- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


August 20

Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on laws to help patients:

It’s been a long battle for Kentucky’s nurse practitioners just to be able to provide more basic health services but it has resulted in a win for health care.

Last month, a new law took effect that expands the power of the state’s more than 3,000 nurse practitioners - known as advance practice registered nurses - to prescribe routine medications without a signed agreement from a Kentucky physician.

That brings Kentucky in line with 18 other states and the District of Columbia by lifting restrictions that had limited the ability of nurse practitioners to prescribe medications such as antibiotics and blood pressure pills, Laura Ungar reported Sunday for The Courier-Journal and USA Today.

“It’s great. It’s been a long time coming,” said Louisville nurse practitioner Bob Hobbs, shown above seeing a patient. “With a physician agreement there’s always a risk. What if they move or have a car wreck tomorrow? What do you do?”

What, indeed? Kentucky’s nurse practitioners have been asking those questions for years as they worked to get a state law changed that required such signed agreements to prescribe many routine medications.

While state law already allowed nurse practitioners to practice independently - and many, such as Mr. Hobbs do - they still needed that piece of paper signed by a physician for routine prescriptions.

Physicians, through the Kentucky Medical Association, had long fought any changes through their powerful lobby in Frankfort, arguing such a change threatened medical “teamwork” and physician oversight although many nurse practitioners work out of their own offices.

It also threatened an income stream for physicians.

Finally, this year, through the tireless efforts of supporters, Sen. Paul Hornback, a Shelbyville Republican who was the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 7 and the important cooperation of the medical association, the law changed.

And now, the state’s nurse practitioners are better equipped to join primary care physicians to meet the demand.




August 19

Herald-Leader, Lexington, Kentucky, on marijuana policies:

In July, Washington became the second state where marijuana could be purchased legally for recreational use.

Folks have been buying pot legally in Colorado since the first of the year, and Reuters reported in April the state expects recreational sales to generate $98 million in revenue this year.

Earlier this month, the District of Columbia Board of Elections voted to put a recreational use initiative on the ballot in November. Alaskans will also be voting on the issue this fall.

Nearly two dozen states and the District of Columbia already allow marijuana use for medical purposes.

Legalizing pot seems to be the newest “in” cause in this country.

Kentucky even took a tiny step in that direction earlier this year when the General Assembly approved the use of oil derived from marijuana and hemp to treat some seizure patients.

This year, too, a perennial proposal to legalize the medical use of marijuana won the approval of a House committee, a legislative first in Frankfort, but went no further.

A statewide poll earlier this year found that 52 percent of Kentuckians favor legalizing medical use of marijuana. So, that particular facet of the legalization debate no doubt will be raised again in the 2015 General Assembly.

The questions are many, and the answers are just now emerging in Colorado and Washington.

How much will we save on law enforcement and corrections costs by decriminalizing the cultivation and use of marijuana? How much revenue can be generated by taxing sales? How do we regulate and license growers and vendors? What effect will legalization have on other criminal activity? What are the potential societal consequences?

These are just a few of the questions needing honest, unbiased answers if Kentucky lawmakers are going to be fully informed when the time comes for them to make a decision on legalizing pot. And given the momentum this “in” cause seems to be building around the nation, the answers need to come sooner rather than later.




August 10

The Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on borders:

It is important during an election cycle to let the voters know where candidates stand on issues.

Candidates have a responsibility to those whose votes they are seeking to let voters see them together and how they handle questions.

We have seen people asking the two U.S. Senate candidates, incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell and his Democratic opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, questions in towns and cities across our state throughout this hotly contested race, but the only time we have seen the candidates together was at the annual Fancy Farm picnic in western Kentucky.

That is why we are excited to hear that McConnell and Grimes will meet for a high-profile debate on statewide television Oct. 13 on Kentucky Educational Television. They will appear on the Kentucky Tonight Show hosted by Bill Goodman.

McConnell and Grimes also will attend a candidate forum today hosted by the Kentucky Farm Bureau.

We are glad the two candidates have finally agreed to debate.

Thus far in the campaign, voters in the state have mostly learned about the candidates by a series of 30-second television ads put out by both camps.

These ads are a good campaign tool and have proven effective in elections, but seeing the candidates together and learning where they stand on issues is what Kentucky voters want.

We believe a face-to-face debate could be more illuminating than hundreds of 30-second attack ads.

Once undecided voters see the two candidates debate, perhaps they will have a better idea of who they will vote for.

Talking about issues face-to-face is not only good for Kentucky voters, it is good for the democratic process.

Neither candidate had to agree to these two debates; they could have gone on with their campaigns and avoided debate - that was their prerogative.

But, they chose to meet in this forum less than a month prior to Election Day to discuss and defend their positions.

We applaud both candidates for choosing to debate each other for this most important U.S. Senate seat.

Because these candidates agreed to do so, Kentuckians are the real winners.



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