- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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April 22

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky., on teenage drivers:

Getting behind the wheel of a car at a young age can be intimidating.

Young drivers lack the experience of older drivers, and it is helpful for them to learn from others about safety.

One avenue is a class taught by the Kentucky State Police - the Alive at 25 defensive driving course. The classes were recently offered to about 150 students at Warren East High School at no cost to the school through a project by the National Safety Council, Toyota and the state police. Warren East is the first school in Warren County where the course has been taught. The course begins with a pre-test and ends with a post test, on which students must score a 70 to pass.

Instructors in the class use real situations and role-playing scenarios to get their message across about the dangers of irresponsible driving. Last week, an instructor told the teens about a rear-end collision involving two tractor-trailers on Interstate 65 in Hart County. They were shown autopsy photos of other crash victims.

Hearing these stories and seeing these photos should be an eye-opener for these teenagers. It has the real potential to help them to make life-saving decisions for themselves and, in some cases, passengers who will be in the vehicle with them.

Teenagers who took this class say they will pay more attention and it’s more interesting.

All too often, not just in Bowling Green and surrounding areas, we hear about teenagers getting killed or seriously injured behind the wheel. No one wants this to happen, which is why such courses are vital to our youth.

If programs like this get more teenagers to quit texting or talking on the phone while driving and in general just get them focused on the road, we believe that a real difference can be made and lives will be saved.

Will all teenagers follow the rules? Of course not, but if the program gets through to a lot of kids and the state police plans to hold these classes in each county Post 3 operates in, it could make a real difference.

Online:

http://www.bgdailynews.com

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April 17

Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky., on ethics reform:

House Democrats took to the floor Monday to repeatedly express their “outrage” at the Legislative Ethics Commission’s decision not to punish former state Rep. John Arnold on charges of sexual harassment and to praise the “moral courage” of the three women who came forward with the allegations, according to the Associated Press.

“We want to send a message that harassment of any kind will not be tolerated in any branch of the government,” said Rep. Derrick Graham, a Frankfort Democrat.

To prove their newfound commitment, the House approved several changes to the Legislative Ethics Commission, including requiring members attend at least half of the meetings in a calendar year, that the commission have at least two women members and one minority and specifically defining sexual harassment by a lawmaker as ethical misconduct.

Our question has been and remains today: Where have they been? Where was this outrage when their party’s leader, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, was doing everything in his power to quash subpoenas of legislators aimed at exposing what may or may not have happened in the Arnold case? Where was their praise for the “moral courage” of these women when the three Democrats on the special legislative committee appointed to investigate the case abruptly voted to disband with no finding after Arnold resigned?

But now that Arnold has been cleared (the commission voted 4-1 to find him guilty, but only five of the eight members showed up for the vote, and it takes five “yes” votes for a finding of guilt) House Democrats now want to stand up for what’s right and show solidarity for victims of harassment. Now that they’ve heard the backlash to that decision, they want to try to flip it into an advantage. That’s politics at its worst.

For starters, their “reform” is little more than window dressing. As Senate President Robert Stivers said, “On the next-to-the-last day is when they decide to file a bill. It doesn’t speak to one that’s having true intentions. It speaks to one that’s wanting to play a game with smoke and mirrors.”

Beyond that, on the day House Democrats were finding their courage to oppose sexual harassment, one of their own - and one our own - was in the news for another “Boys Gone Wild” moment.

The State Journal in Frankfort reported that Rep. Jim Gooch, who represents Daviess, Hopkins, McLean and Webster counties, was accused of taking a pair of women’s panties from his pocket and throwing them onto a crowded table during a legislative conference last summer in Alabama. Two of the women who had accused Arnold of sexual harassment were at the table. And Gooch did not deny the incident, though he said everyone at the table laughed.

That type of behavior might be funny in a frat house, but it’s hard to imagine anyone finding it appropriate for a professional setting, let alone a meeting of elected officials from throughout the South.

If there is one positive development, it’s that Stumbo has called on the ethics commission to reopen the case against Arnold, and the three women have filed a motion asking the ruling be reconsidered. If Democrats are truly serious about changing the culture in Frankfort, they’ll work to make this happen, rather than passing empty resolutions and “reforms” that will make little difference.

Online:

http://www.messenger-inquirer.com

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