Kentucky editorial roundup
Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:
Lexington Herald-Leader on the barring of a group from the state Capitol:
Starting five years ago with rallies dubbed Moral Mondays at North Carolina’s Capitol, the Poor People’s Campaign has grown into a national movement for economic and racial equality and against war and environmental destruction.
Not, apparently, until Monday in Kentucky had the demonstrators ever been barred from a state capitol building.
This is not a proud distinction for our state.
The Capitol is the preeminent place to assemble and seek redress from the government, a right that is guaranteed to all U.S. citizens by the Constitution.
The public is owed an explanation of the policy cited by Kentucky State Police who barricaded the Capitol and blocked entry to an estimated 400 people who are part of the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign.
The demonstrators, who had rallied on the Capitol grounds, were told that no more than two at a time could be inside the Capitol building.
KSP spokesman Joshua Lawson told The State Journal of Frankfort that the two-person limit was put in place in response to earlier demonstrations by the Poor People’s Campaign which began on Mondays last month. Lawson said the new rule has only ever been invoked against the Poor People’s Campaign. Some protesters at one of the earlier demonstrations staged an overnight sit-in at the Capitol, and authorities wanted to avoid a repeat of that.
Lawson did not say who created the rule, who approved it or how it was communicated to the public. Someone should explain all of those things.
We understand that KSP, like most of state government, is running on a tight budget that allows little overtime — either to arrest protesters or guard the building’s interior overnight.
It’s possible that whoever imposed this new rule did not consider the constitutional implications of barring citizens from peaceably exercising their First Amendment rights in the seat of government.
The Capitol isn’t a museum or gallery. It’s the heart of the state’s government. And there’s no indication that the demonstrators, including Kentucky Council of Churches President Kent Gilbert, who raises important questions, intended anything but a peaceful demonstration.
All Kentuckians, not just those who were barred from their Capitol, are owed an explanation.
Bowling Green Daily News says bipartisan legislation would provide better care for veterans:
The U.S. Senate’s passage of the VA Mission Act by a huge bipartisan margin is a big step toward providing the greater choice and access to timely health care our veterans richly deserve.
One key provision of the bill, which earlier passed the House, would allow more access to private care for veterans experiencing unacceptable wait times in the VA. It also would expand access to private care when VA facilities do not offer needed services.
An existing caregiver program would be expanded to cover families of all veterans, rather than just families of veterans wounded on active duty since Sept. 11, 2003.
The bill also would create a commission appointed by the president to review the closure of underperforming VA facilities.
This provision is important because there have been far too many horror stories in recent years of veterans who waited for too long to receive the care they needed or who received substandard care.
President Donald Trump, in the months leading up to his election, railed against problems in the VA system and promised to address them if elected.
The VA Mission Act was the second phase of an effort to address these problems. Earlier, he signed into law legislation that made it easier for the VA to remove administrators who were unable to perform at a satisfactory level.
Trump deserves credit for keeping this campaign promise along with many others he has made. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell helped make this legislation happen in the Senate.
Now the president has an obligation to demand effective implementation of these two bills from Robert Wilkie, who he plans to nominate to head the Veterans Administration.
The two bills provide the tools for improving a troubled department.
If successful, the biggest winners will be our veterans and their families who have earned and deserve the best health care our nation can provide.
The State Journal says a school’s duty doesn’t end with the academic calendar year:
Schools provide more than mental sustenance to the young children in our community. From literacy to nourishment, they serve many critical roles.
That fact becomes particularly apparent during the summer. Learning loss is a problem with which many educators are well-acquainted. Students who are not able to participate in summer camps or other activities can easily fall behind their peers. Local agencies and organizations, including schools, step up to the plate to provide programs that aim to stem any learning loss.
More important, students from many families may go without nutritional breakfasts, lunches or dinners. In severe cases, without the help of summer feeding programs, students may be forced to skip one or more meals. That’s why summer feeding programs are critical for our community’s children. During the year, the backpack snack program is another critical resource.
The programs, hopefully, lessen the chance that parents will face a choice between buying food or paying rent when money gets tight.
In Monday’s State Journal, Frankfort Independent Schools Food Service Director Christy Pritchett said 1,500 to 2,000 meals will be served from the Frankfort High School cafeteria each day after the school system kicked off its feeding program over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Franklin County Schools runs a similar program that kicked off Monday and continues through Aug. 3. FCS Nutrition Program Director Wendy Greenwell said the county’s program will serve about 500 lunches per day. Last year, the program provided 28,000 meals, Greenwell said.
While not a perfect indicator of the need, data profiles produced by the Legislative Research Commission show a majority of students in both local school systems receive free or reduced-price lunch. In FCS, that statistic is 53 percent, Greenwell said.
In Frankfort and Franklin County, we’ve got many things to be thankful for, and one of those is that our school systems fill a nutritional gap for many students.
While our community’s needs are not entirely unique or the most severe in Kentucky, we should recognize the holistic nature of the work our public schools do to, as FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp says, create good citizens. That includes ensuring students can continue eating nutritious meals when classes end for the year.
“We put kids first and don’t see that our duties end when May 25 rolls around,” Kopp said.