Beshear laid out good Ky. agenda


Gov. Steve Beshear is entitled to pat himself on the back, which he did in his eighth and final State of the Commonwealth address.

We'll leave others to debate whether Kentucky has regained the status it enjoyed in the early 19th century as a leader among states, as Beshear proclaimed.

But the state is rebounding from one of the worst economic periods in many decades, and it was nice to hear the governor reel off all those encouraging economic and education statistics and accolades (even if he left out some of the less flattering ones).

And, certainly, Kentucky has been held up many times over the last year as a national example in health care, thanks to Beshear's passionate determination to make the most of the Affordable Care Act and its successful launch here.

Translating the newly expanded access into real gains in Kentuckians' health will be the real challenge, but Beshear leaves the state with a far greater chance of accomplishing that than it has ever had before.

We fear the governor might have been unrealistically optimistic about the prospects for last year's reforms saving the state pension systems.

And he didn't mention comprehensive tax reform, though we'll keep hoping for a special session on tax reform before he leaves office.

What most impressed us was Beshear's agenda for this short legislative session: A statewide smoke-free law, legislation to combat the heroin scourge, domestic violence protections for dating couples, a ratings system to improve early childhood care, protecting children in vehicles by requiring booster seats, a structure for smarter use of coal severance tax dollars in Eastern Kentucky, giving local governments a new sales tax option.

Most of these proposals already enjoy bipartisan and public support, have been vetted in earlier sessions or are easily understood, and, if accomplished, would amount to a productive session.

Lawmakers should get busy enacting the items on the governor's list. Then they will all have something to brag about.