The Forward Five Tuesday, 3/30/21

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11 mins read

— Publisher’s Note —

Good morning! Welp – a few weeks ago we have “vote-a-rama” in Frankfort, as legislators tried to pass as many bills as possible before they adjourned.

Yesterday, we had “veto-override-a-rama” as they flew through a bunch of Beshear vetoes, overriding almost all of them.

Some of the bills they insisted on passing are bad bills. The others are REALLY bad bills. Some of the most egregious are the ones that damage public education.

Frankly, it was depressing to follow. The Republicans seemed bent on having their way, the good of the people be damned. In fact, it seemed at times as if they were so drunk on their own power that they didn’t know or care what was in the bills, or what effect they would have.

Today is the last day to override vetoes or pass new bills. There has been talk of actual compromise between the legislature and the administration on how to spend the relief money from the federal government. If that is true, it either has to pass today, or there has to be a special session. Otherwise, none of it can be spent until next year when the legislature meets again, since they passed a law forbidding Beshear from spending any of it without their permission. (Of course, he could spend it anyway, then tell them to sue him.)

So, today is another day to see what happens in Frankfort. But whatever happens, has to happen before midnight, since that is sine die. Unless they unplug the clocks, which they have been known to do.

Let us hope that they do less damage today than they did yesterday.

::

On another note, there will be an all-subscriber newsletter later this week that will contain some important news about Forward Kentucky. When you see it, please open and read it.

Bruce Maples, publisher

Today’s Five Things to Know

Legislature overrides almost all Beshear vetoes

In a marathon session that lasted almost to midnight, the Kentucky General Assembly overrode almost all of Governor Beshear’s 27 vetoes. With a few exceptions, the votes were all along party lines, with the Republican super-majority having its way.

In the House, Republicans limited debate to five minutes per side, a move called “appalling” by Democratic leadership.

Here are some of the key vetoes that were overridden, thus making these bills become law (usually immediately).

  • Education tax credits — Takes $25 million out of state budget and uses it to offset taxes for people who give money for school vouchers
  • Teacher pensions — Puts new teachers into a hybrid retirement plan, and requires them to work longer to get full retirement
  • Open records — Makes the legislative leadership the final arbiter of what legislative records can be released to an open records request, with no avenue of appeal
  • Worker safety — Requires Kentucky safety rules to be at least as weak as federal rules
  • Coronavirus relief funds — Prevents Beshear from spending any of the relief funds provided by the American Relief Act
  • McConnell successor — Requires governor to appoint someone of the same party if a U.S. senator leaves office early
  • Budget changes — Voted to zero out funding for the Commission on Women, freeze new mine safety inspector positions, and give Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, not the governor, final say on lawsuits over the budget

Any bills newly passed during these two days (Monday and Tuesday) can be vetoed by Beshear afterward, and the legislature cannot do anything, since they will be adjourned.

Kentucky lawmakers pass key election reforms, including early voting

The Kentucky General Assembly passed significant legislation Monday night that will make three days of widespread early voting a regular part of the state’s future elections and expand people’s access to the ballot in other ways while also instituting new security measures. The state House of Representatives’ Republican and Democrat members overwhelmingly voted late Monday night, in a 91-3 decision, to give House Bill 574 final passage and send it to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk. 

As long as the governor doesn’t veto it, HB 574 will make significant changes to state law, including: 

  • Establishing three days of in-person early voting on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Election Day;
  • Letting people “cure” their absentee ballots if a problem, such as a mismatched signature, would otherwise cause it to be thrown out;
  • Making the online portal through which Kentuckians requested — and government officials tracked — absentee ballots in 2020 a standard feature of future elections;
  • Letting counties offer vote centers where residents from any precinct can cast their ballot;
  • Allowing for secure drop-boxes where people can turn in their absentee ballots;
  • Requiring counties to gradually phase out electronic-only voting systems and switch to equipment that can process paper ballots;
  • Letting state officials quickly remove someone from the voter rolls if they’re notified that person moved to and registered to vote in another state.

(Courier-Journal)

Group that led mass teacher sickouts to unionize Ky. public employees

Kentucky 120 United, the public education advocacy group that led mass teacher sickouts in 2018 and 2019, is unionizing.

“We seek better. We seek more. We seek our voices to be heard in the halls of Frankfort and our local communities,” KY 120 United co-founder Nema Brewer said Monday from the steps of the state capitol.

It was inside that building that KY 120 United gathered thousands of teachers, school employees, parents and other supporters in 2018 and 2019 to oppose attempts to slash teacher retirement benefits, create charter schools and send would-be tax dollars to private schools. According to Brewer, the group now has 38,000 members.

Group leaders said unionizing is the next step in their advocacy. They plan to join the American Federation of Teachers and accept all public employees as members. KY 120 United will become known as KY 120 United AFT, they said. (WFPL)

SCOTUS to hear bid for new defense of Kentucky abortion law

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal from Kentucky’s attorney general, who wants to be allowed to defend a restriction on abortion rights that lower courts had struck down.

The underlying issue in the case, to be heard in the fall, is a blocked Kentucky law that abortion rights supporters say would have effectively banned a standard abortion method in the second trimester of pregnancy.

But the issue before the court is whether Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, can intervene in the case, after rulings from a trial court and appellate panel, as well as Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s decision to drop the case. (Herald-Leader)

3/29 update — Kentucky’s one-dose vaccination rate is above adjoining states’, but its positive-test and new-case averages have hit plateaus

As the pandemic in Kentucky hit a plateau, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that 40 percent of adult Kentuckians had been vaccinated – but he and his health commissioner redoubled their pleas for people to sign up for openings that are going unfilled as more contagious coronavirus strains keep spreading. (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

Black voter suppression – how we got here – In addition to racism itself, what events in the past led to today’s suppression of Black voters? Heather Cox Richardson lays out the history that led to today. (Analysis)

HB 563 is the REAL steal we must stop. – You’ve heard of the fake “Stop the Steal” campaign from a few months ago? Stopping HB 563 is the REAL Stop the Steal from our public schools. (Commentary)

🔥Mitch’s threats – Our senior senator, Mitch McConnell, has been making dire, dire threats about what would happen if the Senate got rid of the filibuster. Unfortunately for Mitch, his threats are coming across differently than he probably assumes. Aaron Smith captures the difference. (Cartoon)

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. (Analysis)

🔥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)

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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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