The Forward Five – Thursday, 3/12/20

14 mins read

Five Things to Know Today

A note about coronavirus coverage: Obviously, the coronavirus is the overwhelming news of the day. We are staying focused on our core content target (policy, politics, politicians), so we will not normally be including general coronavirus news, even though it is dominating the news cycle. Please support your local newspapers and news outlets, as well as the larger newspapers, as they do their best to keep up with this fast-moving and critical story.

Beshear tells schools to make plans for shutting down on short notice to curb COVID-19
Gov. Andy Beshear ordered school districts on Wednesday to prepare plans for closing on short notice as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Beshear said he would hold a conference call with school superintendents Wednesday afternoon to talk about the need to prepare for closing with less than 72 hours notice.

“While we are not there yet, it is very possible that in the future we are going to ask schools in Kentucky to close down for a period of time,” Beshear said. “We want to be prepared. We want to make sure that if we do that, kids get the meals that they desperately need and the care that they need.” (Herald-Leader)

Beshear signs order requiring free coronavirus testing for Kentuckians with insurance
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Monday that requires health insurance companies to cover the full cost of testing for novel coronavirus in Kentucky once the test becomes available from commercial labs. Beshear said it remains unclear when testing for COVID-19 will become widely available in Kentucky, though he hopes within a week.

His order will “wave co-pays, deductibles, cost-sharing and diagnostic testing fees for private insurance and state employees,” as well as “removing any impediments” for any Kentuckian currently receiving Medicaid benefits from “getting tested or treated [for the virus],” Beshear said. (Herald-Leader)

Gov urges churches to cancel services due to virus
Gov. Andy Beshear has urged churches across the state to cancel worship services to help prevent spread of the new coronavirus. He acknowledges that recommending cancellation of church services is a “big step.” But he says it’s needed to help protect people. (West Kentucky Star)

Democratic U.S. senator proposes funding to support vote by mail in November
Sen. Ron Wyden (D) is proposing $500 million of federal funding to help states prepare for possible voting disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Wyden’s bill also would give Americans the option to vote by mail in case of a widespread emergency.

The legislation, to be filed Wednesday, could boost a national trend toward voting by mail. In the 1990s, Wyden’s home state of Oregon became the first state to vote entirely by mail, and the practice has grown to the point that more than 31 million Americans — about one-quarter of all voters — cast ballots by mail in 2018.

Election officials and experts in recent days have been considering how they would handle a major disease outbreak in which quarantines or closures of facilities would affect Americans’ ability to vote in primary elections, party caucuses and the November general election. (Washington Post)

Voter photo ID bill stuck, going to conference committee
Senate Bill 2, which requires a photo ID in order to vote, has hit a snag.

The bill was approved in the Senate and sent to the House. The House passed it, but only after they had made a substantial number of changes to it (a committee substitute and one floor amendment).

When they sent the revised bill back to the Senate, the Senate refused to agree to the changes, and sent the bill back to the House asking the House to take back (“rescind”) their changes and approve the original bill. The House refused.

So now, both chambers have appointed committees to go into a joint conference and come up with a bill both chambers can approve. If they cannot do so, the bill may die.

KYGA20 Run-Down

Bill to make Louisville elections nonpartisan clears state committee in party-line vote – A bill that would force Louisville to hold nonpartisan local elections — with no Republican or Democratic label for candidates — cleared a legislative committee on Wednesday on a party-line vote. (Courier-Journal)
– More on this story: “War on Louisville returns

Kentucky lawmakers are trying to make school closures easier as coronavirus fears mount – As concerns over the coronavirus in Kentucky mount, state lawmakers are weighing legislation that may help make lengthy school closures easier. (Forward Kentucky)

Bill tackling addiction in the workplace advances – Legislation to give Kentuckians in addiction recovery a pathway to maintain or return to employment narrowly advanced out of a Senate Committee earlier this month.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 173, would task the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Office of Drug Control Policy with developing educational resources for businesses who voluntarily implement employer-facilitated treatment programs for employees who fail drug screenings. (Richmond Register)

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.
    (go there)
  • 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] 🔥 Kentucky House passes bill specifying women have no constitutional right to abortion – The Kentucky House passed a bill Tuesday seeking to amend the state constitution to specifically state that women do not have a legal right to an abortion. (read)

[new] Panel approves bill to move local governments out of ailing Kentucky pension system – A House committee on Monday approved a bill that could cost millions of dollars a year in order to move Kentucky’s local government pension fund out of the ailing Kentucky Retirement Systems. (read)

[new] 🔥 House budget cuts state aid to Kentucky libraries. Some might have to close. – House Republicans cut $2.5 million in direct aid for local libraries from their version of the state budget, unveiled last Thursday, potentially closing small libraries that depend on it in some of Kentucky’s poorest rural communities. (read)

How much do KY college students pay to support their sports teams? – How much of your tuition is going to support your school’s athletic dept? And, how dependent is the athletic dept on that money? We’ve got the numbers. (read)

🔥 Three anti-abortion bills advance out of legislative committees – Three abortion bills advanced in the legislature last week, one to give the state’s attorney general more power to enforce abortion laws, one to require fetal remains to be buried or cremated after the procedure, and one to give the state auditor power to audit reports about abortions. (read)


Lawmaker Rudy deals blow to government transparency – Hidden in the budget bill is a law to allow local governments to bury public notices in the bowels of their web sites, instead of publishing them where all can see them. It’s one more blow to government transparency. (read)

THIS is why you want a functional, competent government. – It’s easy sometimes to make fun of the government, and to claim that “good government” is an oxymoron. Guess what? This is not one of those times. (read)


 🔥 Mitch McConnell and the Do-Nothing Republicans – Want to know just how bad Mitch McConnell has been for our country and our democracy? Want to know just how much he has blocked, and how little he and the Republican majority have actually done? Then watch this video from Robert Reich, as he outlines the low-lights of the McConnell reign over the Do-Nothing Republicans. (watch)

 🔥 Watch, then SHARE this new Bloomberg ad – Mike Bloomberg may be out of the race, but his communications team is still putting out solid stuff – except now it’s aimed squarely at taking out Trump. Watch the latest below, then either use our sharing buttons or YouTube’s to get it out there. (view)

[podcast] School choice movement, local sales taxes, Democratic presidential primary, and Lamar Allen interview – This week’s show includes discussion of bills the Trump admin thinks KY should pass about school choice, local taxes, the Dem presidential primary, and an interview with Lamar Allen, a Dem candidate in the 56th District. (listen)


Should we be taking bigger coronavirus actions? – I have a simple question: Should we be taking bigger actions in regard to the coronavirus? For many, it seems the answer is still “No.” (read)

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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