Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All inclusive child welfare

When Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown) recently attached the ultrasound bill as an amendment to child welfare legislation, a cry went up in Frankfort from legislators who say they couldn't believe Moore would do something like that. Tom Burch (D-Louisville) and David Watkins (D-Henderson) garnered the most attention in last week's Louisville Courier-Journal.

“'These are two elected officials that are supposed to be serving the people of Kentucky, and they’re out killing all the good legislation that could help the people of Kentucky — particularly the children,'” Burch said.

Equally angry is Rep. David Watkins, a Democrat and Henderson physician whose children’s health bill is affected by one of Moore’s anti-abortion amendments. 'I wish he really did care about kids,' Watkins said of Moore. 'This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen.'”

File this in the "Did they really say that?" category.

Tom Burch (D-Louisville) chair of the House Health and Welfare Committee opposed the ultrasound bill which would force abortionists to offer women seeking an abortion a chance to see the ultrasound of their unborn child if they so choose. Rep. Burch may be for the welfare of some children but certainly not for those who are unborn at 40 weeks and younger.

Why the anger over ultrasound legislation that would help women to make a more informed "choice?" Why not consider a comprehensive measure that considers the welfare of all children? And why blame the demise of child welfare legislation on somebody who believes that an unborn child at 40 weeks deserves the same child welfare protection as a child out of the womb at 41 weeks?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Political Extortion Round II

Just when you think state politics couldn't sink to s lower level another episode of political extortion raises its ugly head. Such was the case yesterday when the Paducah Sun reported that Paducah will not be considered for a much needed new middle school because State Rep. Brent Housman voted against the budget bill. It was mostly a party line vote but Greg Stumbo has singled out opponents once again by punishing them for not bowing to his agenda. Call it Political Extortion Round II.

Last summer House Speaker Stumbo promised a billion dollars worth of new school projects if members voted for the casino expansion bill. Members who voted against it were told they wouldn't get new schools. New schools or not, Mr. Stumbo ought to be sent to the principal's office for bullying his fellow House members.

Kentuckians deserve to have their business conducted by their elected officials in a professional manner, not with threats and bribes. Speaker Stumbo may not see the principal anytime soon but voting Kentuckians will have the last word at the polls in November. I'm sure they'll speak their mind in a more orderly fashion than what passes for Frankfort politics these days.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Pulling the curtain on public indecency

Traveling has a way of opening one's horizon to happenings in other parts of the country, but when the entire family sallies forth on adventure, unsuspecting exposure sometimes make for a teachable, if not uncomfortable, moment. Such was the case recently for me and my family while traveling through Georgia and Florida where imposing billboards advertising strippers lined several of the major exits. It wasn't quite Mardi Gras, but then again we weren't heading to the Big Easy. We were on a family vacation to South Florida, and despite the beckoning billboards—gaudy as they were, visiting a strip club wasn't in the family plans.

At one time, strip clubs were illegal and relegated to the seedy side of big cities, but now they've gone mainstream, so much so that they're aggressively marketed on our Interstates. So how do you explain to an eight-year-old what's going on? Of course, spare them the details, but isn't it ironic that most eight-year-olds already know there's something wrong with adults taking off all their clothes in public for pay?

Proliferation of strip clubs is largely due to lack of regulations and a misunderstanding that such activity falls under First Amendment free speech protections. According to a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which allowed a Kentucky county ordinance to stand, stripping is a regulable activity and public nudity is not a protected right. The court of public opinion agrees. That's why scores of Kentucky local governments have passed solid regulations in recent years.

Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee regulate strip clubs but Kentucky is, ahem, exposed to these businesses because it lacks statewide regulations. So why doesn't Kentucky have a statewide law regulating strip clubs?
Detractors argue that the state has better things to do than regulate strip clubs.


The state regulates activity relating to public health and safety all the time. In fact, government is charged with preserving the health and safety of the community—something that strip clubs jeopardize. Consider that between Jan. 1, 2002 and Feb. 11, 2004, Covington police made a total of 469 calls to sexually oriented businesses in the city. The charges included robbery, assault, fraud, malicious mischief, public intoxication, prostitution and possession of illegal drugs.

The behavior inside unregulated strip clubs not only borders on illegal, but they serve as a magnet for other criminal activity. Without basic regulations and inspections, some of Kentucky's biggest strip clubs will continue to operate with a "wild west, anything goes mentality" that will ruin good communities. The ball is now in the court of state lawmakers and our leaders need to ask: What message are we sending to our neighbors?

For the last dozen years, legislative efforts in Frankfort to regulate Kentucky strip clubs have failed. The Kentucky Senate has passed strip club restrictions four years in a row only to have their measure die in the House. This year, the effort is being pushed in the House where four members are working for passage of HB 413 which would ban total nudity and prohibit sexual activity inside strip clubs. The bill would be a deterrent to illegal activity and a good step for preserving the health and safety of Kentucky communities. If passed, HB 413 would also serve as a billboard for the rest of the country that Kentucky women won't be abused and exploited on stage for profit.

Now, wouldn't that be a good sign?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kentucky bill featured in The New York Times

LEXINGTON, KY-A Kentucky bill that calls for critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion concerning the advantages and disadvantages of scientific theories was featured yesterday in The New York Times. The bill, House Bill 397, was introduced by State Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown).

"The Family Foundation is in full support of an open-minded approach to issues of human origins, global warming, and human cloning in our schools," said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst. Cothran has also written for the
Discovery Institute, which has worked for similar legislation in other states.

"Our students need to be learning how to think about all these issues," said Cothran. "They don't need to be indoctrinated with the current fads in science. Global warming is just one issue in which some in the scientific community have decided which views are acceptable and which are not. We need to make sure our students are taught that there are other sides to some of these controversial issues."

The bill, called the "Kentucky Science Education and Intellectual Freedom Act," allows a teacher to use materials other than state-approved textbooks, with the approval of the local site-based council, "to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, including but not limited to the study of evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."