Saturday, March 31, 2007

Does Jonathan Miller Want To Unionize Toyota?

I was reading this story about Kentucky Jobs With Justice offering to support the UAW infiltration of Toyota, and couldn't help noticing the myspace video the KJWJ folks have on that site looks like it was produced by the same people who did Miller's commercial.

What other critically important companies with lots of highly-paid employees does Miller want to unionize?

Please, Democratic Friends, Nominate This Guy

"Miller has Kentucky's pre-paid college plan, health care for our veterans, protecting our pensions." Say what?

These Ten Bills Could Have Made It Worse

You have heard that watching people make laws can be like watching people make sausage. This year in Kentucky, it has been uglier than that. Reading the entrails of the General Assembly session, though, unveils one sad truth: it could have been worse.

The clock ran out on the spending spree when the House and Senate adjourned Tuesday night. They left town without agreeing to restore the 2006 vetoed projects or any number of goodies they might have agreed on if they had been more agreeable more quickly. It might have been better if they had found common ground, as the special session that is sure to follow will cost taxpayers another $60,000 a day in addition to the new spending lawmakers will approve. It is ironic that the same legislators we will be paying extra to come back to work later this year were promising us in 2000 that if we just gave them annual sessions, these special ones would be unnecessary. This next one will be their fourth in seven years.

Nevertheless, there are at least ten good reasons to rejoice in the form of ten bills that didn’t make their way into the law books this year.

Senate Bill 12 would have extended the terms of Senators from four to six years and of Representatives from two to four years.

House Bill 5, an environmental extremist’s dream, would have doled out subsidies for retooling private buildings and equipment and questionable tactics in building, buying, and managing state properties in hopes that by doing so we might use less fossil fuel. While it might not actually succeed at saving energy, there can be no doubt this bill would cost lots of money.

House Bill 411 would have raised income taxes and estate taxes by several hundred million dollars a year and tacked new taxes onto a laundry list of services to the tune of nearly $100 million a year. Some of the services targeted for taxation included greens fees and country club dues, chartered air flight services, landscaping services, security and armored car services, and limousine services. Should we call this one the class warfare bill?

Another bill would cost taxpayers millions each year by warehousing thousands of unwilling students in our public high schools. HB 221 would have increased the compulsory school attendance age from sixteen to eighteen. Forcing students who want to drop out to come to school is meant to help some of them graduate. The far more likely result of this would be to unleash serious discipline problems on the rest of the student population.

Seeking to imprison students within school walls must only be half as fun as actually arresting them. Twin measures Senate Bill 183 and House Bill 309 would have allowed police to take into custody anyone found off school property during school hours who is suspected of being less than eighteen years old. What we really need is more freedom and greater opportunities for achievement for our students and instead we are literally handcuffing them.

One of the hottest issues in every election is how to lower college tuition costs. House Bill 544 pushes that idea in the wrong direction. The bill would have appropriated $19.7 million to dole out $2000 bonuses to every staff employee at the University of Kentucky for no particular reason at all

The debate about pension reform in state government deals partially with double-dipping. Allowing retiring employees to start drawing a pension and then return to work for another salary has caused problems with the state’s underfunded pensions. The focus of HB 465 was to enable double-dipping judges. The bill would have extended the life of the senior status judge program, set to expire this year.

Gender discrimination in the workplace is already against the law. House Bill 219 which would have prohibited paying women less than men when both perform jobs of “comparable worth,” succeeded mainly at confusing the issue. And that usually means lawsuits. For example, what does comparable worth mean? For the purposes of dealing with HB 219 as a law, it would have meant “call your lawyer.”

In the tradition of saving the best for last we have House Bill 184. This one would have allowed the General Assembly to rewrite any law behind closed doors. As such, any of the worst of these bills might find its way into law and only a handful of lawmakers would know anything about it until it was too late.

We must be vigilant as these bills might well reappear later. Looking on the bright side again, though, we need not fear that while the legislature is out of session.

Friday, March 30, 2007

What Billy Harper Should Do Next

With the news that his campaign manager quit, Billy Harper has to see the handwriting on the wall. He has a great opportunity to take a very active role in the Fletcher administration and campaign. Both sides should work together to make this happen soon.

Retirement Party For Julian Carroll

With his support for Bruce Lunsford and Greg Stumbo, Sen. Julian Carroll has apparently earned himself a primary opponent (or two) in 2008.

The most likely candidate would have to be Joe Graviss, who lost to Carroll in the 2004 primary. Expect a more liberal candidate to jump in as well.

Update: Looks like Bluegrass Report was having the same thought about Graviss. Will Rep. Ben Chandler weigh in too?

Don't Just Sit There, Write New Laws!!!

The overblown subprime lender controversy has some folks hyperventilating. It is unfortunately likely to result in a wave of new government regulation. We would do far better to just let the market take care of itself, as most any fix to this non-problem will be worse than doing nothing.

If you aren't happy with your mortgage, don't call Congress or state lawmakers. Seriously -- and no, I don't feel guilty about the advertiser plug at all -- check out the wild variety in market solutions:

A Simple Idea To Improve Frankfort Performance

We have talked about this before, but now would be a great time to really start pushing for moving the candidate filing deadline from the end of January to the end of the General Assembly session. This action would address two problems: first, it would end the practice of legislators cynically sitting on their hands waiting for the current deadline to pass, and it would give citizens greater ability to respond in the voting booth to bad actions by a lawmaker.

Politicians who oppose moving the filing deadline should have to explain why it is a bad idea and not a commonsense liberty-enhancing action we should promote immediately.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Driving The Anti-War Left Absolutely Batty, For Fun And Possibly A Whole Lot More

Could this be how Mitch McConnell becomes Senate Majority Leader?

