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February 2, 2018

Pace quickens in second month of legislative session

FRANKFORT – As legislators enter the second month of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2018 session, action already has been taken on a number of fronts that could have impacts across the state.

Lawmakers have approved a measure to allow Kentuckians to vote in November on a proposed state constitutional amendment to create what’s been referred to as a “bill of rights” for crime victims.

Budget subcommittees are digging into the details of the governor’s proposed spending plan to fully understand the potential impact of proposed cuts, as well as certain areas where spending increases are proposed. In the coming weeks, lawmakers will begin weighing which parts of the budget plan they want to adjust to make sure the final plan is one that matches their priorities for the state.

Meanwhile, almost 300 bills have been introduced for consideration in the Senate and House. The amount of legislation moving through the process will continue growing each day up as more bills are filed and shepherded through the legislative committee system.

Bills that took steps forward this week include:

*  Senate Bill 37 would allow some nonviolent federal prisoners to get driver’s licenses so they can work outside of prison walls. SB 37 would also amend current law to included federal prisoners under existing regulations that allow state prisoners to receive driver’s licenses or identification cards upon release. SB 37 passed the Senate by a 36-0 vote. The measure now goes to the House for further consideration.

*  House Bill 52 would require any child under age 12 to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. While the bill does not impose fines for not wearing a helmet, the intent is to increase safety for children while cycling. After passing the House Transportation Committee, HB 52 now goes to the full House for consideration.

*  Under House Bill 84, coroners or medical examiners would be required to verify the organ and tissue donation wishes of a deceased person in their care. Such information is now released by coroners and medical examiners to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates upon the group’s request, but the intent of this bill is to increase urgency in this process. HB 84 passed the House by a vote of 88-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

*  Senate Bill 68 would clarify that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay divorce costs of a spouse locked up for crimes against the petitioner. Under current state law, someone seeking a divorce against an incarcerated person can be held responsible for paying the incarcerated person’s court-appointed lawyer, even when the imprisonment is the result of spousal abuse. This bill was passed by the Senate this week by a 37-0 vote and has been delivered to the House.

*  House Bill 132 would require Kentucky public high school students to fulfill a financial literacy requirement to graduate. The bill was approved this week by a vote of 68-24 in the state House and now goes to the Senate.

*  Senate Bill 72 would curtail the naming of state buildings, roads and bridges after living politicians in Kentucky with the intent to take the politics out of these naming decisions. Passing with a 35-3 vote in the Senate, it now goes to the state House for further consideration.

Legislators are eager to receive feedback on the issues confronting our state. To share your thoughts and ideas with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at (800) 372-7181.

 

January 30, 2018

HATING TOM BRADY? WHO WILL BE ABLE TO ARGUE?

By Glenn Mollette

Millions of Americans will be glued to the television Sunday to watch the 52nd Super Bowl. Millions of Americans will not be watching for various reasons. Some are not interested in football. Some will have something else better to do. Others are sick and tired of the National Football League. Others are disappointed in multi-million dollar players kneeling during the National Anthem.

Millions will be watching to see if Tom Brady can win his sixth Super Bowl ring. Millions more will be watching hoping with every play that the Philadelphia Eagles will eke out a win against Brady and the New England Patriots.

It seems that the majority of American football fans are weary of Brady and the Patriots winning Super Bowls and are more than ready to see someone else walk out with the victory. However with Brady and the Patriots, you can never count them out of the game until the game is over. Brady knows how to lead a team out of a hole and back to victory.

Last year I was cruising through Super Bowl 51 thinking the Atlanta Falcons had the game won. At one point the Falcons had a 25-point lead! Midway through the third quarter Brady and the Patriots trailed 28 - 3 and looked defeated, but came back and won the game 34 - 28 stunning the sport's world.

Typically Americans root for the underdogs. We love to see the mighty fall. We often resent and even hate successful people. Thus, the Patriots and Brady won't have the majority of Americans rooting for them Sunday and Brady will probably be the most hated player on the field.

But why would any of us hate Tom Brady? What do we want from this guy? Do we want him to be a loser? He's not a loser. The idea behind playing sports is to do your best and help your team win the game. Tom Brady does his best and leads his team to championships. New England fans love him. Brady is a 40-year-old sports super hero. After all these years he has seemingly escaped major injuries or brain trauma. It is remarkable that he has kept his brain intact. Although with football, traumatic injuries are sometimes revealed years down the road. Brady is a good-looking guy, with a model wife and beautiful little girl. Do we hate this about Brady? Why would we? Often we hate people because they are in a stage or state of life that we can't obtain. Or, at one time we might have envisioned ourselves in such a role or dream-like life and it didn't work out for us.

Brady showed the kind of guy he is with his response on a routine WEEI radio interview on Boston radio to announcer Alex Reiner calling Brady's 5-year-old daughter an "annoying little pissant." Brady responded by saying, "I've tried to come on this show for many years and showed you guys a lot of respect. I've always tried to come on and do a good job for you guys, so it's very disappointing when you hear that, certainly - with my daughter or any child, they certainly don't deserve that." Brady ended the interview saying, "I'll obviously evaluate whether I want to come on this show again, so I really don't have much to say this morning. So maybe I'll speak with you guys some other time." Reimer and his radio co-host were discussing "Tom vs. Time" the documentary series about Brady that premiered on Facebook last week. Reimer said, "All right, I thought the first scene was so staged, where Brady's like in the kitchen, this kid's being an annoying little pissant..."

