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Kentucky editorial roundup

March 13, 2019

Summary of recent Kentucky newspaper editorials:

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March 11

The Daily Independent of Ashland on “concealed carry” legislation:

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says he will sign a bill letting people carry a concealed handgun without a permit or training.

We at The Daily Independent aren’t huge fans of this legislation, but we aren’t opposed to it, either. We believe a vast majority of gun owners interested in concealed carry — 90 percent or more — are responsible gun owners who frankly don’t need a permit. Our snag on this is the idea that a concealed carry can happen with zero training. We think it is obviously wise, especially for a novice gun owner, to have instruction from a trained professional on these matters. We also are concerned about potential impacts to law enforcement officers who we presume will potentially, at least, face more situations involving encounters with individuals concealing weaponry.

Bevin said Tuesday the measure is supported by a vast majority of Kentuckians, the AP reported. The measure won final approval from state lawmakers last week. Its supporters include the National Rifle Association.

“It recognizes the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. That’s really it. It doesn’t break new ground,” Gov. Bevin told Gray Television on Friday.

Under the legislation, Kentuckians able to lawfully possess a firearm could conceal their weapons without a license. A gun-carrying permit in the state now carries a fee and a gun safety training requirement. Among other things, the bill’s opponents objected to dropping the training requirement as a condition for carrying concealed weapons.

Supporters said the measure makes no changes regarding where and when people can possess concealed weapons.

We recognize that gun rights in America is an incredibly sensitive issue. One critically important component of the ongoing debate is of course all the carnage in America due to people misusing guns. The most obvious examples involve mass shootings and school shootings — they represent an unmitigated American crisis. And, obviously, there is the absolute right to bear arms and the ability to defend one’s self using a firearm. We believe, like everything, there is a middle ground. On all issues. But our starting point on this issue is simple: law abiding citizens will always have the right to own and carry a firearm in America and those rights can never be infringed on due to the outrageous acts of a few who abuse these rights.

Kentucky will now join 14 other states with permitless concealed carry. We don’t view this is a bad thing. However, we strongly encourage anyone thinking about pursuing a concealed carry in light of this new law to receive proper training from a professional. Doing so is in everyone’s best interests.

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

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March 9

The Daily News of Bowling Green on teacher “sick outs”:

Teachers have a very important job in many ways. They inspire young minds, help them learn the core skills students will need to advance in their formal educations and mold them into adults.

We are very proud of the jobs that teachers do on a daily basis and applaud them for their roles in educating the children and teenagers of this state.

Having said that, we believe some teachers are behaving quite irresponsibly by calling in sick to school, when they are indeed not sick, in order to go protest House Bill 205, which would grant tax credits to people who donate to scholarship funds for special needs children and those in foster care, or to low- to middle-income families to help their children attend private schools.

At least four Kentucky school districts were forced to close Thursday as hundreds of teachers called in sick to protest proposed legislation at the state Capitol in Frankfort.

It was the third time in the past week districts were forced to cancel classes because of too many teacher absences. And it was the second closure in a row for Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest district and one of the biggest in the country with nearly 100,000 students.

In Kentucky, teachers aren’t allowed to strike, so some have coordinated to all use their sick days on the same day, forcing districts to close because they don’t have enough substitutes to cover classes.

The teachers who are doing this are skirting the law and are essentially striking. A strike by any other name is still a strike.

Teachers have an absolute right to voice their concern, like any other citizen. They can write, email or call their legislators, or let the Kentucky Education Association, the powerful teachers union, use its well-funded lobbying group to speak to legislators on behalf of its 30,000-plus members. They can also arrange for a substitute if they wish to go to Frankfort.

All of these means are at their disposal, especially using the KEA lobbying group, since part of the dues teachers pay to be in this union will go to lobbying efforts upon their behalf.

We couldn’t agree more with Gov. Matt Bevin, who said the “sick outs” for teachers is irresponsible. It is highly irresponsible. Children need to be in school learning, not sitting at home while their teachers who are falsely claiming to be ill are protesting in Frankfort. And what about the working parents who have to scramble to find someone to watch their children while these teachers are taking sick days? Their time, schedules and lives matter as well.

Since children in their classrooms look up to their teachers as role models, it is fair to ask what message this bad example sends them.

Teachers are adults. They need to do the jobs they were hired to do and express their opposition to pending legislation through the venues we suggested and put their students first.

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

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March 8

The Richmond Register on school safety:

After the January 2018 Marshall County High School shooting that left two dead and more than 15 injured, communities across the Commonwealth started calling for a legislative change to better protect students in school.

Last week, lawmakers took the first step by passing the School Safety and Resiliency Act, an effort to improve school security through more personnel, increased focus on the mental health needs of students, and more oversight of school safety efforts on both the state and local level.

The bill builds a framework to increase security within Kentucky schools, promote an increased culture of student connection and increase oversight and accountability of school safety efforts. The legislation sets a state goal of providing more trained law enforcement and school counselors in schools, while also creating a statewide school security marshal and requiring more active shooter and suicide prevention training, among numerous other items.

The bill also cracks down on outside threats by criminalizing hoaxes and fake threats of violence in schools, labeling each as second-degree terroristic threatening.

However, that’s just the first step and an important one needs to happen next session — funding the bill.

While the overall amount needed at this point is unknown, lawmakers have stated numerous times that funding for school safety will be prioritized in 2020. Senate President Robert Stivers II added officials would spend the upcoming interim assessing what it will cost to pay to implement all the provisions of SB 1.

Our concern is that money will be tight in 2020 after years of budget cuts and continued pension concerns.

Will lawmakers be willing to create new revenue to pay for this bold initiative of adding more school resource officers and counselors? Will cuts have to be made elsewhere? Or will only partial funding be found?

These are questions that many of us have.

We thank lawmakers for working toward protecting students, but now, they need to keep their word to fully fund SB1 in 2020.

Otherwise, it’s take one step forward, two steps back and our students deserve better. They deserve a safe environment to learn in.

Online: https://www.richmondregister.com/

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