December 15, 2014

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand

FRANKFORT – With only about a week until Christmas, the opportunity to buy gifts is nearing a critical point for those who haven’t completed their shopping.

If you’re among those still searching for ideas, one possible solution is to buy something produced locally. Governor Beshear, in fact, has proclaimed December to be “Give a Gift Made in Kentucky Month,” which is highlighting the artists and businesses across the commonwealth that offer something rare if not unique.

Several agencies within the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet promote these artists through their gift shops. Those can be found at such places as our state resort parks and the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea, where about 700 artists are featured.

Kentucky is blessed to have a sizable number of people contributing to our cultural heritage. According to a report early this month from the Kentucky Arts Council, the creative-arts industry is responsible for about 60,000 jobs, and their combined earnings last year approached $2 billion.

A comparable national study found that the industry contributed more than a half-trillion dollars to our gross domestic product in 2011. That was more than travel and tourism brought in.

Once you’re done with the gift-buying, there is no shortage of holiday-themed events to attend this time of year. Our churches and community organizations host many, of course, and complementing them are a few unlike anything seen anywhere else.

The Kentucky Horse Park, for example, has four miles of Christmas lights and displays, while the Louisville Mega Cavern boasts two million points of light in what is the world’s only underground Christmas-light display through which you can drive your vehicle.

For a dozen years now, the Newport Aquarium has gotten national attention for its Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland. It puts Santa and his sleigh in a 385,000 gallon tank also shared by sharks, seahorses and stingrays.

If you are a fan of the timeless Christmas classic movies, the Frazier History Museum in Louisville is featuring costumes and memorabilia from “White Christmas.” These items are on loan from the Rosemary Clooney House in Bracken County, and will be on display through January 11th.

While Christmas is celebrated around the world, it’s worth noting that Kentucky has made a couple of its own contributions to the holiday or the date itself.

Last year, for example, the Lexington Catholic High School and several nearby middle schools landed themselves in the Guinness Book of World Records by holding the largest game of Secret Santa. All told, 1,463 people participated.

On Christmas morning in Danville 205 years ago, meanwhile, Ephraim McDowell became the father of abdominal surgery when he removed a 22.5-pound ovarian tumor from a woman who would go on to live another 32 years. This was before the days of anesthesia, so she sang hymns to distract herself from the pain.

Once Christmas is behind us, we’ll begin getting ready for the new year. If you have not made plans for that, our state parks will be hosting a variety of events. Those will include dinner, lodging packages and even a few “First Day” hikes on Jan. 1st for those whose resolutions include getting more exercise.

Since the legislative session starts less than a week after we ring in 2015, the General Assembly is making final preparations for what promises to be a busy 30 working days.

If you would like to let me know your views or concerns about any issue affecting the state, please write to me at Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort KY 40601; or you can email me at [email protected]

To leave a message for me or for any legislator, call toll-free at 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.

For now, let me end by saying that I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer