- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Dec. 22

The Daily News of Bowling Green on student speech bill:

Students of colleges and universities in the United States should be allowed to speak freely without being censored or monitored by the institutions they attend.

One of the many great aspects of this country is freedom of speech. It allows citizens of this country to speak their opinions and, in turn, those opinions should be respected by others, no matter whether they agree with them.

Across this country, at certain colleges and universities there seems to be an attempt by administrators to quash free speech by students. The issue has come up at Harvard and Yale, where administrators have tried to limit students’ free speech over the past several years.

This should not be the case.

Recently, here at Western Kentucky University, senior John Winstead of Nashville, who is a WKU student senator, faced a censure hearing after expressing his dislike of WKU President Gary Randsell. Winstead was not censured at the hearing.

We said at the time and still believe that although some may disagree with Winstead’s views about Ransdell, his freedom of speech protected him from censure.

That is why we are supporting legislation filed for the upcoming legislative session by state Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville.

Meeks has pre-filed Bill Request 271, which would limit public postsecondary institutions’ ability to restrict student speech. The legislation would create a new section of Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 164 to read that “public postsecondary education institutions shall not impose restrictions on the time, place and manner of student free speech.”

The bill further elaborates that the protection extends to student speech that occurs on campus and is protected by the First Amendment. Restrictions are only warranted if they are reasonable, justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, are narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest and leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.

Meeks’ legislation has merit.

It would protect students on our state’s college campuses who simply want to express their opinions without fear of retribution or retaliation from the faculty or the administration of these colleges and universities.

Quite obviously, if a student makes physical threats toward other students or faculty members at a college or university, then that student’s freedom of speech protection would be null and void.

Colleges and universities are supposed to be places where students can express their opinions and offer ideas without any backlash or intimidation from the institution they are attending.

Attacks on freedom of speech have no place in our society, and they certainly don’t have any place on our college campuses.

That is why we urge legislators to get behind this common-sense legislation in the upcoming session and pass it into law.

Online:

https://www.bgdailynews.com

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Dec. 18

The Kentucky New Era on upcoming Republican caucus:

Kentucky Republicans will make history early next year when they break tradition with the customary presidential primary in May and instead cast votes for their party’s nominee at a March caucus.

This is new territory for everyone involved - voters, party leaders, election officials and the candidates. State Republican leaders agreed to a caucus so Rand Paul can seek re-election to the U.S. Senate will also running for president. State law does not allow a candidate’s name to appear more than once on a ballot.

Aside from the most important business of that day, which is to determine the state’s pick from a large field of GOP presidential candidates,

Republicans will have an opportunity to make a statement about their civic engagement and their party’s rise in state politics. It would be in the best interest of the party to do everything possible to educate Republicans about how they participate in the presidential caucus.

The fact that Republicans will vote in a March caucus run mainly by party officials while Democrats will vote in the May primary overseen by county election officials means we should have - for the first time in anyone’s memory - a better picture of the percentage of voter turnout by party.

It was never impossible to calculate turnout by party in the primaries, but it would be a laborious process and has never been a routine report put out by county election officials. Now, with the two parties voting separately, it will be easier to discern if they exhibit vastly different voting habits.

At the March 5 caucus, Republicans will be able to vote between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Party officials will be in charge of the process, and it’s likely paper ballots will be used. The ballots will be counted by the county parties and reported to state party.

Caucus locations in the southern Pennyrile will be the James E. Bruce Convention Center for Christian County, the Millikan Memorial Community House for Todd County and the Trigg County Middle School gym for that county.

Unlike a primary election run by county officials at the individual precincts, the county caucuses will be more like political gatherings. Voters can expect to find food being served and opportunities to linger and talk. However, the paper ballots will remain secret.

It’s going to be interesting to see how well local and state Republican leaders educate members of the party about the caucus process. They’ll have a pretty good idea how it went when they see how many Republicans are present for the caucus.

Online:

https://www.kentuckynewera.com

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Dec. 14

The Lexington Herald-Leader on choice for Kentucky’s justice and public safety secretary:

All politics aside, Rep. John Tilley is a great choice for Kentucky’s justice and public safety secretary.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin showed good judgment by appointing the Democrat from Hopkinsville to his cabinet.

And it’s reassuring that Tilley, who as a lawmaker since 2007 has shown both intelligence and diligence, is willing to work for Bevin.

As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Tilley helped shepherd penal reforms into law; as justice secretary, he will be responsible for bringing their promise of rehabilitation rather than incarceration into reality. In recent sessions, he successfully pushed for treating the spread of heroin as a public-health issue. And he was instrumental in finally expanding domestic-violence protections to dating relationships.

Tilley’s departure from the legislature loosens the Democrats’ already tenuous hold on the state House and sparked some impolitic criticism from Speaker Greg Stumbo, who was taken by surprise by Tilley’s decision.

But there’s nothing new about governors using their appointment powers to weaken the opposition party.

If only such appointments were always this good.

Online:

https://www.kentucky.com/


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