Kentucky’s kick in the ass

In case you missed it, a couple of years ago Kentucky (unofficially) adopted a new state motto: “Kentucky Kicks Ass.” This new adage is apparently intended to better capture what Kentucky is all about — more so than “Unbridled Spirit” — as well as “increase tourism, foster pride, attract new business and diminish stereotypes.”

I am not sure that “Kentucky Kicks Ass” is going to do anything to “diminish” the latter, but there are indeed some things in which we do actually kick ass: basketball, bourbon, baseball bats, horse racing … Louisville. 

However, as I watch the ridiculous, albeit funny, campaign video — made by Kentucky for Kentucky — I can not help but feel the same sentiment as I do when I hear America is the “greatest country on Earth.” I know it to be true, but at what exactly are we the greatest?

As is my feeling for my home state, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there are other places I love visiting, but this is truly home. That said, we need a kick in the ass before we can claim “kick ass.” In particular, the zoo that is Frankfort when our legislators convene for their annual rush to the slop. 

At the top of the agenda for the Republican-controlled Senate has been a series of pet-project bills that have little, if any, chance at passing. First was the annual attempt at making Kentucky the 25th “right to work state,” which has absolutely no chance of becoming law. In short, “right to work” is a catchy title that means undermining unions, whose sole purpose is to protect and defend the rights, wages and respect of workers. 

S.B. 4 was the requisite attack on women’s health, privacy, freedom and intelligence — an “informed consent” bill that would require women seeking an abortion to attend an in-person counseling session with a physician at least 24 hours before being eligible for a termination procedure. [The existing law requires the same consultation with a physician, but S.B. 4 would require the counseling take place in person.]

The issue here is not so much about making information available to women: The bill mandates that a woman must make, attend and pay for an appointment with a healthcare provider and then wait at least a full day (24 hours) before returning for the actual procedure. The problem? First, there are not that many providers in the state. Second, women in rural areas may live hours from the nearest provider. Finally, this bill would require that they take at least two days off work, away from their homes and families and bear the burden of two visits to a healthcare provider. In addition to the personal burden, this requirement of additional (unnecessary) healthcare drives up healthcare costs for everyone.

Then there is Sen. Dan Seum of Fairdale who moaned about the bill, saying that legislators, “never include daddies’ rights in abortion-related measures.” 

These people are literally forcing themselves into the doctor-patient relationship. 

The Democrat-run house has not been any more effective in passing legislation that would make Kentucky more kick-ass. Through the first few weeks of the session, they have passed exactly zero bills and 10 simple resolutions. These resolutions include adopting the rules of the session, inviting pastors to open 2015 House sessions, inviting the governor to deliver the State of the State and honoring distinguished Kentuckians who have perished. 

I am all for honoring the memory of those who paved the path for us, but there is too much brush ahead to not have passed a single bill. 

If you want to give Kentucky’s economy a kick in the ass, start by legalizing gambling. If there were not several casino boats readily available around the state, a lottery, or the Internet, we may have a different debate. However, we do not live in “if” Kentucky. We are passing on free money that could go towards our schools or our infrastructure — like the bridge that fell on I-75. 
Speaking of free money, how about we go ahead and legalize, regulate and tax marijuana? This is not selfish advocacy. I do not use marijuana — not because of any moral objection — I just don’t like it. But like gambling, it is a different discussion if it prevented anyone from accessing it. As it is, we don’t regulate it, we create criminals out of noncriminals, people still smoke it, and we are not capitalizing on an enormous industry and kick ass economic opportunity. 

I once asked a dear friend of mine one month into his first term as a state Senator if it was as crazy as it seemed. He told me, “You have no idea.” Governing can be difficult — it should be. However, there are some things that are easy. Free money is easy. Free money kicks ass, and so could Kentucky.