Jody Richards Shoots Own Foot Again

In the aftermath of the General Assembly session, Speaker Jody Richards does his gubernatorial campaign no favors:

Richards noted that House Democrats and Republicans have teamed up in similar fashion before and scoffed at the new-found bipartisanship in the upper chamber.

"In the Senate, I don't know what it is," he said. "I think the Senate Democrats are just afraid of Sen. Williams."

Who is he talking about, Sen. Ernesto Scorsone of Lexington, or perhaps Sen. Gerald Neal of Louisville? As twisted up as some Republicans are about the divisive primary they face, they really need to consider how close the Dems are to nominating Steve Henry.

One Teeny Tiny Little Question For Lawmakers

In 2000, Frankfort politicians somehow sold us on the idea that if we just gave them annual sessions we wouldn't have to deal with bringing everyone back in for so many special sessions.

When Governor Fletcher calls them back later this year, it will the fourth special session in seven years.

So why are we paying you guys to meet in annual sessions?

Dems, GOP Right To Fear KY Club For Growth

Looks like at least one liberal blogger is figuring out what's up with the Kentucky Club for Growth.

Big-government Republicans have just as much reason to be afraid. The Club pledges allegiance to the principles of fiscal conservatism, not any political party. It is liberating to take on members of both parties who stray from correct fiscal principles. While it is also distressing that Kentucky's political environment is such a target-rich field now, the leadership of the nascent Club for Growth in the Bluegrass State is indeed gaining the influence to hold some feet to the fire.

I'm glad to see Diane Brumback is paying attention.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Counting The Ways Dems Might Raise Taxes

They told us during the campaign they were not going to raise our taxes, so why are we even having this conversation?

Republicans should smell opportunity here. If we can get them to start acting like conservatives again, they could become agents of change again.

One Last Question From General Assembly Session

As the regular General Assembly session ends in partisan bickering and a slew of sidelined spending projects, I have just one question:

If, as Sen. Dan Kelly suggests, failure to pass Rep. Harry Moberly's secrecy bill could cost the state "several hundred million dollars" in judgements, do we really have any business restoring all the vetoed projects from last year's budget, thereby spending money that rightly belongs to people the legislature has previously wronged?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Liberals On Warpath: I Think This Bit Of Anti-American Propaganda Will Backfire On Them

The End Is Near

The House just attached the Boni Bill to SB 59, one of the Senate re-organization bills. This should just about wrap it up.

8:47 Update: the Senate just passed HB 362, the Boni Bill.

10:15 Update: the Senate has adjourned for the year -- or at least until the special session starts.

Next Up: Special Session

The legislature is basically just running out the clock, leaving a lot of spending undone. Governor Fletcher will call them back into session and they will do their projects. The thing is they won't do anything about public pensions. The House Dems will hold their breath, turn purple, and say no till they bankrupt the state or are forced to act.

And that underscores a very important reason to support four more years of Governor Fletcher. A new governor will spend four years trying to play nice in order to get re-elected. At the beginning of a second term, Governor Fletcher would be finished running for governor. The heady days of shutting down pension reform will be long gone by this fall. Next January, Governor Fletcher can force them to act or stop all spending in their districts.

We probably can't trust any new governor to make the tough calls the next four years; we know we can't trust any of the crop of Dem candidates.

A second term with Governor Fletcher could possibly be a great benefit to the state. We need someone to knock heads up there and he would be free to do so in ways a first term governor wouldn't be. Governor Fletcher has been a fiscal conservative before. In 2008, he could be one again. No one else in the race -- with the possible exception of Billy Harper -- could plausibly make the same claim.

Last Day Of The Session; Good Gridlock

Don't be surprised if the Senate attaches the Kentucky Horse Park and Wolf Creek Dam projects to HB 362 The Boni Bill in order to get them passed.

I expect David Williams to keep his word and not let HB 1 and all its vetoed projects get through because the House refused to talk about pension reform.

This session really went south from the big government perspective when Harry Moberly's coup petered out. Gridlock is good. This session could have been much worse.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Think About What You Are Saying

Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly today tried and failed to pass an amendment promoting secrecy in the legislative process saying -- since his amendment failed -- "we could find ourselves with several hundred million dollars of claims that could be charged against the treasury."

Do we really want to get into how moving the legislative process behind closed doors might erase potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in claims against the treasury?

I'd suggest to legislators that a better way to handle such huge liabilities would be to refrain from spending the excess taxation currently held in the treasury(surplus). We've already been overtaxed once. Screwing plaintiffs or overtaxing yet again can't be the answer. It just can't be. Quit jerking us around and get back to work.

Another Out-Of-State Pundit Misses The Mark

You have to read this to the very end to get to the punch line.

Senate Thwarted One More Time

It's pretty sick when the best news we get is bad legislation being killed, but the Senate A&R committee deserves kudos for turning away another attempt to get Harry Moberly's secrecy bill through.

Nice job!

It was an amendment to House Bill 400 that Senator Dan Kelly tried to attach to the original bill. It won't be available till sometime late tonight, but I will show it when I can. Either way, another attempt fails. Let's keep watching them.

Note to Leadership: the rest of the free world has already figured out that we want open, honest government. What ... is ... your ... problem?!?!

Victory, Again!

I was working on another hit piece on the Senate for slipping Harry Moberly's secrecy bill into HB 228, but the Senate just pulled the offensive substitute from the bill.

Good move, Senate.

We will be watching carefully as this foolishness is likely to return next year.

Another Lib Talking Point Goes Down Hard

Hey, I thought we were all going to get sick and die if we didn't harvest lots more fetal stem cells.

