Recent editorials from Kentucky newspapers:
Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky, on McConnell keeping his promises:
Political candidates often make promises to voters.
All too often those campaign promises go by the wayside once a candidate is elected.
It's a sad reality in politics on local, state and federal levels.
For this reason, it is always uplifting to see politicians keep their word and their promises from the campaign trail.
One elected official who has done that is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
During last year's election, in which McConnell soundly defeated Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, the majority leader promised to fight back on President Barack Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency's "war on coal," and that is exactly what he has done.
Now he is fighting back against a plan by the EPA called the "Clean Power Plan," which undertakes to regulate emissions from existing coal-fired power plants in a fashion that would force many to convert to natural gas or cease operation entirely.
The plan is designed to reduce emissions of the so-called "greenhouse gases" by 30 percent by 2030. The EPA is trying to do this by setting emission goals for all 50 states and then requiring those states to come up with a plan and pass laws to meet these goals.
The EPA has threatened states that don't approve their own plan with sanctions such as the loss of federal highway funds and Clean Air Act funds.
This measure clearly is intended to put coal out of business. McConnell has written all 50 governors and encouraged them to reject the EPA's proposal.
He has also attached a provision to the federal budget resolution forbidding EPA from withholding highway funds from states that decline to submit plans to the EPA.
McConnell notes in his letter that the EPA demands are "far beyond its legal authority." Legal scholars also say the EPA lacks statutory and constitutional authority to impose this plan.
These scholars argue this also is a violation of the 10th Amendment.
Many states are listening to McConnell, including Kentucky, which has sued to block the EPA plan.
It is worth noting that Obama's "war on coal" has costs thousands of jobs in Kentucky.
It is certainly no surprise that liberals and environmentalists are attacking McConnell for simply keeping his campaign promise.
He is looking out for Kentuckians and those in other states who depend on coal for their livelihood.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who is thankfully retiring next year, had the audacity to call McConnell a "lump of coal."
The Lexington Herald-leader should be ashamed of itself for its efforts in a recent editorial to try to say that history would equate McConnell efforts to protect coal to 19th-century apologists for slavery.
What the Herald-Leader failed to mention is that all the major candidates in this year's governor's race approve of what McConnell is doing in standing up for coal and fighting Obama's EPA plan.
Those attacking McConnell as anti-environment through TV ads, social media and elsewhere fail to mention his promise to bring up votes on the Keystone XL pipeline, which was passed with bipartisan support but vetoed by Obama. It also is notable that in four months, McConnell has let Democrats offer more amendments to bills than Reid did as majority leader over six years.
This represents another promise kept by McConnell, who had pledged to open up the amendment process.
Sen. McConnell will be judged as being on the right side of history in his battle to protect coal.
As Kentucky's senior senator, he would be remiss if he didn't support an industry so important to our state.
Those who will be judged as being on the wrong side of history are those who are willing to allow the EPA to overstep its statutory authority.
We appreciate Sen. McConnell for keeping his campaign promise and standing up against Mr. Obama's "war on coal," which has been a disaster for coal workers in our state and others.
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on same-sex marriage:
Even before the U.S. Supreme Court hears the first argument next week on whether gay couples have the right to marry, it seems that a majority of Americans has ruled.
A nationwide poll by USA Today and Suffolk University found that the public, by a wide margin, believes it's simply too late to try to ban same-sex marriage when it already is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
As the high court takes up a challenge April 28 that includes six same-sex couples from Kentucky, the poll found that by a margin of 51 to 35 percent, those surveyed say it's no longer practical for the Supreme Court to strike down same-sex marriages.
Public opinion has shifted dramatically in favor of same-sex marriage in recent years and the USA Today poll offers one possible reason: Nearly half those surveyed have either a family member or close friend who is married to someone of the same sex.
As more gay and lesbian couples have become more open about themselves and their loved ones, the public has discovered they are their friends, their neighbors and their relatives.
