Letters to the editor: Feb. 27

February 27, 2013 

Grocer-alcohol bill raises questions about its purpose

I am confused about House Bill 310, which prohibits grocers from selling wine or spirits.

This bill is being pushed by a group called Fighting Alcohol Consumption by Teens (FACT), which is actually a group of liquor stores.

I have several concerns.

First, this bill stems from the ruling by U. S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II that the Kentucky law prohibiting grocers from selling wine and spirits is unconstitutional.

The Herald-Leader states that Rep. Dennis Keene's bill "... would make Heyburn's ruling a moot point."

If the existing law prohibiting the selling of alcohol is unconstitutional, how is another law prohibiting the selling of alcohol going to be constitutional? Wouldn't one have to change the Constitution?

Also, if 35 states have already approved liquor sales by retailers other than liquor stores, do these states have a greater problem with sales to minors than the other states?

Apparently, they want the public to believe that liquor stores never sell their wares to those under the legal age. This would only occur in grocery and convenience stores.

This sounds like a group wanting to protect their profit margin.

J. D. Miniard

Nicholasville


Hemp can benefit KSP

Tell Kentucky law enforcement to stick to what they do. They clearly have no clue on state fiscal issues. It seems they don't care, either.

Hemp is going to help change the job market in Kentucky. Is it not the job of law enforcement to help the people of Kentucky? Is their stand on hemp going to help or hurt our state?

Someone should remind the state police that they get paid from state tax dollars. If the tax dollars go down, so do the number of officers, and let's not forget that pension fund. Basic math and common sense should show KSP that hemp would be their friend.

Maybe KSP should ask for certain amounts of tax-dollar allocations. That could get a yes vote, if KSP knows it will get a windfall from tax collected. This is simple stuff, guys.

Oh, one last thing. Mitch McConnell knows I am right.

Robert Hamele

Lexington


Voting rights in danger

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, one of the nation's most important voting rights cases to date.

At issue is the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the landmark legislation that outlawed racial discrimination in state voting practices.

The court is being asked to rule on Section 5, the critical enforcement mechanism of the law. Over the years, the act was reauthorized several times by Congress, including in 2006 with broad bipartisan support.

Section 5 is vital in protecting eligible citizens from barriers to voting and ensuring their votes count. The immense progress made in recent decades to protect and expand the right to vote has largely been due to Section 5.

With the onslaught of anti-voter legislation that recently swept the country, we still need enforcement to keep our elections free, fair and accessible. Section 5 helped defeat approximately 2,400 discriminatory voting changes over the years, and helped protect voting rights last year in a number of states.

The League of Women Voters' support for voting rights and the voting-rights law is longstanding, and we have submitted amicus briefs in the case.

If the court overturns the law, it will not only threaten voting rights — it will threaten the very foundation of our great democracy.

Tamara Fagley

President, League of Women Voters of Lexington


Charge reveals stigma

HIV-positive inmate Charles Clark was charged with attempted murder for throwing urine at a Louisville Metro Corrections officer.

While Clark's behavior is indisputably inappropriate and potentially illegal, to assert that it is attempted murder is absurd.

HIV is not transmitted through urine. Furthermore, HIV is a chronic disease, not a fatal one. An HIV-positive person (with no other health complications) receiving proper health care may expect to live a statistically average lifespan.

What is most alarming here, however, is the continued stigma that goes hand-in-hand with ignorance about HIV. Would a person with herpes or hepatitis-C be charged with attempted murder for throwing urine?

HIV is associated with things that make us nervous as a society: sex, drug use, homosexuality, health care inequality, poverty, race. Much of the stigma revolves around a hateful assertion that people with HIV/AIDS get what they deserve for engaging in inappropriate behaviors.

Should we say the same about people suffering from obesity, diabetes, lung cancer or skin cancer? Should we make assumptions about these patients' behavior to judge and shame them as well?

You see, there are teenagers and young adults in the world today who were born with HIV. There are women who contracted HIV from their husbands. There are men who contracted HIV during their first sexual encounter.

A disease is just a disease. The appropriate response to a person with any illness is compassion, treatment and care.

Stigma breeds fear and kills compassion. Ignorance turns a brainless stunt into attempted murder.

Mark J. Royse

Executive director, AIDS Volunteers Inc.

Lexington


Speak up for clean water

Every three years, the Kentucky Division of Water is required to review the state water-quality standards and propose updates as needed.

In Fall 2012, DOW conducted this process and proposed a number of changes. One proposed change was to completely remove the acute or severe brief exposure standard for selenium.

Just recently, DOW sent out an email notification to a select list of folks that detailed an entirely different proposed change to the selenium standards. Instead of removing the acute standard, they proposed to change it from the current 20 parts per billion (ppb) to 258 ppb.

They also proposed to change the chronic or repeated exposure standard from a concrete limit of 5 ppb, to a method that uses the 5 ppb as a trigger for additional fish-tissue testing.

Selenium is a nutritionally important element for many organisms, including most animals — but only in extremely small, naturally-occurring levels. Above natural levels, it can become extremely toxic and cause severe deformities and reproductive issues in fish. Even worse, as selenium travels up the food chain, it becomes more and more potent.

Several organizations that work to protect the public's right to clean water have voiced concerns over the process to try and institute these changes, as well as the proposed changes themselves. The Clean Water Act's goal is to eliminate pollution — not to accommodate pollution until it becomes a problem, and then fix it.

The public can submit comments until March 1. Visit KWAlliance.org/take-action-selenium-change to submit comments.

Tim Joice

Kentucky Waterways Alliance

Louisville

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