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 asks KY public and private schools to stop in-person classes for next 2 weeks
Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday asked public and private schools in Kentucky to, as of Monday, cease in person classes for at least two weeks to curb the coronavirus outbreak. Beshear said he was making the recommendation on the advice of public health officials. “It is a big but necessary step,” said Beshear. “It should not evoke fear.” For those districts that have a spring break scheduled in the week that follows the two week closing, he is asking them to take the third week off as well. (Herald-Leader)
Legislature cancels business on Friday and Monday
The majority and minority leaders of the General Assembly have announced that they are postponing their work until Tuesday, March 17. (Forward Kentucky)
Mitch McConnell rejects Democrat’s coronavirus plan as liberal ‘wish list’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a proposal aimed at extending paid sick leave and other ideas to combat the coronavirus pandemic is nothing but an “ideological wish list” for House Democrats. But the Kentucky Republican put speculation to rest that the Senate would go into recess next week, saying Thursday they will be in session with the hope that both sides can reach an agreement. (Courier-Journal)
Kentucky auditor reviews Bevin’s aircraft usage and calls for transparency
Following a review of former Gov. Matt Bevin’s use of taxpayer-funded aircraft, state Auditor Mike Harmon is advocating for legislation to increase the transparency of flights taken by top executive branch officials. (Forward Kentucky)
Matt Bevin gets ratioed for ‘Chicken Little’ tweet
Former governor Matt Bevin got significantly ratioed for a tweet he posted about the coronavirus. It was seen by many as a slam at current governor Andy Beshear and his handling of the health situation in Kentucky. (Forward Kentucky)
Lawmakers advance bill creating automatic recount in close elections – A legislative committee has advanced a bill that would trigger an automatic recount if initial election results show a Kentucky political candidate winning by less than half a percentage point. SB 4 comes after several close elections across the state in recent years, including last year’s race for Kentucky governor.
Republican House Speaker David Osborne said that the change would allow a reexamination of vote totals without candidates making larger claims of vote irregularities or fraud. “There’s times when you just have extremely close elections that need to be dealt with quickly and with a reasonable fashion,” Osborne said. (WFPL)
Bill to cut power of prescription drug middlemen in Medicaid advances – A bill to curb the power of corporate middlemen who handle about $1.7-billion-a-year in prescription drug claims for the state Medicaid program moved a step closer to becoming law Thursday. The House passed Senate Bill 50 on a vote of 95-0 with some minor changes that must be approved by the Senate.
The bill is aimed at companies known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, that handle prescription drug claims for health insurance companies that oversee most of Kentucky’s Medicaid business. The PBMs act as subcontractors to the five outside managed care health insurance companies that handle most of the state’s $11-billion-a-year Medicaid business for about 1.3 million Kentuckians.
They have come under increasing fire in Kentucky and in other states, including Ohio and West Virginia, mostly from local pharmacists and their advocates who claim PBMs slash payments to pharmacists while reaping profits from state Medicaid programs. (Courier-Journal)
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] 🔥 War on Louisville returns with a vengeance – As if the leges in Frankfort don’t already have enough to do, they’ve decided to re-open the War on Louisville. A bill moving through the legislature would dramatically change how Louisville elects its leaders. And all of this is being done in Frankfort, without any input or vote by the citizens of Louisville. (read)
[new] 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. (read)
🔥 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)
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] Does more unite Bernie and Joe than divides them? – As much as people think differently, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have more in common than you might think. Berry Craig lays it out for us. (read)
[new] House’s underhanded move threatens transparency, small newspapers – Thank you, Rep. Rudy, for reminding citizens of Kentucky, by your actions, of the kinds of devious manipulation they most loathe about politics. (read)
[new] Stop the coronavirus racism – As the coronavirus spreads, and fears about it grow, another illness is growing along with it: racism and xenophobia. (read)
[new podcast] House GOP passes budget, HB 475 failure fallout, and COVID-19 response – This week, E.A. Duncan joins Robert to talk through some major issues in a huge week for news: the budget, the LOST bill, and Beshear’s response to COVID-19. (listen)
🔥 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)
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)
- 🔥 Mitch McConnell and the Do-Nothing Republicans (996 shares)
- Massie opponent issues statement on coronavirus (829 shares)
- House budget cuts state aid to Kentucky libraries. Some might have to close. (777 shares)
- Biden, Bernie, and Liz – some thoughts (587 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.
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