Monday, March 24, 2008

Calling Rep. Watkins to practice what he preaches

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2008
Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

Family group calls on state legislator to withdraw bill requiring HPV vaccine
for middle school girls


LEXINGTON, KY—“Now that we know Rep. Watkins opposes divisive legislation, we are calling on him to withdraw his HPV vaccination requirement for middle school girls,” said Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst with The Family Foundation of Kentucky. Rep. David Watkins (D-Henderson) announced in last week’s House Health and Welfare Committee meeting that he was opposed to controversial legislation when arguing against a bill barring domestic partner benefits.



“We see this not only as an opportunity for Rep. Watkins to walk the talk on his opposition to controversial legislation,” said Cothran, “but to show his support of parental rights—and, of course to avoid embarrassment for arguing against a bill he opposes on grounds that would also undermine his own legislation.”

HB 396, of which Watkins is the primary sponsor, requires that middle school girls be vaccinated with the Gardasil vaccine which prevents the transmission of some forms of the Human Papilloma virus as a condition of school attendance. The Family Foundation has opposed the requirement, arguing that the vaccine has nothing to do with disease transmission at school and that parents should make the decision about whether their children should be vaccinated with drugs that are still essentially experimental.

“We certainly understand Rep. Watkin’s concern about divisive legislation,” said Cothran, “and we realize that when he lectured a senator about sponsoring domestic partner legislation in last week’s Health and Welfare Committee meeting because it was controversial that he probably wasn’t thinking about his own bill, which has been one of the most divisive pieces of legislation over the last two sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly.” Watkins launched on what some have called a “tirade” during the consideration of SB 112, sponsored by Vernie McGaha, attacking the senator and The Family Foundation because the bill was “divisive.”

“I think some people do this so that they can get funds for their organization,” said Watkins. “I think they use that as a whip to create and work up division in our society, which is a negative thing. Sen. McGaha, don’t you see the negativity that you cause and the division that you cause in our state? You’re supposed to be up here representing people to help people, not to hurt us. You know, this is a divisive issue. Surely you’re intelligent enough to know that and to realize that this creates division in the Senate, and division in your House of Representatives.”

“We’re fairly certain that, after Rep. Watkin’s regained his composure, he must have realized that his own HPV vaccine bill was at least as controversial as Sen. McGaha’s bill. But we’re confident that Rep. Watkins doesn’t want to be criticizing bills he opposes for reasons that would also undermine his own legislation. And while he is searching his conscience about that, he might consider also withdrawing HB 443, his 70-cent tax on cigarettes, since that bill has turned out to be pretty divisive too.”

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15 comments:

One Brow said...

So, you are equating the divisiveness of a bill that requires vaccinations (but has an opt-out clause) with one that prohibits universities from choosing the types of health benefit packages that can be offered, in order to bar gay partners from having access to health incurance? Seriously?

Martin Cothran said...

Yes. Seriously.

Martin Cothran said...

Oh, and by the way, the bill barring public universities from offering domestic partnerships does not bar gay partners from access to health insurance. It only bars them from using public money to pay for it.

One Brow said...

So, the bill leaves open the possibility of the universities offering health insurance to domestic partnerships, as long as the difference between the single coverage and the partnership coverage is not subsidized by public funds? Is there a copy of the bill on line, or a statement by a public official, backing that position? Previously, similar bills have been outright prohibiitons, in my limited experience, which is far more divisive than what you are suggesting.

Absent such a provision, I can only say that the equivocation between an optional vaccine provision and the barring of offering health benefits seems little more than partisan spin.

One Brow said...

I found the bill on-line. You lied.

After defining what a family member is, in a manner that would exculde long-term cohabitating couples from being family, "require public agencies to allow the employee to only select health insurance coverage for the employee and family members of the employee." There is nothing in there about the restriction of public funds. It bars domestic partners from health benefits offered through work, period.

http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/08RS/SB112.htm

I know lying for Jesus is a common tactic, but you should make such easily exposed lies.

Martin Cothran said...

Um, One Brow, I hate to ask such an obvious question, but can you tell me where a public agency gets its funds?

Art said...

