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FRANKFORT, Ky. (August 29, 2016) – Today, House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover called out Speaker Greg Stumbo for what he said was a transparent attempt to force taxpayers to pay for Democratic House members to attend a caucus fundraiser Tuesday evening. The charge comes after Stumbo called a meeting of all House members in Frankfort under the guise of discussing the pension system and the Governor’s Medicaid waiver.
“Greg Stumbo is attempting to use his past refusal to deal with problems with our pension and Medicaid systems to trick Kentucky taxpayers into paying for his members to attend a caucus fundraiser,” said Rep. Hoover. “I think it’s disgusting, disingenuous, and I will not be a part of his charade.”
In a letter sent to Stumbo Monday morning outlining the reasons Republicans were boycotting the gathering, Hoover pointed out that the meeting serves no legitimate function since neither the State Senate nor the Governor’s Office were invited to attend.
“If you were committed to solving the public pension crisis in Kentucky, why would you not include the Governor and the Senate in meetings,” Hoover asked in the letter, which was also released to the media. “I trust you recognize no action can be taken without discussion and collaboration with the Governor and the Senate.”
“We’re in this hole because of wasteful spending in the past by Greg Stumbo and House Democrats,” continued Hoover. “While I agree these are important issues, I don’t think spending more than $30,000 in taxpayer dollars to bring members to Frankfort for a meeting that we know going in will accomplish nothing is a good use of taxpayer funds. When Republicans take the majority we won’t just talk about how other branches of government should cut wasteful spending, we’ll do it ourselves and eliminate obvious abuses of taxpayer dollars such as this.”
By Glenn Mollette
A young man stood on a street corner in St. Paul, Minnesota last Sunday. He was holding up a sign describing his plight, "Homeless, hungry, need help." He was across the street from a church were I was speaking. I stopped to talk to him and did give him a small donation. I asked him about his situation and he said, "I'll be honest with you. I became addicted to drugs and I have burned all my bridges. I have family in the area but I can't go back to any of them." Some people have no place to go while others have places to which they feel they can never return.
Two weekends ago my wife and I were walking Michigan Avenue in Chicago. On every block there were at least two people holding up signs saying they were homeless and needed help.
Nashville Tennessee for the last several years has had thousands of homeless people on any given night. It seems today that every city has homeless people begging for financial help. Have we become a nation of beggars? I pause here and say but for the grace of God it could be me. My hope and prayer is that I can avoid homelessness and so can all the people I hold near and dear to me. However, I don't like seeing anybody homeless.
When we first started out on Michigan Avenue we were in the heart of the shopping center when I saw what appeared to be a grandmother, her daughter and month old baby huddled up in a doorway. The baby had a pacifier and was held by who appeared to be her young mother. I walked by but had to turn around and give them something. "I don't know how you got to this point but here is a little something. I hope it helps," I said. They said thank you as they slightly nodded their heads.
As I have seen so much homelessness in our country in the last few years I always wonder how many are truly homelessness and how many are just working the system? Are they collecting welfare and begging too? One man in Nashville a couple of weeks ago said he could not get a job because he would lose his $700 a month check.
Many in America are in dire situations due to drugs. Dependency on heroin and other devastating drugs are destroying people's health, families and finances putting them on the streets. Millions are dying early deaths due to drug addictions.
Interestingly, everybody I am seeing holding up "homeless" signs are either white people or black people. I have not yet seen a Hispanic on the street begging for food or claiming homelessness, nor have I seen any Asians or Middle Easterners. After this article is published I may hear differently. I haven't been everywhere.
We have to get Americans off the street. Bumming is not a good use of life. Every city in America must come up with a solid plan for temporary housing and utilizing people into a local constructive workforce. If they are not sick and physically able to do something, then helping the community and contributing something is better than begging on the street.
This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.
By Glenn Mollette
We often hear about the crimes and homicides that take place in Chicago and in particular the south side of Chicago. The murder and overall crime rate is frightening.
I wouldn't want to walk around the streets of Roseland, Englewood or a number of Chicago neighborhoods at night. Actually, I don't think I would want to walk around them during the day. However, that is not to say that all or even a large number of people in South Chicago are hoodlums. I think just the opposite; most of the people are good and decent.
Last Sunday, I spoke at a church in Roseland and spent almost five hours with a group of very sweet, kind people who live in this neighborhood and 99.9% of the group was African American. My wife and I had a beautiful time with these people. I asked the pastor who lives in the neighborhood if he felt safe and he replied no. He went on to tell me that he never lets his grandkids out alone to play in his own yard. He occasionally hears shots in his neighborhood and even had some bullet holes in his car some months back. He went on to tell me I was in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago.
Sadly, there is horrific violence on the Southside of Chicago. Tragically, there are criminals and hoodlums in this incredible city. However, most of the people living on the Southside are not bad people. They are good people trying to survive and overcome the minority of criminals, hoodlums and gang members who make their community scary.
I was raised in Martin County, Kentucky. President Lyndon Johnson began his campaign on poverty in our hometown in 1964. He visited Tom Fletcher about three miles down the road from our family. The Fletcher family became the poster family for Johnson's war on poverty. We didn't appreciate the stereotyping of all Martin county people as poor, ignorant hillbillies. I'm sure the Fletcher family didn't appreciate it either. However, with the history of the Hatfields and the McCoys along with television programs like The Dukes of Hazzard, many of us got the media's drift about how they viewed Appalachian people.
Yes, just like Chicago, Appalachia has enough ignorance and poverty. President Johnson's war on poverty just created more poor people. However, lots of people from Appalachia complete college or conduct successful businesses, work hard and meaningful jobs and pay lots of taxes, just like many people do in Chicago. Like all the people on the Southside of Chicago we don't like to be stereotyped either.
