2006 Survey Results Overview

The Chevy Chaser, Lexington

Rep. Susan Westrom

To those of you who responded to my 2006 Legislative Survey, I promised I would give a full update of the results in the May issue of the Chevy Chaser Magazine. I want to first thank all of my constituents who took the time to give me their feedback. I received more survey responses than total phone calls during the entire session! My questions were developed based on my prediction of topics that could possibly become law in the 2006 session or to give me a feel for how to communicate more effectively with the 79th District. Five months later, I find that eight of the questions did reflect topics of drafted legislation. Now, on to the results…

I am always interested in consumers’ responses to questions regarding their health, purchasing power, and taxes. My first question asked if you were in favor of legislation to allow importation of prescription drugs from Canada, if federal standards allowed. Eighty-four percent said yes, 12 percent said no, and 4 percent provided no answer. Interestingly, only 60 percent of my constituents thought Kentucky residents should be allowed to purchase wine over the internet, 32 percent said no, and 8 percent were undecided. Seventy-nine percent of respondents were in favor of increasing taxes on cigarettes again this year, and many added that we should increase taxes on alcohol! Not surprisingly, 79 percent are against city governments being allowed to levy an additional sales tax at restaurants to help pay for the city’s general operations.

Crime and punishment is an annual issue lawmakers must address. This year 86 percent who responded to my survey believe sex offenders should be subject to lifetime registration, treatment, and public notification. Sixty-five percent reported that they are in favor of the death penalty, while 30 percent want to see it eliminated. Eighty-one percent told me they believe that the torture and mutilation of domesticated animals should be designated as a felony crime!

It is apparent that citizens feel the Supreme Court went beyond their boundaries last year; 71 percent stated they believe eminent domain laws (government seizure of private property for public use), need to be reformed or redefined. Fifteen percent said no, and 14 percent did not feel they had enough information to make an informed decision on the subject. I asked if the state should pass a constitutional amendment to limit the governor’s broad power to pardon people before they are convicted, and 67 percent said yes, 28 percent said no, and 5 percent had no comment.

I have never asked prior if marijuana for medicinal purposes and prescribed by a physician should be legalized. I was shocked that 75 percent are in favor of this type of legalization! I asked if Kentucky should increases the speed limit to 70 mph on interstate highways and parkways. The votes were divided with 56 percent in favor and 42 percent against, while 2 percent had no opinion. There was a similar response to the school voucher question. Thirty-eighty percent responded that they are in favor of school vouchers for students to use in private schools, 56 percent were opposed, and 6 percent provided no answer.

Some responses indicate to me that people have considered some of the topics very seriously. When asked if new laws should be enacted to strengthen and give grandparents extended rights when they are custodians of their grandchildren, an amazing 91 percent said yes, 3 percent said no, and 6 percent did not respond to the question! Another surprise came when I asked if Kentucky should raise the state minimum wage to equal the national minimum wage, and 83 percent responded in favor, while only 13 percent said no.

I had heard that a bill would be filed in 2006 prohibiting homosexual couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents to homeless children. I was very interested in your thoughts. I found that 56 percent did not believe this should make a difference, 38 percent felt it should, and 6 percent did not answer. The written comments were “colorful” in many ways.

I posed three questions for my own benefit. I asked if you thought there should be a law preventing negative campaigning by candidates for public office. Fifty-seven percent said yes and 37 percent said no. Most people agreed that freedom of speech shaped their decision. When asked if negative campaigns were offensive, 84 percent said yes. (I was pleased to note that educated voters don’t play that game). Finally, I asked if you read my Chevy Chaser Magazine articles. I was pleased that 73 percent said yes, 20 percent said no, and 7 percent said sometimes.

I will be placing the results on my website in a more readable format sometime soon, and will also include some comments that were written in the available space. My website address is: www.susanwestrom.com. I hope that you will feel free to contact me by e-mail at [email protected], or in Frankfort at 502-564-8100, Extension 826. My Lexington office phone is 859-255-7581. It is an honor serving you in Frankfort!