Five Things to Know Today
Good morning! Normally we call Wednesday “hump day” – but it appears that April is going to be “hump month” when it comes to the coronavirus in Kentucky. We ended March with the worst day for CV numbers in the state yet, and predictions are that April will be worse.
BUT – there’s also good news. Various plants are turning from their normal products and making things needed during this time, such as moving from making cloth caps for the army to masks for healthcare workers.
In the midst of it all, the General Assembly meets today to vote on the budget – a one-year budget, instead of the normal two-year. KY Center for Economic Policy calls it an “austere” budget, which is to be expected.
And finally, if you haven’t checked it out, visit our Coronavirus Resource Page. We add new items to it every few days, so bookmark it and check back regularly. (It’s also in the menu bar on the site.) We’ve added the “10 steps to fight COVID-19” that the Gov has been sharing.
Clean your groceries, disinfect, wash your hands. But also, take those walks, do some gardening, read a book. Take care of yourself. We’re going to get through this, together. #TeamKentucky
Bruce Maples, publisher
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Worst day yet – 114 cases, 7 deaths – but crowds still gathering – the 3/31 update
The Beshear presser for Tuesday, 3/31, with a number of other news items included: comments from Louisville police, updates on wearing masks, schools possibly staying closed. (Forward Kentucky)
Lawmakers agree to one-year budget with limited spending
As the state faces great uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, key lawmakers unveiled plans to vote on a one-year spending plan on Wednesday in a rare move for the Kentucky General Assembly. The announcement came Tuesday on KET as Budget Committee Co-Chairs Steven Rudy and Chris McDaniel said the agreement was a result of lengthy discussion between members of the House, Senate and the Beshear administration. The Kentucky General Assembly typically votes on a two-year spending package during even-numbered years.
Rudy and McDaniel stated the one-year budget will continue to fund K-12 education at its current level, fully fund the actuarially required contributions for the pension systems, place a two-percent stop loss in place for performance-based funding for universities, increase funding for poison control and the COVID-19 hotline for the current year and 2021, and freeze the pension contribution rate for state universities and quasi-governmental agencies.
It was recently decided by the Budget Conference Committee they would remove increases in state employee pay and K-12 and post-secondary education funding that had been included in previous versions of the budget.
The new budget is based on the most pessimistic economic prediction put forth by the consensus forecasting group back in December. Previously, legislators had agreed to use a control/optimistic projection, and the difference means they need to reduce the budget by $115.7 million in the first year and $174.5 million in the second year. (Lane Report)
McConnell: Impeachment ‘diverted attention’ from coronavirus
President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial distracted the federal government from the coronavirus as it reached the United States in January, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday, despite warnings at the time from public health experts and members of Congress about the spread of the deadly virus.
The outbreak “came up while we were tied down on the impeachment trial. And I think it diverted the attention of the government, because everything every day was all about impeachment,” McConnell told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. (Kentucky Today)
(Related) Trump says he wouldn’t have acted differently on coronavirus without impeachment
President Trump said Tuesday that he would not have acted differently or more quickly in addressing the coronavirus if he weren’t impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
“I don’t think I would have done any better if I had not been impeached,” Trump told reporters in the White House briefing room Tuesday evening. “I don’t think I would have acted any differently, or I don’t think I would have acted any faster.” (The Hill)
Broad coalition, including conservative groups, calls for Beshear to reduce inmate numbers
A broad coalition of organizations — including the liberal Kentucky Council of Churches and ACLU of Kentucky and the American Conservative Union and Americans for Prosperity — has called on Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to reduce the number of inmates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The bipartisan group has asked Beshear in a letter Tuesday evening to transfer elderly and immunocompromised inmates to home confinement, to reduce pretrial detention of defendants and to release to home incarceration offenders within six month of the end of their sentences — unless it would constitute a threat to public safety.
