Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
Owensboro (Ky.) Messenger-Inquirer on county constable legislation:
Quick, name Daviess County's three elected constables.
Don't worry, even the most informed voters would have a hard time giving one name, much less all three.
Since it's killing you to know, they are Ray Westerfield of the Central District, David A. Underhill of the Eastern District and Paul E. Westerfield of the Western District.
As of right now, they would be the ones affected in this county if House Bill 147 passes the General Assembly.
Instead of outright eliminating the constitutional office of constable statewide, HB 147 would give individual counties the choice to keep the position or drop it from the ballot.
Though we can think of no reason why constables are a necessary form of 21st century law enforcement, there may be counties that feel the need to keep the extra manpower around.
But in doing so, they will run the risk of having "peace officers," who may or may not be trained in law enforcement, walking around with the authority to enforce criminal and traffic laws — automatic powers bestowed on them when the position became an elected office in 1850.
Although city police, sheriff's deputies, university police and even airport police are mandated by state law to be certified under the Peace Officer Professional Standards Act, the stipulation has never applied to constables — even though it would've been in the public's best interest.
So far the only argument constables have for keeping them around is so they can deliver legal documents and run security at school dances.
Over the years, however, there have been plenty of examples around the state of constables abusing their position and running afoul, making the law enforcement powers they're afforded not worth the liability.
If constables want to be real peace officers, they should submit an application to their local police and sheriff's departments.
That way, even if the citizens don't know their police officers' names, they will at least know the person in uniform has been trained to protect and serve them.
The Independent, Ashland, Ky., on prescription drug legislation:
As the 2013 session of the Kentucky General Assembly enters its final two weeks, we give legislators a "D-" for their mostly dismal performance to date.
However, not all has been lost. We give legislators an "A'' for the compromise they have reached on amending a 2012 law aimed at reducing the prescription drug epidemic that has plagued this state for more than a decade.
The compromise bill — which Gov. Steve Beshear, Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo and Senate President Robert Stivers jointly and enthusiastically endorsed during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee — effectively addresses the concerns raised by conscientious medical professionals about the 2012 law without gutting the portions of the law that have proved effective in significantly reducing the illegal flow of highly addictive prescription pain medication in the state. ...
Among the changes in the bill are exempting hospitals and long-term-care facilities from conducting KASPER (the state's electronic tracking system for prescription drugs) reports for each prescription during institutional care; requiring mental or physical examinations only as deemed appropriate by the physician; a 14-day exemption for surgery patients; and exempting hospice and other end-of-life medical providers.
Stumbo said the intent of the original bill "was never to tell doctors how to practice medicine."
One of the most heard complaints was the requirement for expensive urine tests for which insurance companies declined to reimburse for subsequent prescriptions. Stumbo said the new regulations and bill will now require such tests only when they "are reasonably necessary."
Dr. Preston Nunnelley, chairman of the Kentucky Medical Board of Licensure, said he's happy with the changes.
"I think we've come a long way from where we started," Nunnelley said. "Everyone was willing to look at some of the unintended consequences and made the bill a lot better and made us more comfortable with the regulations."
Like we said, there have been few reasons to praise the 2013 General Assembly. House Bill 217 is one of those few.
Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on proposed protective orders legislation:
More than a few Kentucky parents have been dismayed to learn their single daughter is barred from seeking a protective order against an ex-boyfriend or wannabe-boyfriend who is stalking or threatening her.
This gap in Kentucky law puts us in extremely narrow company. South Carolina is the only other state that still excludes people in dating relationships from obtaining civil protective orders.
Kentucky may finally end this dreadful distinction. There are encouraging signs that Senate Republicans are ready to remove the roadblocks they have put up in the past.
Kudos to the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, for scheduling a hearing for House Bill 9, which would extend protective orders to Kentuckians who have been in dating relationships.
HB 9 cleared the 100-member House with broad bipartisan support. There were only five no votes, including that of Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington.
Kentucky law now extends protective orders only to those who have lived together, been married or share a child, including members of same-sex couples.
Excluded is a particularly vulnerable group, teens and young adults who have yet to marry, as well as people who choose not to co-habitate outside marriage for moral reasons or out of consideration for children from an earlier relationship.
These Kentuckians deserve the full protection of the law and the same protections available in other states.
Civil protective orders have proved to be an effective tool for domestic violence victims to get on with their lives with some sense of security. The system saves taxpayers money on incarcerations, medical treatment and social services.
The system also protects the accused. HB 9 would provide younger offenders with a wake-up call that could prevent them from falling deeper into violence. ...
But the best reason to support HB 9 is the hometown, pro-family politics of common sense and compassion. Domestic violence knows no party lines. It wreaks untold harm and huge costs on Kentuckians. Anything that interrupts this cycle of violence is worthy of bipartisan support.
This is at least the third time the House has approved extending domestic violence protections to dating couples.
It's time the Senate did the same.