We will try again to restore voting rights to felons
The 2013 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly marked six years that the House has passed a bill to allow voters to decide whether to automatically restore voting rights to certain felons. Once again, the Senate refused to grant a hearing, not to mention a vote.
I was proud to cosponsor House Bill 70, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw of Lexington, which would have placed an amendment on the ballot that, if passed, would automatically restore voting rights to felons convicted of minor felony offenses who have served their sentences and have been released from probation or parole.
The bill was about fairness. It was about a basic American right. It was about democracy.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Kentucky is one of only two states that permanently disenfranchises citizens convicted of a felony. Over 243,000 Kentuckians are barred from voting, two-thirds of whom have fully served their sentences.
Disenfranchisement among African-Americans in Kentucky is the second highest in the nation. One in five African-American adults is barred from voting according to a report by the Kentucky League of Women Voters.
In February a Bluegrass Poll by SurveyUSA for the Courier-Journal showed 51 percent of Kentuckians favor an amendment to restore voting rights for certain felons.
Let us hope that the next session of the Kentucky General Assembly will step up and restore voting rights. It will encourage a positive reentry into the community for many Kentuckians, while promoting democracy for all.
Rep. Tom Burch
Lee statements untrue
It was discouraging that Rep. Stan Lee claims again that the "religious freedom" act the legislature passed over the governor's veto returned Kentucky law to what it was before the state Supreme Court "changed" it.
That is absolutely untrue. We sent him and the other representatives a five-page letter to that effect before they voted.
In hopes that readers are interested in facts, we point out that the court did not change the law when it upheld a state law on slow-moving vehicles. Rather, it did what courts are supposed to do: interpret state and federal constitutions.
Kentucky's constitution provides that no one's civil rights or privileges shall be, "in anywise diminished or enlarged" because of his belief or disbelief in any religious teaching and that, "no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious sect." These are wise rules for a pluralistic society.
The legislature, however, has greatly enlarged privileges and preferences for religious believers.
Kentucky is now the only state that prohibits "imposing indirect burdens" on religious believers, including such "burdens" as fees, penalties or denial of services.
This new law demands rights to government funds and government programs whether or not the believer complies with civil rights laws, safety laws, etc.
It may be used to claim that those choosing parochial schools must have benefits identical to those in public schools.
The legislature has tried to change the constitution by statute, which it has no authority to do.
I like comparing the U.S. economy to a drug addict. An addict is on top of the world when they're high, but this euphoria cannot last forever, and when it ends the addict experiences terrible withdrawal.
Now, our addict has two options: accept the short-term pain of withdrawal or sacrifice their long-term health and use.
But this lifestyle is unsustainable and only leads to an unhealthful life and premature death. The addict also knows the longer the abuse occurs, the difficulty of quitting and the pain of withdrawal increase.
Our drug is cheap money. Our economy is repeatedly telling us to stop. Recently, we've experienced a painful NASDAQ bubble, a worse housing bubble, with a bond bubble coming next. Every time our economy tells tries to correct itself, we avoid the pain by inflating the next bubble.
Unfortunately through artificially low interest rates, quantitative easing, and policies discouraging saving in favor of borrowing, our government is preventing recovery. No politician wants a recession on their watch, especially when they have an election to worry about, so they wait until they can blame it on someone else.
The only way the economy can again thrive is to experience the withdrawal/recession. We need to return to saving and producing. But the economy is so reliant on borrowing and consumption the correction isn't possible without a recession.
The recession is the correction of our mistakes. It should be embraced.
Stop gun violence
I have three children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren. I demand that our government protect our children as strongly as they protect food, cars and toys. I need to know that they are always safe from gun violence.
As a citizen, a parent and grandparent, I have the right to preserve the innocence of children from gun violence, either real or depicted.
Our teachers need to devote their time to teaching our children and not be expected to be armed guards. I want complete and accurate information about the impact of gun violence on our communities.
I also demand that our elected leaders' first priority is our children's safety, above their political careers and the money and influence of the gun lobbies.
As a voter, I will hold my representatives accountable for all of the above.
Vote for gun control
We, as mothers, have the absolute right to protect our children from harm. We have the right to know our children are safe from gun violence, from the moment they leave our arms in the morning until they return home later in the day.
But the rights of American mothers are under attack by criminals, the gun lobby, and legislators who are unable to stand up for commonsense gun reforms. The right of mothers to protect our children shall not be infringed. As mothers, we have the right to:
Expect that assault weapons will remain in the hands of our military, not civilians.
Preserve our children's innocence and shield them from gun violence in America, real and scripted.
Demand that all public places remain gun-free zones; except private homes and shooting ranges.
Know our children are safe in their schools: any school, anywhere.
Expect our teachers to be focused on teaching our children, not training to become armed guards.
Demand that our government create the same strong regulations for guns as they have for toys, cars and food.
Expect our leaders to put our children's safety above the profit and influence of the gun industry.
Have access to complete, accurate information about the impact of gun violence on our families and communities.
Hold our elected officials accountable for keeping our children safe from gun violence.
Follow common sense
In the April 26 Herald-Leader, a contributor used examples to show our politicians do not know certain facts about guns or ammunition.
I will readily admit I know nothing about guns or ammunition. What I do know is that a young man entered a school and within five minutes had killed 26 humans.
Of these 26, 21 were children who were America's greatest resource and six were educators who were dedicated to developing that resource.
Knowledge of guns and ammunition versus the consequences that are occurring with the use of them takes common sense.
Common sense tells me, that the capacity to kill five innocent people per minute warrants a law banning large capacity magazines.
It is my prayer that common sense will someday prevail.
Janet E. Smith
So, the recent approval of the Food and Drug Administration to allow young women 15 years and older to get Plan B birth control without a prescription is yet another bizarre example of the lengths that this country will go for it's obsession with all things sexual.
It seems that every major law being passed nowadays has sex behind it: birth control, health-care laws paying for birth control and same-sex marriage laws.
What is this obsession with sex? Where did it come from? It used to be a sacred thing between a man and his wife, but now seems to be nothing but a mere sport. Ironically this sport even has protective equipment.
People, sex —and I know most of your modernist minds cant get around this — is in fact a sacred thing created by God. When used out of context and not between a husband and wife, it is like playing with fire. Consequences happen, people get hurt.
Thanks for wishes
Make-A-Wish thanks and congratulates the University of Kentucky Greek community on a successful 2013 school year.
Thanks to the hard work of numerous fraternities and sororities, more than $103,000 was raised for Make-A-Wish through a golf classic, silent auction, and Greek Sing to help make wishes come true for area children with life-threatening medical conditions.
We would also like to give our sincere, heartfelt thanks to the Chi Omega Fraternity for their continued support helping to make wishes come true. The hard work they poured into these events is greatly appreciated.
We are continually amazed by our partnership with Chi Omega, which began in 2002. Their constant support through volunteering and fund-raising has helped more than 100 wishes come true for Kentucky children. We are grateful for their contribution and passion for our mission.
We would also like to recognize Chi Omega for welcoming Wish Child Henry and his family to Greek Sing in February. The efforts of Greek Sing have helped grant Henry's wish to visit California theme parks.
After battling cancer, a break from his exhausting medical routine is exactly what he needed.
If you would like more information about Make-A-Wish, please contact us at 1-877-206-9474.