try to take.

Finally, everywhere I go in America people are working from every nationality around the world. From hotels, to restaurants, to taxi drivers to vendor people are working and I can't understand anything they say. They do seem to work hard and seem to be happy to be in America. I am happy for these people if they are legal, but I do wish I could understand what they are saying.

If you run into a guy in Times Square calling you a S.O.B. and wishing for you to choke on your food please do what I did not have the presence of mind to do. Remember, hindsight is always 20/20. Tell him about all the Internationals working all over America. Tell him he can work a real job to. If he doesn't want to do that to please do us all a favor and go back to where he came from.

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Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit www.glennmollette.com
Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette

 

Assistance in benefits provided

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26, 2017

AP photo by Brandon TorresAP photo by Brandon Torres

Drones are being used for the first time in a major search at a national park, in an attempt to locate two lost hikers at Grand Canyon National Park, Astrid Galvan reports for The Associated Press. "Grand Canyon is the only national park with its own fleet of unmanned aircraft for locating people who have gotten lost, stranded, injured or killed. Under a program that began last fall, it has five drones and four certified operators."

Drones have been used before at Grand Canyon in other capacities, Galvan writes. "In November, after a visitor drove off a cliff and died, drones were sent in to examine the trees and brush and make sure it was safe for a helicopter to fly in and lift the car out." One month later, "rangers used a drone to locate a woman who had jumped to her death. Then they rappelled down to retrieve the body."

Matt Vandzura, chief ranger at Grand Canyon, told Galvan, "Our historic model was to take the helicopter to look and see," but he said now drones can offer "that same close look but without putting any people at risk. It has dramatically increased our ability to keep our people safe."


Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 4/26/2017 11:21:00 AM

 

Encumbrances - State Churches, O'Reilly and Kim Jong Un

An encumbrance will often weigh us down or prevent us from going forward.

Trinity Lutheran Church, Columbia, Missouri should not receive taxpayer dollars for their preschool daycare playground. A few years back they requested money from the state to rubberize the surface of their daycare children's playground. The money was denied and it has become a case appearing before the Supreme Court. A church asking the state for money sets a bad precedent especially if the Supreme Court rules in their favor. If churches and any of their ministries take money from the federal government then they should pay taxes from their weekly offerings and endowment funds that some churches pile up for future endeavors. Most churches couldn't make it if they had to pay such taxes. A state controlled church is the last thing America needs. Once this happens to the church there will be no going back.

I don't think Christian churches want to be told they have to hire gay and lesbian leadership. Many churches already do so by their own choice but they make the choice not the government. The churches that do hire gay and lesbians don't want to be told they can't. Most churches do not want to be told they must hire a Muslim to teach daycare Bible stories either. Churches have demanded and fought for a few liberties and it's not wise for any church or religious group to give up their freedom to teach and exercise their faith free from most federal encumbrances for money.

Speaking of encumbrances, Bill O'Reilly or Fox News should never have paid a dime to anyone if the allegations of sexual harassment were false. Paying out 13 million dollars does not speak of innocence. We understand 13 million to O'Reilly and Fox is small change. We understand wanting to settle and move on without further encumbering themselves. Unfortunately, malignant cancers return unless met head on and dealt with in a conclusive fashion. Putting a little salve or a Band-Aid on a tumor does not bring about real resolve or a cure. The end result is a network that is now reeling and the greatest primetime cable program in history is now history.

Speaking of encumbrances, Kim Jong Un of North Korea is a pain in the neck. The world has faced aggravations and rear ends and now we are staring at one again.

The people of South Korea have to live in the realm of what if Kim Jong Un really messes up and fires a missile at Seoul? America cannot battle North Korea, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Russia. We don't have enough tax dollars to fund enough military nor the weapons and ships to cover all the territory. I remember a cartoon character that ran out of breath trying to keep seven plates spinning on sticks. He was successful but only for a few seconds. Our wars and nation building go on for years while our country and people are neglected. I would rather fight any war in another country than have one come to America. We must be defensive in our daily strategy against terrorism and threats like Kim Jong Un. If we have to attack then so be it but how many nations can we battle before we begin to crumble?

Encumbrances come to all including churches, national figures and even our nation. Avoiding or freeing ourselves from too many or the wrong encumbrances seems too difficult for most everyone.

*****************
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author of eleven books.
He is read in all fifty states. Visit www.glennmollette.com
Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette