The Forward Five – Tuesday, 1/21/20

16 mins read

Five Things to Know Today

Publisher’s Note – Don’t look away. Pay attention. This is important.
We try to focus on Kentucky politics, leaving most national and international items to others. Thus the overall lack of coverage of the Trump impeachment. But as we move into the Senate phase, I want to say something.

As someone who is immersed in news and politics pretty much every day, I know the news can be both overwhelming and exhausting. The temptation is to just turn it off, to focus on things you can control. I get it.

But this is a time when we cannot do that. We cannot look away. We must pay attention. This is too important, for each of us individually and for our country, and perhaps even for the world.

President Trump is guilty of the charges as brought by the House. His defense is that he is allowed to do those things, because he is the president. Do you see where this is going?

If Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans vote to dismiss the charges, or to find Trump not guilty, it signals that Congress no longer has the authority or power to check the executive branch. It possibly signals a turning point for our democracy. It could turn out to be the American version of crossing the Rubicon.

So, don’t look away. Pay attention. This is important.

*   *   *   *   *
(Note: A good source for keeping up and paying attention is Talking Points Memo. The site is free, with some stories for members only. Becoming a member is not expensive, and worth the cost.)

McConnell’s proposed rules for Trump’s Senate impeachment trial could set up heated debate
President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial will likely start with a fierce debate between Democrats and Republicans over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s proposed rules for the first stage of the Senate trial. 

According to a copy of the four-page draft organizing resolution for the trial obtained by USA TODAY, all evidence from the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry must be printed out and be made available to all senators before the lawmakers will be able to vote on admitting the materials at a later time.  

The Senate will debate and vote on these rules Tuesday. 

The Democratic impeachment managers and the president’s lawyers would be given 24 hours each to present their cases. Under these rules, each side’s presentations must take place over two working days in the Senate – meaning that presentations could go late into the night. 

Following the presentations, senators are allowed to question both sides for a period of 16 hours, though it does not place a restriction on the number of days for the question period. Votes on calling witnesses or documents will not be allowed until after the question phase of the trial. Senators will be given four hours to debate witnesses and documents. (Courier-Journal)

Crusading conservative Stan Lee withdraws from bid for reelection to KY legislature
Conservative stalwart and longtime state Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, withdrew from the 2020 election Friday, signaling the end of his tenure in Frankfort after nearly 20 years.

Lee’s withdrawal a week after the filing deadline comes as a surprise. In an email to the Herald-Leader, Lee said that over his 10 terms in office, he had “put politics and serving in the General Assembly ahead of everything, including at times, my family, my church, and my own health.”

“As a result, I had to make the difficult decision to not seek re-election this year,” Lee wrote. “It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the people of Fayette County. Their continued support over the years allowed me to fight for what I believed in, especially the Right to Life and Religious Liberty issues.” (Herald-Leader)

KFTC calls on Congress to “Fix What’s Broke”
Kentuckians for the Commonwealth announced a large advertising campaign, with billboards and online ads, that urges Congress to “Fix What’s Broke.” Specifically, KFTC wants Congress to pass bills to clean up abandoned coal mines and polluted waterways and by extending funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for an additional ten years. (Forward Kentucky)

Jazmin Smith looks at the Voter ID bill
SB 2 would require a photo ID to vote. What are the details, and are there any problems with this bill? Jazmin Smith digs into the details. (Forward Kentucky)

MLK Day in western Kentucky
Berry Craig was at both the Paducah and Mayfield celebrations of Martin Luther King and shares this story, as well as photo galleries from both events. (Forward Kentucky)

KYGA20 Run-Down
(NOTE: KYGA was not in session yesterday, so there are no new updates. These are the same as yesterday’s Forward Five.)

Bills are still being filed, and bills are moving through the process. Rather than pull any of these into the “five things to know” section, we’re simply listing some of the stories in the media. Note that some of these may never even be heard in committee, while others may wind up on a fast track for passage.

This week’s Good Bill (HB 88) and Bad Bill (SB 2) – Each week during the session, Robert Kahne and Jazmin Smith of My Old Kentucky Podcast list their Good Bill and Bad Bill of the week, along with why those bills are good or bad. This week’s bills are HB 88, the Maternal Care bill, and SB 2, the Voter ID bill. (Forward Kentucky)

Is marijuana legal in Kentucky? No, but several bills could change that – Several bills and a resolution are currently in the Kentucky General Assembly that could affect marijuana legalization in the commonwealth in 2020. (Courier-Journal)

House Republicans to offer public assistance reform bill – Republican leaders in the Kentucky House are preparing to unveil legislation aimed at increasing the state’s workforce by offering transitional support to ease people off public assistance. The measure is expected to be introduced next week and will be House Bill 1, House Speaker David Osborne said Friday. The bill designation signals it’s one of the top priorities for House GOP leaders.

