FRANKFORT — Many lawmakers joined thousands of Kentuckians gathered along Capitol Avenue Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Frankfort. Dr. King led 10,000 others in a march up to the front door of our Capitol in support of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. Retracing his steps with some of those who walked with him then was a wonderful demonstration of how far we have come as a state and nation. And a poignant reminder that we are writing history and paving a future for our state with the laws we make in these truly hallowed halls. Every bill we pass – both the mundane and the magnificent – is a tribute to decades and centuries of struggle and sacrifice for freedom and equality and a more perfect representative democracy. Many bills were discussed this week. More than a dozen gained full Senate approval. Among them, Senate Bill 109, passed 36-2, would prohibit the sale of “electronic cigarettes” to minors. E-cigarettes are sometimes marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they are smokeless. But they still emit a vaporized form of nicotine to users that supporters of the measure feel is addictive and unsafe for youth. SB 109 would put e-cigarettes under the same rules and regulations of tobacco products. Several of the bills approved by the Senate this week focused on the concealed-carry law in the state. Senate Bill 100 would modernize and streamline the concealed carry (CCDW) application process by allowing electronic submission for licenses in the state. This would expedite the electronic application process to two weeks (as opposed to two months for a paper application). SB 100 has the support of the Kentucky State Police, the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association and the National Rifle Association. We hope this measure will help with the back log of CCDW applications the state is dealing with. This would not change any training or licensing requirements, but would simply allow law-abiding citizens to receive their CCDW license more quickly. In an effort to make the CCDW application process more straightforward for veterans, Senate Bill 125 would further clarify the allowance for certain honorably-discharged service members to forgo the training requirement for a CCDW license. The measure would allow them to sign an affidavit confirming completion of military handgun training. These men and women have served and defended our state and nation and have proven they can be trusted to safely and responsibly handle weapons outside the military. The Senate also passed two bills, Senate Bill 81 and 63, relating to labor that I opposed. SB 81 encourages businesses and general contractors to hire sub-contractors without paying for employee benefits or wages that are provided under Kentucky wage and labor laws. This bill could also immunize general labor contractors from up-the-ladder complaints that would leave many injured workers with no option except the state’s uninsured worker’s fund. Senate Bill 63 caps the attorney fee for a lump-sum payment in a worker’s compensation claim to one percent. The majority of lump sum payments are less than $10,000, which means injured workers would not be able to find attorneys willing to do all the work - that includes a great deal of paperwork - for a $100 fee or less. These bills now go to the House of Representatives for further action. On Thursday, I was pleased to meet with individuals from across the state representing our public libraries. Public libraries play a vital role in our communities. Kentuckians use their libraries to meet their basic needs and to enhance their lives. They use the public libraries to save money, educate their children, find jobs, and access the internet. Another important milestone was reached this week as we completed two thirds of the session: The deadline for filing new bills. With 800 bills introduced this year, we will have plenty to consider in our final 20 working days. And while no new bills will be introduced, there is still plenty of time for you to exercise your rights and get involved with any of the bills already in the process. To leave a message for me, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at 800-372-7181. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Rosalind TurnerCommunications LiaisonSenate Democratic Leadership Office502firstname.lastname@example.org
March 7, 2014
Gulf between rural and urban appears on certain issuesWe are moving into the final weeks for the 2014 Regular Session. When you bring all the representatives together for 60 workdays, most everyone begins on their best behavior but any pretense of forced friendliness tends to wear away toward the end. No one is perfect and all of us are capable of an occasional misstep into thoughtlessness. I think the difference between poorly chosen words and true arrogance is revealed by the actions of the speaker following that, “uh oh,” moment. But, if the speaker doesn’t even recognize the offensive comment or blunders ahead with further ugly characterizations – then even the most open minded listeners in the crowd will come to the conclusion that what they heard is exactly what that person meant to say.You, as listener, now know what they truly think on the matter. Such was the case last Friday, when House Bill 351 was being debated on the floor of the House. The bill would create an expedited path for a limited-time concealed carry weapon permit for a person whom the court has placed under protective orders because of threat to their life. The long and the short of it was it was “a gun bill” supported by the National Rifle Association and that irritated the daylights out of some House members. As an NRA member with her own concealed carry permit, I saw the issue from a different angle. I recognize that Representatives from more urban areas, where city or metro law enforcement might make it to a disturbance within minutes of a call or where the closest thing they have to a forest is in a municipal park, have different opinions from my own about firearms. That’s fine. However, during the debate a gentleman rose to deliver remarks so steeped in hypocrisy and arrogance that I cringed with each word he uttered.The gentleman, who represents part of Kentucky’s largest pocket of population, spoke of being raised in the country around guns. He went on to say how he had to borrow a weapon to take his concealed carry test and how easy the target portion was, “… a blind person could hit the target.” He described being surprised by the people there to take the test with him, thinking to himself that these people with “… their baseball caps on and spit running down their tee shirts” would be the first line of defense if our country was attacked. Continuing, he raised his voice to decry the “NRA people” here in America as dragging the country in the wrong direction, calling them the tail wagging the dog.He said we lose 32 people a day to handguns, and that we “… say we respect life, but we have no respect for life or we wouldn’t let this go on.” Having served nearly forty years in the legislature and currently chairing the House Health and Welfare committee, he is quite entitled to his opinion.So am I. I reminded the chamber that it seemed that many in there were much more concerned about any deaths that might occur as a result of a photo on a concealed carry license than the deaths that happen from the lack of an ultrasound image of a child.The gentleman who was so anti-concealed carry is the very same fellow who makes sure that no pro-life measures make it out of his committee so they may never come to the floor for a vote. He appears very worried about loss of life from handguns but is apparently comfortable with an abortion being performed every 26 seconds in the United States.If we are standing up to protect lives – then let’s do our best to protect ALL of them. The gun measure passed 79-13 and the gentleman’s ugly characterizations remain as a part of the record.This week also marked the end of filing new bills with the deadline in the House passing on Tuesday and in the Senate on Thursday. In total more than 580 bills were filed in the House, and nearly 200 in the Senate. Next week we expect to finally see the proposed two-year budget for the Commonwealth. Debate continues about the next budget and the continued economic downturn that mires our state, and in turn, equates to less revenue for Kentucky. When the Governor proposed the budget to the General Assembly nearly eight weeks ago, it included nearly $2 billion in new debt and continued budget cuts to state agencies and our public universities.While it remains to be seen what the budget bill will look like when it reaches the House floor, I hope that it does not place a massive amount of debt on the taxpayers and future generations of Kentuckians. We should become more fiscally responsible and explore ways to grow jobs in Kentucky -- which will ultimately be the best way to fund our schools and state services.I really do appreciate the comments and concerns you share with me. Our meeting schedule intensifies as the session progresses. It isn’t unusual to have three committee meetings and seven or eight small meetings with groups or constituents in a day. Luckily, I work with some great people who will see to it that your comments reach me. You may contact me through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or via e-mail at email@example.com. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.
By Glenn Mollette Arizona legislatures pulled a dandy. They asked their Governor to sign a bill allowing any business the freedom to discriminate based on religious beliefs. The Governor vetoed the bill. The First Amendment guaranteeing our nation the freedom of religion is not a legal loophole that allows religious people to hurt other people based on prejudice or interpretation of the Bible or any other religious book. A lot of noise has been made recently about the Middlesboro, Kentucky pastor and church that handled poisonous snakes. National Geographic reality star of "Snake Salvation," Jamie Coots was bitten by a timber rattler almost two weeks ago and died within 90 minutes. He and his family refused medical treatment based on their interpretation of the Bible. I personally think they are crazy. Simply because someone interprets the Bible, Koran or any other religious book a certain way does not give that person the right to hurt other people. Nor should anyone discriminate against another person because of race, nationality, money or gender preferences. I do not understand why anyone would want to be gay. There is not a gay molecule in my frame. Because someone is gay does not give me or anyone else the right to not provide service in a restaurant or a seat on the bus.Nor should one's sexual preference prohibit him or her from working the same job anyone else does. I do understand that the majority of religious people in America believe that a gay lifestyle is a wrong lifestyle and is forbidden by the Bible. Please keep in mind that most church people believe it is wrong for a man and woman to live together without being legally married. Most church people believe stealing, killing and lying are wrong as well. A church or religious entity traditionally has not hired ministers that were practicing thieves, murderers or liars or living with someone not in a legal marriage relationship. Is this discrimination? I don't think so. The average employer in America is only using commonsense if they decide to terminate someone because that person is a thief or liar or maybe causing disruption in the office by sleeping around with all the staff. Religious entities that interpret the Bible as saying that a gay lifestyle is an unacceptable lifestyle should never be forced to hire someone that is gay. There are a few churches that are hiring gay persons because they believe it is acceptable. This is America where we have freedom of religion. Keep in mind there are also thousands of churches that still would never hire a woman to serve as a minister. There are also many that would never dream of hiring a divorced minister because they believe divorce is biblically unacceptable. Arizona badly blundered on the concept of trying to create a law that allows discrimination in any business realm based on religious belief. Could this apply to someone divorced? Could they apply this rule to someone that is a habitual liar? What about church deacons who curse, smoke, chew and date girls who do? Would this rule apply to fat Christians? Whoops... sorry I forgot that gluttony is the Christian sin of choice. Many of the very best people I know I met in church. However, religious people can be some of the meanest people in the world. A religious crowd was involved in nailing Jesus to the cross. Religious people are at the root of the problems in the Middle East. If someone refuses to do business with another person it should not be based on prejudices and perceptions. Anyone abiding by the law and living in a respectful manner that is not disruptive or harmful to society deserves the same services as anyone else. Finally, I doubt if an African American church will ever offer me a job as their senior pastor, although I would really like that. Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues and nine other books. He is a graduate of Georgetown College, Southern Seminary and Lexington Seminary in Kentucky. Contact him at GMollette@aol.com. Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette.
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