If the dumb masses in Frankfort don’t concentrate on the real issues during this legislative session, we may see the wool pulled over our eyes and be stuck with statutes that will be costly and non-transparent. But what can you expect from lawmakers who are proposing bills for their own needs instead of the needs of the public?

Each legislative session elected officials will be proposing and or supporting bills that they want to make law. And while in Kentucky, good laws are needed; most of the proposed changes only benefit a few.

I had a frank conversation with a retired lawmaker after they left office. I asked why that person supported some bill that didn’t benefit this region or didn’t benefit the entire state.

The answer, while startling was offensive. “It’s a game. If I want something for our region I have to see who is opposed to my measure and then I have to support that person’s measures regardless how crazy their measure is.”  Additionally, I was told that every bill has fluff in it and if you want something you have to toss in other non-related junk which will benefit other regions into a bill in order to get it passed.

I said, “Let me get this straight, if you want a money for — let’s say — a road in Eastern Kentucky and you know someone is opposed to it, you have to support that persons bill in order for them to not hold a grudge? And in your measure you will add stuff that has nothing to do with this area, but will benefit someone in another part of the state?” The answer was, “Now you’re getting it.” To me, that tit-for-tat is offensive.

There are many bills being proposed during this session, some good and some bad. But every one of them has fluff in them that has nothing to do with the initial bill.

There is one measure being proposed which was initially intended to protect elected officials and their property. When I asked the lawmaker about it a few years ago they told me that, in Jefferson County, every home must have its floor plans registered with the county, which are open to the public. The lawmaker told me that if a judge puts away a criminal, the criminal’s family members could go to the clerk’s office and obtain a floor plan for the judge’s home. This, he said could lead to kidnapping or any other vengeful crime.

I’m sure Jefferson County required that for firefighters and law enforcement. But it’s a stupid requirement. I understand the need for judges to feel protected, but there are certainly other ways to do so.

The lawmaker I spoke to also referenced that a few years ago in New Jersey, a judge’s family was murdered by a deranged criminal. The irony there is New Jersey is one of the strictest gun control states in the union. However, the criminal still was able to get a gun and kill. So, even if this measure is passed, criminals will skirt the law to get what they want while law-abiding people like professional journalists will be shut out.

If the bill only protected some information of judges or prosecuting lawyers, I can partially understand. But, what it’s turned into is the total protection of every public official, lawyer, peace officer, probation and correction officer, call center employees and more as well as every member of their family can be protected.

This means that basically every public elected official and their entire family members are off limits and have total protection. We will never be able to report salaries, records of any kind, weather they have a drivers license or not criminal record or any other information that the public should be able to access.

I’ve got to tell you that’s a lot of people. If you take every person and their entire family who is protected under this proposed law, that only leaves me who is not protected. I’m the only Vanderbeck in the phone book and I’m not related to anyone in public office. And since I’m not very interesting nor do I have access to public money, there is not much there to tell.

This bill leaves fair game for anyone to be hidden. It’s like the witness protection and relocation programs all bundled nicely to protect people who are in the public from being public. If you are an elected official and want that government job with all the benefits, it’s expected that you are fair game and the public has a right to know all about you, past and present. A lack of transparency opens the door for a lack of trust.

Lawmakers will spend hours on this and that’s a shame. In the meantime, Kentucky is lagging in jobs, there are no work incentive programs like doing away with income tax, no incentive programs for business to compete, teachers unions that dictate curriculum and soon your vehicle registration will skyrocket. All while the governor says that Kentucky is flush with cash.

Lawmakers need to push the entire state forward not just a select few. Lawmakers need to see well into the future not just survive today. Lawmakers need to make laws that serve business both small and large. Lawmakers need to propose bills that help the working poor.

The need to address the drug problem, support higher education and solve the health care issue. They need to propose that the money that the state is flush with be used to offset the hike in personal property taxes, which you will soon see a tremendous increase potentially hurting the auto industry in the state. And since, the governor inked a deal with the auto industry, lawmakers should make it easier for people to buy new vehicles not punish the people of the industry. We invite Ford to grow, then impose higher taxes on the product they make. That’s just stupid.

It’s not rocket science, just run the state as if it were a company that needs to be profitable and they may be successful.

And I challenge any lawmaker to propose term limits. I triple dog dare one of them to do that. Let’s hope the dumb masses do the right thing

Thanks for reading the News-Express.