The measure is intended to tackle “systemic problems” that can discourage people from taking jobs out of fear of losing public benefits, Osborne said. The result is that people remain locked in poverty. The goal is to encourage people to enter the workforce by helping them overcome such barriers as health insurance and child care costs, Osborne told reporters. (Kentucky Today)

Who are you and what are you doing? Answer or be detained under Kentucky Senate bill. – A bill pending in the Kentucky Senate would give police new powers to stop people on the street and demand that they identify themselves and explain their actions, drawing criticism from civil rights lawyers who say that would be an unconstitutional device likely used against minority groups. (Herald-Leader)

Confederate holidays have been in KY law for nearly 100 years. This bill would change that. – Kentucky was a neutral state in the Civil War, with the majority of people fighting for the union, but the state’s list of official holidays has celebrated Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Confederate Memorial Day for nearly 100 years. This year, Rep. Jerry Miller (R-Louisville) hopes to change that. (Herald-Leader)

Tired of lies, KY legislative leaders may require committee witnesses to take an oath – House Speaker David Osborne and Senate President Robert Stivers are considering a rule change that would require witnesses who testify during legislative committee meetings to be sworn in under oath, possibly subjecting them to perjury charges if they lie. (Forward Kentucky)

Kentucky’s GOP legislature may give Andy Beshear extra year in office if he’s reelected – SB 3 would shift elections for governor to even-numbered years, starting in 2028. This would push back the 2027 statewide elections by one year. (Forward Kentucky)

Medical marijuana advocates more hopeful it will pass, but main foe cites lack of research – A bill to legalize marijuana for medical purposes has been filed in the Kentucky General Assembly, with great hopes by advocates in the House, but the Senate remains a tough sell. (Forward Kentucky)

Not all stories on Forward Kentucky make it to the top “Five Things” section of the Forward Five! Many stories only show up in the yellow section below, which is a running list of pretty much everything published. So, be sure to scan the lower section each day as well, so you don’t miss anything.

Did you miss any of these?
Featured Content on Forward Kentucky

([new] indicates new since last Forward Five; 🔥 indicates lots of reads)


🔥 [new] Robert Kahne on the 2020 candidate filings – With the early filing deadline, we already know who is running this year. Robert Kahne looks at the overall picture, and digs into certain races as well. (read)

🔥 [new] Chilly, windy, rainy – but still the women marched. – Across the nation, the annual Women’s March demonstrations took place in towns large and small. Del Ramey and Catherine Hill of Forward Kentucky were at the one in Louisville, and shared this report and these pictures. (read)

Bill that allows betting on UK, U of L sports advances in legislature – A bill to legalize sports betting in Kentucky was amended Wednesday to allow betting on the sports teams of in-state public universities. House Bill 137, which would legalize sports betting at horse racetracks and the Kentucky Speedway, was unanimously approved by a House Committee Wednesday. It now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote. (read)


[new] Martin Luther King Jr. had a much more radical message than a dream of brotherhood – Martin Luther King Jr. has come to be revered as a hero who led a nonviolent struggle to reform and redeem the United States. But from my perspective as a historian of religion and civil rights, the true radicalism of his thought remains under-appreciated. The “civil saint” portrayed nowadays was, by the end of his life, a social and economic radical, who argued forcefully for the necessity of economic justice in the pursuit of racial equality. (read)

All will be well in Trumpistan – The so-called “trial” in the Senate reminds Berry Craig of the Scopes “Monkey Trial,” with the outcome just as pre-ordained. (read)

MLK: ‘The unions and the NAACP go hand-in-hand’ – As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, contributor Berry Craig reminds us that for Dr. King, the labor movement and the civil rights movement were intertwined. (read)


[new] 70% of Americans say U.S. economic system unfairly favors the powerful – A majority of U.S. adults say the economic system unfairly favors powerful interests. Wide majorities also say politicians, large corporations, and people who are wealthy have too much power and influence in today’s economy. (read)

[new] Heading into Iowa: Where do the Democratic candidates stand on health care coverage? – For many Americans, health care remains one of the most important topics in the 2020 election. Here is an excellent analysis of the positions of the Dem candidates. (read)

Three reasons the Voter ID bill is bad — and what we should do instead – SB2, the Voter ID bill, is a bad bill. Dr. Neal Turpin gives three reasons it is bad, and lays out what we should be doing instead. (read)


[podcast] Senate Bill 2, filing deadline, and interview with Martina Jackson – An interview w/ Martina Jackson, running for House 81. Also, Jazmin on Senate Bill 2, Robert on candidates who have filed, and “Good Bill/Bad Bill.” (listen)

Posts with Most Social Media Shares in Past Fourteen Days

(🔥 indicates post with surge of recent shares)

The Forward 5 is published Monday to Friday by Forward Kentucky, an independent media organization focused on progressive news and issues in Kentucky, and is re-posted with permission. You can sign up for the email version of the newsletter on their website.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Forward Kentucky is an independent media organization focused on progressive news and issues in Kentucky. Our objectives are to provide journalism that is objective, policies that are effective, and commentary that is progressive. Our goal is to help Kentucky become all that it can be through government that works, for all. We are "the progressive voice for Kentucky politics."

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