Friday, February 29, 2008

Better Get Rid Of CATS Before They Try This

The private school and home school families in Kentucky may think they can sit out the current education reform debate about the public school testing program.

Think again. Look what they are trying to do in Tennessee:
Home-schooled students and their parents, along with private school pupils, flooded the halls of the General Assembly on Wednesday to oppose legislation that would impose public school testing requirements on all school-age children.

Time for all liberty-minded Kentuckians to stand up to the education establishment here before it is too late.

David Williams Is Selling Sandwiches

Did you hear about the California high school student who started a thriving business selling sandwiches in his school's parking lot? His school rewarded his initiative and creativity by suspending him for two days.

I think about that when I see the educrats carping at Senate President David Williams for trying valiantly to get rid of Kentucky's long-ago thoroughly discredited CATS assessment program.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ernesto Scorsone Is As Ernesto Scorsone Does

Good grief. With all the real problems we have in this state now, why is Sen. Ernesto Scorsone filing a discharge petition to try to make it more illegal for kids to be mean?

Don't just sit there, feel good!

If we really want to light a fire under bills that are getting soaked, we should look here.

Greg Stumbo's Plan B

Now that things aren't looking so hot for the casino gambling "campaign contribution" gravy train, Rep. Greg Stumbo is taking steps to shore up elected officials' pensions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Are They Not Paying Attention At All?

Our educational system is a mess. The educrats have proven to be masters at getting more money for themselves, but when it comes to raising Kentucky out of the bottom in achievement they keep reverting to the old tried and true cooking of the books.

So now that the money has dried up and the Senate has gotten together a serious bill to lessen the influence of these same people, it is no surprise to see their friends get a little silly.

Like in this Bowling Green Daily News editorial that suggests everything would be fine if we just enacted a new feel-good law requiring our children to play nicely.


Governor Steve Beshear sent out the invitations to his own butt-kicking with this casino gambling-as-savior stuff. He is now going to get it with both barrels.

Are we almost ready to start talking about cutting way back on government spending so we can get off the same-old, same-old train and start on a new track?

Jessamine county's own Pastor Jeff Fugate delivers a little down-home commentary below. It's not complicated, folks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Actions Speak: Harry Moberly Unveils Plan B

House Budget Chairman will rush nine revenue increase bills through his Appropriations and Revenue Committee tomorrow in a hastily called meeting to be held as soon as the House adjourns for the day.

The dead casino bill, of course, was Plan A. Grab on to your wallet.

These are the bills:
HB 257
HB 512
HB 566
HB 608
HB 609
HB 610
HB 611
HB 614
HB 629

It's Called Priorities, Senator

Senator Julian Carroll is getting pretty exercised trying to make the case that we should continue to spend the millions of dollars to run the check printing and Ebay selling functions of the office of Treasurer, instead of disbanding the office as SB 14 would do.

He said several silly things, but this one stood out:
"Why are we so determined to put some issues on the ballot, but we're selective about what we put on the ballot?"

I'm assuming that was his weak plug for the dead casino gambling amendment.

Time To Shoot The Wounded

The casino gambling amendment just failed to pass out of the House Constitutional Amendment committee.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Watch The Wal-Mart Haters Now

Now that Wal-Mart is getting ready to go all in for health clinics in their stores, get ready for their opponents in Frankfort to try to trip them up and keep your healthcare more expensive than it needs to be.

I spoke to a Wal-Mart spokesman today who said there are no regulatory hurdles to putting such clinics in Kentucky stores. In fact, Kroger has already beaten them to the punch. (Look at these prices!) But as the proliferation of market forces lower prices here, we can only hope the General Assembly does what's best and repeals the Certificate of Need laws that cost Kentuckians much more than we would like to think about.

Bang! Bang! Gun Bill To Impact Campus Shootings

A Tennessee state legislator says he is going to introduce a bill to allow full-time employees of colleges and universities in that state who are also concealed carry permit holders to carry guns on campus.

This might help with the silly objection that allowing guns on campus would lead to drunk college students running around shooting each other.

McCain Might Start Measuring For Drapes

If you saw Dukakis in the tank and Kerry in the clean suit and thought they were funny, you haven't seen anything yet (from Drudge):

Friday, February 22, 2008

We Need Anti-Gambling Forces To Fight For More

Pastor Jeff Fugate of Clays Mill Road Baptist Church can draw a crowd. He has gotten engaged in the casino gambling debate and is putting together a rally at the Capitol for March 5.

