Five Things to Know Today
Coronavirus update from Gov. Beshear
A summary of the two weekend press conferences held by Governor Beshear on the coronavirus pandemic, provided by KY Health News. Much good info here, in a bulletized format. (Forward Kentucky)
USDA grants waiver to allow schools to serve students off-site meals; will address food insecurity
The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) received notification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it has received approval to extend alternate meal service flexibility to students in the case of extended closures due to COVID-19. The waiver allows Kentucky’s schools to continue to serve students’ meals following the guidelines of the Summer Food Service Program and National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option at state-approved sites within the community, even if a school district is closed.
USDA also clarified a concern raised by the KDE on feeding sites and districts that are participating in the Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Program. “This will enable approved sponsors to allow meals to be taken away from the site and consumed elsewhere, thereby allowing for social distancing,” wrote Angela Kline, director of Policy and Program Development Division in Food and Nutrition Services of USDA. “This waiver applies to situations where non-traditional instruction is being carried out through virtual learning due to school buildings being closed and students being unable to attend their physical school location for classes.” (KY Forward)
KY Dems postpone party re-org meetings
The Kentucky Democratic Party has postponed their every-four-years party reorganization, due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. (Forward Kentucky)
Kentucky’s high court postpones virtually all court cases statewide because of coronavirus
Virtually all courtrooms in Kentucky will be shut down until April 10 to protect employees and the public from the coronavirus. (Forward Kentucky)
Louisville mayor self-isolates after potential COVID-19 exposure
Mayor Greg Fischer announced Sunday during a regular update on Louisville’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak that he is in self isolation after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. “Although I have no symptoms, I was tested for the virus in consultation with the Metro Department of Health and Wellness,” Fischer said. “I do not yet have the results of that test. In the meantime, I have self-isolated, just as we’d ask anyone to do. Should the test come back positive, I’ll be working from home for the quarantine period, which begins with date of exposure, so that’s March 7.”
The mayor will be in isolation until early in the week after receiving guidance from Metro Health and Wellness that he be isolated 14 days from the date of exposure. He added that future media briefings on the city’s response to the pandemic will be conducted virtually in order to limit person-to-person contact. (Lane Report)
And a story to lighten your day
KYforKY unveils new state seal
The web site Kentucky for Kentucky has unveiled a new state seal appropriate for our current coronavirus reality. The story includes both the current and the new state seal. (Forward Kentucky)
Reminder – The General Assembly was not in session on Friday, and will not be today, in order to lessen the possibility of infection. Both House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday of this week.
Kentucky business groups quiet on bill to mandate sick leave – Kentucky’s two largest business chambers – who normally wouldn’t be expected to embrace new government mandates on employers – aren’t saying much about a Louisville lawmaker’s proposal to mandate that employers provide paid sick time given the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sen. Morgan McGarvey, who leads the Senate’s minority Democratic caucus, filed the bill earlier this month. It would make Kentucky one of only about a dozen states to force employers to provide sick time to workers. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Greater Louisville Inc., the business chamber for metro Louisville, each said they’re talking to their members about the bill and don’t yet have a stance on it. (WDRB)
Medical marijuana bills challenge Bible Belt politics – Facing a potentially historic vote on whether to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky, Republican lawmaker John Schickel is conflicted. A retired law enforcement officer, Schickel once steadfastly opposed medical cannabis, but his stance has softened. Now he says he’s approaching the question with an open mind.
Schickel’s dilemma stands as yet another sign that views about marijuana are changing across the South, where efforts to legalize it have long been stymied by Bible Belt politics. While medical cannabis is legal now in 33 states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, other Southern states remain among the holdouts. Whether wavering resistance will lead to legalization remains unclear. After years of setbacks, the Kentucky bill’s supporters cleared a historic hurdle when the House passed the measure. The Senate appears more skeptical. (Herald-Leader)
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] Want to stay informed about the virus? Spend this money NOW. – If you want solid info about the coronavirus, there are some steps you should take. Read our list of where to put your $$ to stay informed. (read)
[new] 🔥 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. (read)
[new] 🔥 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. (read)
[new] 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. (read)
🔥 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)
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)
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)
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 video] 🔥 New video show “The State of Kentucky” begins – We’ve added a new content channel to the Forward Kentucky family: a live video show called “The State of Kentucky.” Here’s our first episode, with guest Anna Whites! (view)
[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)
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 (1,000+ shares)
- Massie opponent issues statement on coronavirus (834 shares)
- House budget cuts state aid to Kentucky libraries. Some might have to close. (785 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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