Osiris Therapeutics Inc.'s easy-to- administer stem cell treatment helped patients recover after a heart attack and eased their symptoms in a study.

The cells were given intravenously to patients who had a heart attack within the past 10 days, researchers said. The hearts of those who got the cells pumped 25 percent more efficiently both three months and six months after treatment, according to research presented today at a science meeting.

The study, using adult cells gathered from bone marrow, is the first to transfer stem cells from donors to heart patients. Since an IV line delivers the cells, rather than a complex heart procedure, ``they could be given at a community hospital'' rather than an academic center, said Marc Penn, director of the Bakken Heart Brain Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.

Maybe not. If you are keeping score at home, that's one more real-world success for adult stem cells versus zero for fetal stem cells.

Any more words of wisdom on global warming or how great socialized medicine will be?

Hillary Clinton's Free Commercial On GMA

Hillary Clinton is on Good Morning America doing what feels an awful lot like an infomercial. The topic of the day is, of course, socialized medicine.

"I think we will move toward requiring employers to participate," Clinton said.

What this means is Hillary is going for RomneyCare as opposed to Medicare For Everyone. This approach ties individual health premium subsidies to income. The lower your income, the higher your subsidy. What we need to be considering is the impact this will have on our economy as a disincentive to productivity. What are you going to do if your climbing income is about to lower your subsidy by more than your increased income?

Kentucky Senate Republicans Adrift

Senate President David Williams has done well to address the looming pension crisis in Frankfort. But after watching the national GOP melt down into a rudderless tub of goo, one might think he would have the sense to quickly dispatch whoever tried to revive Harry Moberly's fascistic HB 184 by stuffing it into HB 228.

Wake up, President Williams, before you wreck your boat. The MSM will give Moberly a pass on his attempt to hijack the legislative process, but you will be drawn and quartered.

And you won't have any conservatives coming to your rescue just because you have an (R) next to your name.

Remove the committee substitute on HB 228. NOW!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Morality Of Bad Public Policy

Steve Beshear says if we elect him governor, he will solve our fiscal problems with loads of casino gambling cash.

"At the end of the day, it was not a moral problem for me," Beshear, who grew up singing at church with his siblings, said of his advocacy for expanded gambling. "I know it is for some people."

The burden of proof should be on Singing Steve to demonstrate that the public costs of casino gambling are less than the windfall he keeps talking about. Getting the focus of this issue off morality -- which is a valid concern, but not a persuasive one -- and onto simple math -- which is valid and persuasive -- will lead us to the right decision.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Big Mistake: Stupid Anti-School Choice Law

At a time when Kentucky demonstrably needs to give parents and students more freedoms and less clumsy bureaucracy in public education, the General Assembly and Governor Fletcher have agreed to foist a new law upon us that, while having little real impact on the former, provides a boon to the latter.

HB 32 will succeed only in filling the courts with teenage high school dropouts seeking hardship exemptions from this do-over for the old no pass, no drive law.

Another Dumbass Move By The General Assembly

The General Assembly goes back to work Monday, so it is going to be a pretty good idea to hold on to your wallet.

A fine example of why we should stay on guard is what the Senate did to a decent House Bill 228 which, in its original form, just cut back a little on the ridiculous idea of prohibiting "price gouging."

Price gouging is, however, an argument for a different time.

Someone in the Senate came up with the bright idea to slip part of Rep. Harry Moberly's fascist HB 184 that we killed off last month into HB 228.

Whose stupid idea was this? Was it Damon Thayer? Does anyone know? When Harry got busted on this last month, he wound up taking a sick day when he couldn't take the heat.

It's time for a sneaky Senator to catch an early spring cold and to withdraw the Substitute from HB 228.

Blog Blocking Blah Blah Blah...

Most of the people who think Ernie Fletcher will pay a political price for his Administration blocking on-the-clock access to political blogs are merely blinded by partisan hatred.

And yes, reading employee emails falls under the same category.

The Northup campaign will NOT find any gain in trying to capitalize on this one.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Money Meets Mouth On D.C. Social Security Vote

Which way did your U.S. Senator vote on stopping the annual Social Security surplus squandering?

Jody Richards: I was against AMC tax before I was for it and now, doggone it, I'm against it again

The legislature could have repealed the AMC/LLET this year if Richards would have let it come up for a vote.

Now, more than anyone else running for Governor, he has had to tie himself up in knots on the issue:

When the Republican-sponsored AMC was proposed by Gov. Fletcher, I was the first and loudest voice to oppose it as unfair to small businesses. I was proud as House Speaker to lead the chamber that fixed its worst provisions during a special session last summer. I don't believe businesses operating in the red should have to pay income tax. As Governor, I will work to make the tax code much more business friendly. I want a system that is more effective; spurs growth; and does not unfairly burden one group over any other. We must do better to compete economically.

A stronger opponent would take Governor Fletcher out on this one. No candidate, no issue. Next...

Courier Journal Wakes Up To Pensions, Dresses Down ... Jody Richards!!!

Too funny; Williams spanks Richards, again! David's right arm must be getting tired from all the whupping.

Wake up and smell the mint julep, Jody. If your "campaign" makes it as far as the first Saturday in May it will be only because there are no real horses in your race.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fletcher Caves In, Signs Wage Tax Increase

What a complete waste of time.

Northup Campaign To Unveil Policies Tomorrow

A press conference to discuss education policies and a health care plan? Count me in!

Anne Northup to outline
Education and Health Care Platforms

FRANKFORT----Anne Northup, candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the May 22nd Primary, will outline her plan to improve education and Kentucky’s Health Care system Friday in Frankfort.

WHO: Anne Northup and Jeff Hoover

WHAT: Education and Health Care News Conference

WHEN: 10am, EDT, Friday, March 23rd.

