Five Things to Know Today
Publisher’s Note: We missed doing the Forward Five and updating the web site because of an unexpected out-of-town family issue. We’re back in the groove with this Forward Five, and will have the web site updated later today. Thanks for your patience.
KY panel approves anti-abortion bills as opponents dress in Handmaid’s Tale costumes
Two more anti-abortion bills before the Kentucky General Assembly — one codifying the state Attorney General’s ability to prosecute violators of state abortion statutes, and the other dictating the terms for disposal of fetal remains — won approval from a House committee on Wednesday.
These proposals are two of seven anti-abortion bills currently before lawmakers. Others include House Bill 67, from state Rep. Joseph Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, which would amend the state constitution to remove Kentuckians’ guaranteed right to an abortion, and Senate Bill 90, from Sen. Steve Meredith, R-Leitchfield. It would create a “conscience” exemption for health care providers, giving anyone with a “religious, moral, ethical or philosophical” belief the chance to opt out of administering care without retribution and limit one’s liability for doing so.
Speaking to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where the crowd of public onlookers was peppered with several people silently protesting in white bonnets and red capes, modeling characters from the Handmaid’s Tale, Republican state Reps. Stan Lee of Lexington and Nancy Tate of Brandenburg presented their bills. (Herald-Leader)
‘Time to prove it’: Beshear pushes lawmakers on preexisting condition protections
Gov. Andy Beshear is intensifying his push to secure permanent protections for those with preexisting conditions in Kentucky. The issue took on more urgency for supporters this week with news that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could overturn the Affordable Care Act.
The Democratic governor called a press event urging lawmakers to enshrine a part of the decade-old Affordable Care Act into Kentucky law. “We hear folks from all different sides of the aisle saying we support coverage for preexisting conditions,” Beshear said. “Now is the time to prove it.” (WUKY)
Website available for those whose voting rights are restored
Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state has a new website where those whose voting rights were restored by an executive order he signed shortly after taking office can find out if they qualify to be able to register to vote.
The order, which he signed on Dec. 12, 2019, restored the rights to vote and hold public office for those convicted of non-violent felonies who have completed their sentences. Although Beshear says he originally thought 140,000 people would be affected, the number has risen. “We have identified 152,000 Kentuckians, who under the executive order have regained their rights to vote.”
Those affected can go to CivilRightsRestoration.ky.gov to see if they are eligible. (Kentucky Today)
Beshear urges employers who don’t allow paid sick leave to do so
Gov. Andy Beshear wants Kentucky employers who don’t allow paid sick leave to change that policy, to prevent spread of the coronavirus. “We have got to make sure that people stay home when they’re feeling sick until we move past this,” Beshear told journalists, adding that it is only a matter of time before Kentucky sees a case of Covid-19.
“I would encourage all those businesses that are out there that don’t currently offer paid sick leave, absolutely consider it for the next several months,” Beshear said. (KY Health News)
Following Bloomberg’s exit, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer endorses Joe Biden for president
“I join (Bloomberg) in endorsing Vice President Joe Biden, the greatest chance we have to restore honor and dignity to the White House,” Fischer said. (Courier-Journal)
Bill takes more board reorg powers away from governor – Gov. Andy Beshear would see his authority to select state board members rolled back further under a bill that has passed a House committee. House Bill 469 would strip the Democratic governor of his ability to reorganize the Kentucky Human Rights Commission by executive order or action. (WUKY)
Bill aimed at bringing awareness to human trafficking clears hurdle – A bill introduced last week to address human trafficking in Kentucky unanimously cleared a House committee on Wednesday. House Majority Caucus Chair Suzanne Miles, R-Owensboro, the sponsor of the measure, House Bill 2, says we have an education issue in the state of knowing exactly what human trafficking is, and that she wants to coordinate Kentucky law with national legislation. (Kentucky Today)
Bill requiring voters to show photo ID passes House – Legislation that would require all voters to show a photo ID when arriving at the polls to vote won House approval on Tuesday after several changes were made to the Senate’s original version. (Kentucky Today)
Senate OK’s bill to protect minors from online harassment – It would be a crime in Kentucky to spread personal information of a minor online with the intent to harass, abuse or frighten, under a bill the state Senate passed Monday. The legislation stems from an interaction between Kentucky teenager Nick Sandmann and a Native American activist that went viral in early 2019. (Kentucky Today)
Suicides of Ky. superintendent’s daughter, Lexington student motivate lawmakers to act – A Kentucky superintendent whose daughter died by suicide last year and a Lexington school social worker whose family friend lost a Fayette child the same way persuaded lawmakers Tuesday to move forward on a prevention bill. Senate Bill 42, sponsored by Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville, now goes to the full House. The full Senate has already approved the measure to give students quick access to crisis prevention phone numbers by putting them on school badges. (Herald-Leader)
Bill lets veterinarians report abuse, but they’ll need a second opinion on farmed animals – A bill granting Kentucky veterinarians legal protections if they report suspected animal abuse to law enforcement has cleared committee, but not without one change.
