The Forward Five – Tuesday, 2/4/20

15 mins read

Five Things to Know Today

Braidy Industries faces funding deadlines as founder contests his ouster as CEO
The founder of Braidy Industries, Craig Bouchard, confirmed this weekend that the company’s board of directors attempted to forcefully remove him as CEO and board chairman following an internal dispute related to fundraising efforts.

The possible shift in leadership — Bouchard disputes that the board had authority to remove him — comes as the company faces at least two financial deadlines that could determine whether Braidy Industries ever builds its $1.7 billion aluminum mill near Ashland.

Based on SEC filings, it appears that the Russian aluminum company Rusal, which previously faced U.S. sanctions and offered to invest $200 million into the aluminum mill last year, could pull out of that agreement at any time. The Rusal deal came on the condition that Rusal could pull its investment if Braidy failed to raise an additional $300 million by the fourth monthly anniversary of the closing of their deal. Rusal and Braidy entered into their agreement on July 5 of last year, and Braidy Industries has not announced that it raised the $300 million Rusal required.

SEC filings also show that Braidy Industries faces an additional deadline this year regarding the state’s $15 million investment. The company has until the end of 2020 to invest $1 billion into the mill project, or the state could require Braidy to repurchase its investment, plus 8 percent interest from May 2017. (Herald-Leader)

Kentucky classrooms cannot afford to have resources siphoned away by most expensive neo-voucher proposal yet
All Kentucky children – living in poor and wealthy districts, black, brown and white, whose parents didn’t finish high school and that have advanced degrees – deserve a high-quality education that will equip them to contribute fully to their community and the state’s economy. The most efficient and effective way to invest state tax dollars toward that end is to adequately and equitably fund the state’s public schools.

But House Bill 350 (HB 350) and its companion bill in the Senate (SB 110) would siphon a large and growing amount of public resources through a tax break for donors to private schools (so-called scholarship tax credits), deepening the fiscal strain public schools are experiencing after a decade of state budget cuts.

Compared to previous versions of the proposal, this year’s bills are largely similar yet even more expensive, with a cost that could total as much as $1 billion over just 11 years. By providing no sunset date or ultimate cap on the program, costs would continue to grow over time, consuming an increasing share of resources that would otherwise be invested in public services through the state budget. (KY Policy)

Beshear’s budget offers pension reprieve for health departments
As health departments across Kentucky face pension challenges that could force many of them to enforce big cuts in services or even close their doors, Gov. Andy Beshear’s two-year budget proposal offers them a bit of a reprieve. (Forward Kentucky)

Pikeville senator issues apology for social media posts
Pikeville’s state senator was placed at the center of a controversy when social media posts he had made were labeled as “racist” in a statement issued by the Kentucky Democratic Party last week.

In two of the Facebook posts, 31st District state Sen. Phillip Wheeler, a Republican, criticized Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, referring to Northam by a nickname used as a racial slur against African Americans. In another questioned in the Kentucky Democratic Party statement, Wheeler referred to Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as “Pochahantas.” The KDP press release also pointed to a Facebook post in which Wheeler spread a conspiracy theory about Univision television host Jorge Ramos, according to a report in the News-Express.

In a statement issued to the News-Express last Friday, Wheeler said he regrets any pain the posts caused. “Gov. Northam is someone with whom I strongly disagree, and I repeated a nickname on social media that Northam has acknowledged using and which was widely discussed in the media,” Wheeler said in the statement. “I attempted to use this reprehensible nickname as a way of calling attention to Northam’s disturbing racism in his past. There were better ways of doing this, and I apologize for having offended people and have removed the posts.” (Kentucky Today)

The unbridgeable chasm
We are now a nation, as we were in 1860, with two completely different and completely incompatible views of America. (Featured editorial on Forward Kentucky)

KYGA20 Run-Down
“Moar bills!” Rather than pull any of these stories 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.

