Editorial Roundup: Kentucky

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Jan. 20

The Bowling Green Daily News on legislation that would tighten parameters on the governor’s pardon powers:

Right before former Gov. Matt Bevin left office in early December, he issued a number of controversial pardons that rightfully caused a lot of concern.

As the list of pardons became public, we learned there were rapists and murderers among those who Bevin pardoned. Many people, including us, were stunned and angered that Bevin would pardon people who had been convicted by a jury of their peers and sentenced for their very serious crimes, only to be released under his pardons.

In his capacity as governor, Bevin had the legal right to issue these pardons, but that doesn’t mean some in question were good ideas or make it any easier on the victims’ families.

We think the pardons were a slap in the face to the victims’ families, especially since no notice was given to any of them that he was pardoning those who raped or killed their loved ones. It was also a slap in the face to the prosecutors who help put these criminals away, since they were not notified by anyone in the administration that the pardons were being issued.

We don’t want to see this scenario unfold again in Kentucky, which is why we are glad there has been legislation introduced that would put new parameters on a governor’s pardon powers and ensure victims are notified before their assailants are given clemency.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Covington, has proposed a constitutional amendment that would put limits on a governor’s power to grant pardons or commute sentences. His measure would amend the state’s Constitution to strip a governor of pardon powers during the month leading up to an election and during the time between an election and the inauguration.

McDaniel made a very good point in announcing his proposal, that “if a governor wants to use the power to commute and pardon, he should be willing to stand in front of the voters and be held accountable for those actions.”

State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R, Hopkinsville, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, weighed in on the issue by proposing that crime victims have the right to be notified and heard before their assailant gets any pardon or commutation. The language is included in a proposed ballot measure – known as “Marsy’s Law” – that would add multiple protections for crime victims to the state’s Constitution.

The new provision stemming from Bevin’s actions seeks to ensure victims have the right to be heard and notified when a governor considers granting a pardon or sentence commutation to their assailants.

Of course, these measures, if passed by both chambers, would have to be ratified by the state’s voters. These are very solid proposals that make good sense. If a governor is going to make some controversial pardons, as Bevin did, we believe the victims’ families deserve to know in advance.

It’s only fair and we believe that the majority of Kentuckians would agree with that as well. We are 100 percent behind these measures and are hopeful that they will be passed in the legislature and approved by the voters when they appear on the ballot.

Online: http://www.bgdailynews.com

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Jan. 20

The Daily Independent on a house bill that could cap out-of-pocket insulin costs:

Alleviating the financial burdens diabetics face is a must, and Republican Rep. Danny Bentley’s adamant stance is an admirable one.

Bentley is the lead sponsor for a bills that would be game-changers for the more than 500,000 diabetics in the Bluegrass State.

“As a Type I Diabetic,” he said, “I know first-hand the struggle diabetics face when they do not have access to insulin. ... These pieces of legislation will help take the burden away for Kentuckians who are diabetic. It is an honor to sponsor such life-changing bills, and I am appreciative of the support from my colleagues in the legislature.”

Gov. Andy Beshear supports House Bill 12, specifically, which would cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $100 for a 30-day supply.

Bentley said the price of insulin has increased by more than 550% over the last decade and a half.

This legislation would bring much-needed relief to so many individuals and families.

According to Gary Dougherty of the American Diabetes Association, one in four patients use less of their doctor-prescribed insulin because of the high cost of insulin. This bill will save lives.

This bill, along with some others, “will move us closer to our goal of ensuring that Kentuckians with diabetes can go to the pharmacy and pick up their insulin prescription without worry, without plans to skip doses or forgo paying other bills.”

This is an essential bill for Kentuckians. Kudos to Rep. Bentley for standing firm and being a strong voice on this subject.

Online: http://www.dailyindependent.com

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Jan. 19

The Paducah Sun on the candidates running for mayor and city commission:

Paducah city officials pursued an ambitious agenda last year, advancing millions of dollars in potential public projects that could fundamentally change the city.

While the editorial board isn't ready to endorse the proposed Tax Increment Finance district/City Block downtown and a new recreation/aquatic center at Noble Park, we commend commission members and city leaders for the aggressive approach, for pursuing change when change is needed, for not simply doing municipal business as it's always been done.

Nonetheless, voters could potentially unspool the city's moves in coming months in what is shaping up to be a significant election that could usher in a new commission with a different ideology.

Fourteen candidates — three mayoral and 11 for commission — answered the Jan. 10 filing deadline, formalizing their bid for office in 2021.

They are:

— Mayoral: Mayor Pro Tem Richard Abraham, local businessman George Bray and Mayor Brandi Harless.

— Commission: Lakilia Bedeau, Carol Gault, David Guess, Raynarldo Henderson, Mike Reed, Robert Shy, John "Buzz" VonTesmar, Shannon Wathen, incumbent Gerald Watkins, incumbent Sandra Wilson and Melinda Winchester.

Abraham, who has long eyed the mayor's office, didn't waste any time courting votes during a thinly-veiled bit of campaigning at a Jan. 14 commission meeting, coming out against the recreation/aquatic center.

Despite the stilted attempt, the editorial board appreciates all public dialogue on the proposed major projects, and voters should unflinchingly and unapologetically demand it this campaign season.

In coming weeks and months, voters are going to hear a lot from the 14 candidates — about their backgrounds, qualifications, platforms and ideas for the future.

That's informative and helpful.

But the editorial board believes voters must dig deeper. We encourage the public to press the candidates at every opportunity for firm answers about TIF, City Block and the center.

Push the candidates to deliver viewpoints beyond what they've rehearsed, require their authenticity, prod them for independent thought. Quiz them on their knowledge of the plans, on pieces they agree or disagree with, and most importantly, how they'd vote if elected.

Ask hard questions and don't settle for ambiguous answers.

After all, the typical modus operandi of most candidates in most campaigns is to say just enough to win votes and not enough to be of any real consequence.

It is, quite frankly, a tired approach. Stakes this year call for more.

We sincerely hope candidates step up, have something substantive to say, and the honesty to say it.

Online: https://www.paducahsun.com