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Guest Editorial

Kill bill making it easier to foreclose

Lexington Herald-Leader

OK, we’ll agree that the mortgage business has not been all that great lately.
But it’s still been better than the poor-guy-just-trying-to-make-a-living business.
So, House Bill 470, which seeks to make it much easier for mortgage holders to foreclose on borrowers who have fallen even slightly behind, seems like an unnecessary and unfair gimme to mortgage bankers at the expense of homeowners.
The House Banking and Insurance Committee is scheduled to consider it Thursday morning and should reject it.
There are a lot of things wrong with HB 47, cosponsored by Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, and Thomas Kerr, R-Taylor Mill. The three most basic are about bypassing the courts, the notice requirements and the timeline.
The way it works today, before foreclosing a lender must go to a court, prove that it has the right to foreclose and that the borrower is in default.
This bill would flip that. The burden of the costly option of going to court would fall on the homeowner/borrower to contest the foreclosure.
The bill also foregoes the notification requirements that apply in a court proceding.
Instead of requiring proof that the borrower received notice of the foreclosure through either personal service or a certified mail return receipt, the mortgage holder would only have to mail three notices with first-class postage.
In other words, the foreclosure could proceed with absolutely no proof the person who could lose his home is aware that might happen.
Finally, these non-judicial foreclosures could be completed within 120 days, a fast track that would make it difficult to work out modifications.
Kentucky and other states have sensible laws that allow this kind of fast track when the mortgage company has proved the property is vacant or abandoned.
But this bill would make it possible for a mortgage company to foreclose on a homeowner with little, if any, notice in a very short time.
The homeowner’s only option to stop the foreclosure would be to initiate a court action, a complex and expensive burden for someone who is struggling to pay a mortgage.
For most people, their home provides not only housing but also the largest source of savings for education and retirement.
Any number of things beyond a family’s control — a downsizing, a car wreck, a serious illness — can put those things at risk. Kentucky lawmakers should reject this bill that would make it possible to take all of them away so easily.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to local agencies that conducted welfare checks during the winter storms to ensure safety for all — thank you!

A dart to Old Man Winter’s icy visits and tendency to wear out his welcome!

A laurel to Gov. Beshear for his order protecting citizens from price gouging during the severe weather.

A dart to losing one’s home to fire — our sympathies.

A laurel to those who stayed off roadways during the blasting snows and ice — smart!!

Guest Editorial

Robbing mother nature

The Courier-Journal

Nature lovers believing they are helping to preserve some of Kentucky’s greatest treasures, its lands, forests and streams, just got a rude surprise about the special “nature” state license plate they purchase.
Proceeds from the $10 extra they pay for the plate, supposed to go to the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund, instead are being siphoned off for the ever-insufficient state General Fund and used for other purposes, The Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus reported Saturday.
So money supposed to help buy and preserve Kentucky’s natural areas instead is helping plug holes in the state budget, spent for purposes ranging from purchasing pencils to filling shortfalls in pensions and education.
What’s worse, as this newspaper has pointed out repeatedly, the license fee heist is only a fraction of the sleight-of-hand that goes on in Frankfort as governors and lawmakers seek desperately to meet basic state budget needs without enough revenue to do the job.
Since raising or restructuring taxes apparently is off the table, governors propose and lawmakers approve suspending laws that would otherwise prevent them from scooping up money from a host of small agencies, licensing boards and other entities to use for other purposes.
As Mr. Loftus pointed out, the current, 2-year budget for 2014-16 filled in the gaps with $285 million from 50 such sources, “notwithstanding” the fact state law specifies the money be used for other purposes. That’s the actual language the legislature uses in the budget bill, one of the most dangerous documents in Frankfort.
“Notwithstanding” what the law says, the governor and legislators rely on that term to produce a budget bill filling in gaps with someone else’s money.
Nothing is sacred. Not only do lawmakers raid license fees paid by professionals such as doctors and nurses, they take funds earmarked for higher education.
Proceeds from the Kentucky Lottery — approved by voters in 1998 with a pledge it would benefit education — by law are supposed to go to college financial aid.
Yet, since 2008, lawmakers have been dipping into that till, nothwithstanding state law, to divert an increasing amount to the General Fund. In the coming fiscal year, the budget siphons off $43 million in lottery money supposed to help Kentucky students pay for college.
But about those nature license plates.
The current, 2-year budget takes $8 million in license plate fees from the land conservation fund, leaving the small agency with virtually no money to fund various groups that buy and manage natural areas deemed worthy of preservation.
“It means this program is virtually going to be unable to do its job,” said Dr. Richard Kessler, chairman of the land conservation fund.
Kessler suggests that nature lovers who want their $10 license plate fee used for its lawful purpose should make themselves heard.
“If they’re upset, talk to their legislators and the governor,” he said.
We agree.
To leave a message for a legislator, call 1-800-372-7181. Gov. Steve Beshear’s office is (502) 564-2611.
If you need to determine who is your state senator or state representative, go to