“We remain the only state in the nation that does not allow veterinarians to report when they become aware of it,” sponsor CB Embry told the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We need to correct that shortcoming.”
But while SB 21 did take its first step toward passage in the Senate Tuesday, it did so with some new compromise language that creates a different standard for farmed animals. In those cases, the state veterinarian would have to give a second opinion before a possible abuse report could be issued, according to Judy Taylor with the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association. (WUKY)
KYGA Resources on Forward Kentucky
All of these are under the KYGA20 menu on the web site.
- KYGA20 Story Page – All stories about the 2020 General Assembly on one page (go there)
- Bill Trackers – Four bill trackers covering everything filed in Frankfort, including trackers for bills that have crossed over and bills that we consider “key bills” (go there)
- Visual Key Bill Tracker – Each bill has its own row, and shows the progress of the bill through the legislative process. Updated each morning. (go there)
- Find My Legislators – Enter your address, and this tool finds all your state and federal elected officials, including contact information. (go there)
- The Legislative Process – If you are confused by how a bill becomes law in Kentucky, this simple guide will make it all clear.
- How to Be an Effective Activist – This PDF is chock-full of helpful information, including contact numbers, the basics of activism, and various tools you can use. (go there)
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] Superintendents alarmed by law accelerating expansion of officers in schools – School district leaders are raising concerns after Gov. Andy Beshear recently signed into law a bill that requires at least one armed police officer to be assigned to each school campus in a district – all with no specific state funding set aside to make that feasible. (read)
[new] Constitutional amendment gives cities, counties more taxing options – Kentucky’s cities and counties, which say they’re struggling to pay their bills despite a robust economy, would get more taxing options under HB 475, a bill that is gaining momentum in the legislature. (read)
[new] Legislators repeat myths about flu vaccines – Fortunately, state senator Dr. Ralph Alvarado corrected the misperceptions, and concluded with this advice that applies to us all: “Get your flu shot.” (read)
🔥 Over 300 faith leaders condemn anti-immigrant bills in letter to KYGA – Faith leaders from across the state have signed a letter calling on the legislature to stop progress on two bills seen as attacks against immigrants. (read)
🔥 Wheeler condemns drag queens; KDP condemns Wheeler – State Senator Phillip Wheeler called out Gov. Beshear for posing with drag queens at the Capitol. Now the KDP is calling for Wheeler to resign, and Republicans to condemn his remarks. (read)
🔥 [new] Biden, Bernie, and Liz – some thoughts – When I analyze a candidate, I look at three things: their policies, their effectiveness as a candidate, and their effectiveness in the office if elected. So, with only hours until Super Tuesday, here are my thoughts on the three leading candidates. (read)
[new] OpEd: We all agree, Marsy’s Law offers only empty promises – It’s not often that you see an ACLU attorney, a Republican Senator, a Commonwealth’s Attorney, and members of the Tea Party agreeing on something. This may be a first in Kentucky history, but we all agree that Marsy’s Law is bad for victims and wrong for Kentucky. (read)
[podcast] Medical marijuana, SB 8, and Bob Gibson interview – This week: medical MJ passes the House, Beshear signing SB 8, and other KYGA20 stories. Plus, Bob Gibson, a Democratic candidate for State House in Versailles. (listen)
[new] What’s with the “via” add-on? – Here’s why you might see “via some-outlet-or-another” at the end of our posts on social media. (read)
A word about abbreviations – I recently had someone ask about certain words and abbreviations we use, so I thought I’d explain. (read)
Posts with Most Social Media Shares in Past Fourteen Days
(🔥 indicates post with surge of recent shares)
- Broihier adds Universal Basic Income to campaign platform (6,000 shares [!])
- Digital strategist Beth Thorpe – Applying her talent to electing Democrats in Kentucky (1,000 shares)
- House committee cuts off testimony, passes anti-abortion bill (761 shares)
- 🔥 Biden, Bernie, and Liz – some thoughts (513 shares)
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