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Kentucky editorial roundup

May 16, 2018

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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May 15

The Daily Independent on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on sports gambling:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned a federal law that barred most states from legalizing sports betting.

This, to us, is a long overdue, common sense ruling.

The most immediate outcome for residents of the Commonwealth is that, with a drive across the bridge into West Virginia, one will soon be able to put a bet down on pretty much any sporting event they choose. The state of West Virginia legalized sports gambling this past spring although it appears a few details have yet to be worked out including whether the casinos, the state, or gamblers will pay sports franchises an “integrity fee,” also known as a gambling tax directed to the sports franchises, leagues and universities. Gov. Jim Justice has said he may call a special session to iron out all the details, but the state was waiting to hear from the U.S. Supreme Court on its ruling before moving forward. That clearance came on Monday, so sports gambling in West Virginia is now cleared for takeoff.

The ruling stemmed from the case Governor of New Jersey v. the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which was an effort by the Garden State to legalize sports gambling. Professional sports leagues and the NCAA claimed this was a violation of PASPA, which effectively barred most states from legalizing gambling on sports by forbidding states from any effort “to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize by law or compact” sports betting.

Therefore, New Jersey tried a different tact: It simply repealed its laws barring sports gambling.

The case opens an opportunity for states to re-examine their position on legalization of sports gambling_something Congress banned in 1992 under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, known as PASPA. In finding PASPA unconstitutional, the court reaffirms the federal government cannot tell state legislatures what laws to pass, repeal, or keep on the books.

A lot of the gambling laws — aimed at restricting wagering to designated spots like Las Vegas and Atlantic City — are badly antiquated. The reality is they were all crafted generations ago when there was no internet. Now, wherever you are, if you are intent on sports gambling, you can simply log on to your computer and do so through a myriad of off-shore accounts, etc.

It will be up to individual states to decide if they want to get in on the action, but in a world where sports gambling is accessible online at any time worldwide, this is obviously a common sense decision.

Online: http://www.dailyindependent.com

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May 16

Bowling Green Daily News says police deserve to be honored:

Police officers in our city and across the country have very admirable jobs, but also very dangerous ones.

On a daily basis, police officers put their lives on the line to protect the public. They work long hours, investigate domestic disputes, robberies, rapes, assaults, homicides and occasionally exchange gunfire with criminals. Police officers simply don’t know what to expect when they put their uniforms on in the morning and walk to their patrol cars. Nationwide, 51 officers have died in the line of duty this year.

We should all respect police across this nation because they literally are our eyes and ears when we are resting safely at night. They are first responders to accidents where many of them, because of their training, save lives or help save lives on a daily basis.

After the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, police officers in that city and across the country got a really bad name, although the officer responsible for the shooting was never indicted. Many of those protesting at the time chanted horrible names in reference to police that we won’t print here. It was a real shame that police were painted with that brush because it’s simply not accurate for the majority of them.

While we should show respect for current police officers, we also need to pay our respects to those who are no longer with us because they were unfortunately killed in the line of duty. That occurred in our city last weekend at the Bowling Green Fraternal Order of Police Lodge. People gathered at the lodge for the ceremony to remember those fallen officers and, in one case, a fallen police dog, Kane. Kane was a 3-year-old German shepherd who was found dead April 27 under what investigators consider suspicious circumstances. A moment of silence was held for Kane.

Russell Coleman, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, who was the guest speaker at the memorial, exhorted officers to speak out more about the nature of their job in order to improve public perception of law enforcement.

“Once you take that oath and put that gun in your holster, you have forever waived your ability to run away from the sound of gunfire,” said Coleman, a former FBI agent. “Many communities don’t understand that’s the culture of law enforcement. You don’t talk about it because that’s just who you are, but you have to talk about it more. We have to expose the community to these stories.”

Coleman is correct. Police officers are humble people and should be commended for not talking about their accomplishments, but Coleman is right that the more police officers talk about their daily jobs and the dangers they face, the more the public will appreciate the vital role they play.

We want to take this time to pay our respects to all police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty and those working the streets on a daily basis. We honor you and thank you for all that you do for us every day. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Online: http://www.bgdailynews.com

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May 11

The State Journal says Kentucky needs to focus on financial health:

We’re all familiar with the story line — Kentucky is strapped for cash and has a massively underfunded pension system, not an encouraging combination.

Teachers and other state employees lobbied for less severe pension reform than legislators proposed, but that wasn’t possible without increased revenue.

While we’re not close to solving revenue shortfalls, a bit of cold comfort for revenue projections came with news this week that state tax receipts reached a record level in April. State officials say they’re not sure if the momentum will continue, but collections grew 6.3 percent last month — $69.5 million — compared to the same time last year. Most of that growth comes from individual and corporate income taxes.

That bright spot comes after a budget reduction order in December and a lowered estimate for tax receipts. It needs to be followed by subsequent months of growth for the commonwealth to restore funding for recent budget cuts, much less expand services.

Legislators abstained from pursuing legalized gambling, marijuana or other items that could have led to revenue growth. Instead, they passed a sales tax on certain services and hiked the cigarette tax, among other things.

However uncertain it may be, betting that more people will move to the state as well as increases in corporate and personal income taxes is another alternative, which involves a confluence of complex factors that could never be solely controlled by government officials (increasing existing taxes isn’t the solution).

There are many state employees and institutions whose jobs focus on the state’s fiscal future, but the issue is of such importance that it continues to deserve the same level of scrutiny as it received when the legislature was in session.

April’s record-breaking numbers are an example of an unexpected, positive development. More may lie in our immediate future. Kentucky’s overall economy, like America’s, is humming at a rate not seen in years, and the commonwealth’s overall population is growing, too.

In making the announcement about April revenue, Budget Director John Chilton said he’s cautiously optimistic about the path of growth for the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year. It’s unclear if the trend will continue.

The numbers should serve to redirect Kentuckians — citizens and officials — back to the most important item. There’s more work to do in order for Kentucky to remedy structural problems that led to projected revenue shortfalls and an underfunded pension system. Because fully funding Kentucky’s pension system will not permanently prevent the positive trends from reversing in the future, even if we see more months of record-breaking growth.

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

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