Whitesburg KY

A pledge to fight hike on food tax

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could prey upon the elderly, how a con artist could hurt our parents or grandparents — the very people who helped raise and nurture us growing up. Family means a lot to us here in the mountains, and we continue to honor and celebrate our elders for their many gifts and sacrifices through the years.

Yet there are organized efforts to target our senior citizens and take advantage of their trust and generosity — two of the qualities we love and appreciate the most. Loneliness, declining health and isolation could also make any of us vulnerable to a well-run, organized campaign to cheat us out of our money.

That’s why I appreciated the opportunity to meet with senior citizens in our area last week for a special meeting at the Letcher County Cooperative Extension Office to discuss “Scam Alerts” — a consumer protection service created by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office to notify Kentuckians directly when crooks and swindlers are on the attack. The event hosted by Attorney General Andy Beshear on April 13 drew a great crowd and encouraged many there to share details of their own personal experiences with scams.

To sign up for Scam Alerts, text KYOAG Scam to GOV311 (468311), or, you can also sign up for email or text alerts by enrolling online at ag.ky.gov/scams. This valuable service, launched in 2016 by Attorney General Beshear, continues to grow in its effectiveness to notify Kentuckians of the latest fraudulent financial scheme to steal a person’s money or identification.

In coordination with AARP of Kentucky, the Attorney General’s Office also collaborates with senior ministries in faithbased communities and churches throughout the Commonwealth to discuss the dangers of falling victim to scam attacks. “The Interfaith Travel Series: Scam Alerts” allows officials from the Attorney General’s office to work one-onone with senior Kentuckians by providing up-to-date information on financial fraud.

The next Interfaith Travel Series planned for our region will be in Hazard on August 16 as a part of Senior Safety Day at the New Hope Church. A time will be announced soon, and you can find information on this meeting and others at www.ag.ky.gov/family/seniorprotection/ interfaith-travel/.

Through its Office of Senior Protection, the Attorney General also provides information on fraud, consumer complaint assistance, Elder Abuse Awareness and important questions to ask before purchasing a Medicare Discount Prescription Card. There’s a toll-free number, too, to report Elder Abuse — 1-877-228-7384 (1-877-ABUSE-TIP). You can find more details at www.ag.ky.gov/ family/seniorprotection/.

Keeping ourselves vigilant to the needs of our senior citizens, and equipping them with tools for their own protection, will become increasingly important in the years to come. The U.S. population is growing faster than a blade of bluegrass in spring, but a larger population will not necessarily mean a younger population, for either our country or the Bluegrass State.

The less-than-robust birth rate nationally and here in Kentucky over the past decade means that the largest population growth — at least over the next few decades — will be among the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964). That means most population growth will be among older and the oldest Americans, demographers say, more and more of whom are living into “their fourth quarter of life” (ages 75-100) and some even into “overtime” at 100 years plus.

As Kentuckians always do, we will rise to whatever challenges our changing demography presents in the decades to come. Looking out for each other, educating ourselves, and preparing for the trials ahead will continue to serve us well.

These changes in demographics will affect many legislative issues, including Gov. Bevin’s efforts to change Kentucky’s tax code and take additional steps to address shortfalls in the state’s pension systems. News outlets reported this week that the governor said he will call the Kentucky General Assembly into special session sometime this year to address those two subjects, although he did not indicate when.

Meeting in special session is expensive — it costs taxpayers almost $65,000 a day — and I am not in favor of coming together to spend that kind of money unless an agreement has been reached by the governor and legislative leaders in both the House and the Senate before we come to Frankfort to vote on any proposed measures.

I will also stand strongly against any attempt to raise taxes on groceries. Such an effort hurts the most vulnerable among us — including our senior citizens and places yet another burden on hardworking families who are already having a difficult time making ends meet, especially as the loss of coal jobs continues to hurt our region. Please keep an eye out for more details on this debate as it emerges. If you have questions, concerns or opinions on these issues or any other, I hope you will contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line toll-free at 1-800-372-7181, or emailing me at angie.hatton@lrc.ky.gov.

It’s an honor to serve the people of Letcher and Pike counties, and I thank you so much for the opportunity to be your state representative. I hope to hear from you soon, and until then, have a great week!

State Rep. Angie Hatton represents the state’s 94th House District in Letcher and Pike counties.

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