The 2012 Kentucky General Assembly has sidestepped or fumbled most of the big issues and has accomplished little of importance. It has been a session of odds and ends, at best. A few, for better or worse, are worth noting:
— It’s probably a good thing, on balance, that House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, put the brakes on Senate Bill 12. The measure, pushed by AT&T in particular, would have fully deregulated the telephone industry in Kentucky. Under the bill, AT&T and others would no longer have to provide basic landline services to all homes and businesses if services could be provided by a competitor or by cell-phone service. That might turn out to be a worthy idea, but Stumbo is right that more study is needed of the bill’s potential impact in rural areas and among the poor and elderly. It’s a fine issue to examine between sessions.
— It’s distressing that the Senate Education Committee voted to approve SB 9, a measure to undermine diversity and equal educational opportunity in Jefferson County with a demagogic and unworkable appeal to neighborhood schools. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Seum, R-Fairdale, almost certainly would die in the House if it cleared the full Senate. One must certainly hope so.
— The good news is that a bill that would extend domestic-violence protection to people in dating relationships is moving through the House. The bad news is that Senate Judiciary Chairman Tom Jensen, R-London, said that it’s unlikely his committee will even hold a hearing on the measure, House Bill 498. Jensen said that “a lot of people” don’t think it’s a necessary protection. Women in violent situations will just have to take comfort that the men who run the Senate can be so sure.
— House Concurrent Resolution 192, which would create a task force to consider an overhaul of decades-old laws that are blamed for a high rate of incarceration of juveniles for minor and non-violent offenses, appears on its way to passage. That’s a good first step, though the followup will be crucial. The legislators pushing the measure, Jensen and Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, headed a similar effort in 2010 that led to a revamping of how the state punishes adults for less serious crimes.
— The Senate needs to blow the dust off HB 308, which has languished in committee there for more than a month. The bill would provide badly needed oversight and regulation to for-profit colleges — and protect the educational and financial interests of vulnerable students.
— The Courier-Journal, Louisville