The Forward Five – Tuesday, 3/16/21

Five Things to Know Today

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— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! With only three days left in this year’s General Assembly, we finally have a budget.

Except, we don’t. Sorta.

The Senate and House passed the budget bill on Monday, and sent it on to Governor Beshear. He can veto items in it if he chooses, but the legislature can override his vetoes with a simple majority vote.

The budget, as passed, cuts out a number of items Beshear had asked for, like raises for teachers, and puts that money into the state’s rainy-day fund. This move caused most Democrats to vote against the budget.

However, the budget does not allocate any of the Federal monies coming from the American Rescue Plan. Instead, it simple says that the governor cannot spend any of it without authorization from the legislature.

But, the lege will be done before the money gets here. So, there is talk of a second budget bill, and a special session to consider it. Or, trying to get that done in the few days left in the session.

And, Senate President Stivers talked about the possibility of THREE budgets this year. It’s not clear what he means, but perhaps there’s hope for some of that rainy-day money to actually be spent on investing in our people.

The most hopeful thing to come out of the past few days in Frankfort is that it appears the gov and the legislative leaders are actually talking about the budget(s), and not just communicating through press conferences. Let’s hope that continues.

And for heaven’s sake, let’s not stuff the money under the mattress, when so many people are hurting. People need help now. If ever there was a rainy day, this is it.

Bruce Maples, publisher
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Today’s Five Things to Know

3/15 update — Child-care centers to resume normal class sizes; state records 5,000th Covid-19 death and 1 millionth vaccination

On the day Kentucky recorded its 5,000th Covid-19 death and delivered its millionth vaccination, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that licensed child-care facilities could now return to normal class sizes. He also announced the opening of a fund to build a memorial to Covid-19 victims. (Forward Kentucky)

Legislature passes budget bill restricting spending of $2.6B from Congress — for now

The House and Senate gave final passage Monday to a state budget bill that largely keeps spending constant into the next fiscal year, while restricting the governor from spending any of the new $2.6 billion in COVID-19 relief from Congress that is headed Kentucky’s way. 

While the budget bill does not appropriate any of those federal funds, Republican legislative leaders and Gov. Andy Beshear are in discussions about passing a separate bill to do so by the end of the legislative session on March 30, or in a special session soon after they adjourn.

While Beshear’s budget proposal unveiled in January significantly increased K-12 education spending and gave an across-the-board 1% raise to state employees, House Bill 192, the executive branch budget bill, took those out and devoted the bulk of one-time funds from the 2020 CARES Act and current year’s budget surplus to Kentucky’s rainy day fund. (Courier-Journal)

Kentucky lawmakers propose changes that would ‘eviscerate’ no-knock warrant bill, critics say

As cities and states across the U.S. consider measures to curb or ban no-knocks warrants, supporters fear a similar proposal in the Kentucky legislature is in danger of being eviscerated.

Proposed amendments to the Kentucky General Assembly’s no-knock search warrant bill would badly undercut the intent of the bill and lay a foundation for another repeat of Breonna Taylor’s killing, critics said Monday.

Senate Bill 4, as proposed, would be a significant step forward, curtailing the use of the controversial warrants that allow police to break into homes without knocking or announcing themselves first, said members of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, Kentucky NAACP, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and Black Lives Matter Louisville.

But two proposed floor amendments effectively would leave in place the “same harmful laws and practices that led to the death of Breonna Taylor,” Carmen Mitchell of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said in a joint press conference Monday. (Courier-Journal)

Election reforms pass Senate Committee

A House bill to make many of the election changes made due to the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 permanent passed a Senate committee on Monday. If the bill passes the Senate, Kentucky would be one of the few states where Republican-led legislatures are actually expanding voter access rather than limiting it. (Forward Kentucky)

Booker ‘strongly considering’ 2022 Senate run in Kentucky

Democrat Charles Booker, who nearly pulled off an upset in last year’s Senate primary, said he’s “strongly considering” another run for the Senate against Republican Rand Paul.

Booker, a Black former state lawmaker from Louisville, returned to progressive ideas such as a universal basic income and universal health care as he raised the prospect of mounting a 2022 campaign.

“I’m strongly considering a run for the United States Senate in 2022 because I believe our work is not done and we have the ability to tell a new story for Kentucky,” Booker said Sunday on Kentucky Educational Television. (Herald-Leader)

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

Watch out for Republicans trying to claim credit for American Rescue Plan’s state and local aid – Everyone, and especially the local media who will likely be getting those Republican press releases taking credit, needs to be clear: Democrats made this happen. (Commentary)

KY Senate panel advances bill supporting child sex-abuse victims – A bill that would extend the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses involving minors from five to ten years after their eighteenth birthday is progressing through the Legislature. (News)

Why does McConnell win? It’s simple: politics without principles. – McConnell called Merrick Garland a “straight-shooter.” But when it comes to McConnell himself, being a straight-shooter is the LAST term you would use. And it’s been that way for decades. (Commentary)

Government has abandoned these four duties for too long – and the consequences are deadly – The functions of government are precisely those which are not the functions of business or the markets. Here are four areas where government must step up and lead. (Commentary)

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. Worth a read! (News)

[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)

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)

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)

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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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