WHERE: Frankfort Capital Plaza Hotel, Caucus Room, Wilkinson Boulevard

What do you think they should propose? What do you think they will say?

Harper Issues Another *Yawn* Press Release

Just received the following from Harper for Governor:

Harper statement on political endorsement:

"The endorsement is a reminder of why Kentuckians have grown tired of the political establishment. Too often politicians say one thing and then do another. We're going to continue talking about issues important to Kentuckians, such as education and economic development, rather than endorsements from politicians."

Come on, guys. You can do better than this. Most GOP primary voters may not be crazy about politicians doing business as usual, but bland derision is not going to get it done at this point.

How about something like this instead:

While we are bankrupting our state with pension and healthcare liabilities, while we are raising taxes and fees like there is no tomorrow, and under falling business and educational rankings it is more than a little uninspiring to watch our leading politicians standing around at press conferences endorsing each other for more of the same. It is past time for us to wake up and change course. We can't afford further delay. That is why I am running for Governor, to replace the political stunts with action.

Is Jody Richards Expecting To Need Judicial Intervention In Dem Primary?

Gubernatorial hopeful Jody Richards named Lexington Councilman Julian Beard as his Fayette county campaign chairman today.

Beard got 97 signatures on his petition to run for for his office last year when 100 signatures were required by law. He then got a local judge to rule that the law didn't really apply to him after all. Perhaps Richards thinks Beard's manipulative abilities will benefit him in his May primary.

Gore, Hair On Fire, With New Talking Points

Al Gore testified to Congress about global warming yesterday:

"The planet has a fever," Gore said. "If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don't say, `Well, I read a science fiction novel that told me it's not a problem.' If the crib's on fire, you don't speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action."

Thirty years from now, when another Gore is running for office by complaining about how economic activity is bringing on a new Ice Age, we will have to remember his "Flame retardant baby" speech.

Hey, someone call the NEA. They will want to get special ed money for that "retardant" kid.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Update From Evans-Novak Political Report

Evans-Novack weighs in on Kentucky's GOP primary

Governor 2007

Kentucky: Republicans here feel strongly that Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) has gotten a raw deal with respect to the scandal over hires he made outside the state's civil service system. However, they are equally convinced that he will not be re-inaugurated next January. The only question, therefore, is whether he loses the May 22 primary or the November 4 election.

Fletcher has alienated two key groups in Kentucky 's Republican Party -- first the grassroots organizers who got him elected in his close 2003 race, and second his Republican allies in the state legislature. To the former, he gave early impressions of ingratitude and neglect, and many of them have abandoned him by now. The latter complain that he has behaved in an aloof manner, not unlike the way President Bush dealt with the congressional majority when he still had it.
The business community has also been upset with much of Fletcher's work. Fletcher pushed through a so-called "tax modernization plan" that included one of the most hated of all taxes for small businessmen -- an alternative minimum tax for businesses based on gross revenues. As a result, the state is raising excessive revenues on the backs of low-margin small businesses, even those with bad balance sheets.
Despite promises during his 2003 election campaign to make Kentucky more business friendly, the state has dropped from the 29th to 36th most business-friendly state in the United States since 2004, according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. The tax change played a significant role in that.
Former Rep. Anne Northup (R) is already nearly even with Fletcher in the polls, and she must be favored to win the primary. Despite what some view as a sluggish fundraising operation early on, she has hit her stride for the most part.
The winner of this Republican primary must take 40 percent to avoid a primary runoff. A third candidate, businessman Bill Harper (R) -- who served as Fletcher's finance chairman in his 2003 election -- will sop up a significant portion of the vote in his native Western Kentucky , the most Republican part of the state. This could make it difficult to get 40 percent.
Still, Fletcher's support lags even at a time when he is on television and Northup is not. The real state of play in the GOP primary should become clearer when Northup takes to the airwaves in April. Leaning Northup.

The Fat Lady Is Singing Kumbaya

Another press conference tomorrow promises to have another big-name Republican endorse Anne Northup for Governor. I'm guessing it will be former Commerce Secretary Jim Host, but it doesn't really matter. The Anyone But Ernie crowd has taken their shot, but it is about time to admit that it hasn't worked and that the conservative thing to do is get behind Governor Fletcher and push on through to November.

I say this as one who was sympathetic to the idea of changing horses in this primary. All the bonded projects and the AMC revenue-neutral tax increase were two big strikes against this administration, and the political miscues made it hard to watch and impossible to apologize for. But when it comes down to navigating the shark-infested waters as well as he has, Governor Fletcher has earned a chance to do better in his second term.

Look, even the Democrats agree. Any Dem candidates with real potential stayed out of the race. The leftovers who are figuring out now that they can't beat Steve Henry by going negative will all head for the hills after May. Whether Henry wins the primary or some other one makes it through, no one is going to want to listen to dredged up rumors about charges that didn't amount to anything on a scandal that by any measure isn't worth the ink it has received. The Dem candidate who builds a campaign on that will never get off the ground.

It's time to get used to the idea the Ernie Fletcher will very likely get a second term. Kentuckians need to get passed the our mostly inconsequential differences and work on improving our state together over the next four years.

Jody Richards Caught Pants-Down On Public Pensions, Whining About Senate's Desire For Action

The state Senate sent an open letter to Speaker Jody Richards asking for a dialogue on the public pension funding crisis.

Here is an exerpt:

House Leadership has now had HB 418 in its possession for fifteen (15) days since its Senate passage on Tuesday, March 6, 2007. I am hopeful that you and your staff have been doing your due diligence and have reviewed in detail the Senate Plan, along with the accompanying actuarial analyses prepared by the KERS's own actuary which has been in your possession since Friday, March 2, 2007 . Therefore, Senator Ed Worley and myself are offering to make ourselves available Friday afternoon, March 23, 2007, to discuss the Senate Plan with you and the entire membership of the Chamber. As Members of the General Assembly are already compensated at their regular rate during the Veto Recess, I believe this informal informational meeting will be a productive use of Member's time.

