Killing a good bill
How low can they go?
Members of the Kentucky General Assembly never cease to disappoint but some have outdone themselves by bottling up a bill involving aid to rape victims, kids with cancer and Special Olympics Kentucky — aid that would cost the state nothing and be purely voluntary from the public.
And lawmakers have done it at the behest of Kentucky Right to Life, a group typically dedicated to preserving life and fighting abortion. But its representatives, acting on faulty information about rape crisis centers, have done a public disservice and damaged the credibility of Right to Life.
The public should be outraged and lawmakers should be wary when Right to Life representatives ask them to oppose future legislation they believe might involve abortion.
Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Northern Kentucky Republican running for lieutenant governor, has bought into unfounded insinuations that House Bill 419, to generate donations for rape crisis centers through a box Kentuckians can check on state tax returns, somehow is linked to abortion services.
The sponsor of HB 419, Rep. Chris Harris of Pikeville, who describes himself as a “pro-life Democrat,” insists his bill has nothing to do with abortion.
The state-funded rape crisis centers do not provide any abortion services under a mission narrowly defined by state law and regulations.
Yet HB 419 has been stalled in Mr. McDaniel’s Appropriations and Revenue Committee since March 2.
HB 419 has been combined with Senate Bill 82, to generate donations for kids’ cancer research and along with donations to Special Olympics. But all hit an impasse in the final days of the session because of misinformation about rape crisis centers.
The network of 13 centers throughout Kentucky exists solely to provide counseling, support and prevention services involving rape and sexual assaults.
The centers, established in 1990 by the General Assembly, are funded by the state and operate under state oversight with duties clearly defined by the state.
Staff and volunteers are on duty 24 hours to aid victims who call a hotline or are taken to the hospital following a suspected rape or sexual assault. Their duties do not include any medical advice or abortion counseling.
Mr. McDaniel, a relative newcomer to the legislature, may not be familiar with the history or the laudable work of the centers. But he should be familiar with state law that defines their role and duties, despite his claim to The Courier-Journal’s Joseph Gerth the term “rape crisis center” wasn’t sufficiently clear.
It’s spelled out clearly enough in HB 419 and the state law it references, KRS 211.600.
But Right to Life representatives speciously argue that an organization such as Planned Parenthood could benefit from the funds generated by HB 419.
“What happens when Planned Parenthood presents itself as a rape crisis center?” asked Right to Life’s assistant director Mike Janocik.
Nothing, of course, since the state has no authority to turn over a single dollar of such taxpayer donations to an outside group such as Planned Parenthood.
A reading of the two-page HB 419 makes it clear that any money generated through donations would be collected by the state and dispensed only to the state-authorized rape crisis centers for services allowed by state law.
The rape crisis centers already are funded by the state. The tax donation would simply generate a modest increase of about $40,000 a year.
But for this year, it appears a misinformation campaign killed that possibility.
Meanwhile, bear in mind that March is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to the JCMS Academic Team — 12 first place wins in the Governor’s Cup competition! My, how those trophies do shine!
A dart to those who persist in drug trafficking — you can hide but not forever.
A laurel to the JCHS Future Problem Solving Team for being first in the state! Keep those ideas growing!
A dart to assaulting police officers while doing their jobs and protecting the public!
A laurel to Paintsville’s own Maranda Finney for winning Big Sandy Idol!
Taxpayers need broad shoulders
It’s been a thorn in the side from the very beginnings of our nation’s history — public taxes.
The people want services, government and order but no one wants taxes. However, in order to provide services, governments have to have revenue. Unfortunately, that revenue must come from some sort of taxation. We think most citizens understand this and are, for the most part, willing to let go of a few hard earned dollars in exchange for public utilities, law enforcement, sanitation services, roads, schools and more. But what happens when the people begin to feel taken advantage of? When paychecks begin to dwindle to the point that wage earners are hard pressed to take care of their own obligations, let alone those of our municipal governments and governing boards?
In recent months, Johnson County taxpayers have been presented with a 9.7 percent increase in county school taxes — raising the amount paid from 38.1 cents per $100 to 45.3 cents per $100 property valuation.
That’s a sharp blow and a pretty steep increase to levy on taxpayers all at once.
And now, for those working within Paintsville city limits, another tax increase has been proposed — though a kinder cut (an additional quarter of a percent from the present one percent being paid), it is still, nonetheless, less take home pay for the average worker; approximately $75 per year less we are told.
Seventy five dollars — overall, not that large of an amount; but yet, an amount that can make a significant difference in the amount of food brought home to the table.
