- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:

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Jan. 31

Bowling Green Daily News on a proposed state constitutional amendment that would give crime victims equal protections:

Crime victims in the state of Kentucky have, for far too long, been nearly silenced by a system that doesn’t give them much of a voice.



But that could change when voters go the polls in November to weigh in on a proposed state constitutional amendment that would give crime victims equal constitutional protections, including the rights to be heard in all judicial proceedings, to be present for all hearings and to be made aware of hearings or changes in their offenders’ status such as release dates. Kentucky lawmakers recently passed legislation dubbed Marsy’s Law, named for Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California college student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

Kentucky voters will have the final say on the constitutional amendment and will be asked on the November ballot: “Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?” Kentucky is one of only 14 states that does not currently provide constitutional protections to crime victims.

We encourage our readers to vote in favor of this landmark legislation that will finally recognize Kentucky crime victims as equals in the justice system.

For months after Krystallyn Morris was brutally sexually assaulted, she sat in the back of the courtroom during the multiple hearings leading up to her assailant’s guilty plea. During the sentencing hearing, she was finally able to have her voice heard.

In Kentucky, crime victims are permitted to give a victim impact statement only at their perpetrator’s sentencing hearing.

People who vote “yes” on the constitutional amendment would give victims and survivors like Morris a guarantee of having their voices heard throughout the judicial process.

“I would have loved to be able to speak out instead of sit back in the courtroom and listen,” Morris said. “In the courtroom setting, I would like the judge to be more understanding and see how this has impacted you up to this date, not just wait to the end. I want the judge to see this is what we’re going through at this time.”

“Everybody has a voice,” she said. “God gave voices for a reason, and we deserve to be heard.”

We agree.

Kentucky already has a strong victims’ bill of rights. However, adding those rights to the state’s constitution will guarantee people like Morris are given the opportunity to speak openly in court from the very first bond hearing to the final sentencing.

It’s time for Kentucky’s crime victims to move from the deafening silence of the back of the courtroom to the podium to be heard.

Online: http://www.bgdailynews.com

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Jan. 29

The Daily Independent of Ashland on a judge dismissing a lawsuit over Kentucky’s 2017 right-to-work law:

The state’s 2017 right-to-work law has survived its initial court challenge.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate has dismissed a suit filed by the AFL-CIO and Teamsters Union challenging the constitutionality of the right-to-work law, which was one of the first laws enacted by the Republican-controlled 2017 Kentucky General Assembly. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin made a right-to-work law one of his top legislative goals.

In the lawsuit, union advocates thought they had a winning argument: that the law is discriminatory because it treats unions differently than other organizations that collect fees or dues to provide services. But Judge Wingate disagreed.

“The legislation does not treat unions differently than similarly situated organizations because unions are unique, federally created entities,” Wingate wrote in his dismissal.

In the past few years, several similar lawsuits have been dismissed in states that have passed similar right-to-work laws. Wingate also cited a similar lawsuit in Indiana, Sweeny v. Pence, where the court ruled that Indiana’s right-to-work law did not take union’s property.

“Kentucky’s limitation of employees from whom unions collect dues is not a taking of union property but rather is a prevention of Kentucky employees paying compulsory union dues,” Wingate wrote. “The takings issue is more apt to be brought before federal lawmakers and federal judiciaries.”

Kentucky became one of 28 states to have a right-to-work law when it passed the bill despite heavy union protests in the first week of the 2017 legislative session. In 2015, 11 percent of wage and salary workers in Kentucky were members of a union.

Not surprisingly, Governor Bevin celebrated Wingate’s ruling.

“The Court’s ruling confirmed what we already knew: Kentucky’s right-to-work law rests on a sound legal bedrock and is an essential economic driver for our state, bringing unprecedented job growth and a record $9.2 billion in corporate investment in 2017,” Bevin said. “This weak attempt to stop Kentucky’s economic growth through legal challenges has been appropriately smacked down.”

Bill Londrigan, the president of Kentucky’s chapter of the AFL-CIO, said the group plans to appeal the ruling. That’s its right, of course, but Kentucky was not exactly plowing new ground when it enacted a law removing the requirement that all workers in firms that have recognized unions must pay dues to those unions. The right-to-work law makes union membership optional even in so-called “union shops.”

Right-to-work laws enacted in other states have survived repeated legal challenges to them. There is no reason to think it will be any different in Kentucky.

This state’s still new right-to-work law is a result of the changing political climate in Frankfort. As we see it, the only way to return to the way things used to be is by having a pro-union majority again in the General Assembly, and at this point, that seems unlikely.

Online: http://www.dailyindependent.com

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Jan. 30

Lexington Herald-Leader on two nonprofit founders:

Two Kentucky innovators are handing off the reins of the organizations they helped build, though they will still be helping to build a better Kentucky in new roles.

Of all their many accomplishments, what we most appreciate about Kris Kimel, co-founder and leader of the Kentucky Science & Technology Corp., and Hugh Archer, in the same role at the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, is how they nudged and inspired Kentuckians toward new visions for the future.

Kimel helped Kentuckians understand that brain power not brawn would be key to competing in the 21st century and pointed them toward space. He also helped start the international IdeaFestival, held first in Lexington in 2000 and now each fall in Louisville. In his 30 years at KSTC’s helm, Kimel nurtured talent and entrepreneurship, while delighting in headlines from other countries about Kentucky’s space program.

Archer pointed Kentuckians toward the state’s biological capital, rich habitats that support plants and animals found nowhere else. Realizing his big ambitions required patient, meticulous, dogged deal-making, which will accrue to the benefit of future generations. Founded in 1995, the land trust has protected more than 13,000 acres of wild lands and assisted in protecting another 34,000 acres, including the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor. That these natural places also offer awe-inspiring scenery, serenity and recreation is a bonus that should pay off for a region that’s striving to build a post-coal economy.

Both graduates of the University of Kentucky, Kimel and Archer are anything but retiring.

Archer, who has been succeeded as executive director by Greg Abernathy, will stay with the trust as a senior project specialist, continuing to work with landowners, partners and donors. Abernathy, who studied forest ecology at UK, has been KNLT’s assistant director for five years.

Kimel is assuming an extended role at Space Tango Inc., a KSTC spin-off that he co-founded in 2014 and that offers a variety of services and technology to assist in using spaceflight’s low gravity in research and design. He is succeeded as KSTC’spresident by Terry Samuel, who has served as chief operating officer for the past year after seven years on the board of directors.

It’s good to know that these Kentucky nonprofits will continue their important work in capable hands.

Online: http://www.kentucky.com

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