It would be very helpful if, while they are up there, the anti-casino folks put a word in for getting welfare recipients off drugs and for putting the state government's checkbook on the internet so taxpayers can see where their money is going. Or at least to make legislators negotiate the budget out in the open like honest people.

Chamber of Commerce Supports Welfare Bill

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce put up their legislative update tonight, listing their support of HB 592. They don't specify which tax increase they want to pay for this added spending.

If nothing else, someone should add a measure to disqualify drug abusers from getting existing welfare benefits or this new garbage.

Midpoint of General Assembly Frustrating For All

Watching the Kentucky legislature stumble and bumble through the first half of its 2008 session underscores the simple truth that it's much easier to kill a bad bill than to successfully promote a good one.

The most-read bill on Kentucky Votes is Senator Ernesto Scorsone's effort to give illegal aliens drivers licenses.

At the same time, we can't even get a lawmaker to file a bill to get rid of Certificate of Need laws that drive up health care costs and the bill to force state officials to quit hiding the checkbook from ordinary taxpayers can't get a hearing.

I guess the good news for the weekend is the bill to deal the death blow to the economy won't get anywhere either.

Presidential Debate In Frankfort Next Week

C-SPAN is expected to come to Frankfort March 1 for a debate between the Libertarian candidates for President of the United States.

Go here for details, here for registration, and here for a full agenda of what is the Libertarian Party of Kentucky convention. They have a couple of pretty good guest speakers.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

As Inspiring As Thin Air

For a very clear picture of just how substantial the Democratic presidential primary is, watch this:

Can Everybody Hear Me?

I will be on Lexington radio this afternoon at 1 pm talking about the state legislature. Tune in to 590 AM or if you can, call in to 859-253-5959 if you want to, and sign up for daily updates on Kentucky Votes because it's just the right thing to do.

How Can They Kill CATS If They Can't Do This?

The House of Representatives showed yesterday they probably aren't ready to take education issues seriously when they killed a commonsense amendment that would have prevented the teachers union from loading up buses during the school day and marching on Frankfort. Or from otherwise abusing public funds or resources in the workplace for political purposes.

Nice job, guys. Like we can really afford this nonsense now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

More Welfare Payments We Can't Afford

Okay, Kentucky is supposed to be in a tight state budget situation, right?

Then why in the world are we even discussing a bill to increase transfer payments by creating two state programs extending federal welfare programs?

Who gets the tax increase to pay for this mess?

Counting Casino Campers

Multiple reports from the Capitol this afternoon have 51 House Democrats ready to vote for a casino amendment and 5 House Republicans set to join them.

That's closer than I thought it would be, but still no soap. They need 60 votes to pass it out to the Senate where the counting is much easier.

Sexton: Leave Destruction Of Schools To Us

Bob Sexton, a Kentucky education expert, worries that amateurs may be trying to mess up the state's public schools by changing the testing program.
"Changes in the accountability system we know from experience can be extremely disruptive to teaching and learning," said Bob Sexton, president of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, a school-advocacy group based in Lexington.

He should know. He was a big part of the crowd who gave us last year's extremely disruptive testing experience.

CATS has already been destroyed, Mr. Sexton. An outside test that the Kentucky Department of Education can't manipulate is our best opportunity for real assessment now.

Making Consumers Pay For Not Being Builders

House Bill 565 subsidizes home builders who have a new property that sits completed but unsold for more than a year.

The property tax break the builders get from this bill comes at the expense of other taxpayers. Those of us who don't build houses on spec probably avoid that line of work to avoid the market risk, don't you think?

I know it is a common practice by now, but this effort to pick winners and losers in the marketplace is not something we need to do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Senate Smokes Out Educrats

Senate Bill 1, filed today, would do away with the worst part of the Kentucky Department of Education's reign of terror, the CATS testing program.

The CATS program has been terrible because it has wasted millions of dollars without providing the information teachers need to actually help students. CATS has served primarily to make the education establishment look good.

This bill will save lots of money and increase accountability for the bureaucrats who wield way too much power in Frankfort. This is a great move by Senate President David Williams and one to which the House will have little legitimate resistance.

