Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
Owensboro (Ky.) Messenger-Inquirer on frivolous legislative bills:
The public often wonders what lawmakers do with their time when they're in Frankfort.
Political differences bog down the process, but so do the number of frivolous bills.
Barely into the new short 30-day session, there were already 195 bills filed — one included to make the Kentucky long rifle the official state gun and another to allow hunters to kill an unlimited number of coyotes.
Lawmakers returned to the state capital Jan. 8, using the four days they had, mostly electing House and Senate leadership positions.
The General Assembly will resume Feb. 5 with 26 legislative days in which to work.
So with a $30 billion underfunded state employee pension system needing to be addressed and legislative districts left undone, it seems inconceivable that elected lawmakers would seriously submit such bills that not only delay but mock the process.
The large number of bills creates a legislative logjam that has little to do with addressing the needs of the commonwealth.
In last year's long 60-day session, a combined 766 bills were filed in the House and Senate. But only 155 of them became law.
Two years ago, legislators introduced 662 bills — 494 in the House and 168 in the Senate — in that short session.
Of those bills, only 70 from the House and 28 from the Senate were actually signed by the governor.
Some have argued in the past to limit the number of bills that can be submitted in a session. Another solution is possibly moving up the deadlines to file a bill. This year's deadline is Feb. 15 for the Senate and Feb. 19 for the House.
In reality, neither is necessary.
What's required is responsible lawmakers prepared to do what it takes to fix the state's more critical problems instead of wasting time on trivial matters that do little to move Kentucky forward.
Otherwise, we'll have a state that remains financially unsound while we have hunters who can kill all of the coyotes they can with their official Kentucky long rifles.
Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on state child obesity:
If 37 percent of Kentucky children are obese or overweight, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, why is it that only 14 percent of Kentucky parents think their child weighs too much?
As much as we might wish to write off this finding from the Kentucky Parent Survey as a statistical aberration, the truth probably is that a lot of parents are in denial about their child's weight and their own weight.
Consider: Parents report that almost two out of three school-age Kentuckians (59 percent) drink a soft drink or other sugary beverages every day, according to the random survey of more than 1,000 parents or guardians of children younger than 18.
The poll was commissioned by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and conducted last summer by the University of Virginia's Center for Survey Research. It has a margin of error of 3 percent.
If that many parents 'fess up to giving their kids daily doses of calorie-laden, teeth-rotting, diabetes-promoting drinks, just think how many more might be too embarrassed to admit it.
A growing body of research suggests that the concentrated fructose from corn that's found in most soft drinks contributes more and in different ways to obesity than the sucrose from table sugar that Eisenhower era kids dumped in their Kool-Aid.
Being overweight or obese sets a child up for lifelong weight problems and health complications.
While two-thirds of Kentucky parents reported their child got enough physical activity every day during the previous week, 56 percent of parents said their children are spending more than two hours a day in front of a screen, watching television, playing games or surfing the Internet.
Experts say one way to protect children from obesity is to cut off "screen time" at two hours a day.
The two-hour limit on sedentary recreation is part of what's called the 5-2-1-0 daily plan for healthy kids: Five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than two hours of screen time, at least an hour of exercise and zero high-calorie drinks, a category that can include fruit-based juices.
Obviously parents are the first and most important line of defense against childhood obesity.
But families need help from schools and communities to ensure kids, including adolescents, have safe, convenient places to run, walk, bike and play; constructive, supervised after-school activities, and healthful food to eat.
The Paducah (Ky.) Sun on U.S. energy security:
U.S. oil production surged almost 14 percent in 2012, despite falling domestic consumption. Production is projected to further accelerate in 2013.
The American Petroleum Institute reported that the average daily output of crude oil jumped 779,000 barrels a day last year, the biggest increase in history. New technologies, especially hydraulic fracturing, have opened up vast, previously inaccessible oil deposits for extraction.
At the same time, domestic oil consumption fell in 2012 to the lowest level in 16 years, according to The Wall Street Journal, which attributed the decline to the sluggish economy and stricter fuel economy standards. Also, oil imports fell 6.9 percent in 2012
As a result of the converging trends, the U.S. became a net exporter of petroleum products in 2011 for the first time since 1949, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.
The U.S. is becoming less dependent on foreign energy sources. That's a good thing.
Energy independence is not just an economic issue but a security issue, as the armed siege in Algeria makes clear. Terrorists believed to be affiliated with al Qaida seized a remote natural gas installation and took dozens of hostages. Algerian news reports that 38 hostages, including three Americans, were killed. Algerian forces launched a series of assaults on the complex during which scores of hostages were rescued or escaped, including seven Americans. ...
That's all the more reason for the U.S. and Canada to continue increasing their own oil production. The technologically driven resurgence of domestic oil production has the potential to make the Middle East almost irrelevant to America's energy supply by 2025 and thus neutralize this newest terror tactic.
Developing our own energy reserves also is producing jobs and reviving the economy. ...
This is a historic opportunity the U.S. must not squander. ...
Meanwhile the Environmental Protection Agency seems determined to do to fracking what it has done to coal: regulate it out of existence. The anti-fracking movement, absent any scientific foundation, is gaining momentum with the help of a few Hollywood stars who have lent their names to the cause. Such efforts threaten America's ability to achieve energy independence and, though unintentional, aid al Qaida's goals.