As the 2021 legislative session nears an end, thankfully, I can’t help but wonder if we all would have been better off had lawmakers just skipped a year. With any luck, our elected representatives have run short of time to do much more harm. But no promises on that. They have, after all, been on a roll downhill and there are bills still winding their way through to an ignominious end.
Instead of working on progressive legislation that would move the state forward, as in “progress,” this lot of legislators prefers to hand taxpayer dollars to out-of-state interests (see charter schools), pick scabs on old wounds (see passing a redundant law that says teachers cannot strike), and push the most vulnerable kid on the playground (see outlawing trans children from participating in school athletics) – just because they can.
This is a legislature that, in cahoots with the governor, wants to enact a severely regressive tax policy that would shift the burden of revenue collections onto the backs of the working poor.
This is a legislature that cannot look Black people in the eye and tell them that they can wear their hair any way they please. Because why? Go ahead. We’ll give you a minute or two to find an answer.
This is a state that is, once again, about to pass a law that requires welfare recipients to first pass a drug test – not that we would ever want to offer drug counseling and treatment to a citizen in need.
If these fully grown adults would pick up a newspaper and read about what’s going on back home, they’d likely stumble into something that should shake them to their very core.
Like this: At a recent meeting of the Fayette County Commission, Commissioner Tom Louisos reported that coal severance collections had fallen to $100,000 and “may not even exist next year.”
At one time, the county received $1.1 million in revenue from that gift that kept on giving – until it didn’t. That tax revenue, of course, goes a long way towards funding all kinds of services around the county but it begins with education. And if the revenue fall off is steep in Fayette County, other counties across the coalfields and around the state are feeling the same tremblor.
So, given all of that, it is fair to ask, what have these legislators done to improve the prospects for a more diversified economy? A more diversified workforce? What have they done, what bill have they passed, that moves the state away from its overreliance on an industry where the sun is setting even as we pour a morning cup of coffee?
Go ahead. Take your time. No hurry. Must be some kids you can pick on in the meantime.
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And then there was one.
Charles Coolidge received the Medal of Honor on June 18, 1945, for his role in a harrowing World War II firefight in France. He died on Tuesday in Chattanooga where he is celebrated with the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. He was 99.
With his passing, there are 68 living recipients of the highest military award for valor in combat, and only one living recipient from the second World War – our state’s marvel of a man, Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, 97, who earned the Medal for valor during the Battle of Iwo Jima.