The Forward Five – Friday, 2/21/20

12 mins read

Five Things to Know Today

Kentucky House votes to legalize medical marijuana
The Kentucky House voted to legalize medical marijuana in the state on a vote of 65-30 after a long debate Thursday. The House vote comes after years of setbacks for medical marijuana advocates in Kentucky. The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces stronger opposition.

The measure would allow doctors to prescribe cannabis, and sets up a regulatory framework for patients to obtain it at approved dispensaries. Smoking medical cannabis would not be permitted under the bill. Consumption could take place through such forms as pills and oils. (West Kentucky Star)

House committee cuts off testimony, passes anti-abortion bill
A House committee on Thursday passed a constitutional amendment that would remove protections and funding for legal abortions, while cutting off testimony of those opposed to the bill. (Forward Kentucky)

Braidy fires back at Craig Bouchard in court filing, claims ousted CEO misused funds
Braidy Industries is claiming in a court filing this week that an internal investigation found “red flags” concerning founder Craig Bouchard’s use of company funds, including tens of thousands of dollars in “unsubstantiated” travel and meal charges to company credit cards. (Courier-Journal)

Four former Kentucky federal prosecutors join the call for AG William Barr’s resignation
At least four former federal prosecutors in Kentucky are among the nearly 2,600 Department of Justice alumni nationwide who have signed an open letter calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign.

The Justice Department veterans from Kentucky include Patrick Molloy, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky from 1977 to 1981 who also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for 33 years.

In an interview, Molloy, 81, who is retired, said: “In my entire career, under Democratic and Republican administrations, I never saw a case opened or closed because of politics. What has gone on under President Trump and his puppet, General Barr, is a disgrace. It strikes at the core of the independence and credibility and prestige of the Department of Justice.” (Courier-Journal)

Kentucky bill creates sweeping religious, ethical exemptions in health care
Kentucky health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures or dispense medications on ethical or religious grounds would be granted legal protections under legislation opponents are calling “extreme.”

As written, Senate Bill 90 would afford legal protections to a wide range of employees working in health care-related fields, from physicians to insurers. Under the measure, those covered could decline to participate in actions that violate their “religious, moral, ethical, or philosophical beliefs.”

“It would be the most extreme refusal law in the country, if passed,” says Sarah Hall, a policy and program associate with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana and Kentucky. Hall laid out scenarios her organization worries are possible under the proposal.

“We foresee that patients could have trouble accessing their birth control or a prescription for an antidepressant if their pharmacists objects to that. Also, it’s as simple as a receptionist could refuse to admit a patient that’s experiencing a miscarriage because they don’t want to participate in end-of-pregnancy care,” she warned.

The bill passed out of committee and on to the full Senate. (WUKY)

KYGA20 Run-Down
The General Assembly has hit the halfway mark, and bills continue to move. 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.

Voter photo ID bill advances but draws threat of legal challenge – As Kentucky legislators advance a bill to require voters to show a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot, a civil-liberties group says it might mount a challenge if the bill becomes law. The Republican-backed measure cleared a House committee on a party-line vote Thursday. (WUKY)

Revised bill to curb Kentucky’s pharmacy middlemen advances after major changes – A bill aimed at cutting corporate middlemen out of Kentucky’s $1.7 billion-a-year Medicaid prescription drug business passed the Senate on Thursday with changes to ease concerns it could disrupt a separate funding stream for hospitals and community health clinics.

Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, is aimed at companies known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, that handle prescription drug claims for health insurance companies, including those that oversee most of Kentucky’s Medicaid business. Wise said Thursday a revised SB 50 alleviates concerns of hospitals and clinics about funds and would end “the shenanigans” of PBMs “not only in Kentucky but across the United States.” (Courier-Journal)

Revised public assistance bill HB 1 still fraught with problems, advocates say – A new version of a controversial bill meant to tighten controls over public assistance and crack down on suspected fraud passed a House committee Thursday but not before it ran into a buzz saw of opposition from opponents who called it unnecessary and overly punitive. (Courier-Journal)

Kentucky Senate approves bill to strip governor’s power to appoint transportation chief – The Kentucky Senate passed a controversial bill Thursday to strip the governor of the authority to appoint a transportation secretary. (Courier-Journal)

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] Digital strategist Beth Thorpe – Applying her talent to electing Democrats in Kentucky – Beth Thorpe has become a leading digital strategist for Dems in Kentucky. What does that mean, and how did she get started? Cathy Hill has a profile. (read)

🔥 [new] Can Kentucky protect LGBTQ youth and end ‘conversion therapy’ when many deny it exists? – Two bills would ban conversion therapy, but wouldn’t apply to informal, unlicensed counseling. And, opponents who fear the legislation could impede religious freedom — especially organizations that support the right of those “struggling with unwanted homosexuality” to seek Christian-based counseling — have lobbied against it in Frankfort. (read)

Braidy Industries founder Craig Bouchard sues company after being ousted – Braidy Industries’ founder Craig Bouchard filed a lawsuit against the company he formed and several of its stockholders — including a limited liability company owned by Kentucky’s state government. (read)

🔥 Flurry of amendments create another barrier for Kentucky sports betting bill – Lawmakers filed nearly a dozen “unfriendly” floor amendments last week to the bill seeking to legalize and tax sports betting in Kentucky. (read)

House Democrats quiet over consultant, FBI target – House Democrats are staying quiet over whether they will cut ties with a campaign consultant who was targeted in an FBI probe. (read)


‘A demagogue seeking to destroy freedom and the rule of law’ – Both sides in Trump’s impeachment trial quoted the Federalist Papers in their arguments. But Trump’s GOP is actually what the papers warned against. (read)

Financial engineers ravage American newspapers — now it’s McClatchy’s turn – Friday’s news reports played the story as McClatchy, parent of the Herald-Leader, filing for bankruptcy. But that’s not the deeper story. (read)


🔥 [new podcast] KY Wired, vape taxes, school metrics, and Suzanne Kugler – This week: KY Wired legislation, taxes on vaping, school performance metrics, and an interview with Suzanne Kugler, a Democrat running for Kentucky House in southeast Louisville. (listen)

[new photo gallery] Moms Demand Action rally at Capitol – Photographer Del Ramey rode to the event from Louisville on the Moms chartered bus, and took photos the whole way. Here are some of the moments he captured. (view)

🔥 [photo galleries] Anti-Mitch rally pix from TWO ForwardKY photographers – This past Saturday, an anti-Mitch McConnell rally was held in Louisville, put on by Mayday America and featuring special guests Cleanup Carl and the Trump Chicken. It also had a number of excellent speakers and musicians. Here are two photo galleries of the event, taken by Del Ramey and Nick Lacy. (view)

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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