• Senate Bill 89 heads to the full Senate; passes committee along party lines
• House Bill 290 passes committee but faces long road ahead (thankfully)
• Madison Award deadline is February 22
• Don’t be the last newspaper to register for KPA Ad Contest
• Border War golf tourney just might happen
Sorry for the slight delay this morning. Spent all but about 20 minutes at the Capitol on Thursday and didn’t get a chance to start writing this until this morning. Also, it’s going to be shorter than usual because of the less time available to spend on it.
You win some, you lose some. But even in losing the after-effects are encouraging.
Senate Bill 89 – The one we won Thursday was in the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee where Senate Bill 89 was passed with a 6-4 vote. And it was right on party lines with six Republications voting with us, four Democrats — Sens. Parrett, Carroll, Harper-Angel and Clark — voting against.
It now goes to the full Senate and could be up for that vote as early as Tuesday afternoon. More likely will be Wednesday, though, since they don’t go into session until 4 p.m. Tuesday and likely will have a short agenda.
SB 89 is the work of the Small Business Coalition, a group of 43 organizations representing small businesses. KPA joined on as a member of the group last fall, primarily because of the issue in SB89. It would clarify, and correct, the state’s position on independent contractors.
Currently, newspaper carriers are considered employees for both unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation claims. This is a costly, costly determination to all our newspapers that use carriers. With the wording KPA was able to get into SB89, and if it passes the House after getting through the Senate, then carriers will be considered independent contractors and that will save newspapers tons of money on these two types of insurance.
There’s a long history to the state statute that requires carriers to be newspaper employees. It dates back to the 1970s. When Mike Judy was our general counsel, he and I met with the Labor Cabinet and were pretty much told don’t even think about trying to change that law.
As we had new publishers come into the state, from states where carriers were deemed independent contactors, we had questions about this law. And those questions led to request that KPA right that wrong. We couldn’t do it alone because that would have done us more harm than good with our 138 close friends down there. So we asked around about joining forces with another group and found the Small Business Coalition the perfect partner in this effort.
The work is not done. With Democrats opposing us in the Senate, you can forecast that the Democratic House will probably stand together as well. So it’s going to take every single one of us — every publisher of every newspaper — to help the brothers and sisters in the industry who need this law changed — to work to get the House to vote for us.
More on that later. But just be prepared for a request, plea for help to contact your House member when the time comes.
House Bill 290 — now to the one we lost in committee, by one vote. This is the legislation that would establish the external review commission to oversee actions of the Cabinet for Self-Protection. (Let’s see if you were paying attention to last week’s Friday Email.) As written, it would allow the commission to receive unredacted copies of all cabinet paperwork on the death or near-death of a child under its watchful eye. It would exempt all these records from the Open Records law and basically allow the cabinet to snub its nose at the Courier-Journal, Herald Leader, Todd County Standard, KPA and any other newspaper that wants records. It would also get rid of Judge Phil Shepherd’s ruling on the records, a ruling backed up by the Court of Appeals and a case that’s now before the Supreme Court.
So why are we encouraged? Because numerous Health and Welfare Committee members made comments in voting yes or no. Several of the “yes” votes — all but Rep. Tom Burch, Susan Westrom and Darryl Owens — said they were voting yes to get it out of committee but reserved the right to vote against the bill in the full House if changes were not made, substantial changes that would address KPA’s concerns. And many of the no votes said they were voting no because of the change HB290 makes in the Open Records laws. And two “passed” on their vote, waiting to see what changes would be made in HB290 to allow the public and the press access.
Ashley Pack did another tremendous job in stating our concerns/issues. She really got the attention of the committee. She told them that the press and the public — because of the rulings by the courts — can now get more information from the cabinet than HB290 would allow. So it’s bad from that perspective.
Some child advocacy groups, who had been working with Rep. Burch, the sponsor, said after the meeting that they might invite KPA to the table to consider changes that would make it better for access and address our concerns.
Okay, so why didn’t you do that over the last two or three years? We would have already had a law in place if those who support this kind of legislation would have just listened to Jon Fleischaker, Ashley Pack, Jeremy Rogers and newspapers.
We’re also encouraged by Speaker Greg Stumbo’s comments that he thinks the records should be open. That could mean major changes coming to HB290 before it can be considered by the full House.
Stay tuned on this one!!
SENATE BILL 89 AND AL DIX
I sent Ann Dix Maenza, publisher of the Frankfort State Journal whose late father held those reins until his death, a note Thursday that I hope SB 89 not only passes the Senate but also the House as a tribute to her dad. Al testified at length in November, 1987, on the issue of carriers and independent contractor status. Al preached to them that he kept a long arm’s length from telling carriers where to put his paper at his home. “I don’t tell them to put it on the porch, or in the swing or even on the steps. Because to have true independent contractor status with them, I can’t tell them when to deliver, how to deliver, or where to deliver it. So if they just throw it in the front yard, then that’s okay.”