Unless Richards has secretly worked up some silly "There is no crisis" groups, he is going to have to provide some kind of answer to this. The Senate has left the door wide-open for the House to come back with a plan to fix the real problem -- the state health plan.

Public comments suggest the House is content to run out the clock on this ticking time bomb.

From the letter again:

Although our Leadership teams have not spoken publicly or privately regarding this matter since the General Assembly adjourned for the veto recess, I have determined through your remarks on the floor of the House and in the press and Representative Adkins' comments on KET Monday, March 19, 2007 that House Leadership continues to criticize the "timing" and "process" by which the bi-partisan Senate Plan was created. It is not however clear to me if you, or any Member of the House, have substantive questions pertaining to any of the policies contained in the bi-partisan Senate Pension Plan.

Come on, Speaker Richards. You are being handed a golden opportunity. Take it and revamp the health plan. The pension stuff can wait if you take that on, but we all pay if you sit on your hands complaining about how the Senate does business.

Trolling Through The High Schools For "Interns"

Just got an email with the daily announcements from my kids' high school and found this one:

Join Bruce Lunsford and Greg Stumbo in the fight for Universal Healthcare and Lower College Tuition as an intern in the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. This internship offers students a structured experience working one-on-one with campaign staffers - the intern's staff mentor. Interns have the opportunity to work on a campaign where they learn about public interest issues, gain political knowledge, and see how the democratic process works. If your are interested please contact Matt Lydon @502-454-5553 or

I don't know about you, but something about reading the words "Greg Stumbo," "one-on-one," and "mentor" in the same paragraph makes me more than a little uncomfortable about this solicitation.

Also, the notice was copied directly from the email. The proofreading errors are theirs, not mine.

Kentucky's Unbridled Tax Increases

As the General Assembly session draws to a close, it looks like our major legislative accomplishment is going to be raising the minimum wage.

This is, of course, nothing more than a tax increase. Labor costs get passed to consumers in the price of all goods and services. So lawmakers are busily congratulating themselves on taking more money out of your pocket. Great.

Meanwhile, politicians in both parties hope you don't remember how adamant they all were last year that we repeal the "un-American" Alternative Minimum Calculation tax on businesses. A bill that would do just that now languishes in Jody Richards' House.

This General Assembly has squandered multiple opportunities for improving the lives of Kentuckians in this short session. There is still time to pass HB 88. Governor Fletcher will sign the minimum wage tax increase. Surely, he would want to neutralize that tax increase by signing a repeal of the tax on unprofitable companies.

Nancy Pelosi Pre-Announces Her Own Butt-Kicking, Again

When is the MSM going to start calling Nancy Pelosi the worst Speaker of the House in history?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mitt Romney Should Just Drop Out

I already wasn't a fan, but this latest miscue does me in. Go home Mitt.

Replacing The Most Dangerous Woman In America With A Harmless Rock Star Who Can't Win

I like this. A lot.

Will Ohio's Governor Send Education $$$ To KY?

Ohio's new Democrat Governor Ted Strickland has had a little time to find out what ails his state, and he has decided that it is the idea of giving parents a choice in where their children are educated. His response is to end the state's small school voucher program.

"To me, vouchers are inherently undemocratic because they allow public dollars to be used in ways and in settings where the public has little or no oversight," Strickland said.

What's funny is that he seems to be a little confused about what constitutes "public oversight." If he really wants to see public dollars disappear into a black hole of unaccountability, perhaps he should consider sending their money to Kentucky's education bureaucrats.

Update From The Campaign Trail

Usually outraged candidate Jonathan Miller says it is a "moral outrage" Kentucky hasn't totally destroyed its health insurance market and that we should finish the job as soon as humanly possible.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Return Of HillaryCare

Other states are getting all weak-in-the-knees about schemes to spread health coverage to all corners with public-private partnerships.

But in Kentucky, even our liberals remember what happens when you force insurers to cover everyone regardless of health history.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just Veto These Bad Bills

When the Berlin Wall was going up in 1961, it was called by the East Berliners in authority at the time the "Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart," as if its sole purpose was to keep us out of East Germany. Considering that the soldiers were on the inside of the wall with guns pointed at their own citizens, this was bold marketing indeed.

One of the legislative bills advancing to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law benefited from a little bold marketing as well. While nothing so threatening as machine guns or barbed wire was employed in its passage, this would-be law represents a loss of freedom and a waste of time and money worthy of a veto.

House Bill 32, passed unanimously by the House and Senate, seeks to lower the high school dropout rate by requiring the revocation of drivers licenses of sixteen and seventeen year-olds who drop out or fail to pass at least four classes.

We have been down this road before. A substantially similar law was found unconstitutional in 2003. No pass, no drive – as it was called – also was particularly ineffective at keeping teenagers in school. Past revokees under no pass, no drive found ignoring the penalty and, if caught driving, claiming hardship in court to be a successful strategy.

Under HB 32, the same will happen. In the best case, this bill threatens and then doesn’t follow through. At worst, it clogs classrooms with students who are there for the wrong reasons and clogs courtrooms with young defendants taking a free shot at gaming the system. Are these lessons we really want to be teaching our young people?

House Bill 305, the minimum wage increase bill, aims likewise to move people on to greater heights. It serves mainly, however, as a payroll tax raising device for local governments and as a disincentive to both employers and employees to expand beyond minimal productivity. In today’s competitive marketplace, motivated employees should be able to advance beyond $7.25 per hour by July 1, 2009 just by being more productive. With the new law, they won’t have to.

