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Kentucky editorial roundup

December 5, 2018

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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Dec.2

The Daily Independent of Ashland on expanding gaming in Kentucky:

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Today, we tackle expanded gaming in Kentucky. We do so after Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear called for expanding gaming to help fund Kentucky’s pension crisis. Beshear said in a press release issued earlier that expanded gaming would “create a dedicated source of revenue for pensions so we don’t have a pension battle each and every session.”

Beshear is running for governor. His press release lacks a lot of the specifics one would want when it comes to pushing for such a proposal, but we think it is fair to say he is talking in large part about allowing sports gambling in Kentucky. He didn’t specifically say that in his release but this is the debate now unfolding in multiple states across the nation.

We believe there is a significant argument to be made for expanding gaming in Kentucky. We would not be opposed to it if it is done right. That’s a big if, but it could be done. Our opinion is the time has come to change the state’s approach when it comes to this issue and consider the expansion. The reasons? The blatant need for revenues, combined with another incredibly obvious reality: that Kentuckians who truly want to gamble already are, meaning the state is completely passing on revenue headed elsewhere at a time when the Commonwealth faces an unprecedented fiscal crisis in the form of its underfunded pension systems.

There are all types of tentacles of “expanded gaming” that could be at play, but we presume that what Beshear is mostly talking about is sports betting. ... It used to be the only place you could put a bet on sports was with illegal bookies or catch a flight to Vegas or Atlantic City. But now, right here in Ashland, if you wanted to put a bet on a sports contest, you could hop in your car and drive across the river to West Virginia where sports gambling is now completely legal. In West Virginia the state is actually capturing a portion of that huge pile of revenue. This follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision clearing the way for sports gambling across the nation. And, of course you can drive down the road to Kentucky’s glorious race tracks and already put a bet on your favorite horse. For those who don’t care whether they are complying with the law or not, you can simply open up your laptop and use a website — usually an offshore one — to place a bet on a myriad of events from horse racing to football to curling. Our point is, again, whether one likes it or not, it’s already happening in abundance. There’s no way around this very important fact.

The true danger of expanded gaming is problem gambling. There is a small percentage of people who gamble who cannot control themselves. They destroy their lives and often the lives of those around them. The fact is they are a small percentage of gamblers, but percentages alone matter little if you are the loved one of a person who is completely out of control. Thus, if the Commonwealth is going to consider legalizing sports gambling, there should be a requirement that part of the revenues be assigned to preventing and treating those with problem gambling addictions

We all have choices in life. We can choose to smoke cigarettes or not. If we make the wrong decision, it can kill you. Same with alcohol, illegal drugs, etc. Where we are headed with this is saying sports gambling is illegal but tobacco and alcohol aren’t is, in our view, dubious public policy when considering the actual dangers of sports gambling. Does the state of Kentucky walk away from tax revenue generated from tobacco sales? Of course not. So why would it when it comes to sports gambling which, without question, is nowhere near as deadly or dangerous?

At a minimum this should be debated in the public sphere. If people don’t want it, so be it, but times have changed, and the pension systems will not be funded without new revenues. Against this backdrop this is a logical proposal that certainly should be considered.

Online: https://www.dailyindependent.com/

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Nov. 30

The Bowling Green Daily News on U.S. border agents using tear gas:

Any time a U.S. border agent’s life is put in danger on our southern border, that agent should do whatever is necessary to save their life. This includes lethal force as a last resort.

Preferably, the agent or agents who are being attacked by illegal immigrants should try to use a nonlethal agent such as tear gas to get those attacking them away from them. Agents working our southern border have a very dangerous job. In some cases, they are dealing with illegal immigrants who have very dangerous criminal records.

So, when these agents are attacked, they need to respond. Recently, we have watched as these illegal immigrants, many of them part of the caravan from Central America, have thrown rocks at our agents working the U.S.-Mexico border. The agents acted as they should have, by shooting tear gas to deter them from their illegal activity.

Most reasonable people would agree that these agents did the right thing in defending themselves through the actions.