Reimer has been suspended indefinitely and Brady taking the high road said that he hoped the radio personality would not be fired.

Tom Brady has seven Super Bowl starts. His record is five wins and two loses.

His two-year $41 million dollar contract is an annual average of $20.5 million, which makes him the 12th highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. He has thrown for 66,159 yards and 488 touchdowns. He is already considered one of the best to ever play in the National Football League. Winning Sunday will solidify Brady as the best to ever play the game putting him in the ranks of sports super star legends such as Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, Mohammed Ali, Jack Nicklaus and others.

Winning will probably gain Brady a few more haters but history won't care much about the stats of how many people rooted against Brady. If Brady wins his sixth Lombardi Trophy, history will be all about the greatest who ever played the game and who will be able to argue?

Sources: Recent Television Reports, Google: Tom Brady's Stats, SBNation.com, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post

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

READ HIS NEW BOOK - UNCOMMON SENSE

 

January 29, 2018

 FRANKFORT, Ky. — The first four weeks of the 2018 legislative session have come and gone, and the bill that is far and away the top priority of Republicans who hold all the power in Frankfort — pension reform — has yet to be filed.

And don’t expect the bill to be filed before 4 p.m. Tuesday — the deadline for candidates to file for elections to the General Assembly this year. After that deadline passes, Republican leaders will have a clearer idea of how many of their members might vote for a bill that may be unpopular with public employees and retirees.

Asked on Friday if the bill would be filed before the filing deadline, Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer said he had not seen a final draft of the bill being privately negotiated by Republican leaders of the two chambers. “So I would say no, it’s not” going to be filed by Tuesday.

Thayer, a Georgetown Republican, said the bill could be filed this week. But House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, indicated the wait might be a bit longer.

“What we’re trying to do right now is take a data-driven approach – getting information from the retirement systems – in order to try to compile a bill that we will hopefully present within the next week to three weeks,” Shell said.

What leaders of the House and Senate Republican majorities are trying to do is produce a significant pension reform bill that can still Republicans shunned a proposal released in October by Gov. Matt Bevin and GOP leaders that included deep cuts in benefits and called for a gradual shift from traditional pension plans with defined benefits to 401(k)-style retirement plans.Republicans shunned a proposal released in October by Gov. Matt Bevin and GOP leaders that included deep cuts in benefits and called for a gradual shift from traditional pension plans with defined benefits to 401(k)-style retirement plans.win enough votes to pass, particularly in the House where most Republicans shunned a proposal released in October by Gov. Matt Bevin and GOP leaders that included deep cuts in benefits and called for a gradual shift from traditional pension plans with defined benefits to 401(k)-style retirement plans.

Bevin unsuccessfully pushed lawmakers to reach agreement on a revised bill that would pass at a special session late last year. Then Republican leaders said they hoped a revised bill would be passed in the first days of the regular session.

But since the session began, the Republican leaders of the two chambers have been negotiating and drafting a bill. Part of that process has been to ask the retirement systems for “scores,” or reports of their actuaries on the impact various options under consideration would have on the state budget and the finances of the retirement plans.

These negotiations have involved only the GOP leaders who say they’ve been consulting with Bevin. Even the co-chairmen of the Public Pension Oversight Board, Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, and Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, say they’ve not been involved.

Democrats say they’ve been kept in the dark, and some say the bill is being held back until after Tuesday’s filing deadline. “The issue has been put on the back burner and people’s re-elections have become more important than filing the bill or talking about it before the filing deadline,” said Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles.

Shell said that’s not so. He said leaders are being careful to understand the impact of the bill on public employees and retirees — and on the state budget — before they unveil it.

“What we learned is if we put out things prematurely without having the data — without having somewhat of an understanding of what we’re actually going to try to put into a bill — (it) causes undue unrest to state employees,” Shell said.

And Shell said, “It’s not about the votes we have to get. It’s about trying to do the right thing — coming up with a data-driven solution that fixes this problem as much as we possibly can over the long term,” he said.

Said Thayer, “We’re trying to clean up the mess created by decades and decades of Democratic dominance in this state, and it’s not going to happen overnight.”

This month Thayer revealed some details on how the revised bill will be different than the proposal unveiled in October.

The proposal for all teachers and public employees to pay 3 percent of their salaries for retiree health benefits will be reduced. “It’s not down to zero, but it’s not at 3 percent,” Thayer said.

The proposal to suspend cost-of-living adjustments in teacher retirement benefits “is still in play in some form. … There are options on the table that would include a smaller COLA spread out over a number of years, or a COLA every other year,” Thayer said.

The suspending of pension payments to retirees who are re-hired in government jobs is also likely to be out of the revised bill, he said.

And Thayer said dropped from the bill is the proposal to move public employees with at least 27 years of service into 401(k)-like savings plans. But new hires, he said, will “most likely” be moved into a 401(k)-like plan, Thayer said. “That’s what I favor.”

Thayer said he expects the bill will require a new funding approach for the Teachers’ Retirement System called “level dollar” funding – a move that a legislative staff report said would require nearly $400 million more in state contributions each year to the teachers’ plan. Asked if the bill would add that cost to an already strained 2018-20 state budget or somehow delay it or phase it in, Thayer said, “To be determined.”

Thayer, who preferred the proposal unveiled last fall, said, “I believe there will be a pension bill. I hope it will be significant enough to do some good.”

By Tom Loftus
Louisville Courier Journal