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Good morning! As I told you earlier, we were given a grant to increase our coverage of this year’s General Assembly. Today, you can see the beginnings of that work.
Jada Csonka is the “story” person in the grant. Her job is to write stories about bills, organizations, and people involved in KYGA21. Her first story is up today – an interview with Chris Hartman about the various LGBTQ bills in this year’s session. Give it a read, and watch for more stories with her byline.
Parker McGuffey is the “data” person in the grant. His job is to do the daily updates on what happened, and what’s going to happen, including bill action, votes, and the calendar. He will also be responsible for updating the Visual Key Bill Tracker on our site. He’s already posting the daily calendar on the site and in this newsletter, and we’re working on the best way to share the bill action and votes. More to come on that.
The big news yesterday was the injunction by Judge Shepherd against HB 1, putting that bill on hold for at least 30 days. Let’s hope that the judge eventually throws out all the vetoed bills, and that legislative leaders and Beshear can work things out without legislation.
Finally, we are four days into New Member Month, and we’ve had four persons join as paying members. That’s a great start to the month! Can we get a new member every day?
Thanks for reading, and for sharing this newsletter with others. Stay safe, and stay engaged, and we’ll keep bringing you the news … and some progressive push, as well.
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Today’s Five Things to Know
Judge temporarily halts HB-1; Beshear issues statement
After the legislature overrode his vetoes, Governor Beshear immediately filed a lawsuit asking for three of the bills to be overturned. On Wednesday, a judge issued an injunction blocking one of the three.
Judge Phillip Shepherd of Franklin Circuit Court said he was blocking immediate implementation of House Bill 1 because it would lead to “chaos and confusion” during the pandemic, with businesses, schools, and churches having to consult hundreds of pages of CDC guidelines and then coming up with their own individual plans.
He reserved judgement on the other two bills until hearings are held. (Forward Kentucky)
2/3 update — Coronavirus metrics largely stable, but deaths still high
As most of the metrics used to measure the coronavirus continued on a positive trend in the state, Kentuckians were encouraged to minimize their social contacts this Super Bowl weekend in order to thwart the virus.
The positivity rate continues to drop, but deaths are still high. Deaths are a lagging indicator, so the current death rate is likely the result of the post-holiday surge.
Dr. Stack took some time to warn people about Super Bowl get-togethers, and discussed masking standards in light of the more contagious COVID variants. (Forward Kentucky)
Bill advances that would raise the felony threshold for first time in over a decade
HB 126 advanced today out of the Judiciary Committee. The bill would raise KY’s felony threshold to something in line with other states. Included is a statement from KY Smart on Crime. (Forward Kentucky)
Notable bills coming up on Thursday
A number of major bills are moving in the General Assembly. Here are a few that are coming up in committee today:
- SB 120 – Bill to make “historical horse racing” slot machines legal (and possibly tax them at a higher rate)
- HB 8 – Bill to help quasi-governmental agencies (like health departments and colleges) spread their pension obligations out over time
- HB 258 – Bill to put new teacher hires into a different retirement system
- SB 36 – Juvenile justice bill
News happening in DC on multiple fronts. Here are some headlines.
- Yarmuth-led budget resolution passes House. Sort of inside-baseball, but this is important because Congress never passed the overall budget resolution last fall like they should have. By passing it now, it gives the Democrats two budget bills this year, which also means they can use reconciliation twice, instead of just once, to pass bills without having to worry about Republican filibusters.
- Liz Cheney keeps her leadership position in the House. She was attacked by other Republicans after she voted to impeach Trump. After a four-hour Republican caucus meeting, she was reconfirmed by a vote.
- Republicans won’t strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of committee assignments, so Dems are going to. Greene is the QAnon, right-wing flame thrower who got elected to the House from Georgia. More and more is coming out about her past, including her posting on social media that Speaker Pelosi should be executed, and that the mass shootings of children at Sandy Hook and Parkland were actually staged with actors. Dems gave the Repubs a chance to do something about her themselves, but Republicans wouldn’t, so Dems are probably going to vote today to strip her of her committee assignments.
- McConnell attacks Louisville school board member for not opening schools. Board member fires back. Mitch McConnell called out JCPS board vice-chair Chris Kolb on the Senate floor, saying “In my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, the largest school district in the state has a union-funded Board of Education vice chair. He’s now saying that even if all school personnel get vaccines, he’d still be reluctant to open schools.” Kolb fired back on Twitter: “Louisville is not your hometown. That’s in Alabama. You’re bought by drug companies, health insurers, predatory hedge funds, and the corporate elite. If you got off your ass and did your job we could defeat COVID. You’re a disgrace and you’re lucky you didn’t have to face Booker.”
