March 22, 2013

• Intern’s summer plans — to Canadian Parliament and back to Morehead News

• With superintendents in the news, time to ask for copies of contracts

• Legislature returns for last two days but may be back

• We need judges for Alabama Press’ news and ad contests!!

OKAY, FOLKS, IT IS TIME TO STEP UP

We need news and advertising staffers to help judge the Alabama Press Association contests on April 4. Let me repeat — WE NEED STAFFERS TO HELP JUDGE!!!

We have reciprocal agreements with other state press associations — you judge our contests, we’ll judge your contests. Granted, we wish all press associations would go to an online judging like how ours is set up and you’d have 10 days to complete the task.

We don’t control how they do theirs; they don’t control how we do ours. But Alabama is one that requires on-site judges.

So find a staff member or two — advertising or news — to help get this accomplished. It’s going to be in Frankfort and hopefully will finalize plans today to do this at the Kentucky Broadcasters Association.

MOREHEAD INTERN — DOING DOUBLE DUTY THIS SUMMER

Morehead News publisher Keith Kappes has his intern, the first for The News, but he notes she will be pulling in two internships during the summer.

Lana Bellamy, a Morehead student, begins her summer interning for the Canadian Parliament. Then she hops back to Morehead to begin her internship at The News around June 17.

THE LEGISLATURE IS ABOUT TO RETURN

They’ll be back in town Monday and Tuesday to perhaps do what they didn’t do the previous 28 days. Get some action on a major issue or two. The two days are reserved as “Veto Override” but any governor hardly vetoes anything so they use the time to discuss unfinished business. Pension reform and perhaps tax reform could be negotiated the last two days. Or they can leave town Tuesday and let the governor call them back into special session to try again.

SUPERINTENDENT CONTRACTS

With last week’s news about Mason County and Dayton Independent school situations with superintendents, have you filed an Open Records request for a copy of your local superintendent’s (s’) contract? That’s a suggestion passed along to me during the legislative session when the investigation into the Dayton Independent school system was reaching the end.

So I suggest — File an Open Records request with the local school system(s) asking for a copy of the contract(s) with the superintendent.

KRS 424 REQUIRES SCHOOL SYSTEM SALARIES

KRS 424 is the state statute governing public notice advertising and in 424.220 you’ll find this language. Might be worth filing an Open Records request for all that information as well since the schools and the counties are required to give it to you without filing a request. If they haven’t done so recently, file that record request as well:

KRS 424.220 Financial Statements

(4) The amount of salaries paid to all teachers shall be shown as a lump-sum instructional expenditure for the school district and not by amount paid to individual teachers. The amount of salaries paid to all other employees of the board shall be shown as lump-sum expenditures by category, including but not limited to administrative, maintenance, transportation, and food service. The local board of education and the fiscal court shall have accessible a factual list of individual salaries for public scrutiny and the local board and the fiscal court shall furnish by mail a factual list of individual salaries of its employees to a newspaper qualified under KRS 424.120 to publish advertisements for the district, which newspaper may then publish as a news item the individual salaries of school or county employees.

And if teachers, administration or county officials/employees complain, tell them, “It’s the law and the public has a right to know.”

SCHOOL FINANCIAL INFORMATION

School districts technically got out of publishing their financial statements in newspapers a few years ago but only by putting that language in the biennial state budget. However, they do have to publish where the public can see copies of the complete financial statement — either by running a public notice that it’s available on the school district’s website (and probably well hidden so no one will find it) or a printed copy at the local public library.

So now would be a good time to double-check your public notices of the last few months. Did the local school system(s) publish that notice and if so and says it’s on the school district’s website, is it there? Is it difficult to find? Check that out and please let me know, especially if you can’t find it on a district’s website. And if it says there’s a printed copy at the local public library, check with the librarian to see if it was placed there. And is it still?

Your information back to me could be fodder for correcting this.

APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH

Sent this to editors Thursday afternoon and am including that text in this week’s Friday Update.

You will remember a few months ago, KPA became involved in the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse website, a collaborative effort of several hospitals and KPA. We directed you to www.pecakyin.org, a website developed to share stories, guest columns, op-ed pieces, public service ads and a host of statistics about child abuse in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and I hope you’ll return to www.pecakyin.org for materials about this issue.

