WITT: General Assembly passed some abhorrent pieces of legislation
The Kentucky Constitution requires those running for governor, senator or representative be at least 30 years old. The minimum age requirement for lieutenant governor is 24. Go figure!
Based on some of the recent legislation emerging from Frankfort, it is unfortunate that the constitution did not require a minimum IQ level for the offices of senator and representative (although, maybe, innate intelligence is not really a good barometer for gauging the motives of someone).
Suffice it to say, there is some really bad legislation coming from this year’s assembly, including legislation which overrode vetoes of Gov. Andy Beshear.
It is not paranoia to suggest that some of this year’s legislative session, held without the presence of the public, produced some really questionable outcomes, with the full acquiescence of legislators.
Three pieces of legislation that passed with override votes were Senate Bill 2, SB 5 and House Bill 195.
SB2 is the voter ID bill, and will require Kentucky voters to present a photo ID to vote.
Newly-elected Secretary of State Michael Adams made this bill an integral part of his election campaign, declaring it will prevent voter fraud.
However, Adams never provided any evidence that voter fraud was either rampant or even a factor in Kentucky elections.
This bill is nothing more than a political maneuver to keep a tight rein on who will be allowed to vote, realizing that the bill will more dramatically affect poorer voters who traditionally vote Democrat. It was described as a solution in search of a problem.
SB5 requires a local elected governmental body to approve any tax increase proposed by a special taxing district.
This bill imposes an added and unnecessary governmental oversight over these districts which have traditionally, especially in Clark County, been exemplary stewards of the taxpayers’ money.
This bill will affect the Health Department, the library and the Extension Service, all of which have boards appointed and approved by the local government entity.
For a party that consistently presents itself as one that abhors the intrusion of government into the affairs of the citizenry, it seems paradoxical it so uniformly supports a bill which does exactly that by giving government another unnecessary level of authority.
HB195 is especially egregious for two reasons. First, it removes a source of revenue to local newspapers which is critical now because of reduced advertising and escalating costs and the effects of the pandemic.
The bill waives requirements of local governments in counties with a population less than 80,000 to post legal notices in their local newspapers.
Why was the figure of 80,000 chosen? There are only nine counties in Kentucky with populations exceeding 80,000, although Bullitt may be added to that number since its last listed population was 79,466.
This means that 111 counties in this state are subject to this waiver. Those nine counties contain a total population of 1.896 million, which represents 42.4 percent of Kentucky’s population (2019) of 4.467 million.
Therefore, 57.6 percent of Kentucky’s population could be deprived of important news relating to the activities of their local governments.
Just as importantly, Wikipedia lists 120 local Kentucky newspapers. Twelve of those papers are located in or primarily serve those nine largest population counties, leaving 108 newspapers with possible declining revenue and the inability to inform their citizens of what their elected leaders are doing.
And all this at a time when small newspapers are struggling to stay afloat.
It should be pretty obvious the current Kentucky legislature is mainly interested in keeping the electorate ill-informed, unable to vote and under the thumbs of government.
Why do Kentuckians keep sending these people to the legislature?
Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at email@example.com.