- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:


April 26

The Courier-Journal of Louisville on the need for Congress to pass the Miners Protection Act:

Time is running out for retired coal miners and their dependents, again.

If Congress fails to act this week, the beleaguered miners and dependents will be without health insurance, something that came perilously close to happening in December 2016. Sen. Mitch McConnell engineered a short-term deal then, kicking the can down the road until the end of April.

The need for continuing health insurance coverage comes at a time when the Centers for Disease Control reports an increase in black lung disease. Prior to 2000, the deadly disease had been on a decline for 30 years.

We urge congress to quickly pass the Miners Protection Act. Coverage runs out April 30.

This bill, with support, would shore up the funding for both the retired miners’ health coverage and their lagging pension fund. The Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation Fund provides the foundation for the money for these benefits.

McConnell has proposed an alternative legislative fix, but his bill stipulates further rolling back regulations he says are costly to mining. Further, his bill covers only the health care benefit.

Congress and the president have already eliminated regulations - specifically the Obama Administration’s stream-buffer rule.

Over the years, these plans for retirees and their spouses have been revised and revised and revised, beginning shortly after agreements were first struck during a strike in the late 1940s.

These benefits require a steady stream of contributions from both coal companies and working miners. The death spiral really began in the late 1970s, long before the often-cited EPA regulations critics claimed changed the dynamics of the industry.

More recently, demand for coal, automation and rising mining costs mean fewer coal miners working and contributing to the program. This perfect storm exacerbated the financial woes of coal companies. They began filing for bankruptcy protection, further crippling the money stream.

McConnell and President Trump owe a great deal of their success to the miners. They campaigned on the importance of coal. Promises were made years ago. Promises were made in recent years to bring back coal jobs.

Put the Miners Protection Act on the schedule and, once and for all, give the thousands of struggling miners and families some peace of mind. Keep your promise.

Online: https://www.courier-journal.com/


April 26

The Lexington Herald-Leader on Western Kentucky University students’ call for racial equality:

Americans have short memories, which is a blessing when it saves us from being torn apart like some cultures by ancient grudges, but also a curse when we’re oblivious to injustices that have long and tangled roots.

The Student Government Association of Western Kentucky University earns an A-plus for its clear vision of how this country’s history of racial oppression still shackles and enslaves. The student leaders are calling on their university to make education even more of an equalizing force. We hope their plea is heard beyond the Hilltop and throughout higher education.

While national media have seized on the students’ call for racial reparations in the form of free tuition, the resolution, approved by a 19-10 vote earlier this month, addresses several trends that are pulling public universities away from their original democratizing mission and instead reinforcing race and class privilege.

For example, “the ‘arms race’ for merit aid” puts low-income and minority students at a disadvantage, according to the resolution, which asks for a task force to consider “test-optional admissions and geographically-weighted admissions.” Also, at a time when student financial aid no longer covers basic needs, “the marginalized student population” needs more help.

Many universities are rethinking the role of standardized tests in admissions and aid; after all, affluent families pay for expensive test prep courses to boost scores which many students can’t afford. The University of Kentucky is in the process of shifting its institutional financial aid from merit-based to need-based, in hopes more students will be able to afford to stay long enough to graduate. And New York recently approved free college tuition for students from middle-class families.

The WKU students say the underrepresentation of people of color in the tenured faculty and administration sends a message to black students that they are undervalued and teaches white students that people of color belong in the lowest levels of white-led organizations. Another good point. None of Kentucky’s public universities, other than the traditionally black Kentucky State, have ever been led by a black president.

Student leaders who backed the resolution say they knew free tuition would be a non-starter but they wanted to spark a conversation. In that they have succeeded. Here’s hoping that conversation sparks real change.

Online: https://www.kentucky.com/


April 27

The Bowling Green Daily News on Kentucky’s need for (especially women-focused) opioid addiction recovery centers:

In recent years we have watched as our state has been overrun by opioid use.

It is a sad reality that has already claimed many lives, especially in northern and eastern Kentucky. It has wrecked lives and, in many cases, cost parents custody of their children.

No one wants to see people do these types of illegal, dangerous drugs, but unfortunately as long as they’re available some people will keep abusing them.

Fortunately, there are people who want to get off these drugs and turn their lives around by seeking help. We believe a new recovery center that recently opened in Scottsville will provide a lot of help for women wanting to improve their lives.

LifeSkills has opened Park Place Recovery Center for Women. The 16-bed facility will be the first facility designed for women seeking 28-day substance abuse treatment in a residential environment with infants from birth to 10 months.

The facility has a conference room and offices for three counselors. It has a kitchen and laundry room. Each woman gets her own room, which includes a bed, dresser, end table and closet. Mothers also get a crib, changing table, bibs and blankets. High chairs are available for the children. There is also a visitation room where a mother who might not have custody of her child or children can meet with them.

The facility is part of a $2 million grant focused on opioid use and reduction of neonatal abstinence syndrome. Fifty percent of the beds are for women with opioid disorders.

The goal is to provide an intensive level of service while the women are there the first 28 days and transition them to outpatient treatment.

Park Place will use the latest technology to help women. LifeSkills will link women to community transitional resources such as housing, case management, peer support specialists and outpatient services when they complete the program. Those services are facilitated through an onsite care coordinator.

A recovery center like this is needed in this part of the state.

Some women may not have thought there was anywhere to go for help, but now they know they have a place to get better - not only for themselves, but for their children as well.

It gives the women who go to this recovery center hope.

Centers like these are needed in our state. Women who hit rock bottom on opioids now have an option in southcentral Kentucky to turn their lives around and be good mothers and citizens thanks to the opening of this center.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com/


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