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Every year, State Senator Jimmy Higdon sends a survey to his constituents seeking their opinions on issues anticipated to be part of the upcoming legislative session.
The 2013 General Assembly is fast approaching, and Higdon has sent his survey again.
At the end I’ve posted my own answers to the Higdon’s survey, but I’m just one constituent, and I would encourage all of you to share your thoughts with him.
The survey includes 11 questions, and we are asked to rate them 1 to 10 in terms of importance, with 1 being not important and 10 being very important.
Since the General Assembly is a short session, with only 30 days, we’ll need to move quickly and decisively to address the issues most important to voters to effectively move our state forward. Please let me know your opinion of the following issues.
(Rate on a scale of one to 10, one being least important, 10 being very important)
1) Jobs / economy
2) Reform Kentucky’s public employee pension system (not teachers) making future state employees’ retirement benefits more like private employees.
3) Limiting the level of Kentucky state government’s debt.
4) Reforming the Kentucky tax code in ways that encourage job growth.
5) Do you think large counties like Jefferson and Fayette should be able to have a local option sales tax?
6) While many special taxing districts are doing a good job keeping accounting records and reporting them to the proper authorities, some are not. Do you feel it’s important to have fiscal courts approve special tax increases?
7) Require a woman considering abortion to have a ‘face-to-face’ meeting with a doctor to discuss medical risks rather than listening to a recorded message on a telephone or watching a video.
8) Allow active duty military overseas to be able to vote on the Internet.
9) Allow Christian Health Sharing plans to pay for health care.
10) Create a Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange required by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
11) Amend Kentucky’s constitution to expand gambling in Kentucky.
Please tell me about some of the problems you see facing our communities or provide ideas for bills I should support or oppose during the 2013 session.
Jobs/economy is a 10. While there are some signs of a gradual improvement in the economy, it’s not as strong as most people would like. The “fiscal cliff” non-action in Washington isn’t helping, either.
Pension reform is a 10. It’s obvious that changes for the sake of the state budget in the long-term.
Limiting state debt is a 6. This is important, but I don’t think Kentucky’s debt is out of control the way other states have become.
Local taxes for big cities is a 5. I’m really not sure either way, although something tells me arenas are somehow involved in this discussion.
Reforming the tax code is a 7. This is important, but “ways that encourage job growth” is vague. The concept sounds good, but the details are usually where we run into disagreements.
Fiscal court oversight for special taxing districts’ tax rates is a 5. If the boards overseeing these districts are responsible for their budgets, they should also make those decisions. As we saw with the recallable nickel, certain tax increases require public approval anyway, so there is no reason to add another layer of bureaucracy to this process. If the fiscal court is in charge of a particular district’s budget, then the court should have a say in the decision.
Any abortion question is a 1 with regard to the legislature. I trust women to know what they need to do, and I trust doctors to know what they need to discuss with their patients.
Internet voting for active duty military stationed overseas is a 9. Assuming the correct protections are in place to prevent someone from hacking into the system, this would be fine. Although, I always think there should be a paper trail in case an election is in dispute.
Allowing Christians-only health “sharing” plans is a 3. This is a tougher one. The courts recently ruled that one such program, Medi-Share, did not meet the requirements of the Department of Insurance, which would require them to open their services to non-Christians as well. Med-Share claims it isn’t insurance, even though its members pay monthly contributions to be used toward medical costs. If this was Islamic or Buddhist health sharing, would we think it was OK?
Creating a health exchange is a 10. Obamacare has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The make-up of the current Congress is not able to overturn the law. The only question now is whether we want officials in Kentucky or in Washington D.C. managing the plan within our state.
The expanded gaming amendment is a 10. This is long overdue.
And last, I haven’t looked over the list of prefiled bills yet, so I can’t say which ones I support or oppose.
I’m only one constituent. Your voice matters, too.
I would encourage you to fill out the survey above and return it to: Senator Jimmy Higdon, Capitol Annex Building Room 003, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY, 40601.
Higdon can be reached at the legislative message line is 1-800-372-7181 or at (270) 692-6945.