Upcoming Action Items
Taken from the ForwardKY event calendar
KFTC Phonebank for Economic Justice (info)
Today, 2/4 ● 5 to 8 PM ● Virtual
IUE/CWA Action Against Walmart (info)
Saturday, 2/6 ● Noon to 1 ● Walmart on Bardstown Road – 7101 Cedar Springs Blvd, Louisville, KY 40291
Recent Content on Forward Kentucky
[new] indicates item not in a Forward Five before
🔥indicates high # of reads, social media shares, or both
[New] Biden is inheriting a wrecked economy, but Democrats have a record of avoiding recession and reducing unemployment – Historical data suggests that those who are concerned with the economy have reason to be fairly satisfied with the election results: The economy generally fares better under Democratic presidents. (Analysis)
[New] 🔥 Fighting for fairness in Kentucky – In the wake of executive orders across the country restoring LGBTQ rights, there is still an uphill battle being fought in Kentucky to ensure protections. We interview Chris Hartman on the outlook in our state this year. (Feature)
[New] Jewish lasers – Steve Greenberg imagines a conversation between Marjorie Taylor Greene and the “Camp Auschwitz” guy. (Cartoon)
🔥 Governor files lawsuit to stop bills limiting his ability to deal with COVID – Immediately after the Kentucky General Assembly finished overriding all his vetoes, Governor Beshear filed a lawsuit to block the implementation of the bills limiting his ability to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve got a detailed look at the governor’s filing. (News)
Coalition writes KY Senate with concerns about vaccine opt-out bill – A coalition of 40 organizations from across Kentucky, including a number of medical associations, sent a letter to KY senators opposing SB 8, a bill to make it easier to opt out of all vaccinations. (News)
New lawsuit seeks to force Kentucky public schools to reopen during the pandemic – Via the C-J: Several Kentucky parents filed a lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to force public schools to halt any virtual instruction and reopen to in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.(Brief)
A scholar of American anti-Semitism explains the hate symbols present during the US Capitol riot – Some persons in the terrorist attack on the Capitol used anti-Semitic symbols, showing they hoped to trigger what is known as the “Great Revolution,” – a race war that would exterminate Jews. (Analysis)
Activists call on new EPA to regulate Ohio River pollution – The Sierra Club is petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create nutrient pollution standards for the Ohio River, on which five million residents rely for drinking water. (News)
Sen. Mitch McConnell blasts GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for her ‘loony lies’ – Via the C-J: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a sharp rebuke of Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, calling her views a “cancer for the Republican Party” (Brief)
PSA – Volunteers needed to lobby on behalf of Breonna’s Law – Marine vet Sherman Neal is looking for a few good men or women. (Action)
Lawsuit: Court changed eviction hearings without telling tenants, then ruled against them – Via the C-J: District court changed the login for a virtual eviction meeting, then didn’t tell the defendants. Now the court is being sued. (Brief)
🔥 The GOP has lost its mind – and its soul – Part of the Republican party has become disconnected from reality. Another part has given up on the rule of law. And the rest of the party refuses to call them out on it. (Commentary)
Will the GOP finally outlaw conversion torture in Kentucky? Will Christendom? – Will the GOP legislature finally outlaw the barbaric and widely-discredited practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation? How about Christians across the state? (Commentary)
From Know-Nothings to QAnon – A major American political party embraces conspiracy theories and gains power, even though the theories are demonstrably false. Has it happened before? And what happened to that party? (Commentary)
🔥 Other states impeaching their govs – but KY’s looks further along – Governors in at least four other states have had impeachment petitions filed against them. And yet, none of those seem to have gotten as far as Kentucky’s. (Analysis)
KYGA21 Calendar for 2/4
8:30 am, Annex Room 154
9:00 am, Annex Room 131
• SB 80 – AN ACT relating to peace officers.
10:00 am, Annex Room 154
10:00 am, Annex Room 149
• HB 190 – AN ACT relating to the sale of grocery items by food service establishments and declaring an emergency.
10:00 am, Annex Room 129
• SB 29 – AN ACT relating to indemnification of prosecutors.
• SB 36 – AN ACT relating to juvenile justice.
• SB 52 – AN ACT relating to sexual offenses by peace officers.
• SB 73 – AN ACT relating to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
• SB 84 – AN ACT relating to crimes and administration of punishments.
11:00 am, Annex Room 171
• SB 120 – AN ACT relating to pari-mutuel wagering and declaring an emergency.
11:30 am, Annex Room 131
• SB 77 – AN ACT relating to superintendent screening committees.
12:00 Noon, Annex Room 149
• HB 53 – AN ACT relating to the Advisory Council for Medical Assistance.
• HB 108 – AN ACT relating to the codification of existing Medicaid cancer coverage.
• HB 140 – AN ACT relating to telehealth.
• HB 212 – AN ACT relating to child and maternal fatalities in the Commonwealth.
• HR 4 – A RESOLUTION supporting the Hyde Amendment and encouraging its adoption by the United States Congress in its 2021 session.
12:00 Noon, Annex Room 154
• HB 8 – AN ACT relating to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System’s employers, declaring an emergency, and making an appropriation therefor.
• HB 113 – AN ACT relating to the Teachers’ Retirement System.
• HB 258 – AN ACT relating to the Teachers’ Retirement System.
2:00 pm, House Chambers
2:00 pm, Senate Chambers
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