By any measure, Kentucky's public pension systems (except those for legislators) are in crisis.
By all accounts, Kentucky's tax system is outdated, inefficient and a primary reason for recurring fiscal crises.
Due in part to those crises, the cost of attending a public university is beyond the means of thousands of Kentucky students.
Kentucky's infrastructure is crumbling and we remain among the least healthy states in the nation.
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Despite these pressing and very real problems, Kentucky legislators are competing to prefile bills to redefine the U.S. Constitution to solve a problem they've manufactured.
Not only that, it's one that was solved over 200 years ago.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," are the first words of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Adopted in 1791, that first clause has long been held to guarantee separation of church and state. Governments don't tell people who, what or how to worship or who to include in or exclude from their rituals, and religious codes aren't substituted for government policy.
The so-called religious freedom bills that have already begun springing up are all about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples have the same right to enter into civil marriage as anyone else.
These proposed laws insult the First Amendment in two ways:
First by saying that, based on their religious beliefs, it's OK for county clerks to deny qualified couples marriage licenses.
Second, by trying to one-up the long-established First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion by unnecessarily asserting that ministers can't be forced to marry someone they don't want to.
"No court can require churches or other religious institutions to marry same-sex couples, or any other couple, for that matter. That is part of our constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion," U.S. District Judge John Heyburn wrote in his February, 2014 decision striking down Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage.
Worse, really, is that the legislators — Republican representatives Stan Lee of Lexington, David Meade of Stanford and Addia Wuchner of Burlington — insult the voters who sent them to Frankfort to do some real work.
These pandering bills will, at best, accomplish nothing.
At worst, they will divert legislative energy from real problems and, if they become law, embroil the state in costly, fruitless litigation.