The Forward Five – Friday, 3/12/21

Five Things to Know Today

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— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! One of the frustrating things about politics (and democracy, to be honest) is the uneven nature of the process.

The phrase “two steps forward, one step back” certainly applies to the General Assembly. And with Republicans in charge, it’s often “one step forward, five steps back.”

Yesterday was a good example.

The Senate passed one of the worst bills every to come out of Frankfort: a bill making it a crime to insult a police officer. And, if you get arrested for doing that, you are stuck in jail for two days without being allowed bail.

The bill is clearly unconstitutional, and yet that chamber spent valuable time debating it. And then passed it.

Also in the “bad bill” column is the education tax credit bill, which establishes the principle that school funding follows the student, including to private schools. It is a clear step toward privatizing public education, which of course is a goal of many Republicans.

But, along with that attack on public education, they funded full-day kindergarten for the entire state. And, in another bill, they let persons with felonies on their record still get KEES money for college. And, they passed a bill limiting no-knock warrants.

It’s fair to say that we have a Forrest Gump legislature, in that it’s like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get.

I try to remind myself of the good bills, and not just despair over the bad ones. It’s not always easy, but it is certainly necessary for good emotional health.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to open some more chocolates from the box. Let’s hope most of them taste good.

Bruce Maples, publisher
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Today’s Five Things to Know

3/11 update — Medicare-certified nursing homes will open to visitors Monday; guidelines criticized

Medicare-certified nursing homes in Kentucky will be allowed indoor visitation Monday, March 15, Gov. Beshear announced Thursday. But one retired doctor is criticizing the guidelines. (Forward Kentucky)

‘How dare you’: Democrats lash out over bill criminalizing police insults, but bill passes

The Senate passed a bill Thursday evening to enhance penalties for crimes related to rioting after more than an hour of heated debate, including criticism that it would criminalize insulting police officers and chill protected free speech. In addition to raising punishments on crimes related to rioting and prohibiting early release on such offenses, SB 211 would make it a crime to provoke an officer verbally to the point it could provoke a violent response. The bill passed by a 22-11 vote, with six Republicans joining Democrats to vote ‘no.’

Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat who represents a majority-Black district in west Louisville, said he was insulted by Carroll’s bill, which he viewed as a direct attack on his constituents who protest for and demand racial justice. “This is another hammer on my district,” Neal said. “This is a backhand slap. And I resent it. I personally resent it.” An angered Neal twice said “how dare you,” calling the bill “beneath this body. It’s unwise. It’s provocative. It’s unnecessary. It’s unreasonable.” (Courier-Journal)

Controversial Kentucky school choice bill moves ahead

A controversial school choice bill on Thursday was approved by the Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue committee and then the full House, despite significant opposition from those afraid it will harm public schools.

House Bill 563 requires each district to develop a policy about accepting students who don’t live in the district so that schools would be “without borders” and kids could get benefits not offered in their own school district, sponsor state Rep. Chad McCoy, R- Bardstown said. The bill also calls for the creation of an education opportunity account program, using tax credits to fund it. And, the bill allows those scholarship funds to be used for private schools in three Kentucky counties.

As a “carrot” to get the bill passed, an amendment added funding for full-day kindergarten. (Herald-Leader)

Republican lawmakers advance new bill limiting Beshear’s emergency powers

Republican lawmakers advanced another bill that seeks to limit Gov. Andy Beshear’s emergency powers related to the coronavirus pandemic, late during this year’s legislative session. The measure would also try to thwart court rulings that have upheld the governor’s emergency powers. House Bill 217 would alter the state’s emergency laws, removing all specific examples of disasters that the state’s emergency management program should respond to — ranging from ice storms to nuclear attacks.

Rep. Savannah Maddox, a Republican from Dry Ridge and the bill’s sponsor,  said removing that language would undercut last year’s Kentucky Supreme Court ruling against a challenge to Beshear’s emergency powers. (WFPL)

Quick legislative update from MOKP

Robert Kahne and Jazmin Smith, hosts of My Old Kentucky Podcast, do a quick run-down of important bills in #KYGA21 and what is in them. A great way to catch up to the latest in Frankfort. (Forward Kentucky)

Today’s KYGA update

Our daily KYGA21 update includes three sections: a list of actions on key legislation from last session, a list of actions on key legislation planned for today, and the published calendar for today. (Today’s update)

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

[New] 🔥Give ’em hell, Tim! – I’d been hoping some Democrat would cut loose on Republican union-busters for claiming the GOP is the “working class” party. Rep. Tim Ryan just came through. (Commentary)

No-knock warrant measure passes House committee – Senate legislation that would restrict the use of no-knock search and arrest warrants passed a House committee on Wednesday. (News)

American Rescue Plan Is a lifeline for Kentuckians – One of the best things about this plan? it recognizes that the biggest risk is doing too little to get families and communities back on their feet, rather than too much. (Commentary)

8 of Kentucky Democrat’s 200 bills have advanced this year. Why haven’t more moved forward? – If you’re a Democratic lawmaker, your chances of getting a bill you proposed to pass in the Republican-dominated Kentucky legislature are better than nil — but not by much. (Brief)

Various states’ COVID responses are all over the map – According to year-long measurements, Kentucky was more successful than its seven surrounding states in keeping its rate of COVID deaths lower while also holding down its unemployment rate increase. (News)

🔥One dramatic chart shows the difference between Biden’s rescue plan and Trump’s tax scam – The chart shows the difference between Donald Trump’s “rescue plan,” which was really a giant tax scam for the wealthy, and the Biden American Rescue Plan, which actually helps everyday people. (Analysis)

🔥 ‘Sounds an awful lot like Jim Crow’ – Voter suppression laws in Georgia evoke another time in the state’s (and the nation’s) history. (Cartoon)

🔥 GOP as the “working class party”?!? BWAH-HA-HA-HA!! – The GOP’s attempt to rebrand itself as a blue collar party is the latest sucker play in a 40-year-old con on working people. (Commentary)

Gov. George Wallace stands in the door of the University of Alabama (photo by Warren K. Leffler, U.S. News & World Report Magazine [public domain] via Wikimedia Commons)

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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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