Rep. Jill York, 96th District
When you first arrive in Frankfort as a brand-new elected member of the General Assembly, you find that the Capitol operates on its own set of rules. Luckily, lots of people will offer you advice about how to navigate it all. Most of them will be sincere in their attempts to help you. Some … not so much. The hard part is sorting out the helpers from the saboteurs. I can tell you straight away the best advice – the only advice – that a legislator should follow and it’s really common sense.“Vote for your people at home. Represent their interests. Vote your district.” That means keep your focus on what you went there to do – make good decisions for your constituents. You can’t let your own agenda, or a political party’s whims, or the pressures of any new Frankfort pals keep you from the true purpose of your service.For me, that means paying attention to the phone calls and messages I receive. I keep watch on number of people who took the time to let me know their opinions. It’s also important to reach out and ask citizens their priorities, like I’ve done over the past month with my legislative issue survey.Thanks to all who responded and shared their ideas and thoughts. Carter County had the most respondents, with Lewis nearly tied Lawrence in participation. The results are being whittled down to include on my website, but I’d like to share a little of the data with you here.“Telling the Truth” was ranked first, with “Be Accountable to Citizens” following a close second, on the scale that asked respondents to rank the qualities they felt should be present in elected officials. Eighty-eight percent of the respondents indicated that they felt the restrictions of the Environmental Protection Agency on coal would raise energy costs and hurt Kentucky’s economy.Citizens also supported overwhelmingly drug testing for those who would seek public assistance, like food stamps, as part of receiving their benefits. Those in favor of that measure were 84.9% in comparison to 15% against.Also of concern to respondents of the survey is the trend toward the Executive Branch of Government expanding its powers without any real checks or balances. We have seen this on the federal level with President Obama’s efforts to find ways around the legislative process to enact his own agenda. Recently, Governor Beshear used executive powers to avoid allowing the General Assembly to vote on implementation of the exchange for the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky. The question “Would you support an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would keep a regulation issued by the governor or executive branch from taking effect until approved by the general assembly?” was supported by 81.1% of those responding.Respondents to the survey offered many good ideas and suggestions about many facets of the issues facing our Commonwealth. It was wonderful to see how thoughtful many of the answers were and I’m grateful to all who took time to share personal insight about how laws affect their everyday lives. That took time and effort on everyone’s part – thanks for being so honest! The number of unique responses was outstanding.The proposed legislation before us this session about making Kentucky a “Smoke Free” state was included in the question: “Do you support a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky?” Responses here were the tightest margin of all the queries with those opposed narrowly edging out those in favor, 51% to 49%.The communities of the 96th District have always indicated jobs and great education systems are two components needed for success in our area. This year, those two items again were at the top of many lists. According to those who ranked items along a scale the “Top Priority of the Legislature” should be centered around jobs. Fifty-three percent ranked “Enhance opportunities for job creation” as their number one pick. The second most important priority, at 42.45%, was “Education and Student Success.” Watch for a more detailed report on the data to appear on my Facebook State Representative page and on www.jillyork.com. All of your answers and insights help me make informed decisions in committees and ask the right questions about how proposed laws may affect our district. Next week I’ll return to the habit of reporting about the legislation making its way through the General Assembly and you’ll see how some of those same survey issues turn up as House Bills for our consideration.Luckily for me, the great folk in our House district are happy to let me know what they are thinking! Keep it up! Remember to contact me and weigh in on the issues that affect you. You may reach me through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.
