I will be hitting the airwaves Monday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. (eastern) for another “Bluegrass Monday” segment on the Mandy Connell Show on Louisville’s 84WHAS.
Kentucky House Bill 167, recently introduced to the General Assembly, mirrors the attempts of the Environmental Protection Agency to force unproven energy sources and onerous emission mandates on the commonwealth. The problem, of course, is not the attempt to maintain the benefits of clean air and water in Kentucky. The problem is the disregard for the costs entailed by such sweeping regulations.
Kentucky is currently third in the nation in coal production. Because of Kentucky coal, 18,000 miners are presently employed at starting salaries ranging from $65,000 to $70,000, and three more jobs exist in the industry for each coal mining job on the books. Because of Kentucky’s ample coal reserves, Kentuckians have enjoyed some of the lowest energy prices in the country, and these low prices have attracted businesses from the steel and aluminum industries to auto manufacturers. Because of Kentucky coal, 30% of US steel and aluminum is produced in the Bluegrass State. State legislation such as HB 167 and the unilateral mandates of the EPA threaten to crush this sort of prosperity by forcing a sweeping move to unproven energy alternatives.
If passed, HB 167 would mandate Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS) that require 12.5% of retail energy sales be provided from renewable sources by 2022. However, a study recently released by the Manhattan Institute has found that states forcing such REPS have significantly higher energy prices:
“Residential electricity prices in states with renewable-electricity mandates were 31.9 percent higher than in non-mandate states. Commercial electricity rates were 27.4 percent higher, and industrial rates were 30.7 percent higher. Of the ten states with the highest electricity prices, eight have renewable mandates. Of the ten states with the lowest electricity prices, only two have RPS mandates.”
So the question remains – what exactly is the economical alternative if Kentucky legislators pass HB 167 and abandon the low energy prices that have attracted so many businesses and so many jobs to the commonwealth?
HB 167 is currently under review in the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee.
Transparency: It’s about holding government accountable, not fishing expeditions to harass private businesses
We have written previously about House Bill 496, which would protect companies who do business with the government from being subject to Open Records rules.
The bill filed by Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, is a response to an attorney in his district who apparently is using an earlier attorney general’s ruling to harass private companies.
After all, the goal of transparency is about holding government accountable, not fishing expeditions to harass private businesses.
That attorney, John Rogers, apparently was upset by a ruling in September by Attorney General Jack Conway, who ruled that Utility Management Group, which is paid more than $11.6 million a year to manage Pike County’s water and sewer systems, is a public entity under the Open Records Act and must disclose spending information. UMG is appealing the decision in Pike Circuit Court.
The Lexington Herald-Leader’s John Cheves reports that one of the companies that received a “shotgun letter” from Rogers is Hinkle Contracting Co. of Paris, which alleged in a letter to Conway “that Rogers is on behalf of” UMG.
Cheves reports that Buckner Hinkle Jr., who represents Hinkle Contracting, alleged in a recent interview that: “Rogers’ open records requests ‘are intended to goad other contractors to support UMG in the Pike circuit litigation.'”
There are myriad issues here, not the least of which are problems with these agencies that want all of the benefits of public dollars but all of the protection from scrutiny enjoyed by private companies.
UMG is not an entity that sells a few lawnmowers to the local fiscal court. It is a public entity.
When it comes to government doing business with private firms, Cheves reports that Bell noted that “as a rule, open records requests are submitted to the government that gives money to private companies, not to the companies.”
If the House passes the legislation, the Senate needs to be very careful in ensuring that private businesses are protected from harassment by disgruntled lawyers who don’t like the fact that quasi-government entities that employ their services and spend gobs of taxpayer dollars must be held accountable for how that money is spend.
On the other hand, the Senate also needs to ensure that groups like the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties — which are so tightly attached to the government dole that they get taxpayer-funded pensions and health care — absolutely are subject to how, where and why they spend taxpayers’ dollars.
I’ve now discussed three of the many incomplete or incorrect Kentucky teachers’ union claims about charter schools. The first deals with how the union folks only cite certain findings from a major report while the second deals with the union penchant to try to fool you into thinking charter schools are really private schools.
The third post exposes the ridiculous union assertion that Kentucky doesn’t need charter schools because our School Based Decision Making Councils (SBDM) cut through red tape and empower our school administrations.
Today, I’ll touch on another claim – Kentucky’s public schools outperform schools in adjoining states.
Before you buy into that nonsense, take a look at this map, which shows states where white students outscored whites in Kentucky (shaded green), tied Kentucky’s whites (shaded tan), or did worse than Kentucky’s whites (just 3 states, shaded salmon color) in the 2011 NAEP Grade 8 Math Assessment. This map was generated using the Main NAEP Data Explorer tool.
Oh, Yeah! Kentucky has lots of poor kids. It does indeed. But, that excuse doesn’t work, either. When you run the data from the NAEP for white students who are eligible for free and reduced cost lunches, it turns out the Bluegrass State only outscores TWO other states in the 2011 NAEP Grade 8 Math Assessment.
So, just keep this slide in mind the next time someone starts spouting off about how Kentucky ranks 33rd or 14th or whatever in state rankings. In eighth grade math, our white students are in a tie for something like fourth worst in the nation. And, Kentucky is nearly all white.
If you have the courage, click the “Read more” link to learn still more.
This bill will allow parents to enroll their children, preschool through Grade 12, in another school district outside of the one where the family actually resides provided the parents transport the student to the gaining school.
The bill stipulates that the gaining district (but, importantly, not the losing district) must approve of the transfer and cannot charge tuition for out-of-district students. If a district gets more requests than it can handle, admissions will be based on either a first-come, first-served basis or by a random lottery.
The gaining district will get 90 percent of the state SEEK money that it normally receives for any student for each transfer. The losing district will get 10 percent of the SEEK money it would receive if the student had remained there.
The bill has provisions to prevent abuse of high school athletics recruitment rules.
This bill certainly would make an important improvement in parental choices.
It could be especially attractive to parents whose work place is located in another school district. It will also be attractive for situations where an adjoining school district has a school close to the residence that requires a shorter student ride than a longer bus trip to the normally assigned school in the parents’ resides school district.
The bill will also end a number of district-to-district transfer squabbles which have plagued the commonwealth for years.
It would also help end situations where parents are finding themselves in serious trouble for improperly enrolling their children in districts where they don’t actually reside.