Senate Bill 10 creates a brand-new state bureaucracy for HVAC oversight. This is far better – and cheaper – if handled at the local level.

House Bill 50 makes all local school board members eligible for the state employee health plan. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously. In a time when more policymakers should be realizing that state employee health coverage is the biggest drain by far of our public benefit programs, we should know better than to be adding to the problem. Furthermore, creating career school board members – as the benefits are likely to do – does little to foster dynamic school boards at a time when we should be bringing out new ideas.

Senate Bill 23 is another that passed both chambers of the legislature without a single vote in opposition. This bill would subject a veterinarian to a fine of up to $1000 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days for refusing to treat an assistance dog without prior payment. Do we really want to subject our vets to jail time for this? As with most other unfair mandates, the best solution is to merely spread the cost among the good paying customers.

The Senators were afraid to oppose this bad bill and look like they were against sick dogs. Same thing in the House. Too bad none of them had the same fear of appearing to be in favor of jailing veterinarians for trying to run a business as they see fit. The Governor really should stand up to this one before it gets out of hand.

House Bill 509 would allow anyone with a commercial drivers license from Canada or Mexico to operate a commercial vehicle in Kentucky. One lone Senator voted against this. Terrorism concerns, anyone?

And House Bill 108 makes an appropriation to dole out tax credits for repairing rock fences. This bill passed unanimously through both chambers. Is it unreasonable to expect anyone to stack their own rocks without being paid government money to do it?

The bitter deadlock this year in Frankfort can be credited for us not having a great deal more bad legislation to grumble about. But all too often when the House and Senate find something they can agree on, it costs us money or risks our freedoms. While our lawmakers are huddled up figuring out their next move on last year’s vetoed projects and the current pension crisis, Governor Fletcher should be wielding his veto pen.

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Jersey's Pension Shortfall Triples

New accounting rules may bring similar troubles to Kentucky. Meanwhile, we are arguing about whether we have a problem or not. What a mess.

Billy Harper Nails Certificate of Need

You really don't have to say any more than Billy does here:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Drop NCLB And Focus On School Choice

It is getting to be too late to shift gears and still catch up with those who are eating our lunches in the classroom. Cal Thomas has a good column on this.

Spellings cited one major reason for underperformance I had not considered. When I was in school, she noted, I was taught mostly by bright and accomplished women. As opportunities for women in other professions opened up, many of the best and brightest teachers - and potential teachers - left or chose other professions because they paid more. "The teachers' unions," she said, "always negotiate the same pay raises for everybody and the superstars say 'forget this, I'm going where I will be recognized as a superstar.'"

Education in the United States continues to lag behind that of other nations. "When you go to China or India," Spellings said, "they don't sit around arguing about class size. They're starving to death and are motivated for education. We take all the advantages we have for granted." And while America focuses too much on nonacademic subjects - sex education, driver's education and the environment - and not enough on what employers are looking for, some other nations are graduating young people with real knowledge and skills of the kind we once produced.

Congressional Dems' Bright New Idea

Would you believe $2.1 Trillion in tax increases?

HillaryCare Without The Rats, Mold, Bureaucracy

From Scrappleface.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So This Is What We've Been Waiting For...

Governor Jody Richards finally has his campaign website up!

Check out those issue positions.

Billy Harper And The "V" Word

As public education has become an enormous bureaucratic entanglement, the battle for tax dollars today often trumps questions about what is best for individual children.

Allowing parents and their students to choose a better school -- and to direct the money to follow that child -- would make perfect sense if we were focused still on customer service rather than on perpetuating "The System."

That such a simple principle doesn't make sense to a lot of people speaks to the massive success of the Education Establishment at taking over the issue of school vouchers.

Given that environment, it is all the more admirable to see Billy Harper in today's Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer (paid subscription required) voice support for vouchers.

"I do advocate vouchers, I advocate school choice," Harper told members of the Republican Women's Club. "You should have the choice to move your child where you want."

I hope his campaign gathers enough momentum for his words to anger a lot of people.

"We don't need more money (for education), we need to refocus what we're spending," Harper said. Increasing education levels will promote economic development and will affect the state's health care system, he said.

"If you want to raise your standard of living, the only way to do that is through education," Harper said. People with higher educational attainment generally have lower health care costs than less educated people over the course of their lifetimes, Harper said.

Imagine That: Higher Standards, Better Results

Eminence, KY schools are going to start flunking kids who don't make B's.

This will work like gangbusters. Most students are quite capable of keeping up. Pushing the majority to take responsibility for themselves will free up resources to work with the minority who need extra help.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shootout At Sunset On Pension Reform

The Senate has gone into recess until 6pm and when they come back they are supposed to get back to HB 418, the pension bill.

I want to be hopeful, but the most likely outcome is taxpayers get caught in the crossfire.

J.R. Gray Melts Down On Floor

I've never seen a legislator do such a poor job explaining a bill as Rep. J.R. Gray is doing right now on the House floor trying to sell SB 10.

Has he even read the bill?

Nuclear Energy: The Wave Of The Future

This is really exciting stuff. Much more promising than windmills and subsidizing our corn market into oblivion.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Anyone But Ernie Club Needs Help

No doubt they have a few more cards to play, but the GOP'ers hoping to oust Governor Fletcher are losing steam.

With the Dems in disarray, could Fletcher be headed for a cakewalk to four more years?

Opponents Sidetrack Pension Debacle

Kentucky policymakers have dawdled for decades as the state's public pensions have gone deeper and deeper into the tank.

So what does the Lexington Herald-Leader want you to focus on? Political style points, of course.