One point from the Lexington Herald Leader coverage speaks volumes about where we are with Big Education in this state. The Senate leaders did not discuss the bill with Education Commissioner Jon Draud.

Skippy Miller Act Of 2008

Tomorrow at noon the Senate State and Local Government committee will advance SB 14, a bill to disband the state Treasurer's office in honor of former Treasurer Jonathan "Skippy" Miller.

Miller's shrewd use of the office for eight years propelled the effort to prevent future politicians from using it in a similar manner.

Kentucky Can't Tax, Can't Afford Junkies

Did you know Kentucky is one of twenty one states which unconstitutionally taxes possession of illegal drugs?

Since our Attorney General isn't going to be spending any of his time harassing the Governor, he should urge the legislature to pull this off the books before the courts make us do it.

Then we can save some money by encouraging welfare recipients to get off drugs or risk being made to get off welfare.

Finally, Some Meaningful Action In Frankfort

This afternoon, the Senate is expected to pass HB 18. The bill has been amended to include the provisions of SB 3, which would end the common practice of legislators going on strike each election year during the first month of the General Assembly. It would also make Kentucky a Super Tuesday state in presidential primaries.

Now the Senate needs to amend the House Finance and Administration Cabinet reorganization bill to include government expenditure transparency.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time To Decide If Kentucky Is A Sanctuary State

Indiana advanced an illegal immigration bill today similar to the HB 304 House Judiciary Chair Kathy Stein is bottling up.

If Indiana runs off their illegal aliens and Kentucky does nothing, are we prepared to accept them all? It's not like they will be moving north, where it is colder.

Lexington Jail Still On Double-Secret Probation

Just when you thought the madness at the Fayette County Detention Center couldn't get any worse, a jail employee pursuing sexual harassment charges against Captain Dwight Hall has received a death threat via telephone while at work.

Upon investigation, it was determined the phone call also originated from within the facility.

This is part of what the caller said:
"Shut your mouth you stupid whore or else you are going to pay."

Former Mayor Teresa Isaac and Mayor Jim Newberry are being sued for their roles in covering up scandals in the jail.

Not Just For Jody Richards

A bill to expand the charter school concept in Kentucky beyond the one illegal program Speaker Jody Richards slipped into the 2006 budget should be introduced this week.

Charter schools function like public schools except they don't have to operate under the same bureaucracy as regular public schools. Further, they face real accountability and can be shut down if they don't produce substantial results.

Kentucky is one of only four states whose education bureaucracy has persisted in denying school choice to parents. Also, the bill will show how charter schools can be run for much less money than the one in Speaker Richards' district.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Identifying The Problem, Ignoring Solutions

Louisville Courier Journal columnist Jill Johnson Keeney complained today about, of all things, the structure of state government in Kentucky:
This is a terrible system we have in Kentucky, where a governor takes office in December and less than a month later is expected to have a staff assembled, a budget prepared, and be ready with proposals for correcting major problems and advancing the state.

A little digging might have helped her find three possible answers to this question:
Limiting the scope of legislative sessions, for example, is the subject of two bills filed by Senate Republicans and one filed by a House Republican.

The bills are here, here, and here.

Without any better ideas, the nattering nabobs should really take a closer look at some of the proposed solutions already out there.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kentucky's Least Accountable Department

If we were serious about cutting waste, fraud, and abuse in Frankfort, we couldn't find a better place to start than the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE).

Just the latest example of their handiwork is another screw-up affecting the disastrous CATS testing:
This means that Kentucky students (some as young as 9-years old) will be asked to do one thing...but will be assessed on something else - some secret rubric. How is a student to know which questions have a secret rubric, and which do not? What are the ethics of penalizing students for following instructions?

Kentucky School News and Commentary has the whole story.

Have to wonder how much longer we can afford the luxury of not paying much attention to our education bureaucrats.

Leadership Vacuum In Frankfort Red Light District

It has been two days since Governor Steve Beshear introduced his stillborn casino plan. If the House Democrats had the votes to pass it, it would be worthy of serious discussion. But they don't.

The real story in all this mess is the ideological split in House leadership. The House Democratic caucus has ceased to function and is ripe for a serious shake-up.

