- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Feb. 16

The Richmond Register on smoking prevention:

Thumbs down to Kentucky receiving failing grades for its smoking prevention program spending. Smoking causes an estimated $1.92 billion in annual health costs in Kentucky, but the state is spending about $2.4 million on programs to prevent kids from smoking and helping smokers quit. The “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 18 Years Later” report ranks the Commonwealth 37th in spending on prevention and cessation programs. The American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control,” said Kentucky is also failing in its efforts to reduce tobacco use. The 15th annual report grades states and the federal government on policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use.



Online: https://www.richmondregister.com/

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Feb. 20

The Bowling Green Daily News on illegal dumping:

Kentucky is a truly beautiful state.

We are blessed with beautiful streams, rivers and lakes, pristine forests and thousands of acres of farmland. It could be argued that Kentucky is one of the prettiest states in the union.

Given Kentucky’s beauty, it really makes one wonder why a select few would choose to litter the beautiful countryside. It is beyond our comprehension why anyone would be so lazy as to dump their garbage and other junk in nature, where it doesn’t belong.

Those who do this obviously don’t care what effects their illegal acts have on the land, how long it will take for it to disappear, what hazardous chemicals are seeping into our groundwater, how this could potentially lower people’s property values and what it will ultimately cost the taxpayers to pay for cleanup.

Each year, environmental officials and citizens find dozens of illegal dumps in Warren County. It’s disturbing to hear, but unfortunately it is a reality that we live among those who can’t dispose of their trash like everyone else does.

Recently, several dumps were discovered on North Campbell, Slim Island and McGinnis roads. Officials also found a dump beside Massey Road, although they don’t believe it is connected to the other dumps.

These dumps contained standard garbage bags and some consisted of dozens of discarded tires.

Environmental officials said the dumps included about 100 tires total that were used for regular consumer vehicles and semi-trucks.

It’s important to note that several times a year the county offers locations where people can drop off unwanted tires. This would be a much more viable, safer alternative than dumping them illegally.

Officials working the Massey Road area said that while going through the garbage, they found out who had discarded it.

The person said she had not had trash collection since January 2015.

We understand that times are hard for some people, but if you can’t afford trash collection, at least attempt to make arrangements with a family member, friend or neighbor to dispose of the trash properly.

In Warren County, not having trash collection is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 a day.

Those who have been given adequate notice to have their trash collected and don’t abide by it need to be fined.

This is a serious health issue as well. When you create unsanitary conditions like this by dumping trash, you are inviting rodents, varmints and insects and bacteria that breed and make people sick.

We don’t want that happening to anyone, which is why we urge everyone to take a few minutes out of their days and dispose of their trash in a responsible manner.

This doesn’t seem to be asking too much.

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

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Feb. 21

The Lexington Herald-Leader on legislation that would lower barriers to employment for former prisoners:

Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Senate Bill 120, legislation designed to lower barriers to legal employment for people coming out of state prisons and county jails with the goal of lowering the rate at which they return to prison.

It’s important, bipartisan legislation that can make Kentucky safer and reduce the $500 million-plus we spend on state prisons each year. Committee members should report it out favorably.

SB 120 grew out of the work of the bipartisan Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin last year, and the governor has stated his enthusiastic support for this legislation.

While not all of the council’s recommendations made it into the bill, some key elements remain:

? Eliminate automatic disqualification from being considered for a license for many occupations because of a criminal conviction. This denial prevents people emerging from prison from having access to many jobs that require licenses, including cutting hair, landscaping, driving a bus and others.

Licensure boards would, after reviewing the individual’s qualifications and background, retain the authority to deny a license, but a criminal conviction alone would not automatically prevent someone from obtaining a license needed for a job.

? Allow companies to set up shop in prisons to employ people serving time, as long as they are not taking jobs away from the local workforce. Also, enable work-release programs at local jails under specified conditions.

In both cases, the prisoners would work voluntarily and a portion of their earnings could be allocated to meet child support or victim-restitution payments and to defray the cost to the county or state of imprisonment.

The idea is fairly simple and is supported by years of research and experience: People who come out of prison with the ability to get legitimate work are much less likely to commit another crime and return to prison. They are able to support themselves and their families, pay taxes and become productive members of the larger society.

In Kentucky, about 25,000 people are incarcerated and 95 percent of them will be released one day. The challenge that SB 120 tries to address is whether they will walk out of confinement with some job experience and a legitimate shot at employment. Right now, with very limited options, about 40 percent of Kentucky prisoners wind up back behind bars within three years.

Some of the opposition to SB 120 centers on the objection that it is a “soft on crime” bill, more concerned about helping offenders than their victims. But the reality is that releasing people from prison with no training or skills to survive in the legitimate job market creates more victims.

For this and other reasons, groups that serve victims, such as the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs and the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, support SB 120.

“It will create safer communities when those who are released from prison can find jobs and housing rather than returning to a life of crime,” the directors of the two organizations wrote in a column published on Kentucky.com.

That’s an important goal, one both houses of the General Assembly should support.

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

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