Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

April 3, 2013

Legislators barely avoided a failing grade


April 3, 2013 —     In our view, last minute heroics to save pension reform kept the 2013 Kentucky General Assembly from getting a failing grade on the short session which mercifully ended last week.

    Sen. Robin Webb of Grayson scored a major victory for women and girls with passage of the human trafficking bill.

    Despite a polite name in the bill, the target is those engaged in sexual slavery, the forcing of young women into prostitution.

    One of the best features of the bill is seizing the financial assets of sex traffickers to create a fund to treat victims.

    We are pleased that Rep. Rocky Adkins was able to put together a compromise to save the industrial hemp bill, also in the waning hours.

    On balance, we give the lawmakers a B-minus for what did and didn’t happen in the Capitol during those 30 days.

    We are not factoring in the grandstanding most of them did on the vaguely-worded religious freedom bill which one pundit predicted would become the single most expensive paragraph in history.

    That prediction agrees with our assessment published last week that it will take years for the courts to determine exactly what the harmless-looking, good-feeling little bill really means.

    Back to hemp, Kentucky farmers won’t be able to take advantage of the bill until the federal government lifts its nationwide ban on hemp production. Most members of our congressional delegation are favoring such action.

    Giving the Kentucky State Police a major role in licensing hemp growers hopefully will keep Gov. Steve Beshear from vetoing the bill because industrial hemp looks like marijuana.

    Everyone who has served in the military can salute the new law which makes it easier for service members to register to vote and cast absentee ballots while deployed.

    Perhaps the General Assembly someday will allow those ballots to be e-mailed back home.

    The “pill mill” law was fine tuned to lessen the online reporting requirements on those who dispense pain medications for clear and legitimate needs.

    We’ve expressed joy at the eventual upping of the school dropout age to 18. Once 55 percent of all school districts have adopted the higher age, it will go into effect statewide.

    State Auditor Adam Edelen must have back pains from the bows he’s been taking for the new law regulating special districts.

    Now we know someone will be watching that $2.7 billion collected each year.

    And thanks again to lawmakers for finally letting our public universities spend their own money on their own projects.