Eddyville, KY


Lawmakers squabble

Wednesday, April 27, 2016 - Updated: 2:13 PM
By Jody Norwood

It’s a rare thing when lawmakers at any level get along and do something good. It’s even rarer when politics intervenes, derailing that positive step forward.

Well, last week it did.

The legislation in question is House Bill 19, which would have established “the employers’ organ and bone marrow donation tax credit.”

Now, before we go any further, it should be noted that the House bill wasn’t entirely a straight up vote. As with most things, good legislation was piggybacked by an irrelevant, self-motivated rider. In this case it was state Sen. Alice Kerr, who decided an organ donor bill would be an ideal place to stick an optional 2.5 percent transient room tax for convention center upgrades.

While no one would like to deny Kerr — a Fayette County Republican — the ability to levy a tax on lodgers so that central Kentucky convention centers can get a fresh coat of paint, it has nothing to promoting organ donation. It’s hard to understand why Kerr places more importance on levying taxes than on helping the thousands of Kentuckians currently waiting for a life-saving organ donation.

According to the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates, there is currently an organ donation shortage.

Thousands of men, women and children across the state are currently waiting for the life changing news that someone is saving their life. It’s possible Kerr didn’t know that. It’s possible she lives in some remote part of the state that has no access to television, radio or a local newspaper, but instead only relies upon a run-down convention center to provide their livelihood as well as their information.

But the problem isn’t just state Sen. Kerr. While her move was deplorable, Gov. Matt Bevin was ultimately the final word in making sure the legislation was taken off life support. Bevin vetoed the bill, killing the legislation proposed by state Rep. Ron Crimm.

It is worth noting that Crimm, a Republican, is facing opposition this May. Coincidentally, it’s the son of a Bevin appointee. Or maybe that’s no coincidence. 

It’s odd that a Republican governor would use the nuclear option against two members of his own party. The initial bill received bipartisan support, as Democrats and Republicans alike thought supporting Kentucky organ donation was a worthwhile cause. But even if Bevin had been discouraged by the two parties working together, surely he was encouraged by the desire to expand the life saving network to Kentuckians.

Or, maybe not.

It’s impossible to know what Bevin’s motives are. But at the end of the day, thousands of Kentuckians will be less fortunate, either by Kerr’s greed or Bevin’s bias.

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