Maybe a little more than 25 years later, Al’s passion for having carriers be truly independent contractors will happen.
SO WHAT IS A LOBBYIST?
Thursday morning began with a breakfast in the Governor’s Mansion for Small Business Day in Frankfort. It brought together representatives from the Small Business Coalition and many members of those organizations, meeting with some legislators. There was discussion of some legislation that’s in the cycle for this session that would be of issue and importance to small businesses, the backbone of Kentucky’s business climate.
In welcoming all to the event, Small Business Coalition chief Tom Underwood asked the crowd, “What is a lobbyist?”
The answer — “It’s someone you hire to protect you from those you elect.”
Still the operative word on legislation as now six bills deal with the subject. Some are extreme — allowing expunging of records on Class D felonies after a criminal has served the five-year term and another five years have elapsed — and some are minor — expunging records of misdemeanors for traffic violations.
While KPA was the only entity to testify against the major one — House Bill 47 last week — numerous other groups have issues and concerns. Some are working diligently behind the scenes to get it defeated as well as some of the other expungement bills. Those on misdemeanors or for minor violations, probably are of little consequence. But rewriting history, by allowing a record of a Class D felony to be expunged, should be of concern.
THEY GET MONDAY OFF
Apparently, state government offices work on Monday, Presidents’ Day, but the legislators will have an extended vacation. They’ll be back in session on Tuesday for a shortened workday.
LEGISLATIVE POLICIIES NEED TO BE REVIEWED
HB290 was changed, possibly substantially, when it came before the committee on Thursday. But who knows what the changes were. And who knows what language the committee was working with? Only committee members.
We knew there would be a committee substitute bill — a bill that’s rewritten from the original version to make changes of concerns — but when the committee started discussing the committee sub was not distributed. It made Ashley’s testimony rely solely on the original version that was introduced last week.
But that’s the legislative process. Amendments might be added in committee, or a completely new bill to the original might be considered. But what those changes are remain in possession of the committee. The public, those attending, don’t see the changes until as late as the next day, when the public bill room in the Capitol has copies available.
It calls for change in the process. Many states have a waiting period between discussion of a bill and when the committee or body votes on it. In Kentucky, there is no waiting period. It’s possible to introduce a bill one day and have a committee vote on it the next day. That’s a good strategy for those wanting to get something through the process that might be a terrible bill.
The legislature preaches transparency in a lot of areas but when it comes to its own operation, transparency isn’t always practiced.
KPA AD CONTEST
The number of papers registering grew by three in the last week, all the way to 15 total!! And not one of the 15 is a daily.
So do it now! Get registered for the electronic entry process because it doesn’t matter how many of the finest ads ever produced you have, all is for naught if you don’t get registered first so you can access the online entry process.
And again, the absolute, positively, no extensions granted deadline to enter is March 14. That’s not the deadline to register; that’s the deadline to have all your entries uploaded.
Time’s a wastin’!!
FIRST AMENDMENT CENTER ACCEPTING MADISON AWARD NOMINATIONS
The Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky is inviting nominations for its annual James Madison Award to recognize a Kentuckian for outstanding service to the First Amendment. The award, created in 2006, honors the nation’s fourth president, whose extraordinary efforts led to the passage and ratification of the Bill of Rights.
Nominees must have significant ties to Kentucky, and their efforts must have resulted in the preservation or expansion of freedom of the press and/or freedom of speech. Dedication to the First Amendment principle of free expression is not accomplished in a day’s work but rather a lifetime. Thus the award recognizes a long-term commitment to such ideals.
The deadline for nominations is Feb. 22.
Honorees do not have to be journalists. The Scripps Howard First Amendment Center encourages recognition of those outside the journalism profession for their contributions to protect or expand First Amendment freedoms. Nominees may include, for example, educators, lawyers, judges, scholars, librarians, students, or ordinary citizens. The most deserving recipient will be someone who has made a significant contribution regardless of how much public attention it has received.
The Madison Award will recognize those who have labored or taken a stand in one or more of these areas: open government and open records; robust debate in the marketplace of ideas; promotion of the watchdog role of the press; defense against government or private censorship.
The nominator must submit a letter identifying the nominee, listing the nominee’s address, phone number and position, and explaining why the nominee would be a worthy recipient. The letter should detail the specific efforts taken on behalf of First Amendment rights and should discuss obstacles and difficulties as well as the impact of the nominee’s efforts. The nominator may include up to three letters of support as well as other materials such as published or broadcast information.
Entries will be reviewed by a committee that will include previous winners and the director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center. The committee will have the option of not selecting a recipient if it does not believe any candidate is deserving.
Nominees who meet the award criteria but are not selected initially will automatically be considered for two more years. The award will be presented at the Scripps’ center annual First Amendment Celebration on March 4 in the William T. Young Library auditorium.