Martin, like you, I have concerns and quibbles about what my tax dollars support. Maybe we can work out a trade. I'll pay you, out of my own pocket, 100% of what the domestic partners benefits packages (or the vaccine bill) cost you. In turn, you would pay me 100% of what the tax-exempt status of churches in Fayette County (where I live) costs me.

After all, why should I subsidize institutions I find to be hateful, immoral, and fundamentally evil? No laws or rules anywhere should be able to compel me to this.

What do you say?

Martin Cothran said...

Art,

How does not taxing something "cost" you? It only "costs" you under the assumption that the money in someone else's pocket is really the governments in the first place and they just kindly let us have some of it--an assumption I'm having a hard time accepting, for obvious reasons.

But I've seen this assumption before. Let me guess: you're a Democrat?

One Brow said...

Um, One Brow, I hate to ask such an obvious question, but can you tell me where a public agency gets its funds?

Why from taxpayers, and in this caxe also from tuition, alumni donations, etc.. Do you think you can parse out the funds and their sources so easily? More to the point, how does this make your lie that the bill concerns taxpayer funds into a truth? A bill about taxpayer funds would mention taxpayer funding, such as a provision that the health care could not be subsidized. There is no mention of funding, just an outright ban. The evidence is the bill itself, your attempts at spin are belied by it's contents.

Art said...

Martin, when someone drives off from the gas pump without paying, it costs me.

Scofflaws are scofflaws, IMO. I don't care that some have "legalized" their status.

So, are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? (Don't worry about where your money ends up - my long-standing policy when calling out people like you is to donate the proceeds to the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center.)

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

You keep referring to my statement that taxpayer funds would be used to subsidize domestic partner benefits at public universities.

First, if universities are funding something, then that thing is being funded at least in part with taxpayer dollars, since that is a good part of their budgets.

But more to the point, can you tell me where in this post or in the comments I say "taxpayer dollars"? In fact, I said "public money". That includes student tuitions. Put taxpayer dollars together with student tuitions and there is most of a university's budget. Where exactly do you think the money is coming from?

Also, the bill you are referring to bars public agencies from giving domestic partner benefits, not just universities. And any other public agency than a university is almost completely funded by tax dollars.

If you want to see a lie, go look at President James Ramsey's testimony before the House Health and Welfare Committee last March where he said the University was not subsidizing their domestic partner benefits plan when, in fact, they were. A little indiscretion for which WHAS reporter Mark Hebert said he had "some 'splainin' to do."

Art said...

C'mon, Martin. Just how much money out of your own pocket are you going on about?

What is so fearsome about this question?

One Brow said...

You keep referring to my statement that taxpayer funds would be used to subsidize domestic partner benefits at public universities.

Martin,

I understand why you want to keep diverting the topic in "taxpayer funds" and the like. It really makes the bill look so much better if you allow people to think that the option will be there for domesitic partners to cover the full cost of group insurance, rather than have it subsidized.

It's a shame that your diversionary tactic amount to a lie. There is no language in the bill about funds of any sort. A typcial offer of insurance options to an employee would include options like "Self", "Self and Spouse", "Family", etc., most of which are subsidized. A bill that only prevented the expenditure of taxpayer funds would allow an option for "Empolyee and Partner", where the additional expense of "Partner" was not subsidized. The bill in question forbids the option, period, under any circumstances. Since individual insurance is more expensive than group insurance, your bill actually forces an unneccesary, and IMHO spiteful, cost on domestic partners that they don't need to bear.

Do you have link to both Ramsey's testimony and to the financial documents (especially with reggard to cost/fee for the employee insurance)? I would not be surprised to see a university president lie, but I am interested in seeing the proof for it.

On a completely side note, your claim that tuition is somehow "public money" deserves only scorn and derision. You might as well claim that McDonald's customers are spending "public money". Of course, I am hesitant to add that side note, because you will no doubt now focus on that and avoid the main point completely, again.

Martin Cothran said...

One Brow,

Where did I use the expression "taxpayer funds"?

One Brow said...

Where did I use the expression "taxpayer funds"?

Sorry, "public money".

Now that that is out of the way, are you going to acknowledge that there is no provision concerning the public money in the bill, and it would forbid measures that were designed to offer the insurance and not to use public money? Can you provide evidence for your claim that domestic partner benefits were subsidized, as opposed to offered without subsidy?