The good news is there are plenty of jobs available for people who are willing to work. The bad news is that employers in Kentucky are experiencing a lack of people who can fill the open positions.

The Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center published a slew of statistics that explain the state’s current workforce position. Their research shows that more than 81 percent of Kentucky businesses are planning to expand in the next three to five years and that 80 percent of those businesses say they can’t fill those positions. Kentucky also has a low workforce participation rate, meaning the available people who are both eligible to and do work, is lower than average.

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Over the years, you have heard me say that in order to tackle our state’s opioid epidemic, it’s going to take all of us coming together as a community. That everyone has a role in building a better future.

One of my efforts to build that future is the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Program, which provides drug deactivation pouches to help Kentucky families safely dispose of the dangerous unused medications sitting in their medicine cabinets.

I can proudly say that in the last year we have grown the program’s reach to more and more Kentuckians thanks to tireless efforts of our partners, including local law enforcement, nonprofits, churches, senior citizens centers, governments and schools.

A southern televangelist is making a plea for $54 million so he can spread the word of the Lord in a brand new, private jet plane. His begging for this excessive luxury is criminal and abusive. Sadly, some poor saps will give their last dollar so this clown can get a free ride.

The beauty is, this is a free country and people can do crazy stuff like that and get away with it. On that note, some people might want to help this poor preacher man spread the word to the less fortunate and spend their money that way. They might call it “spiritual development.”

This past month, Paintsville celebrated the Spring Fling Event put forth by Paintsville’s Main Street Association. The volunteers that work with the organization put on a wonderful event. The work that The Paintsville’s Garden Club has done was praised by many visitors as well that I spoke with. From local musical talent being showcased to 60+ vendors, our streets were full. There are positive things happening right here in Paintsville. No matter how successful an event like this was, or how well attended events such as these are, there will always be those that simply cannot see anything in a positive light. If looking for negativity is one’s sole goal, I’m sure it can be found in any community in Kentucky. I am going to choose to look forward, not behind. As a Mayor, the buck stops here. I can’t point fingers. I can’t distract by blaming someone else. If it’s something I set in motion it is something I am accountable for. Issues and problems that arise cannot be solved properly through gossip nor through the new norm, social media. Issues need not only to be addressed in the light but also solved in the light for everyone to see. Many times by addressing and solving issues transparently it will lead to productive communication an eventually trust.

In 2018, more than a million people will be diagnosed with cancer around the world. This alarming statistic affects people and families everywhere. On June 3, 2018, we observe National Cancer Survivors Day in the United States. In support of this day, Social Security encourages getting checkups to provide early detection, raise awareness through education, and recognize the survivors who have gone through this battle or are still living with the disease. 

Social Security supports people who are fighting cancer. We offer support to patients dealing with this disease through our disability program. People with certain cancers may be eligible for a Compassionate Allowance. Compassionate Allowances are cases where individuals have medical conditions so severe they obviously meet Social Security’s disability standards, allowing us to process the cases quickly with minimal medical information. 

It’s that time of year again. We will see another class of bright eyed young people who are anxious to get the heck out of school and move on to the next part of their lives. 

It happens every year, kids grow up and want desperately to graduate. It isn’t until a few days later they realize the greener grass is over the septic tank. What most graduates don’t realize is that they just finished the best year of their lives as they were BMOC with very few worries. 

For far too long, the federal government has prevented most farmers from growing hemp. Although it was a foundational part of Kentucky’s heritage and today you can buy products made with hemp at stores across the country, most farmers have been barred from planting it in their fields. I have heard from many Kentucky farmers who agree it’s time to remove the federal hurdles in place and give our state the opportunity to seize its full potential and once again become the national leader for hemp production.

The Kentucky General Assembly began with a focus on full funding for public pensions that teachers and state workers rely upon for retirement, and we ended with a final two-year budget that commits historic funding levels to those pension systems, along with all-time high funding for education. 

In order to fund pensions and education in the record-levels we did, we passed a revenue measure based on comprehensive tax reform to deliberately move in a direction to lower, and one day possibly eliminate, income tax rates while broadening the sales tax base by adding consumption-driven services. The changes made to the tax code, in order to fund the budget, signify the first in decades and will be responsible for more than $450 million over the next two years. 

Billy Graham was the only TV preacher I ever trusted. Nicknamed “God’s Machine Gun,” he once told president Obama that the president’s pursuit of restrictions on guns would do nothing to change gun violence. I’d like to think that had he not passed last week, he’d agree that pursuit of senseless restrictions on coal mining is just as misguided.

Kentucky’s young solar energy industry is being threatened by the state’s electric utilities, who are trying to stifle competition and limit their customer’s freedom to use solar energy in their homes and businesses. House Bill 227 would end net metering, a simple and effective policy that allows customers with solar electric systems to connect to the power grid and be credited for excess energy fed back to the grid when they produce more than they need. Net metering has supported the expansion of the solar industry across the USA. HB 227’s passage would cause job losses and the closure of small solar businesses across the state.