While they sort that out, though, the rest of the state has serious needs that are being ignored.

Busting Kentucky out of its welfare mentality can get started by getting serious about illegal immigration and drug-abusing welfare recipients. We need to cut back on the political feeding trough mentality, too, on the way to reforming public employee pension plans before they break the state. Governor Beshear said he will introduce a pension reform plan next week. He really needs to reverse his growing string of policy missteps by getting this one right.

The term "public employee" should suggest those who earn their living through the government work for us, but as their benefits gets more out of hand, we wind up working harder for them. This trend needs to be reversed a whole lot more than we need to sit around watching debate on a revenue scheme that stands no chance of passage.

We can't improve the state by putting up with the same nonsense.

Please Read Bluegrass Policy Blog

I really kind of get a kick out of telling people that I blog for a living., my main gig, is a blog. You can make comments about bills and respond to other comments. If you haven't already gone on there and set up an account to receive daily updates, feel free to do so. That is getting to be a pretty interesting community.

Bluegrass Policy Blog is another thing I do. Usually that is an expansion of bill descriptions that don't really fit KyVotes or just observations about other things going on. It is less political than Kentucky Progress, but if you like this site, you should like that one as well.

Have a great weekend. I'll be on here and Bluegrass Policy Blog posting regularly, as I do seven days a week.

Keep in touch.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Another House Dem Tax Increase Bill

HB 538 makes permanent a tax increase on retailers slipped into the 2006 budget. Rep. Sannie Overly is the lead sponsor, but this one has Rep. Harry Moberly's fingerprints all over it.

Cut The Local Government Secrecy

It is just about time to stop looking for a magic treasure chest of state government revenues and get serious about ways to cut spending and reducing government to a more affordable level. Requiring local governments to post their budget ordinances online is a good step in that direction. Easing the process of comparing what our local governments are spending their money on is a critical part of making government more accountable to the people.

An amendment filed yesterday to this bill would make that a reality.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Nuclear Power Plant? In Kentucky?

A bill filed today would make it easier for an application to build a nuclear power plant to succeed in Kentucky.

Does the fact that I have two children studying to go into nuclear engineering color my opinion of this bill? You betcha.

And lest you think this bill won't even get a hearing, check this out: it has a Senate twin.

Talk Show Talking

I went up to Northern Kentucky last week and chatted with Pat Crowley on his television show about some of the goings on in Frankfort.

Here it is.

If We Blow Enough Sunshine Up Its Butt, Do You Think It Might Start To Glow?

The casino amendment:

"Are you in favor of increasing state financial support for elementary and secondary education, expanding health care for senior citizens, children and others, support for local governments, and combating drug and alcohol abuse and other important programs by permitting the General Assembly to authorize up to five casinos subject to approval of the voters in the city or county where the casino is located; and up to seven casinos licenses for existing horse racing associations, all of which will be subject to the approval of a state agency created to oversee casino gaming."

Kentucky To Outlaw Mountain Dew?

Two dental professionals testifying to the House Health and Welfare Committee just stated "Mountain Dew Mouth" looks a lot like "Methamphetamine Mouth."

A couple of legislators off camera immediately made comments suggesting that Mountain Dew be made illegal.

Now THAT would get more people interested in the political process.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Brandon Spencer Gets Paid By Greg Stumbo

Remember when Rep. Brandon Spencer, an ambulance company executive, had an epiphany and decided he didn't want his House seat as much as he wanted to give it to the ever eager Greg Stumbo?

Today we saw the pay off for Mr. Spencer.

Time To Wake Up Jonathan Miller

Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller likes to say he is for "good government," "openness," and "transparency."

That would be a whole lot easier to believe if he weren't sitting by quietly while the House allows his cabinet to operate under the cover of darkness.

This is outrageous. And the mainstream media, who I guess is busy covering the dead casino bill due out tomorrow, is complicit.

Sports Caption Should Fire Them Up

There was nothing funny about the Kentucky Wildcats' 41 point loss to Vanderbilt last night. But then I saw the caption on a game photo in the Lexington Herald Leader:
Kentucky mimicked a night of political landslides. Alas, the Cats played the role of Hillary Clinton buried in defeat in the Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., primaries.

I wonder how many angry letters to the editor they will get on this one.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Illegal Immigration Enforcement Bill Gains Steam

Looks like someone has put up a petition in support of HB 304. It is here.

