The Forward Five – Thursday, 12/17/20

Five Things to Know Today

10 mins read
“The Gerry-Mander”, the political cartoon that led to the coining of the term Gerrymander. The district depicted in the cartoon was created by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists in 1812. (by Elkanah Tisdale (often falsely attributed to Gilbert Stuart) [public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

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— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! Complete this sentence:

Only {some number} days until ________________.

If you filled in “Christmas,” then you are a normal person. If, instead, you put in some variation of “the 2021 General Assembly,” then you are a political junkie.

Yes, even as we all try to forget politics and enjoy the holidays, it is time to at least glance a little at the upcoming legislative session.

To be specific, there are 18 days left until our elected representatives meet in Frankfort for their “short” session. (It’s an odd-numbered year, so they only have 30 working days instead of 60.) And, with Republican super-majorities (or “super-duper majorities,” as Joni Jenkins calls them) in both chambers, the first week will probably be a flurry of every bill any conservative ever dreamed of.

Here at ForwardKY HQ, we are starting to prepare as well. We’re dusting off the Bill Tracker, and getting a new Key Bill List ready. We’re scanning the pre-filed bills (even the scary ones!), and seeing which ones will need explainers.

So, even as you (and I) do our best to celebrate the holidays in the midst of a pandemic, and get ready to say goodbye to 2020, it’s time to think (a little) about KYGA21.

Let’s hope 2021 is better than 2020, and KYGA21 is … well, not as bad as it could be. 


Bruce Maples, publisher
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Today’s Five Things to Know

12/16 update — 7-day average of new cases drops again, but ICUs have more patients than ever

As the seven-day average of new cases fell for the fifth day in a row, and a vaccine reached all the hospitals getting it in the first round, the human impact of the pandemic rages on. (Forward Kentucky)

League of Women Voters fights for fair maps, releases examples

The Kentucky League of Women Voters is working to get the word out about the need to push for fair maps in the upcoming redistricting process. As part of that effort, the League released example maps based on 2010 census data. This story includes a map showing “fairer” Congressional districts, as well as an explanation of what makes redistricting more or less fair. (Forward Kentucky)

Stimulus checks now part of looming COVID relief deal as Congress finalizes negotiations

Lawmakers are closing in on a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus deal Wednesday morning that may include another round of stimulus checks and other much-needed benefits, according to a source familiar with negotiations not authorized to speak on the record.   

The looming deal would also include restarting a boost to federal unemployment insurance benefits, and some form of relief for state and local governments, according to the source.  Liability protections, an ongoing hurdle in negotiations that Republicans had previously insisted be in any deal, were not expected to be in this package, the source said, noting lawmakers were still negotiating all the issues in the package. (Courier-Journal)

Legislator’s proposal to change pension benefits of new teacher hires draws mixed reaction

Legislators in a Frankfort committee heard details Wednesday about a draft bill to change the benefits of new public K-12 teachers in Kentucky, which has drawn mixed reactions from teachers groups. 

Rep. C. Ed Massey (R-Hebron) first discussed the proposed legislation publicly in a committee meeting two days earlier, which calls for new hires into the Teachers’ Retirement System in 2022 to have a new “hybrid” benefits plan, which offers both a guaranteed defined benefit and a defined contribution for a supplemental benefit.

While the leader of the Jefferson County Teachers Association testified with Massey at the interim committee Wednesday and spoke favorably of “common ground” provisions in his proposal, some other teachers remain highly skeptical, showing the scars of fierce battles in recent sessions over other plans to change teacher pensions. (Courier-Journal)

Sen. Rand Paul falsely claims presidential election was ‘stolen,’ siding with Donald Trump

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul continues to falsely claim — without proof — voter fraud played a role in the election of President-elect Joe Biden. The Kentucky Republican said during a Wednesday congressional hearing the election “in many ways was stolen.”

Paul made that baseless comment during a meeting of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held in Washington, D.C., two days after the Electoral College met nationwide and formally awarded Biden 306 electoral votes versus Trump’s 232 electoral votes, based on the certified November election results. (Courier-Journal)

This Friday on “The State of Kentucky”

The Electoral College has voted, and it’s over, right? Then what’s up with Congress counting votes on January 6? Could Trump still steal it then? Join us as we talk with lawyer and analyst Teri Kanefield about that date, as well as why Republicans are still supporting Trump.

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Recent Content on Forward Kentucky

[new] indicates item not in a Forward Five before
🔥 indicates high # of reads, social media shares, or both

[new] The seditious (yes I said it) acts of the Republican Party – When a group wants to overturn a legitimate election and take over the government, what do you call that? Sedition. Marshall Ward calls it out, and looks at what to do about it. (Commentary)

🔥 [new] Proud Boys, take note of what happened to the hippies – While the Proud Boys may fancy themselves as fearsome warriors for the cause of liberty, or owning the libs or whatever, they would be wise to heed the fate of the 1960’s hippies. (Commentary)

[new] Sorry – you can’t even know their names. – The opening shot in what may be a long legislative assault on open government has been fired. (News)

🔥 Pandemic at ‘dangerous stage’ in Kentucky and nation, Birx says – Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, met with Gov. Beshear and legislative leaders to discuss the pandemic, the vaccine, and where things go from here. (News)

🔥 No-knock warrants and the “Castle Doctrine” – If someone pounded on your door and kicked it open in the dark of night, what would you do? In Kentucky, it is legal to use lethal force to defend your home. What does this mean for no-knock warrants? (Commentary)

Unemployment insurance is our most important economic stabilizer. It’s time to remove the roadblocks. – Unemployment benefits are our most important economic tool during a downturn or depression. And yet, Kentucky’s system faces numerous roadblocks. It’s time to remove them. (Policy)

Work on successful lawsuit against changes in Medicaid earns Rich Seckel a Kentucky Healthy Policy Champion award – The point man in a lawsuit that blocked changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program has been honored for his work by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. (News)

🔥 Fact Check: Fox News host Laura Ingraham falsely claims restrictions on eating out are not supported by science – TV host Laura Ingraham wrongly claimed restrictions on eating out are not supported by science. The claim is inaccurate. There is evidence that restaurants and bars are among the most common places for the virus spread. (Fact Check)

Should Louisville Metro keep secret the applicants for LMPD chief? – Two important questions: CAN Louisville Metro withhold the list of applicants currently being considered for the position of LMPD’s new chief? Even more important – SHOULD it? (News Analysis)

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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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