The intensity of opposition seems to be diminishing. Of those who favor same-sex marriage, 28 percent "strongly favor" it; of opponents, only 14 percent "strongly oppose it," the poll found.
Attitudes are different in Kentucky, where in 2004, 75 percent of the voters approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and woman and also barring the possibility of civil unions recognized in some states.
Kentucky opinion has fluctuated since then.
A Bluegrass Poll conducted for The Courier-Journal in March found that 57 percent of Kentuckians oppose same-sex marriage — up from 50 percent the previous year.
But attitudes are different among younger adults.
The Bluegrass Poll in March found that a majority of Kentuckians ages 18 to 34 support same-sex marriage, the only age group to do so.
Judges in Kentucky appear to share the view of nearly all judges around the country who have ruled on the matter — it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to wed.
Last year, U.S. District Judge John Heyburn ruled in favor of same-sex couples who had brought federal litigation in Kentucky, launching this state into the case now before the Supreme Court that also involves plaintiffs from Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee.
Last week, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled that the Kentucky law banning same-sex marriage violates the constitution.
Judge Wingate, ruling on behalf of two gay couples seeking marriage licenses, declared that regardless of sexual orientation, marriage "is a fundamental right."
It's hard to imagine the Supreme Court could reach any other conclusion.
The Independent, Ashland, Kentucky, on Morehead State student scoring grant:
While the superb athletes who play men's basketball for the University of Kentucky Wildcats arrive on the Lexington campus with dreams of winning a national championship and inking a multi-million contract with an NBA team, the student-athletes at Morehead State University, with few exceptions, do not have such lofty ambitions. Instead, they hope their athletic scholarships will pave the way for them to earn a bachelor's degree and learn the skills needed for careers in their chosen professions.
The MSU Eagles usually have good, competitive team, but it is in the classroom where the young MSU players excel.
How well do they excel? The NCAA has just awarded Morehead State $300,000 for its third year of the Accelerating Academic Success Program grant. MSU was originally scheduled to receive $120,000, but a recent decision pushed the department to fully funded level for 2015-16.
In 2013, MSU was one of six institutions selected for a three-year pilot program aimed at increasing student-athlete academic performance. The university received a total of $360,000 for 2013-15.
"We are grateful to be a part of this grant program and are thrilled the NCAA has chosen to award additional funding," Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Services and Senior Woman Administrator Sara Larson said. "In the past two years, we have made tremendous strides in our academic success program, and this grant has aided immensely in our efforts to serve the needs of our student-athletes."
As part of the initial grant, Morehead State added a full-time academic learning coordinator to its athletic department staff. The money has also helped maintain the EAGLE Center, which features 7,000 square feet of computer labs, learning labs, study space and offices. The EAGLE Center staff now includes four staff members plus students and graduate assistants.
The grant will allow MSU to increase its summer school budget, fifth-year student-athlete aid and the student-athlete advisory committee budget and provide and purchase tutoring supplies. The additional funding will be used to purchase and utilize portable technology (iPads, wireless internet access, laptops and cameras), hire a summer school graduate assistant and begin a guest speaker series.
MSU has won the Ohio Valley Conference's Institutional Academic Achievement Award seven of the past 10 years and a league-best 12 times overall. The Eagles had 16 OVC Medal of Honor recipients in 2013-14, which recognizes each sport's highest GPA, and more than 100 named to the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll.
Morehead State's student-athletes recorded a 3.19 cumulative grade point average during the fall semester, while 14 athletic programs posted better than a 3.00 GPA and 33 individuals earned a 4.00 GPA. Those are impressive numbers that show the student-athletes at Morehead State have their priorities right. Their athletic skills may not be good enough to play professionally, but they are learning academic skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
Eagle sports teams may not be good enough to attract large crowds and bask in the adulation of UK's rabid basketball fans, but in the classroom, they are champs who are taking full advantage of their athletic scholarships. We cheer them for that.