Do Nothing Frankfort

The first bill to get a vote in both the House and Senate passed today. Was it something to benefit education? Taxes? Pensions? Entitlement reform? Transparency? Legislative reform? Immigration? Drugs? Local governments?

Nope. It was Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

So glad the glory days have returned to Frankfort.

Gambling With Your Child's Well-Being

As Governor Steve Beshear prepares to divulge his casino gambling plan, he is expected to ignore the downside of creating more avenues for self-destructive, math-challenged Kentuckians to blow up their own finances and then turn to taxpayers for a bail-out.

This is a mistake, of course.

At the very least, Governor Beshear should propose to fine anyone with gambling winnings an amount equal to those winnings if that person's non-gambling income would qualify him or her for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit or if the household receives KCHIP, food stamps, or other state aid in the same tax year the gambling winnings occur.

Making it impossible for low-income Kentuckians to profit from gambling would have the effect of preventing them from frittering away their money. And ours.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Another thing that didn't make our country great

We have become a nation that allows illegal aliens to bleed us dry, subsidizes lifestyles of the drugged and lazy, and elects politicians who play hide the checkbook.

But this beats all of those.

Andrew Horne Gets Ditched

Now Mitch McConnell's opponent looks like it will be the persona non grata of the Democratic Party, Bruce Lunsford.

Cue the weeping and wailing on the Yale campus, where word of their hero's demise apparently hasn't yet hit.

Update: now they know.

Illegal Immigration Gets Serious Look

The House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on HB 304 from Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte at 2 pm.

You should be able to see it on

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wanna Bet?

I'd sure like to have a piece of the action on House Budget Chairman Harry "Easy Money" Moberly's assessment of Governor Steve Beshear's casino gambling scheme.
"I think it's 50-50 now that casino gambling will get out of the legislature this year."

The source of this quote is the Lexington Herald Leader.

Good Thing Hypocrisy Doesn't Cause Cancer

I don't know anything about smokeless tobacco being safer than cigarettes, as Professor Brad Rodu says in the Lexington Herald Leader, but I think his column raises an important point about the economics of taxing people into various forms of compliance.

Radu says we should cut the tax on smokeless tobacco to encourage people to switch to it from cigarettes:
"Put in simpler and conservative terms, smokeless use carries less than 2 percent of the health risk of smoking. A rational tobacco tax policy would set taxes accordingly. If lawmakers raise the cigarette tax to $1, the tax on smokeless tobacco should be two cents."

Radu is a smokeless tobacco industry researcher, so we could be cynical and suppose he is just trying to keep his ox from getting gored. But that pales in comparison to the cynicism of those who claim in the same breath that higher cigarette taxes will cut smoking while raising revenues.

The cigarette tax increase bill also raises taxes on smokeless tobacco. For the children and, one imagines, the added revenue.

Wouldn't it be cheaper and more effective to refuse KCHIP benefits to children of smokers? That would be a serious incentive for some parents to either quit smoking or figure out a way to take care of their own kids.

Then we could keep cigarette taxes low to encourage border residents of other states to keep coming over to buy their smokes in Kentucky and we might have a few more welfare dollars to make sure those who really need the help can get it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Defrauding Our Way To Prosperity

If casino gambling as a public policy were a fashion statement, it would be a white leisure suit. If Governor Steve Beshear continues to ignore our real problems like public employees benefits underfunding, out-of-control entitlements, and inefficient government spending practices, he will not only get his casino plan crammed down his throat by his own House of Representatives, but he will find his big labor constituency unable to keep him in office by itself.

Might as well face facts about the state's wasteful labor policies now. Then let's look at our welfare mentality. And then we absolutely must cut our lavish state employee/retiree health benefits.

Failure to address these issues when the necessity of doing so constitutes fraud. And while it might be fun for Team Beshear to blame Ernie Fletcher for not addressing these issues, it doesn't change anything.

What Is Jody Richards Hiding Now?

Why the new Governor hasn't gotten on board with the government transparency movement is quite a mystery. Kentucky's version of the Taxpayer Transparency Act of 2008 lies dormant in a House committee.

Speaker Jody Richards will have to tell taxpayers directly that how he spends their money is none of their business next week when he kills off the same act added as an amendment to HB 422.

