A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Amye Bensenhaver: Legislative crisis averted; no (known) new exceptions to open records enacted

It was down to the wire, but Kentuckians narrowly escaped passage of several new exceptions aimed at reducing the rights they currently enjoy under the open records law. Much has been written about HB 387, a bill originally aimed at substantially reducing the public’s right of access to records relating to economic incentives offered by state and local officials to lure new business to Kentucky....

Commentary: School Safety and Resiliency Act lays groundwork for secure schools, safer students

There are very few Kentuckians who do not remember how they felt when they heard of last year’s shooting at Marshall County High School. As parents who share a strong passion for education, this tragedy shook us to the core. Sen. Max Wise As legislators, we realized that our state had to do more to prevent school violence, not only to protect potential victims, but also to recognize warning signs...

Amye Bensenhaver: How to succeed in open records by refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer

Al Cross, director of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, has succeeded where other open records disputants often fail. He did this by simply refusing to take “no” for an answer. Cross is no stranger to the open records law, and his reputation for tenacity no doubt precedes him. On March 20, Cross submitted a request to the Kentucky Horse Racing...

Al Cross: Gov. Bevin is reckless to disregard the science on chickenpox; public health matters

When Gov. Matt Bevin volunteered to a Southern Kentucky radio audience March 19 that he had exposed his nine children to chickenpox, and questioned the need for vaccinations and laws requiring them, it was more than the latest example of him being reckless with his mouth. It was a new low in public officials’ willful ignorance or disregard of science, an alarming trend that is taking us to new highs...

Ron Daley: Believing in community, opportunities for youth — and other strategies for “A Way Forward’

“We must believe in our community and in our youth and create opportunities for our youth to remain in our communities and become leaders,” Jackson County Judge-Executive Shane Gabbard said, reflecting the spirit of the conversation at the gathering of Eastern Kentuckians this week. “We must blur the county boundaries and develop partnerships with vision utilizing our positives rather than allowing...

Bill Straub: What an incredible week it was for Mitch McConnell, as he set a record for bollixing things up

So what has Senate Republican Leader Mitch “Root-‘n-Branch” McConnell done over the space of a single week in March to further bollix this long-suffering republic? To borrow from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways. 1. The Louisville lawmaker has joined his fellow Republicans in a massive home run trot over what may – or may not – be the results of Special Counsel Robert...

Bruce Scott: When patients come first, everyone wins — and SB 54 removes barriers to treatment

Imagine being diagnosed with a chronic health condition — one that interferes with your daily life and makes even the simplest tasks a challenge. Fortunately, your physician has prescribed a treatment or medication that’s expected to make your condition much more manageable. But then you’re shocked to learn that you have to wait for days or even weeks for your health plan to approve the treatment....

Jesse Brewer: As Boone County grows, zoning becomes key; here are checks, balances in place

Over the last several years Boone County Kentucky has been blessed with growth and economic development. Our geographical location in the united states gives us a distinct advantage over several other places in the United States. For starters, our airport is ranked #7 in the amount of cargo it ships per year. You can reach over 68% of the country’s population within a day’s drive and we are no...

Commentary: Kentucky Senate, it’s time to make Kentucky schools tobacco free

By Ben Chandler, Terry Brooks, Kerri Shelling, Jack Hillard, David Adkisson   Kentucky students need a statewide tobacco-free schools law to protect them from secondhand smoke, e-cigarette aerosol and tobacco product messaging at school. Nearly 60 percent of Kentucky kids attend schools that do not have such policies, so they smell, breathe and otherwise absorb tobacco emissions and messaging during...

Ryan Quarles: ‘Check the box’ for Kentucky’s hungry when you file your state income tax returns

Nearly 1 in 6 Kentuckians – including 1 in 5 Kentucky children – don’t know where their next meal will come from at some point in the year. That’s why I launched the Kentucky Hunger Initiative nearly three years ago: to combat the unfortunate reality that so many of our friends and neighbors are food insecure. With tax season upon us, you can “check the box” to join the fight to reduce...

Charlie Schicht: Children, families need afterschool programs; all kids deserve chance to succeed

All kids deserve an opportunity to succeed in life. Yet, by ending federal funding for afterschool programs across the country, President Trump’s new budget would disinvest in the futures of nearly 18,000 Kentucky children. Afterschool programs are critical to our young people. They make a huge difference in their lives. Take, for example, Jessica. Jessica always had a thing about math. She didn’t...

Kim Moser: Tackling the methamphetamine crisis in our communities also an ongoing challenge

The epidemic of illegal drug abuse is one of the most difficult challenges facing our communities.  Our region’s harrowing experience with opioids has been well documented and remains an ongoing struggle for those who are addicted and their families.  Rep. Moser Increasingly, the scourge of methamphetamine abuse has grown alongside opioids as a destructive force tearing apart our communities. A...

Bill Straub: Welcome to Tombstone (aka Kentucky) where the right to bear arms is truly unlimited

On March 11, a gentleman named Larry Walters got into an argument, subject unknown, with another patron at Uncle 7’s Bourbon Bar & Grille, an establishment off Clays Mill Road in the southern part of Lexington, leading to a physical altercation. According to police, Walters took exception to the course of the disagreement and felt compelled to draw a firearm. The 69-year-old veteran began firing,...

Jason Bailey: Watch out for attack on pensions on legislative session’s final day, March 28

The General Assembly adjourned for the veto period without providing relief from soon-to-spike pension costs to quasi-governmental organizations like regional universities and community mental health centers. The legislature can still prevent an unaffordable increase on the session’s final day — March 28 — but must reject attempts to attach harmful pension changes that would set Kentucky...

Amye Bensenhaver: A new exception to open records should always raise legislative red flags

Twice this week we were reminded of a common argument used by public agencies to avoid their statutory duties under the open records law. The first reminder came in the form of judicial repudiation of the argument. The second reminder came in the form of legislative acceptance of the argument in a newly enacted, but wholly unvetted, exception to the open records law. The argument is based on the agencies’...