Additionally, statistics have been updated and I’ve attached a county-by-county report on the number of reported child abuse cases for calendar year 2012. If you want information about your county, or surrounding counties, just email me and I’ll send you the chart county by county for 2012.

And a copy of the Governor’s proclamation, signed March 18 proclaiming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month, is available if you’ll let me know you want a copy of that.

ISSUES FOR 2014 ARISING

We have a few months, of course, before the 2014 General Assembly convenes, and maybe a special session or two along the way, but there are a couple of issues that we’re going to work on in the interim. We typically are a defense-oriented team, preventing things from happening, but for 2014, it’s time to tune up the offense. (Geez, starting to sound like a football coach.)

Anyway, we have unfinished business with the issue on carriers as employee vs. independent contractors. We went in on a group effort this session but Senate Bill 83 got stopped in the House. We have the section in the bill that we need repealed and it was a good trial balloon. We have some support from legislators if we want to take on the issue ourselves and I think that’s where we start. Legislation is to repeal current language seldom, seldom happens. But that’s all we need; one paragraph deleted from current law.

The other issue involves sales tax on subscriptions. With the state of the state’s economy, we’ll never get the sales tax on the printed product subscriptions repealed (at least I don’t see that happening). But some four years ago, with misguided information from the Department of Revenue, the legislature passed a sales tax on “digital property.” And that language included subscriptions on paid digital content such as e-editions.

I testified against that when it came before the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee but the Revenue folks told the committee the entire legislation was based on action by the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax coalition. That’s a coalition of 22 states, including Kentucky. However, I’ve got information from two coalition co-chairs that the SST group specified “digital property” taxation did NOT include subscriptions on e-editions. So I’m going to meet with A&R Chair Rick Rand about repealing that portion of current law.

The Revenue Cabinet contends since the printed product is taxed, and it is — one of only 13 states that tax subscriptions — SST authorized the state to proceed with taxing e-subscriptions as well. We’ll see.

HEALTH INSURANCE RENEWAL FOR MEMBERS

We don’t have a lot of newspapers offering employees health insurance through our program with the Kentucky Retail Federation and Kentucky Broadcasters Association but even with a few smaller ones in the program, it’s worth continuing it.

I attended a meeting on the renewal earlier this week. Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield is asking for an 18.38 percent rate increase. The committee I’m on did offer some guidance on lowering that increase and it remains to be seen what Anthem might change to lower the rate.

The KPS staff insurance broke off from the Communications Industry Trust a few years ago when Anthem asked for a 35 percent rate increase. At the time, the broadcasters, cable TV association and KPA didn’t have enough contracts in the program to take a stand against large rate increases. But I couldn’t justify the staff staying with that kind of increase facing us. So we pulled out.

The next year, we had a really attractive rate from United Healthcare and switched. That lasted a year and then reality set in. Like happens so often, an insurance company makes it really attractive for a year and then catches up the following with large rate increase. So we switched back to Anthem.

This year, KPS’ policy increase was five percent, well below the 18.38 under the federation. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) might change all of that. I talked with Anthem about the staff vs. retail federation program and whether it would be advantageous for KPS to go back into the trust program. While not exactly endorsing that, Anthem seemed to hint that in the future, with all the provisions of the ACA, it is something we should look at. So at the end of the year, we’re going to compare our staff policy to policies in the trust and see if it’s better to switch back.

KPA AD CONTEST

It’s nowhere near the levels it once was, say prior to 2008, but the 2013 Advertising Excellence in Kentucky Newspapers has exceed last’s year contest. We have 1319 entries, up from about 1200 in 2012. Unfortunately, we had several newspapers that registered to enter but never submitted any entries. And that was after extending the deadline a week. The new deadline was yesterday (March 21).

David Spencer is now starting on the setting up the judging aspect and members of the Alabama Press Association will be doing that in the near future.

And that doubles me back to — WE NEED JUDGES!!! — to help judge the reciprocal contest for Alabama Press’ ad and news contests judging on April 4. So don’t hesitate — find me a judge or two and email me to let me know they’ll help. It will be here in Frankfort.

This is a shortened version, about half of some of the longer ones, so I’ll stop for now and remind you to call if you have questions, comments, concerns, issues, additions, deletions, clarifications or just want to chat.

Otherwise, thanx!!

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