For a group that is supposed to be interested in honesty and good government, these guys sure hold tight to their precious secrets.

Think about that the next time you send any tax money to Frankfort.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Stu Silberman Sued For Racial Discrimination

Fayette School Superintendent Stu Silberman was sued today in Fayette Circuit Court for racial discrimination. The suit charges Silberman and Carmen Coleman, Fayette Schools Director, with manufacturing evidence, creating an intolerable work environment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violating the civil rights of former Booker T. Washington Academy Principal Peggy Petrilli. Petrilli was forced to resign in August 2007. She was the Kentucky Association of Elementary School Principals 2005 Principal of the Year.

The suit asks for compensatory and punitive damages. The Fayette County Board of Education is also listed as a co-defendant.

Market Expansion Open Thread

I'm headed to northern Kentucky this morning to tape a television program with political reporter Pat Crowley.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gambling On Legislator Benefits And Paychecks

Now that casino gambling is dead, Rep. Jim Wayne(D) and Rep. Dwight Butler(R) want to remove accountability from the legislature for beefing up their pay and benefits and give it to a board they create and appoint.

Given the crappy way lawmakers increased pension benefits for themselves in 2005, I really can't imagine we would want to take on the risk of voting for the Make Legislator Pay Increases Easier Act of 2008.

Shades Of Barbara Erwin

The Louisville Courier Journal has a story about the Kentucky School Board loading up Commissioner Jon Draud's compensation with a bunch of sick days.

The "money" quote:
“Right now, I don’t have any sick or vacation time,” Draud said. “I don’t anticipate anything, but if I were to get sick, I would have nothing to fall back on.”

That should go over pretty well with the teachers.

Can't help remembering the dust up our last Ed Commissioner Barbara Erwin had about getting larded up on sick days.

Is it just an interesting coincidence that this little goody was slipped into HB 470 yesterday?
Notwithstanding any statute to the contrary, the executive branch of government shall accept from the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System all accrued annual and sick leave balances and service credits of employees leaving the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System and accepting appointments within the executive branch.

That's a pretty expensive benefit to be dishing out to political appointees or, in this case an appointee) when school districts are talking about laying off employees.

What Might We Do With Legislator Pay?

I'll report details when I have them, but the House is getting a bill today amending the Constitution's provisions relating to legislator pay.

Jody Richards Has A Decision To Make

(Thursday night update: the bill didn't come up for debate but Rep. Brinkman filed an amendment to lower the tax. Good move! Still tough for Jody.)

One of House Budget Chairman Harry Moberly's tax increase bills that may come up for a vote on the House floor this afternoon got a surprise amendment yesterday.

The tax Moberly wants to increase is the infamous Alternative Minimum Calculation Democrats agreed was an "un-American" income tax on businesses with no net income when Ernie Fletcher was governor.

There is no way Richards has the courage of his convictions to allow a vote on this amendment. He will, with a straight face, rule the amendment not germane. This will kill the amendment.

Or he can allow a vote and watch the tax increase he wants die a well-deserved death.

Gooch Wants To Tax Free Speech

Rep. Jim Gooch has filed a bill requiring editorial writers and cartoonists for "a news organization which engages for profit" to register with the state as lobbyists.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Senate To Consider Chris Thieneman Act

The state Senate is expected to vote tomorrow on a bill to prohibit city employees in Louisville from pushing ballot initiatives on the clock like they did in support of the doomed Louisville Library Tax.

Happy Ronald Reagan Day!

The state Senate just named today Ronald Reagan Day in Kentucky.


Kathy Stein Time

The House Judiciary Committee has wasted an hour and a half listening to testimony on HB 304 that has had nothing to do with the actual bill.

There is no doubt legal immigration is great in a lot of ways, but the bill is about handling illegal activities of illegal aliens.

What a complete mess and embarrassment, Chairwoman Stein.

"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me A U-Haul"

The Lexington Herald-Leader wants to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons. The bill stands no chance of passage, which is probably a good thing since we hardly need to expand the base of voters electing themselves bigger entitlements from taxpayers.

In fact, encouraging people to get with the program or get out of the state could become a theme in this General Assembly if we were to encourage suddenly civic-minded felons to find another state that wants their problems and their votes, along with sending illegal aliens and drug-abusing welfare recipients packing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

All Eyes On David Williams

Governor Steve Beshear continues to disappoint and now there is someone who can make him pay for it.