Submitted By Ray S. Jones II
FRANKFORT — This week, which marked the first third of the session completed, was spent hearing testimony on various issues in committee, listening to concerns from constituents and passing bills on the Senate floor. Among them, Senate Bill 87, which passed the Senate on Wednesday, would allow high school juniors and seniors to use Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money to pay for up to six dual-credit hours at colleges and universities in the state. The bill would also allow these students to use the scholarship money in high school to begin career or technical education toward professional licensures or certificates.One of our goals has always been to provide Kentucky students with the best educational opportunities possible and to prepare them for fulfilling careers. That is what this bill does. The earlier students become engaged in post-secondary education, the more likely they are to succeed. This would give students a jump start on college and is another option for students to best utilize their hard-earned KEES money.While we spend much time and focus each year crafting proposals to benefit our children, sometimes they are the ones to come to us with effective and needed legislation. Such was the case with Senate Bill 20, passed on Tuesday. A result of work by middle school students in Madison County, this measure would recognize October as Anti-Bullying Month in the Commonwealth and establish the purple and gold ribbon as a symbol of bullying awareness. Bullying behavior, especially online, has sadly become a hard and sometimes tragic reality for many of our students. This will help raise awareness and, we hope, prevent this type of peer abuse in the future.It was another group of constituents that suggested the provisions of Senate Bill 64, also passed on Tuesday. Currently, ATV riders are not required to wear helmets when on private property or when engaging in business activities, such as farming. This bill would allow them to cross some two-lane highways (those with speed limits under 55 miles per hour) without a helmet when working or trail-riding on privately-owned land. It is for my constituents and all the citizens of the Commonwealth that I intend to introduce legislation to require lobbyists and legislative agents to report all money paid to them or to their employers by any entity that requires them to do lobbying. This would close a loophole in the current law -- that as I stated in a floor speech -- that you could drive a tractor-trailer through on any given day of session. I hope we are able to close this loophole during this legislative session so the people of Kentucky can see how much special interest/corporate money is being spent to influence state government.This week, Governor Beshear released his tax modernization plan, which he says would create jobs, expand existing industry, and ensure a healthier workforce and economy. His plan, which is based on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, is designed to update the tax system and make our state more competitive. In the coming days, the General Assembly will vet the governor’s plan and will add ideas of our own. We may not be in complete agreement on the whole package, but the fact is we have not had comprehensive tax reform in Kentucky since the 1950s. We need changes to our tax system to boost our economy and to create new jobs. I hope everyone comes to the table to seriously discuss this issue that has not gotten the full attention it needs in over 60 years.This is just a quick snapshot of the work this week. There are many other issues being discussed in Frankfort and I encourage you to join in those discussions. Our representative form of government was designed to give the people of Kentucky a voice. You have a big say in the laws affecting you. A taped message containing information on legislative committee meetings is updated daily at 800-633-9650. To check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. To leave a message for me, or any legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at 800-372-7181. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com.
Guns, English, Taxes and Immigration;
What about common sense?
By Glenn Mollette Guns - Second amendment advocates believe every American citizen should have the right to own a gun. I own guns but criminals and the mentally ill do not need guns. We must develop some checks and balances that will help save us from movie theatre, school and mall shootings. Not everybody is qualified to drive a car in America and not everyone is qualified to carry a gun. English - People from around the world are flooding into our country. I understand they have different language backgrounds. I accept that. However, we cannot have 25 different languages on every highway sign in America. I respect my Spanish friends but what about my friends from France (Mollette)? On one sign we could have STOP written in English, Spanish, French and ten other languages. It's only common sense that we focus on one national language - English. Taxes - Demanding more income taxes from anyone is killing this nation. Regardless of your income you can't afford to pay out more federal or state income tax. Our government must reform the current Internal Revenue Service. Every year Americans try to figure out how they can keep some of their hard earned money. People itemize and try to come up with a zillion ways to keep or get a little money back. This is pathetic. Common sense calls for a simple flat sales tax of eight to ten percent. Can you imagine what you might buy if you did not have to pay federal income tax? You might be able to afford a new car. You might buy some clothes or new furniture. Yes, you would pay tax on your purchases but you would have a lot more money with which to make the purchases. If you want to drive a $60,000 car then you pay the tax. If you want to drive a $16,000 car then you only pay the tax on the amount spent and not on what the IRS wants. The tax is only on what you spend but at least you would have something to spend. Our economy would boom with people having more available cash. Immigration - Amnesty is ignorant. Why should we reward people with citizenship who have been breaking our laws for years? Let's use some common sense. Millions of these people are great, hard working people. I'm all for giving immigrants citizenship based on the following: All illegal immigrants should A. Pay a fine for entering our country illegally. B. Pay taxes on the years they have lived in our country. (We've all been paying taxes to this point). C. Have a clean record. We don't want them to stay in the country if they have committed other crimes while living here. D. Pass an English and Civics test. E. Show they have been involved in a five-year process of education and training so they can take care of themselves. We don't need more people on government assistance. Each of them should fill out the paperwork putting them on a five-year citizenship path. They receive their permit to work, are legal and free to pursue their dreams. Our President and Congress need to sit down and work toward reasonable common sense solutions. That's why we sent them to Washington. Glenn Mollette is the author of American Issues: Every American Has An Opinion and nine other books. Contact him at GMollette@aol.com. Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette.
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