Great Once Again
By Governor Matt Bevin
This week our nation will experience a wonderful American political tradition, as we witness the peaceful transfer of executive power. The new President will assume office riding a wave of voter enthusiasm not seen since Reagan. For an accurate barometer of that enthusiasm, one should look beyond even the popular vote totals and the Electoral College. The Republican Party now holds 33 Governor’s offices, 32 State Legislatures, and has control of both legislative branches and the Governorship in 24 states. This week’s inauguration is the epitome of America’s rejection of the liberal brand of false hope and negative change. Instead, the people are passionate about the potential for positive change that President Trump represents.
In many ways, the President-Elect has defied both political and conservative orthodoxy. Some still marvel that a candidate who defied conventional political wisdom will soon take the oath of office. As one who ran against the grain in my own state and defied the polls to win election handily, I don’t find his success at all baffling. In order to understand the President-Elect, one needs look no further than his slogan and central promise to “Make America Great Again.”
That slogan has been derided by some. “Apparently, Mr. Trump doesn’t think America is great,” Hillary Clinton chastened in one of her campaign appearances. What Hillary Clinton failed to grasp, and what voters clearly understood, was that the key word in the slogan is again. Both Mr. Trump and the electorate are perfectly aware that America has been great at many points in its history. They embrace the fact that America is still the best country in the world in which to live. However, they also sensed that the greatness of America has faded in recent years. By the same token, Clinton and Obama’s failure to see how much their policies were contributing to America’s waning greatness, speaks volumes about their own worldview.
The “Make America Great Again” slogan, even as it was emblazoned on a simple red ball cap, sent the message to people that Donald Trump loves America. That would seem to be expected in any candidate seeking the highest office in the land. Yet, many in this nation had the palpable sense that for the past eight years, they had been led by someone who placed more emphasis on the country’s flaws than on its virtues. Mr. Obama tended to admonish the nation more often than he lifted it up. On the other hand, Donald Trump never hesitated to declare his love for the country and those individuals who work hard every day to keep the nation vibrant. When Kentuckians heard Donald Trump say he loved them, they believed him. They sensed his sincerity. We are proud that Kentucky was the first state to be called for the President-Elect.
President-Elect Trump has earned even more credibility with voters by those he has chosen to surround him. His first major decision was arguably his best, choosing Mike Pence as his running mate. Mr. Pence has, in recent years, become a close friend of mine both professionally and personally. I know him to be a man of great character, strong faith, and deep intellect. Mr. Trump astutely named Mike Pence as Chair of his Transition Team. Likewise, Mr. Trump has made it clear that he wants Vice President Pence to be intimately involved in the daily work of the Trump administration. These decisions speak to the President-Elect’s talent for finding excellent people to fill key roles, and to his willingness to embrace the good counsel that they provide.
Those attributes have been made all the more apparent by the long list of excellent cabinet appointments that have been made by the Trump team, not the least of which are Kentuckians Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation and Scott Pruitt for USEPA Director. President-Elect Trump has selected an exciting team of individuals with outstanding private sector accomplishments and combined them with the likes of Pence, Pruitt and Chao, who have successful track records in public service.
As I travel around Kentucky, I see an optimism and enthusiasm about the future of America under new leadership. That enthusiasm was on full display when I introduced the President and Vice President-Elect at an appreciation rally in Cincinnati. At the rally I stated that people in Kentucky, Ohio, the United States and across the world have been waiting for someone to step up, to stand up, to boldly say what needs to be said, and to speak the truth unapologetically. One of those truths is that America is about to show the world once again how great it can be when its people are empowered.
Darts and Laurels
Laurel: Congratulations Paintsville Lady Tigers on winning the Regional Championship in the All A Classic Tournament. Good luck moving forward!
Dart: While the case of Porter may be settled, when asked if this was the end of the matter, the U.S. Attorney refused to comment on ongoing investigations meaning further corruption charges are still possible.
Laurel: Work began at the Historic SIPP Theater on Main Street to update seating and renovate the interior. The Theater will remain closed through January and February and will reopen sometime in March.
Dart: When the Paintsville City Council voted to create a 1.25 percent occupational sales tax in 2015 to cover city debt, they did so with the understanding it would be repealed in March 2017. The council changed their minds last Monday and made the ordinance permanent.
Laurel: After six decades in the entertainment business, Van Lear music legend Loretta Lynn has been named the subject of the newest exhibit at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in honor of her immense contributions to the genre.
