- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

March 19

Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, on approval of Zohydro ER:

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky’s 5th District representative in Washington, has long been a friend to those working to combat substance abuse, both in the commonwealth and across the nation.

His latest target is a new drug called Zohydro ER, which recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug is marketed as a powerful painkiller that will help people suffering from chronic pain, but does not pose the risk of liver damage because it doesn’t contain acetaminophen.

It does, however, contain a pure form of hydrocodone, and that is where Rogers sees a problem. He’s concerned that the FDA did not require any measures to prevent abusers from crushing the pill up and ingesting it for a quicker, longer-lasting high. Rogers said he doesn’t want to see a repeat of what happened in the 1990s when OxyContin hit the market.

“In southern and eastern Kentucky, we lost nearly an entire generation when crushable OxyContin was first prescribed, and I fear this crushable, pure hydrocodone pill will take us backward with a new wave of addiction and tragic, untimely deaths,” Rogers said.

He isn’t alone in his concern. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the FDA’s decision is a “step backward” and “wrong-headed.” He’s joining state prosecutors in 27 other states in expressing concerns over the new drug.

Clearly there’s enough concern that the FDA should reconsider and look for alternatives that reduce the high when the pill is crushed, similar to what has been done with later versions of OxyContin. We support Rogers, Conway and others in making this happen.




March 25

The Daily Independent, Ashland, work of Appalachian initiative:

Officials announced the leaders of an initiative to expand and diversify the economy in eastern Kentucky on Monday.

The committee overseeing the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative will have 15 members with experience in education, business and other fields. It will be co-chaired by Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers.

Two members of that committee have Ashland ties - local attorney Kim McCann and Lexington businessman Jim Host.

The goals over the next few months will be to hire a permanent executive director and setting up public meetings come up away with more action ideas to simulate the economy in that part of Kentucky.

Beshear and Rogers said during the announcement on Monday it was important to have a structure that will guide the initiative.

They also announced the leaders of 10 workgroups that will help develop strategies in areas such as agriculture, business recruitment and tourism.

“We’re gearing up to create quality jobs,” Rogers said at a news conference in Hazard. “When you’re talking about the future of our region, we want action.”

Leaders from throughout the state have met once already to try and figure out ways to help the region that is struggling so much financially because of the downturn in the coal industry.

With the help of SOAR and outstanding committee that has been put together, it’s our hope that some solutions will be found.

“I see us overcoming a lot of hurdles over the next several years to come,” said Pikeville city manager Donovan Blackburn, who will be managing director of the initiative.

Along with several “listening sessions,” leaders plan to hold a summit meeting on the initiative in November.




March 22

The Kentucky Enquirer on legalized casino gambling:

One by one, states surrounding Kentucky have legalized casino gambling, leaving the commonwealth one of only 10 states that haven’t yet authorized casino gaming within their borders.

Not that casino backers haven’t tried. For six years running, bills to permit gambling have been introduced in the General Assembly. This year was thought to be the year it finally passed, but, with about three weeks left in the legislative session, the gambling effort may be too much to enact this year.

Opposing view: Gambling preys on the poor

Supporting view: Kentucky is losing money to its neighbors

Even if it dies without action in this session, it’s almost a certainty that gambling legislation will return next year. Legislators and the public should accept that gambling has already come to Kentucky via its neighboring states and vote to establish casino gambling so Kentucky residents can benefit from the jobs and revenue that casinos can create.

Like it or not, casino gambling is here to stay. Kentucky policymakers should recognize that the state needs to capture its share of gambling revenue and draft a bill that will have the confidence of the public by limiting the number of casinos, taxing casinos enough to boost overall tax revenue to the state and by investing that revenue in long-term growth that can benefit all Kentuckians



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