Past winners were Judith Clabes, founder of UK’s First Amendment Center and a strong supporter of a free press as a newspaper editor and CEO of the Scripps Howard Foundation; Jon Fleischaker, the commonwealth’s foremost media law attorney; veteran Courier-Journal reporter Tom Loftus, who has used public records extensively to expose government corruption; David Hawpe, retired Courier-Journal reporter and editor who fought relentlessly to open records and meetings; John Nelson, managing editor of The Advocate-Messenger in Danville and executive editor of Advocate Communications Inc., who was recognized for organizing a statewide open records audit, fighting for opening juvenile and family courts to the public and creating a legal defense fund for members of the Kentucky Press Association. The most recent winner was veteran newsman Al Smith, whose KET public affairs program, “Comment on Kentucky,” informed the state’s citizens on government issues affecting them.
Nominations should be sent to Mike Farrell, Scripps Howard First Amendment Center, School of Journalism and Telecommunications, 144 Grehan Building, Lexington, KY 40506-0042, or emailed to email@example.com.
For more information, contact Mike Farrell, director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at (859) 257-4848, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advertising placed or processed by KPS grew $70,000 in the last week, mostly because of an issue ad placed about some legislation.
BORDER WAR GOLF OUTING
It’s still not a finished product but interest is growing in the inaugural Border War golf tournament. I’ll be going to Franklin, KY., on Monday, February 25 for a 12 noon lunch meeting with some Tennessee enthusiasts and fellow publishers.
Not certain when it will be, even where but we hope this becomes an annual event. We’ll probably shoot for September, perhaps at a golf course each year near the Kentucky/Tennessee border and the course could be a new one each year.
More later and in plenty of time to make your plans.
SEJ ACCEPTING ENTRIES
The Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment is taking entries.
SEJ’s awards honor the best environmental journalism in seven categories, bringing recognition to the most important stories on the planet. Journalism broadcast or published in print or online is eligible.
Deadline to apply: April 1
Photos published, or stories published or broadcast from March 1, 2012 – Feb. 28, 2013 are eligible.
Books published in 2012 are eligible for the Rachel Carson Environment Book Award.
SEJ’s 2013 Awards will be presented on Wednesday, October 2, 2013, at SEJ’s 23rd Annual Conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Questions: Contact SEJ Awards Director Christine Bruggers at email@example.com or (502) 641-1844.
I refer often to items I’ve seen on Net News Check so thought I’d give you a little more information in case you want to keep up with news about the media.
NetNewsCheck covers the local digital media arena where newspaper, TV, radio, local search and Internet pureplay companies compete online and on mobile. Original reporting plus aggregated news add up to a convenient, comprehensive, continuously updated source of news, trend stories, interviews, opinion and ideas. Stocks, classifieds, RSS, newsletters. www.NetNewsCheck.com
Okay, not much to write about really this week that’s not outside the realm of my 138 closest friends operating as the Kentucky General Assembly so I’ll close for now. Call if you need anything. Otherwise, thanx!!!
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Now through March 26, 2013 – 2013 Kentucky General Assembly Session – Part Two
Monday, February 18, 2013 – 9 a.m. – Meeting with Helen Powers on KPA Ad Division matters
Wednesday, February 20, 2013 – 8 a.m. – Kentucky Society of Association Executives Legislative Breakfast, Governor’s Mansion
Monday, February 25, 2013 – 12 Noon/Central — Meeting in Franklin, KY., with representatives from Tennessee on the Inaugural Border War golf outing
March 10 – 16, 2013 – Sunshine Week
March 13 – 15, 2013 – National Newspaper Association’s “We Believe in Newspapers” Leadership Conference – Crystal City Marriott, Washington, D.C.
March 14, 2013 -12:30 – 5 p.m. – NNA/Newspaper Industry ‘Day on the Hill’ in D.C., visiting Congressional members
August 6 – 9, 2013 -Newspaper Association Managers Annual Convention, Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, Halifax, Nova Scotia
September 12 – 15, 2013 – 127th Annual National Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show, Phoenix, AZ
October 24 – 25, 2013 – Tentative Dates for 2013 KPA Fall Board Retreat
November 3 – 5, 2013 – 2013 Southeast Region Newspaper Association Managers (SERNAM) Fall Conference, Park Vista Hotel, Gatlinburg
January 23 – 24, 2014 – 2014 KPA Winter Convention, Hyatt Regency, Lexington
January 22 – 23, 2015 – 2015 KPA Winter Convention, Marriott East, Louisville
Sometime in 2017 – We’ve been asked to judge the Mississippi Press Association Better Newspaper Contest in 2017. Please hold the year open for further information on when, where and what media format Mississippi papers will be in that year.
Sometime in 2018 – Colorado judging KPA Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers Competition
Registration generally is $35 and available at www.onlinemediacampus.com
February 20 – March 22 (Completion time takes three to four hours total)
“Plate Essentials” – A Web Press Certificate Program – $79 per person
Friday, February 22 – 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central
How to Improve Sales Performance by 30% in the next 30 Days
Registration deadline is Tuesday, February 19