Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
The Morehead (Ky.) News on dating violence:
We were encouraged when the leadership of the Kentucky House of Representatives came forward last month with House Bill 8 to amend the domestic violence protection laws to shield unmarried individuals in dating relationships.
However, that noble effort was derailed - at least temporarily - when a House member offered floor amendments to change the original bill by adding totally unrelated language involving abortions.
As now written, KRS 403 empowers judges to issue emergency protective orders (EPO) to shield marriage partners or unwed couples living together or those who have had a child together.
House Bill 8 would extend that protection to unmarried individuals who are dating currently or have dated within the last three years.
The intent, of course, is to protect such individuals, primarily those of high school and college age, from domestic violence and abuse, defined as physical injury, sexual abuse, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, sexual abuse, or assault.
The bill defines "dating relationship" as a relationship between individuals who have or have had a relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.
Interestingly, the proposed law does not cover violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between individuals who only have engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context.
In a situation involving students in the same school, the proposed revision would allow a judge to impose conditions of the EPO that cause the least disruption at the affected school while protecting the individual believed to be in danger.
First and foremost, we believe that the life and health of a man or woman, young or older, in a dating relationship should be just as valued as those of spouses and unwed couples.
In our opinion, this issue is far too important to be delayed by grandstanding tactics of misguided individuals.
Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader on agencies issuing mining permits:
No matter how many peer-reviewed studies link living near surface mining to higher rates of disease, death and birth defects, it's of no consequence to the agencies issuing the permits.
That astounding gap in a process that's supposed to protect the public came to light during arguments this month before a federal appeals court. The three judges are considering a challenge to a James River Coal subsidiary's plan to blast and strip the hills next to the communities of Vicco and Sassafras in Knott and Perry counties for a 756-acre surface mine.
The plaintiffs say the Army Corps of Engineers, one of three agencies that must approve surface-mining plans, was required by federal law and its own regulations to consider risks to public health.
But a U.S. Justice Department attorney, representing the Corps, argued that any such responsibility falls within the jurisdiction of Kentucky's environmental agency.
The Corps is responsible only for considering the effects of filling streams with dirt and rock dislodged by surfacing mining, the attorney said, not for considering the effects of the mining overall — a distinction without a difference, if ever there was one.
Apparently nothing precludes Kentucky from considering public health when ruling on mining permits. But Kentucky, which has been delegated authority to enforce the U.S. Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, chooses not to make public health a consideration.
One of the three judges hearing the appeal, Eugene Siler Jr., a former Whitley County attorney, twice asked whether considering public health effects would not stop all surface mining.
No, he was assured by the plaintiffs' lawyers, but it would result in conditions being imposed on mining permits to protect public health.
No one mentioned that the blasting, bulldozing, air and water pollution would be right on top of the 700 people who live in Vicco and Sassafras, along with the fears for their and their family's health.
Those who insist that surface mining is overregulated in Eastern Kentucky should get to live next door to it.
The News-Enterprise, Elizabethtown, Ky., on blood supply shortage:
Each winter, the medical community braces itself for flu to reduce blood donations. This winter, flu season and treacherous weather have dealt the U.S. blood supply a one-two punch.
Bad weather canceled hundreds of blood drives. In all, 1,500 drives in 34 states were canceled between Jan. 2 and Feb. 17, said Lindsay English, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.
That translates to 50,000 uncollected donations; the equivalent of the entire Red Cross organization shutting down for three days, England said.
Locally, American Red Cross recruiters have reached out to past donors, asking them if they are eligible and willing to donate. The Red Cross also is shoring up its mobile blood drive schedule.
The need is great.
It's a fairly simple process, as outlined on the American Red Cross website. You register. Someone takes your medical history and provides a mini physical. You make the actual donation — approximately one pint of blood. And then, you get a snack.
Plus, it's easy to find out about when and where you can give blood as all drives are listed and searchable by ZIP code, at www.redcrossblood.org. You also can call 1-800-RED-CROSS.
Visiting one of these drives is a profoundly generous thing to do. Four types of transfusable products can be taken from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. According to the American Red Cross, a pint of whole blood usually provides two or three of these products. So each donation has the potential to save three lives.
The two most common reasons people cite for not giving blood are they haven't thought about it and they don't like needles. The needle simply can't be avoided, but for the others, we ask you to think about it.
It's a gift that really does save lives.