- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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May 1

Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky., on reintroduction of hemp good for state’s economy:

The right to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky has faced many hurdles on the state and federal levels, but now it is legal to grow, and a new pilot project with the plant could be an economic boon for our state.

Kentucky lawmakers worked tirelessly last year to get hemp reintroduced into the state, and language was added to the federal farm bill, which allows state agriculture departments to designate hemp pilot projects for research in states that already allow the growing of hemp. State officials have unfortunately had to go through federal bureaucracy on every level to get the seeds required to plant here.

One major hurdle still facing the state is getting Congress to deregulate hemp.

Beginning this month, the state’s first industrial hemp crop in decades will start going into the ground, now that the pipeline for shipping seeds into the state is opening to allow experimental plantings.

This is a pretty historical moment, considering the production of hemp has been banned in the state for decades.

So far, eight pilot projects are planned statewide as part of a small-scale reintroduction to gauge the versatile crop’s potential in the marketplace and as a moneymaker for farmers. The first seeds will be planted May 16 in Rockcastle County.

This is the first step in getting farmers to start growing the plant. Those involved hope they can get enough seeds to gather important research needed by the fall. They are hoping by next year they will have enough seeds to have several processors in the state and several farmers under contract.

We hope they achieve this goal.

While hemp re-introduction still in its early stages, we are glad it is being reintroduced in our state. It has the potential to be a huge boost for Kentucky’s economy.

Online:

https://www.bgdailynews.com

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May 2

Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky., on abolishing death penalty:

Surely the ghastly details of Tuesday’s botched execution attempt of an Oklahoma man sentenced to death will persuade Kentucky and other states that still execute people, as well as the federal government, to put an end to this primitive effort to mete out justice.

Strapped onto a prison gurney, as horrified witnesses looked on, Clayton D. Lockett writhed in agony, groaned and appeared to struggle before corrections officials, realizing the execution attempt was failing, closed curtains to the chamber and cut off sound.

About 40 minutes after the execution began, he was pronounced dead of a heart attack.

“Tortured to death,” was how a lawyer who witnessed the event described it to The New York Times.

Yet 32 states, Kentucky included, continue to cling to the death penalty as the ultimate punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

That’s despite clear evidence that it is applied disproportionately to poor and minority defendants, that it is little deterrent to anyone bent on murder - one claimed purpose - and that innocent people are sentenced to die and some are executed.

His crime of murder was horrific -Lockett was convicted of sexually assaulting and shooting Stephanie Neiman, 18, then burying her while she was still alive after she and a friend walked in on a 1999 home invasion and robbery.

But if the goal of criminal justice is to show we, as a people, are better than those we hold accountable, we have failed.

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers from the General Assembly stepped forward this year with proposed legislation to abolish the death penalty in Kentucky and replace it with sentences of up to life in prison without parole for those convicted of what would qualify as capital offenses.

Rep. David Floyd, a Bardstown Republican, was the primary sponsor of House Bill 330. In the Senate, Sen. Gerald Neal, a Louisville Democrat, was the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 77. Both bills also would have commuted sentences for those on death row to life without parole.

But in a legislature where so many lawmakers boast of being “pro-life,” both bills met with utter bipartisan indifference.

Neal and Floyd had the courage to call for an end to state-sanctioned killing of human beings.

Who will join them?

Online:

https://www.courier-journal.com

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May 1

The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, on state’s Work Ready Community certification:

Worker skill certifications are important. Any human resources recruiting executive will confirm this fact. Whether the certification is intended to measure proficiency with soft technological or hard trade-related skills, an employee who has achieved such documented qualification and ability more often than not is viewed more favorably as a potential new employee than those who have none.

It’s a matter of competitive advantage for that new job.

Anything that can set the candidate apart from the pack is worthwhile - especially when the potential employer views the differentiation as an added value through which it can reap a return on its investment.

The same can be true for counties competing for industrial development or expansion investment against others within or outside their state’s boundary. With this advantage in mind, the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation has recently announced it will pursue certification in the Kentucky Work Ready Communities Program.

The program, administered by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, is intended to establish a measure on the quality of a community’s workforce. Two certifications levels are available for counties to pursue, a Kentucky Work Ready Community or a Kentucky Work Ready Community in Progress.

Now that a letter of intent to pursue the certification has been formalized, the work of collecting data on the current status of Hardin County’s workforce will begin. Where gaps exist within certification criteria, action plans will be needed to close them.

Later this year, the findings will be presented to a Work Ready review panel of representatives. Based on the outcome of the review, the panel will then make a recommendation to Kentucky Workforce Investment Board to certify Hardin County as a Work Ready Community or a Work Ready Community in Progress.

Hardin County boasts a skilled, dedicated and hardworking work force. Gaining this targeted certification will quantify and document this fact for current and future employers and provide another tangible asset in our industrial development value proposition.

Online:

https://www.thenewsenterprise.com


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