Guest Editorial

Right-to-Work is really about worker freedom

By Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul

Union membership may be in decline across America, but here in the Bluegrass State, unions still have the power to force workers into becoming dues-paying members against their will. That means if you work for an employer who contracts with a union, you can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
That’s outrageous. It’s long past time Kentucky follow the lead of 24 other states and pass right-to-work legislation. Right-to-work laws are simple enough. They empower employees to decide on their own terms whether they prefer to spend their hard-earned money on joining a union, or if they would prefer to take that money home.
Right-to-work legislation is a smart policy that boosts economic development while advancing workers’ rights by ensuring workers are not forced to join, and thus aren’t limited by the dictates of a union.
We support right-to-work laws at every level of government – federal, state, and local. We’ve joined together to push for national right-to-work legislation in the U.S. Senate in the past. Just this week, we again introduced the National Right to Work Act. And we see great benefits for Kentucky to pass a state right-to-work law. We were pleased to see the Kentucky Senate pass one, and we encourage the Kentucky House to take up and pass this pro-worker reform.
Local jurisdictions throughout the commonwealth are fed up with waiting for a state or federal law that will provide them with the safety net from big labor they need. That’s why we support Warren County’s recent move to pass its own right-to-work legislation. Other Kentucky counties, including Simpson, Fulton, Todd and Hardin, have followed Warren County’s lead to stay competitive. Local jurisdictions should do everything they can to increase their own competitiveness, which is why we applaud other counties in Kentucky following in their footsteps.
Warren County, like the rest of Kentucky, must compete for employers with neighboring states, many of which, like Tennessee and Indiana, have already passed right-to-work laws. Without a similar incentive, Kentucky will lose out in the race to attract businesses that create jobs in our communities. It’s no accident that manufacturing employment is one-third higher in states that embrace these policies, and that nine of the top 10 states for business and jobs in America are all right-to-work states.
Until big labor’s grip on workers and employers is loosened, Kentucky will keep falling behind its neighbors that have right-to-work laws. Over the past decade, growth in private-sector jobs in right-to-work states was 15.3 percent; in Kentucky it was only 6.9 percent. You might think that forced union membership would at least bring with it higher pay, but you’d be wrong: Compensation in right-to-work states grew at a rate of 14.2 percent, while in Kentucky it was only 4.3 percent.
At its core, the right-to-work is really about worker freedom. One survey showed that 80 percent of union members said employees shouldn’t be forced or coerced into joining a union. No one should be forced to join a union they believe fails to represent their personal interests.
Five counties in Kentucky have passed ordinances to ensure this protection is extended to workers in their jurisdictions. We support them and hope that other counties as well as the state legislature will soon follow suit.
— U.S. Sen Mitch McConnell is the Senate Majority Leader and Paul is Kentucky’s junior U.S. senator.

Darts and Laurels

A laurel to a new traffic light in Wittensville — sure to prevent accidents!

A dart to setting vehicles on fire — creates danger for many.

A laurel to planned downtown sewer line work — worth the temporary nuisance!

A dart to dating violence, domestic violence, or any kind of violence — it’s never the answer.

A laurel to a — thus far — mild winter. Here’s to seeing a quick arrival of spring!

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