This dysfunctional duo represents both ends of the political power spectrum. Fletcher can't seem to stick to or push his own ideas, and Williams is addicted to raw demonstrations of power. Does either man remember that people voted for them, presumably to represent their interests, not just play power games in Frankfort?

Reform opponents would do well to set aside their hurt feelings start considering real proposals for helping us dig our way out of the mess. In a second term, Governor Fletcher would be emboldened to champion the politically unpopular but necessary changes. But there is no reason lawmakers can't get their heads together at least on bonding the actuarial shortfall.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Really Dumb Bill Passes Unanimously

Everyone talks about lowering high school dropout rates as a way to spread opportunity and cut poverty. The trick is how to get it done.

HB 32, which passed both House and Senate unanimously, attempts to cut dropout rates by putting bars on school windows and doors.

What the bill does is require school districts and the Transportation Cabinet to revoke the drivers license of sixteen and seventeen-year-old students who are failing, truant, or have dropped out of high school.

The first problem is the state is punishing young people for doing something that is legal in Kentucky. But, of course, the claim that this is for their own good is supposed to trump concerns like this. And we are also not supposed to ask for any evidence that such a carrot-and-stick approach to academic achievement might have the desired effect.

Given the rebellious nature of even the most level-headed teenagers, it makes no sense to assume a threat such as this would magically motivate at-risk kids to change established behaviors. And there is proof that this won't work. The bill allows appeals of revocations to district court. Just as happened last time, this will clog up the courts and the dropouts in large numbers will have their driving privileges restored. As happened last time this foolishness was the law, the law is simply ignored by the teenager, who then requests a hardship exemption in court.

Other than as a real-time lesson in how to game the legal system, HB 32 is a spectacular waste of time.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Bruce Lunsford Caught On Tape

Loose lips sink ships.

Conventional Wisdom On Its Head

Researching the public pension issue has lead me to a few conclusions I am working on. Very few people are paying attention to what is going on and how dire the situation is.

A major casuality in an informed discussion of pension reform is the conventional wisdom on immigration. As the state plans run out of money we are going to need a lot more immigrants, not fewer. We will find ourselves increasingly desperate for the tax revenue they can generate. Kentucky needs to incentivize educated professional immigrants from anywhere to come to our state and stay. And as we age and find basic menial service providers more expensive, we will need more of the under-educated people as well.

House GOP Forcing Vote On "AMT" Repeal

A discharge petition has been filed in the House to attempt to yank HB 88 out of Rep. Harry Moberly's tight little fist.

This could get interesting if we talk it up. Really, failure to sign the discharge petition is an endorsement of the tax increase.

Update: the petition failed and Jody Richards killed off his own gubernatorial campaign at the same time.

From Pol Watchers:

Just as the lawmakers were about to vote, Richards spoke up from the speaker's podium

"And by the way, it ain't my tax," he said, chuckling. "It's somebody else on another floor," he added, referring to Fletcher, a Republican.

"Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind you: you voted for it," Hoover piped up from the floor.

"After you made me do it," Richards said back, laughing. "You told me it was good."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pension Reform Weenies Strike Again

I've talked a lot about the $600 billion we lose each year by not reforming Social Security. While the $260 million Kentucky will lose this year by not reforming its public pension plans seems like a pittance in comparison, we have much more to lose by inaction in Frankfort. By 2022, the state pension fund will run dry and we will have to start paying out $2 Billion each year to retirees.

It would take one heck of a tax increase to fill that hole.

Raising full-retirement eligibility from 27 to 32 years is also a good thing and not too much to ask from folks who are far better paid than their union reps want you to know.

Can't imagine the unions letting the House go along with the hybrid retirement plan for new retirees, but they must go along with bonding the $538 million shortfall.

We have to move fast on this because the real problem is in the public employee health plans. And reform weenies beware: we are just getting started on this.

KEA Political Battle At High Noon

Gubernatorial candidate Jody Richards can't let the Senate education initiatives SB 1 and SB 2 get through or the KEA won't endorse him.

But Budget Chairman Harry Moberly isn't running for governor. His A&R committee will hear the bills today at noon.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Brother Can You Spare Some Corn?

Spenders of federal tax dollars are going hog-wild on corn trying to make ethanol. This is all wrong and Kentucky would do well to stay out of this -- as far as our tax dollars are concerned.

Corn has nearly doubled in price in the last year. Farmland prices are escalating as more people scramble to join the parade. This mania will doubtless lead to a cornflation we don't need. Meanwhile, the science behind the panic to run our economy on ethanol makes man-made global warming look like a round earth, gravity happens dead certainty.

Seriously, follow the smart money. If we were really going to replace oil with ethanol, Exxon would have already bought South America and turned the entire continent into sugar cane.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Is Anne Northup For School Choice?

Gubernatorial candidate Anne Northup appears to be supporting school choice in her campaign's education policy statement:

When another school, either public or private, is available with a specific curriculum or educational program which would benefit a special needs student, some or all of the state and federal money that’s allocated for that student should be allowed to follow him or her to a school where those needs can be met. We should not view such schools as a threat to our public schools but as assets that can provide interventions with a proven record of success.

Sounds like an endorsement of Rep. Stan Lee's special needs scholarship bill.

House Tax Increase Hits Senate Wall

The minimum wage tax increase was set for a vote in the Kentucky Senate today, but got passed over instead.

If raising the minimum wage was really going to help lessen poverty, it would be hard to justify the screaming this move will bring.

It won't. It isn't. Next.

It's About Time; General Assembly Takes Up Public Pension Reform

Senate Republican leadership is going to speak to the A&R committee this morning about overhauling the public pension system.