But, of course, the national Democratic Party, has blasted President Donald Trump for his decision to allow his agents to shoot tear gas at those who were throwing rocks at them.

We guess in the Democratic Party’s eyes, our agents should’ve just stood there and continued to have rocks thrown at them? We think not, and we believe the majority of Americans would agree that these brave border agents acted correctly.

They deserve no blame for defending themselves against these lawless illegal immigrants and Trump shouldn’t have any blame lobbed at him by the left for having his agents’ backs.

The left has a short memory on the use of tear gas against illegal immigrants by former President Barack Obama. In 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection used pepper spray at nearly three times the rate it did in 2017, Trump’s first year in office. In 2012, 95 pepper spray incidents were reported. That number surged to 151 in 2013 then dropped to 109 in 2014, according to data provided by the Department of Homeland Security. Tear gas was used by CBP officers and Border Patrol agents on 26 occasions in 2012.

All of this use of pepper spray and tear gas was done on Obama’s watch. Where was the outrage from the Democratic Party? Nowhere to be heard.

Interesting. We heard no outrage from Republicans when this was done and very little national media attention was given to Obama’s agents’ actions.

Apparently it is OK to use tear gas and pepper balls at illegal immigrants when the president of your party is in power, but quite the opposite when the president from another party is in power.

What we are seeing from Democrats is called hypocrisy and an attempt to paint Trump as a cold-hearted, mean person because his agents used tear gas on when they were at risk of injury.

You have a national Democratic Party that is still mad that Trump was elected president in 2016. It is weak on illegal immigration and sanctuary cities and are solely using this justified incident to paint the president in a negative light, implying through their rhetoric that he is using cruel and unusual tactics.

We believe the majority of American people see through the Democratic Party’s hypocrisy, as it’s very clear to see. The border agents who were needlessly attacked by this mob were more than justified in deploying tear gas. Trump was correct in having his agents’ backs for their justified actions.

Democrats who have attacked our agents and Trump should really be ashamed of themselves, because by attacking the president they are also attacking our brave Border Patrol agents who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. The Democratic Party really needs to take a hard look at its blatant hypocrisy, because it really is hypocrisy at its worst.

Online: https://www.bgdailynews.com/

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Nov. 30

The State Journal of Frankfort on why the state must provide funding for Kentucky’s public colleges to fix their infrastructure:

That buildings housing students and staff at Kentucky State University were left without heat after a part broke on a boiler unit is unfortunate.

But there’s a problem when it’s two weeks before a part arrives and repairs can be made.

As a refresher, five out of 38 buildings on the KSU campus began experiencing heating problems Nov. 16 after a valve and a pipeline broke. ... The part later arrived and repairs were made in short order.

Students were given the option to move into Capital Plaza Hotel until the end of the fall semester, Dec. 14, and three buildings on campus were provided with temporary heaters so that the school’s academic and administrative services could continue. That means a problem that President M. Christopher Brown II called a result of “outdated infrastructure” will cause what’s likely to be, at a minimum, thousands of dollars in unexpected costs.

Students shouldn’t have to worry about whether their dorm room will be warm enough to sleep in at night, and staff members should not need to consider whether their office will be the same temperature as outside as a cold winter day.

But the solution is simple, at least on paper. State government must ensure public institutions of higher education receive funding and support needed to maintain campus infrastructure, which may require increased funding. That the broken system is 70 years old — a retrofitted coal system — is entirely unacceptable, particularly since a new part needed to be specially manufactured just for KSU.

Generally, we think the KSU administration reacted properly in response to the matter — releasing a statement as soon as the issue came to light and keeping the public and students updated.

Still, students shouldn’t be left without heat in a week when the capital city sees snow and temperatures dipping below freezing. Thankfully, the depths of winter have not arrived.

There are a litany of matters for which the Kentucky General Assembly must find funding, the most prominent of which is state employee pensions, but there are other matters to which the well-known “find funding first” phrase applies. In this case, perhaps the saying should be “find funding as soon as possible” because providing money to ensure there’s a comfortable learning environment at Kentucky’s public colleges should certainly rank at the top of the priority list.

Online: https://www.state-journal.com/

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