The Forward Five Friday, 3/26/21

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10 mins read

Five Things to Know Today

— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! My wife and I have fairly extensive flower gardens around our house, which means that this time of year is filled with yard work: cleaning out, planting, mulching, and so on. Even though I sometimes gripe about it, I usually find it refreshing to be working with my hands outside in the sunshine, sweating at something where I can see results, rather than working with my hands inside on the keyboard of my computer, working at something where results are sometimes slow in coming, or even reversed.

After what happened in Georgia yesterday, I think I’m going to need LOTS of yard work.

The Republicans in the Georgia legislature took a two-page bill in a committee meeting and substituted a hundred-page bill full of voting restrictions, then rushed it through passage in record time, and the Georgia governor signed it in a closed-door session inside his office. A Black Georgia legislator was arrested for knocking on the door of the governor’s office, asking him to sign it in public.

The bill bans no-excuse absentee voting (which had been standard in Georgia for years), restricts ballot drop boxes, requires voter ID for mail-in ballots, and gives the Republican-controlled legislature more authority over local elections officials. Some analysts say that the bill allows the legislature to throw out election results, by removing elections officials before they certify the results.

This bill, and the 250 others like it across the country, are an attack not on Democrats, but on democracy itself. They are an attempt by Republicans to hold on to whatever power they have, even at the cost of our freedoms.

It is time for the Democrats in Washington to figure out how to pass the “For the People Act” that guarantees voting rights for all. It would overturn travesties like the bill passed in Georgia, and would ensure that voting was free, fair, and easy to do.

If they don’t, there will be more wrecking balls swung at the foundations of our freedoms … and less ability for us to change things.

Good thing it’s going to be a nice weekend.

Bruce Maples, publisher
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Today’s Five Things to Know

3/25 update — Vaccination priority age group now begins at 40; Beshear pushes sign-ups

The state is adding three new vaccination sites, bringing the total number to 573, but Beshear spent a good part of his news briefing urging Kentuckians to sign up for unfilled vaccination openings. Also, the state added a section to their web site showing which vaccination sites have openings. (Forward Kentucky)

Supreme Court sides with student newspaper in dispute with UK over sexual misconduct records

The state’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the University of Kentucky violated the state’s open records law when it declined to hand over investigatory documents related to a former professor’s alleged sexual misconduct that were requested by the school’s student newspaper.

The long-running open records dispute — which began in 2016 — now heads back to circuit court where the university will have to separate the withheld, redacted documents into two piles, releasing those that are not exempt under privacy rules and to state why each individual record that it withholds is exempt under the law, according to a decision handed down on Thursday. (Herald-Leader)

Beshear signs more bills, including juvenile justice measure

Gov. Andy Beshear signed 29 more bills into law on Thursday, including a measure doing away with Kentucky’s automatic transfer law, which requires minors to be tried in adult court if they are charged with gun-related crimes.

Beshear also vetoed six bills, including a resolution ratifying some of his coronavirus-related executive orders in case laws stripping the Democratic governor’s emergency powers are upheld in court. (WFPL)

Republican wave of voting restrictions swells

Voting rights activists worried this year could bring a tsunami of new voting restrictions. It’s arrived.

As of last month, Republican lawmakers in 43 states had introduced more than 250 bills that would make it more difficult to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, up from about 100 in 28 states two months ago.

Despite the logistical success of the November presidential election, when most election experts saw few widespread problems, misinformation surrounding the legitimacy of the democratic process has fueled the GOP efforts. (Pew Trusts)
 

(Related article) Making it easier to vote does not threaten election integrity

The success of last year’s election proves it: The often-claimed trade-off between election integrity and reasonable measures to make it easier for people to vote is, in fact, largely false. (Forward Kentucky)

Ky. ranked 37th in protecting children in pandemic; in top 3 for hunger

Kentucky ranks 37th for how well it’s protecting children and providing for them during the coronavirus pandemic, and more than one in five Kentucky families with children didn’t have enough to eat in December, according to a report from Save the Children, a global children’s-rights organization.

The ranking was based on four months of data from a bi-weekly Household Pulse Survey that is conducted by the Census Bureau. The researchers looked at three hardships they say make it harder for children to reach their full potential: hunger, economic hardship, and lack of tools for remote learning.

A scan at the end of November and through most of December found that Kentucky was one of the top three states for hunger, and that nearly half of Kentucky families are struggling to pay their bills. (KY Health News)

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

[New] Chuck Corra and Big John Isner of Appodlachia, plus Andy Beshear’s vetoes – This week – the hosts of Appodlachia on the role of Kentucky in the wider Appalachian context. And, Robert and Jazmin on Beshear’s vetoes, as well as the bills left unpassed by the legislature currently. (Podcast)

[New] 🔥The real reasons for Kentucky’s GOP voter “reforms” – Some liberals are praising KY Repub lawmakers for making it easier to vote, instead of passing laws to suppress minority votes. The GOP will never admit it, of course – but they approved voting “reform” legislation because it helps THEM. (Commentary)

Beshear vetoes 2 education bills; signs 5 others into law – Beshear vetoed HB 563, the so-called “school choice” bill, and HB 258, which makes new teachers work longer for less guaranteed benefits. (News)

The anti-hate vigil on Sunday — a photo gallery – Hundreds of people attended a vigil on Sunday in Louisville, to stand AGAINST hate and to stand WITH the Asian-American community. Del Ramey attended the vigil, and shares this photo gallery. (Photo Gallery)

🔥Doc Rand Paul, meet Doc John Johnson of Paducah – Paul doesn’t “let facts get in the way of a good rant.” Neither did another right-wing Kentucky physician-turned-politician – state Sen. John Johnson, who helped lead the state’s Southern Rights party early in the Civil War. (Commentary)

Beshear vetoes three more bills, including one attacking open records laws – Governor Andy Beshear issued vetoes on three more bills on Tuesday, noting that each of the bills harmed Kentuckians instead of helping them. (News)

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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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