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March 10, 2018

EASTER - AMERICA NEEDS A GOOD STORY

By Dr. Glenn Mollette

Americans are waiting and hoping. We're hoping for something and we aren't exactly for sure what we are hoping for. Internally it's always the hopes of something better around the corner.

Many of us grew up believing that if we worked hard, tried hard and stayed with it that life would work out and eventually become easier. The unfortunate dilemma that many Americans are facing is life is not any easier. Medical care continues to be an escalating crisis. Premiums steeply rise with an increasing cost regardless if you have a medical card.
Retirees are less and less retired. Old people are seen working everywhere trying to earn a few dollars to buy groceries or pay rent. Social Security tells us we can expect to draw fewer dollars in the future. State governments are in trouble from Illinois, to California, New Jersey, Connecticut and Kentucky. They among others are shuffling to figure out how to pay government retirees and their retired school teachers. Most retirees are now facing giving up some retirement pay and paying an increasing medical care cost.

Education continues to escalate in cost. Public Universities are demanding $20,000 to $40,000 a year and that's just for tuition. Housing, food, books, transportation all increases the cost of education after high school. Most of America's families don't have a $100,000 lying around for a college degree. College loans are crippling America's young people plus the back breaking interest payments.

In recent years we have been made aware of America's water shortage. Towns and counties across America are struggling with old debilitated infrastructures, leaky pipes, mismanagement of funds and contamination.
In the meantime America's pastime has moved beyond baseball and has become devouring each other.

Facebook and other outlets seem to have given everyone a place to say and do it all and it's not making us better. Congress has never gotten along and political parties have always gone for each other's jugular vein. Today, it's worse. Social media, cable news, email and a zillion blogs, online news sources and more make it a point of distributing only the worse, even if it's fake.

While all this is going on we are still spending billions in Afghanistan to try to keep control of a country that nobody can control. I wonder how much money we would have if we didn't spend trillions on other nations? How much money would we have for our state government retirees and school teachers if our state governments didn't raid and spend what these workers contribute on other projects? There is nothing right about that nor is it right that our government spends our Social Security dollars on wars and whatever else they please.

Easter is almost here and it's coming just a bit early it seems this year. It's not too early for Americans because we need to once again hear about victory over death and defeated living. The only real way that people can overcome adversity is to believe they can.
We have a lot to work out in this country. We need to work together to solve our mental health issues. We have to secure our schools and other vulnerable areas of society. We can fight all day about our issues and point fingers but we need to point them at ourselves first before pointing at others. Blaming everybody, a President or the Russians is getting us nowhere.

I was out in a country church not too long ago and they were singing an old time song with some of these words included, "It's not my brother or my sister but it's me ol' Lord standing in the need of prayer." There's plenty of fault to go around. We elect people who promise one thing and do another.
Yet, as Easter approaches we have to remember there was only one perfect person who ever lived we are told in the Bible and that was Jesus. Of course, he was nailed to a cross.
That is exactly what we would do to Jesus today in America. We would nail him to a cross just as quickly as they did 2000 years ago. If we didn't do it physically, we would do it via television, talk radio, fake news and all the rest.

The beautiful part of Easter is that the grave could not contain Jesus. He came back to life. Millions of people around the world have grasped this promise individually in faith and hope. It's time for America to believe again. We need new life individually and as a nation. Easter is about all of this. The story is about victory over death and the grave. The story is about victorious living. It's a good story. Americans need a good story.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

READ HIS NEW BOOK - UNCOMMON SENSE

Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Learn more at www.glennmollette.com Like his facebook page at www.facebook.com/glennmollette

 

March 5, 2018

COMMONWEALTH MAY BE FORCED TO RELEASE PRISONERS EARLY

In May of next year, Ken­tucky will run out of prison space, and without substantive changes, the Commonwealth may be forced to release prisoners early.

How did we get here?

Well, at a time when the nation’s incarceration rate declined for the third consecutive year, Kentucky’s incarceration rate continues to surge at a dizzying pace. The Commonwealth’s female incarceration rate is more than two times the national average and now stands as the second-highest in America.

Even before the U.S. De­part­ment of Justice released these newest statistics just a few weeks ago, Gov. Matt Bevin, along with the House, Senate, the secretary of Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court, had become alarmed enough about the increasingly worrisome trendlines that they resolved to tackle the issue. They impaneled the Justice Reinvestment Work Group in spring of 2017 to study the numbers and recommend data-driven solutions.

Daniel Cameron Daniel Cameron After a five-month deep dive, this broad range of stakeholders, consisting of judges, county attorneys, commonwealth’s attorneys, victims’ advocates, defense attorneys, law enforcement personnel, jailers, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Cabinet of Justice and Public Safety, among others, found the largest driver of the prison growth was substantial increases in admissions for low-level, nonviolent offenses.

The group discovered that between 2012 and 2016, the number of people incarcerated for drug possession doubled and admissions for the lowest felony class increased 38 percent. In fact, 9 of the top 10 crimes for which people were sentenced to prison in 2016 were for nonviolent offenses.

While our jails and prisons increasingly are filled with individuals convicted of nonviolent, non-sex offenses, policymakers in conservative states — including Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas (started reforming way back in 2007), South Dakota, Alaska and Utah — are advancing research-based reforms to safely curb growth and, most importantly, improve public safety.

These states sharpened their sentencing and supervision policies to focus prison beds on the most serious and violent offenders and then reinvested the savings into more cost-effective strategies to reduce recidivism. And it worked.

As of 2016, 35 states have reduced both their crime and incarceration rates.

These states now offer more substance abuse programs for addicts — a must in the midst of this opioid crisis — and mental health treatment.

They improved their criminal codes, better-trained personnel in the legal rights of victims, strengthened community supervision, and some took the step of modifying their pretrial detention policies so accused offenders that were a potential threat to society weren’t released simply because they had the cash to get out, while many poor defendants of little threat languished because they simply didn’t have the means.

The recently proposed House Bill 396 is our road map to a criminal justice system that protects the public while using prison resources more effectively. Kentucky’s jails and prisons are bursting at the seams, but there’s still a window to refocus our prison and jails on serious and violent offenders.

It is my hope lawmakers seriously consider enacting these proven reforms.

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Daniel Cameron is spokesman for the Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition and an attorney at Frost Brown Todd in Louisville. He was as a member of the Justice Reinvestment Work Group and former legal counsel for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

March 4, 2018

LETTER TO THE EDITOR,

 

The General Assembly has finally produced a bill regarding public pensions and the fine print reveals some remarkable facts about its potential impact. The “fine print” in question is the actuarial analysis performed on behalf of Kentucky Retirement Systems regarding those aspects of Senate Bill 1 that affect KRS.

S.B. 1 would reduce benefits in areas such as compensatory and sick time. Would those changes reduce long-term liabilities? According to the analysis, the answer is “no.” Those changes would have minimal impact. Would a new optional defined contribution plan reduce liabilities? The actuary says “the plan will not decrease the employer cost,” but will simply shift the risks to the workers. Keep in mind, employer risks already were reduced when a hybrid plan was adopted in 2014. That plan does not guarantee a specific pension benefit amount.

What about the legality of benefit reductions? Attorney General Andy Beshear has identified multiple violations of contract law in Senate Bill 1 relating to KRS.

As KRS stakeholders, we have made substantial sacrifices over the past decade through numerous changes in our pension benefits and plan design.

The path forward is clear: the General Assembly must modernize the state’s tax structure to meet unmet needs and avoid further draconian cuts in important services.

 

Jim Carroll
President, Kentucky Government Retirees
531 Chinook Trl.
Frankfort, KY 40601
502-682-0196