It seems that in every direction one looks, more money is needed. The city needs to keep its lights on, the school district needs to purchase books ... the average worker needs to be able to keep a roof over their heads.
Being an office comprised of “average workers,” we can’t help but feel the pain of those cuts and empathize with others when they say, “Give us a break, we’re being taxed to our breaking points.”
We know that running a school system and a city government is a daunting task and that keeping budgets in line with rising costs is not an easy thing to do but neither is it easy to support a family, maintain an auto, pay ever increasing utility bills, seek medical care or take care of any other of life’s basic necessities when the hard earned dollars we make shrink to quarters and dimes.
We don’t know the answers but we do know that whereas governments and governing boards can look to the public and its dollars to bail them out when feeling a financial pinch, the general public, sadly, has no such option.
And so it goes that the “working class” becomes more and more the “working poor” — worker bees and armies of ants, move over.
Darts and Laurels
A laurel to the Golden Eagles and Lady Eagles basketball teams — soaring high!
A dart to flooding — destructive and saddening.
A laurel to the PPD and county emergency services — there for the people when needed!
A dart to residential fires and loss of life — our condolences.
A laurel to preparedness — vitally important!
When it comes to poisoning deaths, know the numbers
The Kentucky Standard
Most responsible people know if there is a gun in the home, it should be stowed in a safe place to reduce the risk of injury or death.
Same goes for erecting fences around backyard swimming pools to safeguard small children from drowning.
We buckle our seat belts and mind traffic when driving on the roadways.
And just about every parent knows to monitor children when they are close to busy streets.
These, among others, are the dangers topmost in many people’s minds.
But there is one category of accidental death that kills more Americans every year than shootings, drownings, car accidents or pedestrians struck by cars.
And when looking at the number of poisonings in Kentucky and the country, one can’t help but be a little surprised.
The third week in March is designated National Poison Prevention Week. It was named as such by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. The point is to raise awareness in local communities to the dangers of unintentional poisoning and urge the public to take preventive measures.
There are two themes to this week, “Children Act Fast… So Do Poisons,” and “Poisoning Spans a Lifetime.”
In order to understand the dangers though, let’s look at a few facts:
• In 2011, Kentucky had the third-highest rate in the nation at 25 per 100,000, compared to the national average of 13.2, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• In 2012, there were 1,078 Kentuckians who died from drug poisoning. Firearm deaths accounted for 655, according to the CDC.
• Nationwide in 2011, unintentional poisoning was the leading cause of injury deaths for adults aged 25-64, the third leading cause for ages 15-24 and ranked 9th for ages 10-14, according to the CDC.
• Deaths from poison have been rising. From 1999 to 2012, the drug-poisoning death rate more than doubled, from 6.1 per 100,000 to 13.1 nationwide, according to the CDC.
• Opioid-analgesic rates tripled, from and prescription medication and heroin have influenced the rates, according to the CDC.
• In 2013, poison centers managed 3.1 million calls, of which 2.2 million cases involved exposure to poison, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System.
• Of those 3.1 million cases, just under half of them involved children 5 and younger.
• Of those poison cases of children under 6, cosmetics and personal care products were the most often form of exposure to poison, comprising 14.5 percent of all calls. Household cleaning products accounted for 11 percent.
• Pain relievers, known as analgesics, were the most common form of poisoning for teens ages 13-19, as well as adults.
• In 2013, 93 percent of exposures occurred at a residence, 70 percent of them in the victim’s home.
• 80 percent of the exposures were unintentional in 2013. Other reasons poison control centers received calls included intentional (16 percent), such as suicide attempts and substance abuse, medication side effects (3 percent) and intentional poisonings or other, about 1 percent).
There are several precautions the CDC recommends to minimize the danger of poisoning or mitigate damage once exposed. A few of them are:
• First off, post the national poison hotline in an easy to locate place. Better yet, program it into your cell phone. The number is 1 (800) 222-1222.
• Never take larger or more frequent doses of your medications, particularly prescription pain medications, to try to get faster or more powerful effects.
• Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.
• Monitor the use of medicines prescribed for children and teenagers, such as medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD
• Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
• A complete list of precautions can be found at cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/Poisoning/preventiontips.htm.
When someone is killed in a car wreck, shooting or drowning, it often makes headlines. Rarely does someone dying from poisoning get widespread attention. But just because it doesn’t make the headlines or nightly news doesn’t mean it is any less risk. In fact, the numbers prove otherwise.