Legislature sets fast pace
Kentucky’s General Assembly under Republican majorities in both chambers had quite a productive first week. The Republican leaders decided to take full advantage of the unfettered control provided by voters to pass bills the governor would enact into law during the first week of the historic session.
Republicans carried a sense that voters wanted the GOP to “go big” by sending the party to Frankfort with a super majority. Judging by their actions in the first week, they took it to heart.
Right to work and prevailing wage legislation, both anathema to labor unions, passed both houses and were signed into law Saturday by Gov. Matt Bevin. Hardin County, one of 12 counties to pave the way by passing their own right to work ordinances, become part of a state where choosing to join a labor union becomes a matter of conscience rather than a requirement of employment.
New rules outlawing abortions after 20 weeks (with exceptions) and requiring an ultrasound prior to performance of an abortion were passed.
In support of Gov. Bevin’s executive action, legislation passed which will replace the University of Louisville board of trustees with appointees approved by the Senate.
All of the legislation was hot-button issues that have been simmering in the Republican cloakroom. The Republican majority wasted no time in bringing them to the floor with gusto.
The General Assembly is in recess for a month. After the break-neck speed of the opening week, you wonder what other legislation is being dusted off.
The parallels between Kentucky and Washington are unmistakable and were fueled by disgruntled voters in search of real change.
Not necessarily a favorite of GOP leadership, Bevin narrowly won the party primary in 2015 before delivering a major pounding of the anointed Democratic candidate Jack Conway. In many ways, it was as much a surprise to pundits and politicians as Donald Trump’s run to the GOP nomination and victory in the electoral college. The U.S. Senate, which many polls thought would go Democrat, stayed in the Republican hands of Sen. Mitch McConnell while Kentucky’s House of Representatives went Republican for the first time in decades.
Changes such as these occur when voters feel they aren’t being heard. To protect their hard-earned majorities, Republicans in Washington and Frankfort would be well advised to listen closely to what voters are saying in the future.
Darts and Laurels
Laurel: Monday evening saw the first Paintsville City Council meeting of the New Year and welcomes two new members. Patricia Nelson and Justin Lewandoski have replaced Shawn Thompson and Mike VanHoose on the council. Both make working together a priority to restore confidence in the council and bring prosperity to Paintsville.
Dart: The New Year has already had its first Snow Day thanks to a thick blanket of precipitation dropped on the area. While kids love more time off after the holiday season, more days off means an extended school year. Let’s hope that Friday’s snow day is the only one this year.
Laurel: Congratulations to Marlana Vanhoose for being selected to perform at the Inaugural Concert in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 19 at the Lincoln Memorial. Millions across the country will watch her sing “America the Beautiful” both in person and on television or webcast.
Dart: Drivers need to be more aware of their surroundings and put away anything distracting, like cell phones. Kentucky Highway fatalities is increasing and many accidents could be avoided if we all pay more attention and slow down. Stay safe on the highways.
Laurel: The first class of 35 Interapt students at the Mayo Campus in Paintsville graduated on Wednesday, Jan. 4. Launched in August, Interapt created a immersive curriculum designed to teach coding and application development to out-of-work miners without having to return to school for a four-year degree.
Darts & Laurels
Laurel: Paintsville first responders and Paul B. Hall Regional Medical Center held disaster response exercises on Thursday night at the parking lot of the hospital. These exercises are critical in maintaining expertise and lines of communication necessary in an emergency. Gary McClure, Paintsville/Johnson County Emergency Manager was even considerate enough to schedule the event after hours to allow patients and visitors to leave for the day.
Dart: Fluctuations in temperatures lead to an increased number of rockslides on roads throughout the county. Drivers need to be aware that slides can occur at any time and to keep their eyes open for debris.
Laurel: The Big Sandy Regional Detention Center has taken steps to bring the jail back into state standards after a state inspection. The board voted to buy the equipment to remove and sand down concrete floors making the facility safer as well as training inmates in a vocational skill.
Dart: While the holidays are fun, it can bring out the ugly in some people. There were an increased number of domestic disturbance calls, fights, burglary and thefts called into 911 over the past week.
Laurel: The Piarist School has started collecting supplies to build a gym behind the school in Hagerhill. Needed since the school relocated from Martin, the gym is expected to be completed by next fall, eliminating the need to drive to either Prestonsburg or the Knott County Sportsplex for games and gym class.