This is a very good thing and something that should have been done a long time ago, but I'll take it now.

UPDATE: I've seen the Senate plan and, while it is better than the House plan, it doesn't really fix much. We have a lot of work to do.

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Hey, What About My Liberal Values?"

Pretty funny quote in a Courier Journal article about Jonathan Miller:

"I was in the hollers with substandard housing and outdoor plumbing," recalled Miller, 39. "I wanted to talk to them about affordable health care, about jobs, about improving the educational system. Invariably when I got to that door, the first question I was asked … was, 'What's your position on gay marriage?' "

If by affordable health care, jobs, and education you mean socialized medicine, minimum wage hikes, and funneling billions of more taxpayer dollars to unaccountable bureaucrats, I'd say talking about gay marriage would be pretty productive by comparison.

Bipartisanship In Frankfort

As the General Assembly draws toward a close, only one symbolic bill has passed both the House and Senate. Whether anything else happens may depend on three others -- the Minimum Wage Tax Increase in the House and Senate leadership's education initiatives (here and here).

It's looking like the tax increase will pass and the education bills will get killed by Speaker Jody Richards.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Carry Your Baggage, Sir?

Al Cross has a very good column today covering the Dem candidates for governor.

"I made a mistake with Ernie Fletcher and I'm sorry I did that," Lunsford told the Democrats, who applauded. "I supported one Republican governor in my life. I will never support another one."

Lunsford said zip about the money he continued to give Northup and other Republicans, but the money on the mind of many Democrats is the virtually unlimited cash that Lunsford can put into his campaign. After losing a host of elections to better-financed Republicans, Kentucky Democrats are preoccupied with money, and Lunsford appealed to that fear, saying, "We can spend the money to be in the race with them."

Henry spoke last and did worst, taking credit for accomplishments of the Paul Patton administration for which he had little or no responsibility, such as higher-education reform and appointment of women to judgeships, boards and commissions, even going so far as to say, "We appointed more women. …" He did not. Outrageous.

But in a multi-opponent primary, what candidate will hold Henry to the truth? Otis Hensley? Gatewood Galbraith? Party chairman Jerry Lundergan said all candidates have signed a pledge "not to negatively campaign personally." That appears to help the slates with the most baggage, and to whom he is closest -- Henry's and Lunsford's.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Now This Is A Real Threat To The Commonwealth

We get some pretty meaningless bills from the General Assembly each year, but I just can't imagine anyone thinking we really need to prohibit primary losers from filing as write-in candidates in general elections.

Does Rep. Brent Yonts want to show just how much he hates Sen. Joe Lieberman or what?

Minimum Wage Tax Gets A Boost

Looks like the Kentucky Senate wants to go along with the minimum wage bill.

What a waste.

Friday, March 02, 2007

How Cool Is That?

Billy Harper shreds the prevailing wage law, in a sharp suit, ON THE BUS.

Smile Billy! You are stylin'!

The Political Star No One Knows

A great political story that needs to be told is that of celebrity candidate turned accomplished Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer.

More on this next week...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hello Mary Lou, Goodbye Truth

Watched a little KET coverage of the General Assembly and was shocked and dismayed to see Rep. Mary Lou Marzian claim that the University of Louisville said that its domestic partner scheme wouldn't cost taxpayers any money.

Well, that kind of depends on who you are talking to at U of L. The people who run the agenda say there will be no cost. The people who run the numbers say $600,000 a year and up.

Did They Run Out Of Bridges To Rename?

Why in the world are we wasting time fixing wages for anyone, much less waiters?

HB 206 comes up for a vote tomorrow.

Another Myth-Busting Study Of The Political Middle

The Washington Post has a column about how divided we are on the issues and debunks the idea that what we all want to is just get along now that Democrats are back in control of Congress.

The CCES survey asked about 14 national issues: the war in Iraq (the invasion and the troops), abortion (and partial birth abortion), stem cell research, global warming, health insurance, immigration, the minimum wage, liberalism and conservatism, same-sex marriage, privatizing Social Security, affirmative action, and capital gains taxes. Not surprisingly, some of the largest differences between Democrats and Republicans were over the Iraq war. Fully 85 percent of those who voted for Democratic House candidates felt that it had been a mistake to invade Iraq, compared with only 18 percent of voters who cast ballots for Republicans.

But the divisions between the parties weren't limited to Iraq. They extended to every issue in the survey. For example, 69 percent of Democratic voters chose the most strongly pro-choice position on the issue of abortion, compared with 20 percent of Republican voters; only 16 percent of Democratic voters supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, while 80 percent of Republican voters did; and 91 percent of Democratic voters favored governmental action to reduce global warming, compared with 27 percent of Republican voters.

The study found a similar split on single-payer health care. So if Bruce Lunsford and Greg Stumbo -- who have already alienated most of the primary-voting Democrats in the state -- really want to push socialized medicine, I hope they really have a good time doing it.

Also noticed they are advocating universal pre-kindergarten. After watching two of the top education bureaucrats in the state go on Kentucky Tonight and state clearly their belief that teachers know what's best for children better than parents do, I can't see this idea getting them very far either.

Taxpayer Group Gives Northup a "C"

The National Taxpayers Union has issued its 2006 Congressional Scorecard. Here's how Kentucky's delegation did:

Chandler, F, 16%
Davis, B-, 59%
Lewis, B, 62%
Northup, C+, 54%
Rogers, C+, 54%
Whitfield, C, 50%

Brian Goettl Strikes Back On Pardons


Another Phony Issue Drags On In Frankfort

Frankfort Dems have been talking smack about "pay equity" but their own guys in the House won't put their bill up for a vote.

Hey, somebody get Nancy Pelosi and Hillary! in here to shake these boys up!