- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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June 21

The Lexington Herald-Leader says ruling against pension law is a win for public’s right to know:

Apply it to other situations, and Kentucky Republicans’ rejoinder to the overturning of their new pension law would sound something like: “But, Officer, I have driven drunk and run red lights hundreds, if not thousands, of times, you can’t stop me now.”



The Kentucky Constitution is outdated in some ways, but the provision at the heart of Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling against Gov. Matt Bevin was foresighted and as relevant now as 127 years ago.

That provision protects Kentuckians’ ability to know what the legislature is doing and to voice their concerns when it matters, before lawmakers vote.

The conflict over the pension bill is easily cast as partisan politics. But Shepherd’s ruling, if upheld by the state Supreme Court, will be an important victory for the public and the public’s right to know and participate in the making of Kentucky’s laws.

And, as the constitutional drafters would have said, the ruling also protects the integrity of the legislature itself.

What happened on the 57th day of this year’s 60-day session is exactly what the drafters of the constitution were trying to prevent. The Republicans who control the legislature gutted a bill “relating to the local provision of wastewater services” and replaced its contents with 291 pages of changes to public pension laws, then, within a few hours, voted on and approved the measure in both chambers.

Shepherd’s ruling quotes from the 1891 constitutional debates in which, he writes, “the drafters were greatly concerned with the ‘fraudulent substitution of bills.’” They had seen bills passed and sent to the governor in a single day and “believed that this ‘hasty mode of legislation ought to be checked, not only in the interest of the people, but in the interest of the legislative body itself.”” So they enacted Section 46, requiring that bills receive readings on three different days in each chamber, “to,” as they said at the time “throw guards around hasty legislation, and render it impossible for … bills to be railroaded through the Legislature.”

Section 46 also requires that any legislative act that appropriates money or creates debt receive a majority of votes from all the elected members of both chambers.

The way the sewer/pension bill was enacted failed on both counts, making it, as Shepherd ruled, unconstitutional.

Republicans are warning that the ruling invalidates other laws that were enacted using the same unconstitutional process.

House Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne said the ruling jeopardizes “decades of enacted revisions to Kentucky statutes.” Bevin’s office issued a dire warning that “our legal system will descend into chaos” if the “hundreds, if not thousands of bills” that were enacted through the same process as the sewer/pension bill are invalidated.

Such concerns are overblown. No other laws will be invalidated unless they’re challenged in court. And the legislature can always re-enact them using the proper process as it has done before when laws were struck down on constitutional procedural grounds.

A far greater threat to the rule of law would be accepting the argument that if you do something that’s wrong and unconstitutional over and over again, it somehow becomes sacrosanct.

The railroading through of the sewer/pension bill this year was the culmination of a trend that started after Republicans took control of the Senate in 2000 and began more frequently resorting to procedural shortcuts to speed legislation and reduce public scrutiny.

Courts have upheld other states’ provisions similar to our three-readings requirement, Shepherd said, while Bevin failed to cite a single example “from any jurisdiction” upholding “this legislative sleight-of-hand.”

Shepherd is right when he says that “public notice of the contents of legislation” is fundamental to any “legislative process based on the consent of the governed.” Surely, Kentuckians have as much right to that as residents of other states

Online: http://www.kentucky.com/

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June 24

The State Journal on the effect that tariffs will have on Kentucky:

Let’s set aside arguments about the degree to which tariffs will impact Kentucky to settle on the simple truth that there’s more bad than good about the tit-for-tat trade war we find ourselves in.

Yes, we’re in a trade war - at least the start of one. And Kentucky finds itself among the victims. Bourbon, one of the commonwealth’s signature products, is the subject of tariffs.

Most notably, the United States has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum with American allies, including the European Union. The EU retaliated with its own set of tariffs, which include bourbon.

Meanwhile, an entirely separate battle is playing out between the U.S. and China, with both sides matching each other’s tariff threats.

In a TV interview last week, Gov. Matt Bevin downplayed the fears that the EU’s tariffs will disrupt Kentucky’s booming bourbon industry. It won’t be a “tremendous impact,” Bevin said. Europeans are still going to drink bourbon, but they’ll just pay more for it, he said.

While that may be true - we believe it’s best to avoid tariffs entirely.

The world used to be a collection of economies in which individual countries were their own entities. Cloth and electronics sold locally were American-made.

But that was decades ago.

From coffee cups to cell phones, many of the products we use are no longer made in America. Kentucky bourbon is sold to a global market rather than a national or regional one.

We believe tariffs are more likely to disrupt symbiotic relationships than immediately fix a trade imbalance.

As Kentucky Distillers’ Association President Eric Gregory said in a news release last week, “There are no winners in a trade war, only casualties and consequences.”

But Bevin may be right.

The bourbon industry may continue its growth regardless of tariffs. After all, Buffalo Trace, one of our Frankfort’s largest employers, said earlier this month it plans to continue its expansion in the face of tariffs. Time will tell whether tariffs are detrimental to the bourbon industry’s growth or just a speed bump.

Regardless, we believe that free-flowing trade and avoiding tariffs altogether provide a much better environment in which the commonwealth’s bourbon industry can flourish.

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

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June 27

The Daily News of Bowling Green says asking White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave restaurant was in poor taste:

President Donald Trump is our president.

He was duly elected in November 2016 through the electoral process. Eighteen months after he took the oath of office, we really believe it is time for the president’s detractors to retire their therapy dogs, get over the fact that their preferred candidate lost and come to terms with the fact that he is our commander in chief. People don’t have to personally like Trump or his political views - that is their right - but they do need to respect the office he holds. They also need to respect those who work for him and all Americans. We are sure there were many people who didn’t like Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama, but those who didn’t like him were not as loud and disrespectful as those who dislike Trump today.

When we mentioned that all people in Trump’s staff deserve to be respected - whether they are in personal or professional settings - we meant all of them. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has done a fine job in her difficult role and should be respected for updating the media and the public on what is going on within the administration. Sanders is a highly intelligent woman who holds her own well with journalists who ask some tough questions during some of her news briefings at the White House.

What happened to Sanders on Friday night … in Lexington, Va., quite honestly seems like something that would’ve happened in the shameful era of Jim Crow. Sanders was having dinner with her husband and a small group when The Red Hen’s co-owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, asked Sanders to leave because she works for Trump.

Sanders didn’t put up a fuss. She acted like a lady and politely left. Wilkinson later said Sanders’ support of the Trump administration’s policies banning transgender people from the military and separating families at the border was at the heart of her decision.

Wilkinson’s actions, while not illegal, are simply reprehensible. Sanders is an American citizen, she is serving our country as a member of Trump’s team and was harming nobody by being in this restaurant. Wilkerson was way out of line in asking her to leave and should be ashamed of herself …

Sanders was spot on after the incident when she said: “We are allowed to disagree but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm. And this goes for all people, regardless of politics. Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable.”

People can disagree respectfully with Trump’s policies on issues all they want, but no member of his cabinet or team should have to fear going into a public place and being told to leave. Wilkerson exhibited bad manners as well as deplorable judgment. What kind of business plan is one that sends the message to potential customers that it doesn’t need the business of Trump supporters?

It’s people such as Wilkinson and others who are intolerant of other views who further divide this country, not people such as Sanders who has a difficult job and does it well.

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

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