Protect states' rights: Don't let them act foolishly
For those who rail against the intrusiveness of the federal government: Encourage your state not to infringe on the civil liberties or human rights promulgated by the U.S. Constitution.
If you are a Floridian, don't let your state fail to arrest a man who picks a fight with an unarmed black teenager and murders him with a handgun.
If you are a Texan, don't let your state deny funds for women's health care or psychologically rape women.
If you are a Kentuckian, don't let your state be one of two in the nation that denies voting rights to ex-felons who have paid their debt to society. And don't let it continue to sanction ecological atrocities like mountaintop removal, dumping residue into drinking water. Don't let your legislature team up with a telephone company to deny rural folk basic phone connections.
Do persuade your legislature to set up a nonpartisan, objective way to allocate election districts. To prevent lost jobs, ruination of industries and spoiling of beachfront, don't say "drill, baby, drill," without insisting on adequate safeguards.
If you want to keep the feds from deciding issues related to religion, stop local governments from trying to promote a particular religion at the courthouse.
In short, if you want to keep the feds out of your business, get your state to act responsibly. Otherwise the feds will make sure the Constitution is applied (recall the skirmish 150 years ago over whether some people could own other people). When states act irresponsibly, state's rights do suffer.
Clooney: Help at home
This is in response to the article and the huge media blast about George Clooney and his focus on other countries. I feel sorry for those people and the lives they have endured, but I cannot help but be disappointed in Clooney.
He is a Kentucky native. We have not heard he has come to our state to lend even moral support to the victims of the tornadoes.
When is it finally time, for the people of the U.S. to say to those celebrities who continually focus on the plight of those everywhere except here; enough is enough. Focus your attention and money here. Stand up for the Americans who support you and made you famous.
I, for one, will not see another Clooney movie, and I urge those of you who have had all you can stand to speak up and do the same.
Solve real problems
Kentuckians apparently have poverty envy. At least that's what some Frankfort politicians would have us believe as they push for legislation to drug test recipients of public assistance.
Taxpayers are sick and tired, says Rep. Lonnie Napier, of paying hard-earned tax dollars to support recreational drug use. Napier tells us many people are using food stamps to buy food that they sell for money to buy drugs.
Of course Kentuckians are upset by this — until they realize there is no data to back up his claims.
We cannot, as a commonwealth, base public policy on anecdotes about someone's lazy cousin or "that guy I saw at Walmart one time with three kids who paid for their food with food stamps and then bought a six-pack of beer."
Napier and his colleagues are attempting to solve a problem that doesn't exist. When Florida implemented this program last year (it has since been declared unconstitutional search and seizure) the results showed a mere 2 percent of recipients failed initial testing.
The Tampa Tribune reported the testing cost the state between $28,800 and $43,200 monthly but the savings by cutting off those who failed the tests was only $32,200 to $48,200. Net annual savings: $50,000 on a $178 million program.
It's curious that Napier and others have time for this kind of work. It would be nice if this level of energy was spent, for example, on the absence of any state textbook money for our public schools or inadequate investment in child protection.
Health reform aids Ky.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act turned two years old March 23, and the U.S. Supreme Court will listen to six hours of arguments on its constitutionality this week. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the individual mandate — the part of the ACA that requires citizens to have insurance coverage starting in 2014, unless it is unaffordable. However, not many people are talking about what the law has already done for Kentucky:
■ Expanded coverage for young adults. Over 35,000 young adults in Kentucky were able to stay on their parents' insurance or regain insurance coverage last year. This coverage helped many young adults have peace of mind and maintain continuous care.
■ Help for seniors. More than 69,000 people with Medicare received a $250 rebate to help cover the cost of prescriptions. Almost 75,000 residents got a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs, saving over $40 million.
■ Free preventive services. Over half a million individuals with Medicare received preventive services without a co-pay last year, including check-ups and cancer screenings. This provision will apply to almost all health plans in August.
■ Money for health services. So far, Kentucky has received more than $132 million for new and enhanced health centers in under- served areas, expanded primary care and workforce development for health careers.
It is easy, especially when you are an attorney like I am, to get wrapped up in the legal arguments. But sometimes it is good to step back and look at what is actually happening.
Kentucky Equal Justice Center