The Richmond Register

Viewpoints

March 8, 2013

Down to business, finally

FRANKFORT — FRANKFORT — Well, at least the tone has improved.

Predictably, the 2013 General Assembly reached the final scheduled day for passing bills and suddenly lawmakers snapped into action, passing a flurry of bills in rapid succession.

Few of them addressed major issues facing the legislature — pension reform, inadequate revenue – or even politically manufactured issues like taxing districts, hemp and military voting which garnered so much attention as the session began.

Thursday night we re-lived the annual ritual in which lobbyists and rank-and-file lawmakers ask reporters what will happen — as if Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo or Gov. Steve Beshear confide in us.

All reporters could tell them was that it was inevitable the two chambers would recess for the University of Kentucky basketball game. Some things never change. (Unfortunately this year, neither do the Wildcats, who lost again.)

Stivers, Stumbo and their leadership teams were summoned to Beshear’s office while a reporter camped outside on the marble bench. Another reporter wondered aloud why they hadn’t done this earlier in the session when there might have been time to work out their differences before they found themselves deadlocked and up against the clock.

Stumbo said it was an “unfair question,” commending Beshear and Senate leaders for their “sincere desire” to avoid a special session. Stivers — who to his considerable credit is more responsible than anyone for the improved tone — returned the favor, avoiding any criticism of the governor and House leaders.

The leaders were to confer again Friday about how to proceed on pensions, the issue on which the two chambers can’t agree. Stivers and Stumbo expressed confidence they could yet somehow reach a compromise on an issue on which they seem miles apart. People talked about allowing “the process to work.”

But as that process unfolded, a minority lawmaker walked by a reporter, smiling ruefully, shaking his head and mumbled: “This is a helluva way to run a train, isn’t it?” Another complained with obvious disgust: “We’re no different than Washington.”

As reporters’ deadlines neared, they struggled between their experience-tested belief that nothing important was likely to happen and their fear something inevitably would happen if they left early. What else could they do except stay and resort to Twitter?

There really wasn’t all that much to report.

So we wait, just as Kentucky always must wait, succumbing to the dark and sneaking suspicion that nothing really ever changes here despite all those speeches in the preceding 25 days about “moving Kentucky forward.” Talk about an oxymoron.

After years of refusing to make the required contributions to the pension systems, we’re surprised the system is in trouble and we wring our hands about the prospect it will go broke. Despite untold millions in tax incentives — some prefer the term corporate welfare — unemployment is at 8 percent, we remain a stubbornly poor state and lawmakers cry the sky will fall in western Kentucky if two aluminum smelters close down.

After five years during which we cut $1.6 billion from the budget, a legislative leader yet again says: “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”

Well, yes, we’re spending too little on education, child care, public protection and the environment while we spend too much on prisons, projects and asphalt.

Despite how often 139 leaders talk about “moving Kentucky forward,” she seems stuck in the same place, her people insouciantly determined to live in a past which no longer exists while the rest of the world moves on without us.

But, hey, the tone has improved even if conditions for our people haven’t.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
Viewpoints
  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Education a priority? Don’t believe it

    They did it – more or less.

    They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don McNay.jpg Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?

    A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg Compromise is not that simple

    It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
    The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.

    March 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency

    Legislation that would make the Kentucky Retirement Systems transparent for those paying its bills has danced into the spotlight during the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
    Passage of transparency bills filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, and Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, would make the “names, status, projected or actual benefit payments” subject to our commonwealth’s superlative Open Records Act.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jack Strauss-BW.jpg The case of the ghostly neighbor

    Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
    Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
    So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously

    Things are staying busy in Frankfort. Many bills are making their way onto the Senate floor from various committees. This past week several important pieces of legislation were debated and passed.
    I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
    I introduced Senate Bill 106 to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional CCDW permit from the Kentucky State Police in one business day. In some of these cases, victims need this type of protection as quickly as possible.

    March 8, 2014

  • Ronnie-Ellis.jpg 50 years makes a world of difference

    I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
    But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • 02.23 Mike Duncan mug.jpg Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter

    This winter, temperatures across the country dipped to historic lows. Here in our home state of Kentucky, the near-arctic climate caused increased power demand which resulted in an incredible strain on the electric grid and rising energy costs.

    March 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Waters.JPG Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer

    Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
    Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ike Adams Making plans for spring planting

    My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
    Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place. 

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents Obama Reassures Japan on China Raw: Car Crashes Into San Antonio Pool Time Magazine Announces Top Influencers List Raw: Angry Relatives Confront SKorea Officials Bigger Riders Means Bigger Horses Out West Yankees Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

Should Richmond rezone the southwest corner of Main Street and Tates Creek Avenue to B-1 (Neighborhood Business) with restrictions to allow construction of a financial services office?

Yes
No
     View Results