We stereotype in a multitude of other ways. Stereotypes freeze us into time. They limit our ability to communicate, understand and move forward. When we stereotype we make a generalization that limits productivity and success.
I'm so grateful I got to spend a Sunday on the Southside of Chicago. The next time I hear about a Chicago crime, murder or other violent acts I will have some lovely people on my mind and I will be praying and thinking with them about how we all need to work together to rise above the stereotypes and the problems and make this world better.
This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 22, 2016) - Gov. Matt Bevin announced today that Judge Reed O’Connor, U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, late yesterday issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting the Obama administration from enforcing its illegal bathroom directives against public schools in Kentucky and across the country.
"We are pleased the federal court has put a halt to the Obama administration’s absurd proposals for bathroom and locker room policy in our public schools. The court’s decision recognizes the danger of this governmental overreach and reaffirms the right of local control.
“Our administration will continue to defend the Tenth Amendment and fight to uphold the rights of communities to maintain local control over their schools. We will never stop working to ensure that such issues continue to be decided by Kentuckians, not by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.”
At the direction of Gov. Bevin, Kentucky joined in the 13-state coalition in the federal court lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas challenging the Obama administration’s overreaching federal directive on public school bathroom policies.
The court prevented the federal government from forcing schools to follow the Obama administration’s flawed, unlawful guidelines on transgender restrooms. The injunction is effective nationwide.
To view a copy of the opinion click here:
FRANKFORT, Ky. (August 22, 2016) – “Late yesterday, a federal court in Texas agreed with the conservative sentiment in Kentucky and issued a nationwide injunction to stop the Obama Administration from enforcing its illegal bathroom directives.
Kentuckians have had enough of the foolish proposals coming from liberal Washington bureaucrats. The notion of an illegal directive to remove local control of our schools and our students was not only unlawful, but a slap in the face to our local leaders. We must continue to fight to ensure President Obama and his fellow Democrats in Kentucky can no longer continue their paths of destruction.
Thankfully, Kentucky joined in the lawsuit against this latest overreach and prevailed. Kentuckians must continue to renounce liberal, out-of-touch politicians and elect representatives who support our values.”
From Rep. Lew Nicholls
Since the 2014 implementation of the Kentucky health exchange known as kynect and Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state’s uninsured rate for its nonelderly citizens has fallen 12 percent—from 18.8 percent in 2013 to 6.8 percent in 2015—and over 439,000 adults have received coverage through Medicaid. Thousands of these new Medicaid recipients are right here at home, where enrollment in the program has grown by over 3,493 people in Greenup County and 4,985 people in Boyd County in the past two years.
This same success has been seen across the entire 4th Congressional District where the percentage of uninsured individuals has fallen 4.5 percent since 2013, from 12.4 percent in 2013 to 7.9 percent in 2014. That’s success!
Most of these newly insured neighbors are working adults who now have fewer sick days and more income because they can spend more time on the job. They work in food service, sales, construction, production, health care, office administration, personal care and support and other fields that keep our communities strong. Expanded coverage under the ACA and Medicaid expansion gives them the support they need in return.
Now that coverage is threatened.
Besides carrying through with his plans to dismantle kynect, Governor Matt Bevin is seeking a federal waiver to replace expanded Medicaid in the state with a new program called Kentucky HEALTH. The waiver would not change coverage for many traditional Medicaid enrollees (the aged, blind and disabled) but would create a new program for nondisabled adults and children including those covered before the Medicaid expansion, pregnant women, children, medically frail adults and those 400,000 plus adults who joined Medicaid under the expansion. All of these groups except for pregnant women and children covered under traditional Medicaid and KCHIP would be subject to premiums or copays with a work requirement added for non-medically frail adults and non-pregnant women and children, unless the person subject to the work requirement is a primary caretaker of a dependent. Adults who were added to the state Medicaid rolls under the expansion would also have a change in benefits, receiving state employee benefits instead of Medicaid benefits and being eligible for vision and dental benefits through a separate “My Rewards” program.
If you want to know what the proposed waiver means to those who care for Kentucky’s disadvantaged populations, you really need look no further than a statement issued on July 26 of this year by Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of health advocates statewide including such powerful groups as the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Lung Association, Family Health Centers and many others. They stated collectively that, “Governor Bevin’s proposed 1115 waiver puts Kentucky’s successful Medicaid expansion and the coverage of nearly half a million Kentuckians at risk. It will mean less coverage and more barriers for the most vulnerable Kentuckians, including veterans, people with disabilities, ... low income workers and families. It would be a giant step backwards for Kentucky.”
If you want to know what the proposed waiver means to those thousands of new non-disabled adults added to the Medicaid rolls in our counties under the expansion, well, we already have the answer: high premiums or copays, fewer benefits and other means tests.
If you want to know what the proposed waiver means to the future of Kentucky Medicaid, one answer can be found on a fact sheet titled “Proposed changes to the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky” published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The fact sheet states: “Projected Medicaid enrollment will decrease over the five year waiver period due to beneficiary noncompliance with program requirements, such as premium payments or employment.”
So, Kentucky has a choice. We can look out for our neighbors—the hundreds of thousands of already hard-working Kentuckians who benefit from expanded Medicaid--by offering them the coverage they need to stay well and earn an income, or we can look the other way. I think we need to look upward and keep Kentucky moving ahead, toward a brighter future for us all.
Please, let your voices be heard on this matter. Contact Governor Bevin through his official website at http://governor.ky.gov/Pages/contact.aspx and tell him what you want for your neighbors and for all of Kentucky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Rep. Lew Nicholls
98th District State Representative