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— Publisher’s Note —
Lots of thoughts swirling around this morning, so rather than focus on one thing, I’m just going to do a bullet list of items to call your attention to. (Sorry for the randomness.)
- When it comes to government spending, people forget that the federal government, unlike the states, can just “print money” when it needs to. We could have a good discussion about modern monetary theory, but there is little doubt that right now is definitely a “needs to” moment. And yet, DC Republicans are refusing to spend as much on helping actual people as they did a few years ago to “help” corporations and the wealthy. I’m really tired of their flexible morality.
- The hack of our systems (most likely by the Russians) is far more widespread and potentially far more serious than was first reported. And yet, our current president and his team are not responding. They are leaving it to Biden to clean up the mess. Let’s hope the experts can find all the trap doors installed in our systems.
- I truly do not understand people who refuse to acknowledge the risk posed by the virus. Many people across the country celebrated Thanksgiving with friends and family as if there was not an air-borne disease, and now we are seeing the results. Thank goodness we have a governor and a state health leader who both take this thing seriously, no matter the political fallout.
- And finally, I hope you watch my interview today with Teri Kanefield, either as it happens live at noon or later when I post it on the site. Her writing and commentary on politics and the Constitution is clear, thorough, and easy to understand. And, her explanations of what is happening in our country, and specifically to the Republican party, are insightful and helpful. Try to make it.
Okay, all for today. Sorry for the rambling; any one of those would be worth one or more columns of its own, but for now, bullets will have to do. Have a good weekend, and stay safe – better days are coming
Today’s Five Things to Know
12/17 update — Beshear announces most Covid-19 deaths yet in one day, 54; hospitalizations and ventilator use are also at all-time highs
The state announced more deaths, by far, from COVID-19 on Thursday than any day in the pandemic: 54. The previous record of 37 was set Dec. 2.
“Remember, that’s a reflection of where this virus was about three weeks ago and where it was trending, because increase in deaths follow increase in cases,” Gov. Andy Beshear said, adding that the list of fatalities was hard to read, but not as hard as what 54 families are going through. (Forward Kentucky)
U.S. Supreme Court, 7-2, allows Beshear’s ban on in-person schooling to apply to religious schools, at least for the time being
The U.S. Supreme Court declined Thursday to reinstate a Kentucky federal judge’s order exempting religious schools from Gov. Beshear’s ban on in-person teaching, on grounds that the case was largely moot. (Forward Kentucky)
New bill would obliterate open records laws, create extreme level of state secrets
A new bill filed by Rep. John Blanton would “turn open records upside down,” with some experts calling it “an extraordinarily extreme state secrets bill.” Our coverage includes analysis by open records legal experts, and a statement by the Kentucky Press Association pointing out how absurd and also dangerous the bill is. (Forward Kentucky)
Latest school choice proposal in Kentucky would create ‘Education Opportunity Accounts’
After multiple failed attempts to create scholarship tax credits, school choice supporters in Kentucky are tweaking their approach during a COVID-19 pandemic that has amplified calls for more parental choice in education. The latest legislative proposal to support school choice in the Bluegrass State would create “Education Opportunity Accounts” that proponents say would help both public and private school students.
But critics say it will divert millions away from public schools at a time when they are already struggling because of the pandemic, which has hammered state and local budgets while increasing school expenses for things like personal protective equipment, student technology and other cleaning supplies. (Courier-Journal)
Deadline for government funding looms, as relief bill negotiations continue
The federal government officially runs out of money tonight at midnight, as the approved spending authorizations hit their expiration date (today). Congress has still not passed a continuing resolution to approve a stop-gap spending bill, although they could do that today. Some observers think it will be this weekend. A true government shutdown will probably not happen, since both sides want to avoid it, but technically it could.
Meanwhile, negotiations continue on some sort of relief package for the country, with Republicans unwilling to break the trillion-dollar mark, and Democrats going along in order to get at least something out the door before everyone leaves for the holidays. The $3 trillion package the Dems passed in the spring has never been taken up by McConnell, and due to his intransigence, the funding to help state and local government has been dropped. The current bill does include extra help for unemployed people, but only for 10 weeks instead of the original 16. It may also include one-time payments of $600, not the $1,200 of the bill in the spring — but unlike the bill in the spring, both the unemployment help and the one-time check would be taxable as income, thus ensuring a tax surprise in the spring for many.
TODAY 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 today at noon 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] 🔥 Rand Paul is angry: “If you solicit votes from typically non-voters, you might affect the outcome” – Rand Paul is angry because Georgia is sending voting information to registered voters, and – horrors! – people might actually VOTE. How un-democratic! (Commentary)
[new] Vaccines arrive, the KY budget, and Angie Hatton interview – This week, Jazmin and Robert talk about the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Robert also went through a report by KY Policy about the one-year budget the legislature must pass, and Jazmin updated the policing and protests situation in Louisville. Then, they interview Democratic House Whip Angie Hatton, who talked about Democrats in Appalachia and the difficulties faced by Democrats running outside of urban areas. (Podcast)
[new] Ky. high court rules internet gambling site owes state $1.3B – On a narrow 4-3 decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court has held that operators of an internet gambling website owes the state nearly $1.3 billion. (News)
🔥 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)
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. (Backgrounder)
🔥 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)
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)
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