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— Publisher’s Note —
Good morning! There are two contrasting stories out there today, both of which are flying under most people’s radar.
First, there is a case before SCOTUS that would further gut the Voting Rights Act. There’s a Brief about it below, but the full story is at Mother Jones. Essentially, Arizona wants the Supreme Court to rule that any changes to election law that disproportionately affect people of color are still okay, as long as the changes don’t mention race.
So, outlawing early voting on Sunday, which is when many Black churches do “Souls to the Polls” drives, would still be okay. Lowering the number of polling places used by people of color would be okay. And so on.
Note, FWIW, that Mitch McConnell has filed an amicus brief in support of the Arizona position.
In contrast to this attack on voting rights by Republicans, there is House Resolution 1, introduced by the Democrats in the U.S. House. It is one of the largest expansions of voting and voting rights ever considered, with such features as expanded early voting, no-excuse absentee ballots, and more. Its partner bill in the Senate is SR 1, showing that both chambers of Congress consider voting rights to be their number one legislative goal.
There has been much focus on the COVID relief bill and the minimum wage, and rightly so. But in terms of long-term change, these two story threads are actually much more important. Let’s hope that Congress passes these two bills, and that we can enter a new age of expanded voting rights.
Today’s Five Things to Know
3/1 update — Capacity limits increasing; Beshear says ‘the most optimistic report I’ve been able to give’
Following seven weeks of declining cases and positivity rates, along with more vaccines, Gov. Beshear announced Monday that many businesses would be able to increase their capacity limits, starting Friday, from the current 50% to 60%. (Forward Kentucky)
Opposition continues to grow to bill that guts the Open Records law
House Bill 312 would cause serious harm to our state’s open records law, and it is flying through the General Assembly. For one thing, it allows the Legislative Research Commission to be the final arbiter as to whether you get to see the records or not – and there is no recourse to either the Attorney General or the courts.
The Kentucky Open Government Coalition wrote a scathing op-ed, which we published. That same group has drafted a letter to the state Senate (the bill passed the House last week in less than 48 hours), and is getting organizations across the state to sign on. Both Forward Kentucky and the Bluegrass Institute (!) have signed the letter.
And now, the Society of Professional Journalists has come out with their own statement in opposition to the bill. “This bill would reduce government transparency, and legislators are rushing it into law in a non-transparent way,” Bluegrass Chapter President Tom Eblen said. “If legislators have legitimate issues with the Open Records Act, they should be willing to debate them in public. Many taxpayers don’t think we need more government secrecy.”
KY leads region in increase in women in legislature
There are more women serving in state legislatures than ever before. And which state has had the greatest increase over the past decade? Kentucky, that’s who. (Forward Kentucky)
Senate committee advances bill to give Louisville civilian review board subpoena power
A Senate committee advanced a bill Monday to give subpoena power to Louisville’s new police civilian review board, a measure supporters say would give it the teeth needed to provide significant oversight of the city’s police department. (Editor’s note: This bill is in contrast to the similar House bill, which included the poison pill of making Louisville’s mayor non-partisan.) (Courier-Journal via Forward Kentucky)
In Kentucky, kids as young as six can be brought before a judge. A new bill would change that.
Kentucky kids as young as five or six can legally end up in juvenile court, but new legislation would ban kids 12 and younger from being tried before a judge and prioritize community-based, age-appropriate solutions. (Forward Kentucky)
Today’s KYGA update
What happened yesterday, what’s planned for today, and the complete published calendar (Forward Kentucky)
Recent Content on Forward Kentucky
[new] indicates item not in a Forward Five before
🔥indicates high # of reads, social media shares, or both
[New] Republicans are trying to kill what’s left of the Voting Rights Act – In two Supreme Court cases from Arizona that will be heard on March 2, Republicans are trying to kill what remains of the VRA. And Mitch McConnell approves. (Commentary)
[New] Can Biden and the Dems end the power of Repubs and white supremacists? – Ken Wolf, a history prof at Murray State, challenged me to write a column on how Biden and other Dems might “end the power of Republicans or White Supremacists.” Here’s my answer. (Commentary)
[New] Let’s just say it — there is no bottom – I’ve stopped listening to most pundits when they get on a diatribe about reclaiming the Republican Party. Like Charlie Brown with Lucy Van Pelt and the football, how many times are you going to be fooled? (Commentary)
[New] Guess what the minimum wage would be if it kept pace with inflation or productivity? – Lots of politicians like to talk about working for minimum wage and how it wasn’t so bad. So, how much were they actually working for, in TODAY’s dollars? (Policy)
“Mule bill” used to gut Kentucky’s open records law – Say goodbye to the open records law as we have known it for 45 years. Its fate rests in the hands of a largely hostile legislature. Its last moments are literally ticking away. (Commentary)
Child poverty in the U.S. could be slashed by an idea proposed by a prominent Republican decades ago – Which former president pitched a Family Assistance Plan to the American people that would have provided many families with children a monthly stipend? And how would it work today? (Policy)
House COVID relief bill is the response Kentuckians need – We call on the Senate to pass this bill quickly, before vital pandemic unemployment benefits for over 100,000 Kentuckians expire on March 14. (Commentary)
A gilded Trump statue — idol, spoof, symbol, or metaphor? – A golden statue of Donald Trump showed up at CPAC this week, and one had to wonder about what it meant. Was it an idol to worship, a spoof, an appropriate symbol, or a metaphor? One thing was clear – it got absolutely slammed on social media. (Commentary)
Protect journalists, activists from vindictive lawsuits – It’s one thing for government agencies to deny open records requests from the press or public. It’s quite another for those entities to file lawsuits in retaliation against the requesters. (Commentary)
Repub bill gives half a loaf to Louisville – but with poison pill inside – House Bill 309 SOUNDS like what was needed: subpoena power for the civilian police review board. But the more you look, the worse it seems — not to mention the poison pill inside. (Analysis)
SOS Adams praises new election bills. But how good are they, really? – Two new voting bills have been filed in Frankfort, and SOS Adams says they are great. But how good are they, really? Both Adams and Dr. Josh Douglass weigh in. (News)
“Good riddance to bad rubbish” — reactions to dropping of Beshear impeachment – After the House impeachment committee announced they are recommending “no action” on the Beshear impeachment petition, reactions were swift in coming. Here are two sent to Forward Kentucky. (News)
It’s Trump’s party — white supremacy, fascism, the Big Lie, and all – The Republican Party is now Donald Trump’s party, which also makes it the party of the Big Lie, white supremacy, and proto-fascism. (Commentary)
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