Judges, public defenders and prosecutors have reduced the population of county inmates in jail by 28 percent statewide to avoid potential catastrophic infections of inmates, but the number of offenders in state prisons has declined only 1 percent. (Courier-Journal)
‘The world was going to come down on me.’ Massie defends coronavirus actions
Thomas Massie is not walking back his actions of attempting to force a recorded vote on the coronavirus bill, even though he was heavily criticized. (Forward Kentucky)
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 legislative staffer contracts COVID-19. Lawmakers set to return Wednesday. – An employee of the LRC tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, two days before the legislature is set to return to Frankfort. (read)
[new] 🔥 Beshear bans travel to other states – 3/30 update – In Monday’s press conference, Beshear bans travel to other states, orders quarantine for travelers; also, CDC says 29% of infections are among people 20-44. (read)
[new] 🔥 ‘Isn’t this silly?’: Beshear blasts bill allowing Kentuckians to sue over COVID-19 orders – Gov. Andy Beshear called a bill in the state legislature proposing to allow Kentuckians to sue the state over the governor’s emergency coronavirus measures “silly” at his news conference Sunday. (read)
🔥 Beshear vetoes two bills, signs 35 – here’s the list – Since the legislature continues to pass bills, Governor Beshear took time out from dealing with the coronavirus to sign or veto over thirty bills. Here’s the list. (read)
Yarmuth and Barr lead effort to make it easier for distilleries to produce hand sanitizer – Two congressmen from Kentucky, one a Democrat and one a Republican, are leading an effort to allow distilleries to use their current supplies to make hand sanitizer. (read)
[new] Lincoln, FDR, and Beshear – Crises can change politicians, and reveal things about them, said Al Cross. Other leaders who were doubted going in revealed their strength in crisis, and Andy Beshear is doing the same. (read)
‘Trump Follies at Five’ – a new Bingo game – Do you watch the Trump pressers every day at 5? If you feel like you have to watch these … things, then turn it into a game – a Bingo game! (read)
🔥 Being ‘too crazy’ for today’s GOP is truly a feat, but Massie manages – “Thomas Massie has proven himself so unreliable and bats*** crazy that the national GOP has begun looking for primary challengers to him.” (read)
[new] How SNAP can help people during hard economic times like these – A record number of Americans are seeing their hours cut or losing their jobs due to the initial economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. How will millions of newly jobless families keep putting food on the table? (read)
[new] The anatomy of the $2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill – Want to know what’s in the $2 trillion coronavirus bill? Here’s a great visual breakdown, along with an expanded description of who gets what relief. (read)
🔥 A short message from Andy Beshear – All across the state, and across partisan lines, people are increasingly appreciative of Governor Beshear’s leadership during this crisis. And, other states are taking notice as well. Aaron Smith captured the Gov reminding us of a few things. (view)
SOS Michael Adams, Rep. Charles Booker on the ‘State of Kentucky’ – On this week’s “State of Kentucky” show, we are joined by Secretary of State Michael Adams to discuss his ideas and plans around vote by mail, and by Rep. Charles Booker, candidate for U.S. Senate, talking about his campaign and how they’re working given the coronavirus crisis. We are honored to have both of them with us, and hope you’ll watch! (watch)
[podcast] 🔥 Andy Beshear and COVID, legislative updates, and Senate budget, plus Corey Nichols interview – Beshear’s response to COVID and people’s response to it; the budget and other bills; and Corey Nichols, running for state House in Lexington. (listen)
The Coronavirus Explained – Here’s a short video that does a great job explaining the COVID-19 virus: what it is, how it spreads, how it attacks the body, and how to deal with it. (watch)
Please ignore Trump’s advice on this – No matter how you may feel about the Trump presidency, this is one time when the response to his instruction is clear: Ignore him. (read)
Posts with Most Social Media Shares in Past Fourteen Days
(🔥 indicates post with surge of recent shares)
- Kentucky vs. Tennessee on coronavirus may be the best example of ‘elections matter’ in decades (4,000+ shares)
- Here’s what made the Trump admin take the coronavirus seriously (3,000+ shares)
- Bill would limit gov’s powers during health emergency (1,000+ shares)
- Massie plans to vote ‘no,’ threatens to hold up coronavirus stimulus bill (1,000+ 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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