Editor’s note: This column originally was released to newspapers before passage of House Bill 40, which creates a process giving some low-level criminals a one-time opportunity to apply to a court to have their records expunged following a five-year waiting period and paying a $500 fee after completing their sentences. The column has been updated to reflect passage of that legislation, which now awaits Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature.
It’s time for another edition of “Liberty Boosters and Busters,” courtesy of the 2016 session of the politically divided Kentucky General Assembly.
Liberty Booster: Cameron Mills
The University of Kentucky Wildcats may have been eliminated from this year’s NCAA basketball tournament early, but ghosts of Wildcats past are alive, well and made their influence felt during this year’s General Assembly.
Cameron Mills, a walk-on guard who helped lead UK to its seventh national championship in 1998, joined with another winning team to bring about important criminal-justice reforms.
Mills testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a proposal supported by a coalition made up of groups as divergent in political philosophies as citizens of the Cardinal and Wildcat nations in their basketball-team preferences, but who agree: some nonviolent felons deserve a single shot at a second chance.
Mills told WHAS talk-show host Leland Conway that he had “an epiphany” regarding this issue while speaking with two prisoners in the Kentucky State Reformatory Chapel.
The inmates, who only had about a month left on their sentences, dreaded their future freedom.
“I don’t have a chance when I get out,’” Mills said each man told him. “And the reason they didn’t have a chance is because these things were going to be on their records. They can’t get a job. … They’re not going to be able to afford to live, most likely. This is why so many go back to a life of crime. It’s just easier that way. And that’s what we want to avoid – is it not?”
Yes, it is.
Mills’ vocal support in conjunction with the Kentucky Smart on Crime coalition and persistent effort of Louisville Democratic Rep. Darryl Owens, who’s spent years on this legislative project, resulted in passage of a bill that creates a process allowing those convicted of some Class D felonies to seek expungement of their convictions five years after completing their sentences.
Liberty Buster: Rep. Darryl Owens
However, Owens also supported the very unsound House Bill 6, which seeks to preserve former Gov. Steve Beshear’s Obamacare-induced enlargement of Kentucky’s Medicaid program.
Beshear’s expansion happened via the former governor’s executive order and without the legislature – the only body constitutionally authorized to spend tax dollars.
The former governor’s actions resulted in 432,000 new Medicaid recipients which has grown total enrollment to its current 1.3 million, and – according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services – combined state-federal spending to $10.4 billion this year alone on Kentucky Medicaid, which nearly equals the commonwealth’s General Fund budget … for the entire year!
All of this will happen while the federal government is still covering 100 percent of the cost of Beshear’s hundreds of thousands of new enrollees.
No one, including Owens and the entrenched big-spending House leadership, knows how high Kentucky’s Medicaid bills ultimately will rise – especially when the commonwealth’s taxpayers are required to start picking up the tab for some of the freight for those new enrollees in future years.
Beshear certainly didn’t offer a realistic plan on how to pay for his massive unconstitutional expansion.
Gov. Matt Bevin’s conservative approach requires Medicaid recipients able to carry more of their own weight – which includes many of the recent enrollees – to cover small copays and, in some cases, pay a portion of premiums for services that currently are totally free, courtesy of we, the taxpayers.
The Bevin administration also correctly discounts erroneous claims by Obamacare apologists like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which released a new report containing unsupported claims that expanded government-run health insurance programs bolster Kentucky’s economy.
Isn’t this the same foundation that tossed $13 million toward Obamacare’s proliferation?
Why, yes! Yes, it is!
Shouldn’t a healthy dose of skepticism emerge about an organization wanting us to drink its Kool-Aid offered in the form of powdery “research” showing that an enormous part of the same big-government program it funded and propagated is good medicine for our commonwealth’s economy?
Why, yes! Yes, it should!