Let's celebrate lives lost at workplaces
It has been nine years since I lost my brother, Shawn, in a preventable dust explosion. Every loss is painful but one that is tragic, unexpected and unnoticed is devastating. Many people are affected by just one loss.
I realized fast the issue had to be bigger than one person. We lose up to 5,000 people — as young as 14 or as old as 70 — in workplace deaths each year. These deaths often happen one at a time in vehicles, trenches, falls, suffocation and the list goes on and on; there is truly no prejudice.
More important are the lives behind the numbers. I speak to people every day whose lives are forever changed. They share how their children will never grow up to have a family and how a child should never go before a parent. They explain how their fathers were never able to see their grandchildren or walk them down the aisle. They speak about how their mother is no longer there for guidance and comfort.
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We reminisce and grieve for our loved ones throughout the year. But on Workers Memorial Day, April 28, many families from across the United States are either attending a memorial or creating one. We even have a small one in Lexington that was started last year at Jacobson Park by United Support for Memorial for Workplace Fatalities.
It's just one day a year family members of victims can gather for support and honor their loved ones' memories.
School security enhanced
Understandably, the tragedy that took place on Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn., greatly shocked not only our nation but the world.
In the aftermath, lawmakers and educators worked feverishly to explore what can be done to further ensure that our schoolchildren and their teachers would be safe from such harm.
As state director for school safety, I was contacted immediately by state Sen. Mike Wilson, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and Rep. Richard Henderson who wanted to meet and discuss what can be done to enhance school-safety practices throughout our state.
From these meetings, Wilson created Senate Bill 8 and Henderson created House Bill 354.
The primary focus of both bills is to enhance emergency preparedness within each school.
Due to their hard work and persistence, both bills passed our General Assembly, and on April 5 Gov. Steve Beshear signed them into law.
Schools across the state will now be better prepared for a variety of possible hazards due to the tireless efforts of these two gentlemen. I appreciate their leadership and willingness to make school safety one of their top priorities.
It was an absolute honor and pleasure working with both of these fine men throughout this process.
Jon R. Akers
Executive director, Kentucky Center for School Safety
Optimistic on immigration
The bipartisan U.S. Senate immigration reform bill introduced last week gives me hope. I hope that lawmakers from both parties can come together to pass a common-sense immigration process and find a solution for undocumented immigrants, businesses, families and indeed for all of America.
Is the bill the Senate Gang of Eight put forward everything we wanted? No. But it is a good start on the path toward legislation that will fix our current patchwork of mismanaged and broken immigration laws which tear families apart and hurt American businesses.
As an immigration attorney, I know firsthand the positive effects a bill like this could have for the people and businesses in our community.
This is just the start of the process, and many obstacles will crop up to impede progress in the coming weeks and months. However, in the midst of unprecedented public support and the need to see meaningful change to address economic and societal needs, we need to stand together, and see real immigration reform done.
Glen M. Krebs
Love license bureau
Let me tell you how much I love the Motor Vehicle Licensing Division. It only took three trips to get my expired driver's license renewed. It could have easily taken four or five or even six.
By the way, checks with my address do not count for verification, though the box they came in would have worked. Since none of the utilities are in my name, if my husband came along and verified that we live together it may have counted, though he has a different last name and not sure if that would have worked. The parking garage is closed, so a little challenge goes a long way. Last time my husband tried to get his license, the computer was down so it is so refreshing our government has no backup plan. Did I mention how much I love it?
Hope Cottill, M.D.
No pension solution
Now that it appears that Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders have exhausted themselves in their extended group hug over "solving" the pension crisis. The legislature cobbled together a funding bill in the last hours of the session and, as one prominent Kentuckian used to say, "that don't pencil."
House Bill 440 allocates about $95 million to meet the full annual employer contribution to the Kentucky Employees Non-Hazardous Fund. Here's the problem: the bill addresses only monies allocated through the General Fund.
But, unfortunately, Kentucky Retirement Systems is a patchwork of state agencies and non-state entities. These other entities allocate retirement contributions from a variety of sources other than the General Fund. How much is the overall required employer contribution to the pension fund? Add $253 million on top of the $95 million.
Where will the money come from? The management of Seven Counties Services doubtless has the same question; it recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from its pension obligations.
State leaders failed to integrate tax reform and pension reform and came up with a slapped-together, last-minute solution. Sorry, taxpayers, you'll be hearing the "p" word again during the 2014 session; or maybe in a courtroom.