- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspaper:


Sept. 20

Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader on gubernatorial candidates and issue of carbon emissions:

Taking a cue from Sen. Mitch McConnell, both major candidates for Kentucky governor are vowing to ignore a federal mandate to reduce heat-trapping carbon emissions from power plants.

Such defiance no doubt plays well when Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin have private audiences with the coal industry, as they did in Bristol, Va, last month and plan to again next month with the Kentucky Coal Association.

But the state’s electrical utilities - on the hook for meeting the state’s power needs - take a different view.

We checked with the two major investor-owned utilities - Kentucky Utilities/Louisville Gas and Electric, and Kentucky Power - and also with consumer-owned East Kentucky Power Cooperative and Big Rivers Electric Corp.

None of them are fans of the Clean Power Plan, a key to President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change. They worry about the costs of reducing carbon emissions 31 percent from 2012 levels by 2030 and about the power grid’s reliability during and after the change.

Despite all that, none of the utilities endorse boycotting the carbon rule, as McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, has urged the nation’s governors to do.

The utilities’ position is not surprising. Kentucky industries, including coal, always prefer state-developed regulatory schemes to defaulting into a federal system, which would happen if Kentucky fails to submit a plan for decreasing the output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

“We have always had a preference to be responsible to our state and local environmental regulators, as they have a much better understanding of what is best for our state,” said a statement from KU/LGE.

“The full effects of the final rule and what operational changes are required - and at what cost - will not be known until the commonwealth finalizes its compliance plan, which will guide utilities’ plans moving forward.”

That’s a very polite way of saying the stakes are too high for the next governor to shirk this responsibility.

Anthony Campbell, CEO of East Kentucky Power, which sells electricity to 16 member cooperatives, said once a plan is final, the governor could then decide not to implement it, but it’s always better to have a plan than not.

Bevin has said he will do “nothing” to comply with the climate rule and may instruct state regulators to “ignore” other federal regulations “that are unreasonable and excessive.”

Independent Drew Curtis changed his mind when he realized the price of refusing to develop a plan is loss of state control. He wants a plan heavy on increasing efficiency.

Conway is the only Democratic attorney general to join 11 Republicans in challenging the climate rule in federal court. He says he would stop work on a state plan until the lawsuit is resolved.

But Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power’s chief operating officer, says developing a state plan should proceed concurrently with the lawsuit and appeals.

By not developing a plan, Pauley said, Kentucky loses options for negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency and protecting consumers from rate increases. “It’s always better to be at the table than on the table.”

Pauley says Kentucky should seek the two-year extension, until September 2018, allowed by the final rule, for submitting a plan.

William J. Ray, superintendent of the municipally-owned Glasgow Electric Plant Board, says Kentucky has barely begun to tap potentially dramatic cuts in emissions by involving consumers in low-cost demand management. So, why not “lean toward” meeting the guidelines “instead of just resisting them without fully giving ourselves the chance to move the emissions ball down the field.”

On Nov. 4, it will be time to drop the bluster and get down to Kentucky’s serious business.




Sept. 18

The Kentucky New Era on gender gap in state elections:

In state and local politics, too many Kentucky women remain behind the scenes and on the sidelines of important policy decisions because they make up only a small percentage of candidates seeking and winning election to public office. It’s good to see Republicans taking aim at this inequity with the announcement they are establishing Kentucky Strong, an organization that will recruit and train women to run for office. Democrats have a similar group already in place called Emerge Kentucky.

“Kentucky lags far behind in cultivating women leaders,” state Sen. Julie Racque Adams said in a news release. “I don’t want Kentucky women to be in the bottom fifth of influence. I want Kentucky women to be Kentucky strong.”

The Louisville Republican, who is one of 23 female state lawmakers, will serve as executive director of Kentucky Strong.

Women are 16.7 percent of the General Assembly with four in the Senate and 19 in the House. Kentucky trails other states in this respect. Nationwide, 24.3 percent of state legislators are women.

Over the past five years, the most women serving in the General Assembly was 26 in 2012, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan organization.

There is only one woman from the southern Pennyrile in the General Assembly, Rep. Martha Jane King, D-Lewisburg. Also, Christian County Historian William T. Turner confirms that no woman from here has ever been elected to the General Assembly.

In local elections, women have been more likely to run for city offices in Hopkinsville, Oak Grove, Crofton, LaFayette and Pembroke - but county offices have attracted a limited number of women. To our knowledge, the late Sherry Jeffers was the only woman ever elected to Christian Fiscal Court. She served as a county magistrate in the 1970s and also was the only woman elected mayor of Hopkinsville.

Previously, women have been elected county clerk, but no woman has been elected county attorney, sheriff or jailer. (A woman was appointed jailer to serve out her husband’s term when he died during the Civil War.) Commonwealth’s Attorney Lynn Pryor and Property Valuation Administrator Angie Strader are the first women to serve in those county posts.

We applaud the fact that Republicans and Democrats now each have a statewide organization dedicated to chipping away at the gender gap for elective office.

Men should not dominate public policy decisions. Not in 2015. It’s time for more women to view themselves as capable and worthy of being elected - especially to the county offices and seats in the General Assembly that historically have drawn few, if any, women as candidates.

Among the likely candidates for these and other offices are women who have been running campaigns for men. A shift is long overdue.




Sept. 22

Bowling Green (Kentucky) Daily News on laws regarding driving behind or approaching a stopped school bus:

It cannot be said enough that extreme caution must be used when driving behind or approaching a stopped school bus.

There is nothing so urgent that a driver cannot wait a couple of minutes for children to board or exit a school bus. Parents want and expect drivers to follow the law when they see a school bus preparing to stop.

Most would think drivers have enough respect for children that they would abide by laws regarding buses, but unfortunately statistics suggest otherwise.

According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, nearly 80,000 vehicles in 26 states passed school buses illegally in a one-day observance.

One main area of concern in the Bowling Green area is stop arm violations. Since the Warren County Public Schools started Aug. 11, 15 violations have occurred. City schools see violations nearly every day. In 2013, there were 59 violations in the county. While no child was hit in any of these cases, what if one of these violations resulted in a terrible accident or death of an innocent child?

Drivers must slow down when they see the stop arm of a bus come open and wait patiently while kids are being loaded or picked up at a school bus stop. It’s not asking too much for drivers to exhibit patience and consideration for the lives of children when they see school bus lights flashing and its stop arm extended. Drivers need to remember that it is a state law to stop.

Looking at the state numbers in regard to drivers who violated the stop arm, it’s equally alarming that in 2012, 191 stop arm violations were issued. In 2013, 149 were issued and in 2014, 114 were issued.

Drivers who disobey stop arms on buses or their flashing lights are unnecessarily putting children’s lives at risk. Those who are issued citations hopefully learn from their actions and don’t repeat themselves.

At the end of the day, we want our kids to leave home and arrive at school safely.

Warren County Public Schools Transportation Director John Odom summed up the situation well when he said: “The one thing I would say would be to pay attention to the lights and the stop arm because that child’s life is precious and we don’t want a child hurt or killed in Warren County.”

Again, this isn’t asking much, and we do hope all drivers will abide by the simple task of being patient and letting our children get to and from school safely.

Our kids and their families deserve nothing less.



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