Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Frankort State Journal. April 26, 2022.

Editorial: Time to celebrate the uniqueness that all Kentuckians have in common

A week before “riders up” is called at Churchill Downs for the 148th Run for the Roses, Team Kentucky will be putting the now-closed road between the Capitol and Annex to good use Saturday with a Derby Week Kick-off celebration and it will include lots of local flair.

The event, which will take place on the south lawn of the Capitol from noon until 5 p.m., will offer something for the whole family including an arts and crafts fair from artisans across the state; vendors from the Franklin County Farmers Market; local food trucks; area bands; Derby-themed crafting stations; and Commonfest — a bourbon and beer tasting experience.

Starting at 1 p.m., participating farmers and producers from Franklin and surrounding counties will sell locally grown and produced Kentucky Proud products.

“There are few things more synonymous with Kentucky than bourbon, horses and farms,” explained Kellie Sebastian, Franklin County Farmers Market manager. “Stop by the onsite market to check out our meats, breads, plants and crafts as we honor the traditions that forged this commonwealth.”

Four food trucks that Frankfort residents are quite familiar with — Community Que, Dueling Chopstix, The Flying Waffle and Crave Street Kitchen — will also be stationed throughout the Capitol grounds.

Over the course of the event, four regional bands will provide live music — including Native Invaders, Sorry Atari, The Craw Daddies and Small Batch Brass.

Children of all ages will be able to create their own Derby-themed crafts, such as a bouquet of roses constructed from pipe cleaners, Derby hats, decorated hot air balloons and painted horseshoes or jockey silks. There will also be pool noodle horse races.

Local brewer Sig Luscher is partnering with the Kentucky Guild of Brewers (KGB), the Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA) and the Louisville Ale Trail to host Commonfest — a beer and bourbon tasting event.

“A bier/bourbon garten featuring KGB and KDA members will be onsite, and breweries will be offering beer sales by the pour. Also, a limited supply of branded glassware will be provided,” Tim Luscher, president of Sig Luscher Brewery and organizer of the Commonfest, said.

After two years of postponements and uncertainty while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to welcome visitors from across the commonwealth to Frankfort for food, music, spirits and fun. Like the Kentucky Derby itself, it is our hope that this event quickly becomes an annual tradition to celebrate the uniqueness that all Kentuckians have in common.

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Ashland Daily Independent. April 23, 2022.

Editorial: Make medical marijuana legal in Ky.

Even though the latest bill to legalize medical cannabis did not survive the state Senate after passage in the House, Gov. Andy Beshear is looking into grassroots support for attempts to legalize medical marijuana via other avenues.

Beshear announced Thursday he will assemble an advisory team to travel across the state to gather public input. Kentuckians also will be able to express their views directly to the governor’s office by sending an email to GovMedicalCannabisAdvisoryTeam@ky.gov.

“I want to be clear, I am for medical cannabis,” Beshear said on Thursday. “I want it done in the right way. And we’re going to be looking at our legal options very closely. And at the same time, we want to hear from you.”

Beshear actively used his executive powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which inflamed Republican lawmakers, and if he chooses to use executive powers to move medical cannabis forward, there likely will be more pushback from the GOP.

Whether executive action will happen, or will stand, remains to be seen. But the need for legal medical marijuana remains.

Marijuana, which is relatively safe, would offer an alternative to opioid medications, which can be deadly, for chronic pain. In fact, Dr. Edward J. Newton, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Southern California and an expert in drug overdose, said marijuana has “a good safety record” from an overdose perspective. There are other questionable side effects, just as with other medications.

Most Americans want medical and recreational use of marijuana legalized. Pew Research Center found 91% of Americans are in favor of legalization and have had such a stance for several years.

Beshear said he would prefer legislative approval, but lawmakers have not supported the idea.

“I believe it’s my obligation to see what’s possible, given the will of the people and their desire to move forward on this,” the governor said, adding lawmakers have failed to “get the job done.”

We would like to see medical marijuana legal in Kentucky and we applaud Beshear’s efforts to relive the pain of those suffering with Alzheimer’s, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy and seizures, multiple sclerosis, chronic nausea and post-traumatic stress, all of which marijuana is known to ease.

Already, 37 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have approved cannabis for medical use. Some of Kentucky’s surrounding states have approved medical marijuana.

It’s time for Kentucky to find some compassion for the sick and suffering and make cannabis available to those who would benefit from it, executive order or otherwise.

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Bowling Green Daily News. April 22, 2022.

Editorial: Legislature offers some good, some bad

In Kentucky and elsewhere, it’s been said that “no man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

We certainly wouldn’t go that far. In fact, in the recently completed General Assembly in Frankfort, many fine pieces of legislation that made it through the legislative process and received Gov. Andy Beshear’s signature – or was adopted over the governor’s vetoes – will do much to improve Kentuckians’ lives.

Unfortunately, as is the case in most years in Frankfort, there were some head-scratching moves as well under the Capitol dome.

While we cannot comment on every single piece of legislation – there’s not enough available newsprint for that herculean task – here is a look at what we see as some of the highlights and low points of the session.

In one of the most contentious issues of the session, we were glad when the charter schools bill received final approval, even though it took the Republican-run legislature overriding the Democratic governor’s veto to get it done.

The legislature authorized charters in 2017, but none have been created in Kentucky because lawmakers didn’t provide a permanent funding mechanism back then, The Associated Press reported. That changed in this session, when lawmakers set up a long-term funding method for charter schools. Public charters, like traditional public schools, will now receive a mix of local and state tax support.

Our support for this bill was simple: Parents should have a choice on where to send their children to school.

If parents want them in public schools, great. But if parents want another choice, now they will have that option – in certain parts of the state.

The bill requires that at least two charter schools be created under pilot projects – one in Louisville and one in northern Kentucky. If these pilot projects work out, we would likely endorse a charter school coming to Bowling Green at some point.

On budget work related to education, Beshear argued that lawmakers failed to “meet the moment” during a time of unprecedented revenue surpluses – conveniently leaving out the fact that a major reason for those surpluses was one-time handouts from Washington amid the COVID pandemic. He wanted more money placed into the state’s main funding formula – known as SEEK – for K-12 schools. He also faulted lawmakers for refusing to include pay raises for teachers and other school staff – two of his budget priorities.

Republicans, in turn, noted the budget they passed funds full-day kindergarten, pours money into teacher pensions and increases SEEK funding – from $4,000 this year to $4,100 in 2023 and $4,200 in 2024. Some Republicans said school districts across the state could use their additional SEEK funding to provide raises for teachers and other school staff, which is true, but in a year when state employees received generous (and needed) raises, it seems more could have been done to ensure teachers get needed raises, too.

Another hot-button issue in Frankfort and across our nation has been abortion rights. We applaud the legislature for passing a bill – again, over a Beshear veto – that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Kentucky law currently bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The proposed 15-week ban is modeled after a Mississippi law the U.S. Supreme Court is considering in a case that could dramatically limit abortion rights. By taking the preemptive action, the bill’s supporters say Kentucky’s stricter ban would be in place if the Mississippi law is upheld, the AP reported.

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