Advocates rally for amendment free school supt. selection bill, gas tax freeze

03/23/2015 04:17 PM

FRANKFORT – Two hundred public school students from around the state gathered on the steps of the State Capitol building to show their support for House Bill 236, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Graham which would allow students to be appointed to superintendent search committees.

Passage of the bill is in jeopardy due to an amendment added by Sen. C.B. Embry, R-Morgantown, who attached his “transgender bathroom” bill which would require students to use the bathroom of the sex that they were born.

It’s doubtful that the bill, which the amendment attached, will pass the House.

However, this afternoon, Embry was asked by Pure Politics if he has any plans to drop the amendment and he responded by saying that everything is in discussion at this time and he would have not comment until the discussions have concluded.

Graham told the students at the rally that it’s a student directive issue, which is why the bill is important.

“What best to show how you have been taught by your teachers across Kentucky, by using those critical thinking skills of being on a selection search for a superintendent in your district,” said Graham, D-Frankfort. “After all, you are the ones who will benefit from the leadership within your local school community.”

Sahil Nahir, a student at Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Lexington, who was one of two students who spoke at the rally, feels that students add a lot of value when it comes to their input in education policy.

“What we, as individuals bring to the table is that we’re the ones spending thirty hours in the classroom,” said Nahir. “We’re the ones receiving the education on a daily basis, so we have a great deal of value to add to the education value policy conversation.”

Ashton Bishop, a student at Green County Middle School, believes that everyone benefits from having students involved in the selection process.

“Students who are selected by peers to this position would have a chance to work with adult allies side by side to improve their school,” said Bishop. “As students, we know first-hand how so many of the decisions made at an administrative level affect us.”

Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, who was on hand to show her support for the students and passage of a clean bill, told the students that partisan politics should not get in the way of good public policy.

“We believe that good government can happen here and that we can come together to do good things for the future of the state of Kentucky,” said Grimes.

State Highway Department officials and workers rally for gas tax increase

State Highway Department officials and leaders from around the state told those at a rally in the State Capitol rotunda there could be some tough effects if the fuel taxes aren’t stabilized.

The fuel tax accounts for more than half of revenue that goes into the state’s road fund, which pays for highway and bridge construction and repair in the state and that revenue has plummeted due to low gas prices.

The variable excise tax rises, falls or stays unchanged from quarter to quarter on the basis average wholesale price (AWP) of motor fuels. The survey is conducted by the Department of Revenue in the first month of each quarter and the change in rate-if any- takes effect on the first day of the first month of the following quarter.

As a result of the January 2015 survey, the excise tax rate will drop by 5.1 cents to 16.1 cents per gallon due to lower gas prices, effective April 1, 2015. It marks the fifth decline in the last six quarters.

Secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Mike Hancock said a drop in revenues are immediate and drastic.

“We already had to scale back county road aid this past January,” Hancock said. “We know that was an unwelcome sight for county officials. “A check that you depend on to run your transportation departments was smaller than you expected it to be.”

Simpson County Judge-Executive and president of the Kentucky Association of Counties Jim Henderson, says that if nothing is done by legislators, his county would suffer adverse effects due to a loss of funds.

“If the fuel tax drops in April, which its’ expected to do, Simpson County will lose $550,000 of funding to local rural roads and city streets,” Henderson said.

Opponents like Americans for Prosperity, has launched a media campaign against the proposal stating that raising freezing the gas tax amounts to a tax increase.


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