- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

Feb. 11

The Independent, Ashland, Ky., on telephone scam:

Kentucky State Police have issued a warning for residents to beware of a telephone scam that so far has only been reported in Harlan County, but if it works in bamboozling innocent people out of their money there, it is a certainly it will expand to other counties.

Most should be able to avoid getting scammed by heeding this simple advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Police say residents report they have received calls from people claiming to be with the U.S. Government Grants Department. The caller claims the person being called is the recipient of a federal grant. All they have to do to receive the grant is to send money. The callers also ask for checking account numbers and credit card information, something no one should give to strangers on the telephone.

Police at the Harlan KSP post say anyone who receives calls, mail or emails from people they don’t know should ignore them.

It is difficult to believe many would fall for such a scam, but apparently there are enough of the gullible to make it worth the time, effort and risks taken by the fake government employees. Sadly, some of the victims of such scams never report them because they are too embarrassed to admit they fell for such a ploy. However, only by reporting the scams can the perpetrators be caught before they steal from other innocent victims.




Feb. 7

Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on smoke-free law deserves a vote:

CVS is giving up $2 billion in annual sales by removing cigarettes from its shelves.

The nation’s second-largest pharmacy with total sales of $123 billion apparently thinks that no longer retailing death and disease will give it a competitive edge as a health-care provider.

Not just CVS sees a competitive advantage in curtailing tobacco consumption, though.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, representing 92,000 businesses, surveyed its members last year and found that more than 90 percent of respondents support a statewide ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, including most workplaces.

Legislation that would provide that, House Bill 173, cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee Thursday for the third year. Alas, it has yet to receive a vote in either chamber.

This year should be different. Kentucky leads the nation in smoking and cancer. Smoking and secondhand smoke drive up health-care costs for Kentucky’s employers and taxpayers and depress economic productivity.

This General Assembly, which has little money to invest in making the state more competitive, should leap on this opportunity to pass a no-cost pro-business bill.

The property rights and individual liberty arguments wielded against it are bogus. A century of legal precedent establishes that government has the authority - indeed, the duty - to protect public health. Many courts, including Kentucky’s Supreme Court, have ruled that protecting workers and the public from secondhand smoke is a legitimate use of that authority.

This state has a long history with tobacco, but, as the chamber’s Ashli Watts told a legislative committee last fall, “the health effects can no longer be ignored.”




Feb. 9

Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., on modest tax plan being a start:

Nearly halfway into the current legislative session, Gov. Steve Beshear has waded in with a plan to upgrade the state’s tax system to create at least some of the revenue Kentucky desperately needs - but it may be too little too late, at least for now.

Some lawmakers already are exhibiting the usual allergic reaction to taxes - even before the plan hits print. Beshear said he wants to seek a consensus before his proposal is filed as a bill.

And the outlook for any reform, no matter how modest, is dicey in an election year with all 100 House seats and half the 38 Senate seats on the ballot. Many incumbent legislators face challengers and likely will be placing political survival ahead of the needs of Kentucky.

Perhaps that’s why the governor has proffered a modest, pro-business plan that falls far short of the one put forth by the latest group to study Kentucky’s revenue and tax problems.

That’s the governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, a panel Mr. Beshear appointed in 2012 with Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson as chairman.

Its mission was broad: to come up with a plan to restructure the state’s rickety tax system in order to generate funds to run a modern state government. Its goals were ambitious: to make the state’s tax system fair, shift taxation from goods to services and provide tax breaks when reasonable.

And its results were bold: a sweeping plan of dozens of changes the commission estimated would raise up to $659 million in new revenue.

Instead the governor proposes a scaled-back plan that would raise only about $210 million. That’s not even enough to cover the state’s current pension shortfall, let alone accommodate needs of education, human services and other areas of a state government that has cut $1.6 billion in spending because of an ongoing decline in revenue

And it provides goodies to the business community - about $234 million in tax cuts - at the expense of others who could have benefited.

Still, even as critics acknowledge, it’s a start. Kentucky’s tax system has been thoroughly studied by a dozen panels over the last several decades, all of which have all reached the same conclusion: Kentucky simply can’t afford not to upgrade the tax system.

It’s not enough to let the state limp along. Kentucky deserves better and citizens should demand it.



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