Now that Senate Republicans have picked up Dan Mongiardo's former seat, Senate President David Williams is the most powerful man in Frankfort.

Just don't screw it up like the Republicans in Washington D.C. did.

Entitlement reform, education reform, and transparency need to be at the top of the list.

That means this, this, and this. And then, for good measure, do this and this.

Lawmaker, Lawmaker, Give Me A Clue

In separate news stories today, we have young people getting involved in the legislative process. Unfortunately, they are both going about it in a way that misses the mark.

Matthew Spicer of Frankfort has put together an automated external defibrillator bill that will give the Kentucky Department of Education unwarranted control of private schools.

"Basically I want it in every public and private school in Kentucky," he said. "They should have AEDs and sporting practices and events."

If we want to mandate them in the public schools, that's fine. But the private schools probably all already have them, and don't need the state nosing around. Spicer and Graham should leave the private schools out of it.

Meanwhile, a Rockcastle county ten year old doesn't like high caffeine "energy drinks."

"I think it should be a law because there are a lot of kids that like them; they think it gets them up but it doesn't," Tate Clements said.

The fifth grader at Brodhead Elementary drank part of his sister's energy drink after hearing friends talk about the rush of energy the beverages can give.

"It was good at first but after a few minutes you start feeling all jumpy," Clements said.

A five minute discussion with this young man about liberty and purpose of laws would do him a world of good.

Who Is Leading The House?

Kentucky's House of Representatives is in disarray. The Democratic caucus hasn't even met once since the first week of the General Assembly. While they wait for Greg Stumbo to come and tell them what to do, some enterprising lawmakers need to start filing discharge petitions to get bills moving around the stagnant leaders.

House rule 48 describes the discharge petition procedure:
Whenever a committee fails or refuses to report within a reasonable time a bill submitted to it, a member may sponsor and file with the Clerk a written request, signed by twenty-five or more members, to call the same up for consideration on the next succeeding legislative day after the filing of the request. The effect of this petition shall be to bring before the House the question of whether the committee to which the bill has been assigned has held the bill for an unreasonable time.
Upon the motion of the member sponsoring the request, and if a majority of the members elected to the House concur that the bill has been held an unreasonable time, the bill shall be considered as though it had been regularly reported, and sent to the Rules Committee.

The Rules Committee's responsibilities are covered in House rule 41. The rule reads in part:
All bills and resolutions having been reported out of the committee to which referred and having received their second reading shall be referred to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee may refer any bill or resolution before it back to a standing committee...
No bill or resolution shall be referred back by the Rules Committee on more than one occasion...
No bill may be kept in Rules Committee for longer than five legislative days. Within that time, each bill must be reported to the floor or referred back to a standing committee.

The House is sitting on their important bills and the rules provide discharge petitions to light a fire under House leaders. Let's get on with it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Steve Beshear's Magic Carpet Ride

We are still waiting for Governor Steve Beshear to clue us in on how he is going to handle the public employee pension disaster. I'm guessing he has amended his earlier statement to a "no comment."

For the record, here is his earlier statement on the pensions.

Are We Almost Ready To Stop Screwing Around?

Governor Steve Beshear's casino bill probably doesn't even have the 60 votes to get out of the House. The cigarette tax as savior for the state is beyond ridiculous.

The only way out of our budget mess is to cut spending and the only question that matters is "where do we start?"

Cutting out prevailing wage, raising co-pays on Medicaid and state employee health plans enough to limit overutilization, stopping welfare payments to drug abusers, etc.

The answers are there. We just need a few more politicians with the courage to get it done.

Oodles Of Doodles On Google

For vanity's sake, I had to find out where I fit in to the 6.3 million Google entries bearing my name.

I'm number eight.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Queen Hillary In Your Spam Folder

If you have an email address, you have probably gotten a compelling message from the heir to some African fortune offering to share it with you. All you have to do is send your bank account information and, of course, turn your brain completely off.

It's not hard to imagine we are looking at the same kind of sucker's bet with Hillary Clinton's offer of free health insurance for everyone:
Clinton has not always specified the enforcement measures she would embrace, but when pressed on ABC's "This Week," she said: "I think there are a number of mechanisms" that are possible, including "going after people's wages, automatic enrollment."