Bill to let physician assistants prescribe passes first hurdle – A bill to allow physician assistants to prescribe drugs, a step advocates say is needed to improve health-care access in rural Kentucky, is finally moving through the legislature. (Forward Kentucky)

Bill would end public notices in newspapers – Citing lower costs and the digital age, Republican State Rep. Jerry Miller has introduced legislation to remove paid public notices from newspapers and instead post them for free on local government websites. The measure, House Bill 195, is opposed by the Kentucky Press Association, which represents 178 member newspapers, on the ground it would defeat the purpose of the notices to inform the general public about important local information and protect government transparency.

Under current Kentucky law, government public notices must be published in general circulation newspapers. The notices include details about taxes, foreclosures, rezoning, land taking, contract bids, school budgets and other government intentions and actions. Newspapers also post them to their websites for maximum public reach, said David T. Thompson, executive director of the Kentucky Press Association. In addition, he said, the association maintains a central website ( for local newspaper public notices, making them searchable to the public by city, county, date of publication and newspaper title. (Richmond Register)

Hemp bill heads back to House – Legislation designed to help Kentucky’s fledgling hemp industry has passed the state Senate by a 37-0 vote. Known as House Bill 236, the measure would conform Kentucky’s hemp laws to federal guidelines that changed after the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. That bill removed hemp from the list of federally controlled substances, which allowed farmers across the nation to grow hemp legally. (Falmouth Outlook)

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.

It’s the last week of our winter membership drive – are you a paying member?
Members and friends – Our winter membership drive ends THIS WEEK. As you already know, almost all of our budget comes from our paying members. And because of our paying members, we have gone from a startup funded primarily out of my pocket to an ongoing and almost-breaking-even media outlet.

If you are already a paying member, thank you! And if you are not, please consider becoming one. The Basic Monthly membership is $3 a month, or less than one large coffee from Starbucks. Your support will help us do morecover more, and reach more.

Here’s an article I wrote on “The three subscriptions you should purchase right now.” Read it to learn more about the importance of independent journalism and commentary. And if you are ready to become a member, just click the link below to go to the memberhip page. Support the value you get from Forward Kentucky – become a member today.

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

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


🔥 [new] Voter challenges Republican running as faux Democrat – A voter is challenging the candidacy of David Reed, a long-time Repub who switched his party registration then filed as a Democrat to run for state House. (read)

🔥 [new] House approves bill to ban sexual harassment by legislators – The KY House passed a bill strengthening rules around sexual harassment in their workplace, and giving the Ethics Commission jurisdiction over claims. (read)

[new] Beshear wants cigarette-tax hike, new tax on electronic cigarettes – but not as much as one Republican bill – Gov. Beshear wants to raise the tax on all tobacco products and add a new tax on e-cigs – but one Republican bill actually goes further. (read)

🔥 [new] State Senate committee passes Kentucky ‘sanctuary’ ban – SB 1 would bar cities, public agencies, police, or institutions from adopting policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities. (read)

[new] Republicans moving toward limiting a governor’s power to dismantle education board – Sparked by Gov. Beshear’s December dismantling of the Kentucky Board of Education, Senate leadership is working to prevent similar reorgs in the future. (read)

[new] Confusion reigns as Braidy Industries CEO disputes company’s release that he stepped down – Craig Bouchard disputed a Braidy Industries press release that he had stepped down as CEO, stating that he was still in charge. (read)

🔥 [new] KDP slams Republican state senator for “racist content” on social media – The Kentucky Democratic Party today issued a statement condemning a state senator for what they termed “racist content.” The statement included examples. (read)


KCEP releases initial analysis of Beshear budget – The staff at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy worked way into the night to produce this initial analysis of Governor Beshear’s proposed budget. (read)


🔥 [new] Are Dems about to hand Trump a second term? – Murray State University historian Brian Clardy warns that Democratic disunity could hand Donald Trump a second term. (read)


Mitch McConnell takes care of the miners – Senator McConnell likes to talk about how much he has done for the coal industry and coal miners in Kentucky. Aaron Smith has some insight into just how that has worked out for those miners. (view)


[new podcast] Budget address and legislative update with Cassie Chambers Armstrong – Cassie Chambers Armstrong joins Jazmin as the pair discuss Governor Beshear’s budget address and an update to the legislative session. (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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