Do you really have to think long and hard about whether you want Bill and Hillary Clinton to have control over your paycheck or your checking account or both?

Let The People Decide

Anyone hoping to kill off the casino gambling issue for 2008 might want to pick two or three of the constitutional amendment bills and start pushing lawmakers to pass them. Kentucky law prohibits more than two amendment questions on a November ballot.

As much as I would like to see shorter, more focussed legislative sessions and the abolition of the Treasurer's office, maybe I'll pick raising the homestead exemption and limiting a governor's pardon powers just to get it done.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Puff The Magic Draggin'

Anyone who really thinks raising the cigarette tax seventy cents more is going to stop teenagers from smoking has never been in a long popcorn line at a movie theater, or a fast food restaurant, or a mall.

And the other justification -- that it will provide needed revenue for the state -- is also just smoke and mirrors. The reality is people crossing over from other states to buy low-tax cigarettes bring other economic activity that will be sorely missed if the low taxes disappear.

It would be much cheaper and easier to decrease benefits for welfare beneficiaries who smoke. Raising the cigarette tax just cuts into the help that our money provides them anyway.

We Need A Transparent Transportation Cabinet

If you are looking for a part of state government that really needs to post its checkbook on the internet to keep everyone honest, look no further than the Transportation Cabinet.

Here is a bill filed yesterday that will generate some interesting discussions in the Senate. Someone in the House might at well stick an amendment on there making the Transportation Cabinet post all its financial transactions and contracts online.

Unless, of course, the most ethical government in Kentucky history is hiding something...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Are We Buying High And Selling Low?

Could it be Governor Steve Beshear is getting us into the casino business at exactly the wrong time? For the latest, we take you to New Jersey:
Last year, for the first time in the 29-year history of legalized gambling in Atlantic City, the casinos won less money than they did the year before, figures released yesterday show.

The 5.7 percent decline to $4.9 billion was hardly a surprise. For month after month in 2007, the gaming halls reported wins that were down from 2006 levels -- all attributed to new competition from slots parlors in Pennsylvania and New York, and new smoking restrictions on Atlantic City casino floors. (emphasis added)

Still, the first year-to-year decline provided a marker that the gambling mecca did not want. It also deprived the people of New Jersey of about $24 million in gambling tax revenue, which the state uses to benefit senior citizens and people with disabilities.

"It is a shock -- a slap on the side of the head for anyone who owns a casino in town," said Carlos Tolosa, president of the Eastern Division of Harrah's Entertainment Inc., which owns the Harrah's Marina, Showboat, Caesars and Bally's casinos in Atlantic City. Collectively, the four casinos made up 44 percent of last year's total revenue.

"This was a wake-up call for everybody that we have to continue to build nongaming attractions and convert this resort town into a destination," Tolosa said, "and that we have a long way to go."


Professional Politicians' Pay Too High

Kentucky is moving more in the direction of having professional politicians like we have on the federal level. We should begin to correct this by repealing the 2005 bill that passed the legislature with only 2 No votes and included a provision allowing state lawmakers to jump to a state job and get an enormous pension boost.

And the rich health insurance benefits for part-time magistrates and city commissioners need to go as well.

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo

Still looking for a presidential candidate? Might as well try this.

Vote chooser says Mitt Romney is my guy.

Fed Fair Tax Would Necessitate State Reform

If the Fair Tax were to be implemented at the federal level, Kentucky's tax system would have to change because you can't start filling out a Kentucky tax return until you have done a federal tax return. That wouldn't be possible if individuals were no longer paying income taxes, which is what the Fair Tax does. Rep. Mike Harmon has filed a resolution to start the legislature studying how we would handle this kind of tax reform.

Entitlement Reform In Kentucky

Members of the House Health and Welfare Committee this morning discussed a committee substitute for the drug testing for welfare recipients bill that would improve the bill by adding a probable cause element.

He's Just Like Ronald Reagan

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be on the Leland Conway radio show in Lexington this morning on 630 WLAP. Or you can listen on

Reminder: Businesses Don't Pay Taxes

Would you be willing to trade a cigarette tax increase for repeal of the income tax on unprofitable businesses?.