A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Tony Watts: House Bill 563 is bad for public education, bad for taxpayers; support Beshear’s veto

Anyone who cares about public education and how their tax dollars are spent in Kentucky should be alarmed by a damaging piece of legislation that has been enacted by the state General Assembly. House Bill 563 is the so-called “school choice” bill. It was passed last week by state lawmakers with virtually no public debate or input from teachers, parents, superintendents and board of education...

Al Cross: Al Smith’s journalism was one of good faith, now often missing

Al Smith, my friend and mentor who died last weekend after a very full life, was known best as the host of “Comment on Kentucky,” KET’s Friday gathering of journalists to hash out the week’s news. He was also one of our state’s greatest public citizens, engaged in a host of good causes. I knew him best as a journalist, one who exemplified the craft that is supposed to make democracy work....

Bill Straub: Al Smith was a character in every sense of the word — and made a mark on Kentucky

The story goes that Charles de Gaulle, president of France, was riding in the backseat of his limousine with one of the many sycophants charged with reminding the founder of the Fifth Republic something he was already quite aware of – that he was a great man. The sycophant arrived at the part of the routine where he remarked that de Gaulle was “irreplaceable.” They happened to be passing...

Desiree Powell: Those who profit from fueling nation’s opioid epidemic must be held accountable

As a substance use disorder survivor, I know the importance of speaking out about the struggles and realities of addiction that are often kept behind closed doors. I also know how important it is to not feel alone, to recognize that others – elected officials, community leaders, employers – can and will help. Because allowing a person like me to walk through a door that was once closed can make...

Constance Alexander: Chalk it up to commitment, cold water doesn’t dampen call to “Remove Robert”

Rituals associated with turning twenty-one tend toward alcohol and wild parties, but when Katie Trzepacz hit that milestone in August, she opted for attending a demonstration in downtown Murray in support of removing the Confederate monument that has resided on the courthouse lawn since 1917. Since she usually worked weekends, Katie had missed the regular round of Saturday protests to “Remove Robert”...

Colmon Elridge: With well-being of many Kyians at risk, GOP focus has remained on thwarting Beshear

We have faced a challenging year. Together, we have endured a global pandemic that has put the health and financial well-being of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians at risk. More than 5,000 families, like mine, are grieving the loss of loved ones, and countless others are mourning friends and neighbors. Many of our communities have suffered destructive ice storms and flooding. Our small businesses...

Commentary: ‘When Texas freezes over’; Arctic conditions in U.S. show climate change is here

By Vasudha Deshpande and Mark Reynolds Citizens’ Climate Lobby Sometimes it seems like certain politicians won’t support climate action until hell—or Texas—freezes over. Well after last week, the climate threat is clear as can be, and it’s time for Congress to act. On February 13, a winter storm began sweeping across the U.S. Within days, the frigid conditions and ensuing infrastructure...

Sen. Chris McDaniel: Busy session throughout as legislature overrode vetos, forged budget, more

Every session of the General Assembly has a certain amount of ebb and flow throughout its course. I can say that this year has been the busiest of all that I have seen. From a budget in a short year for the first time in modern history to the pandemic and executive orders, things remained busy throughout. With the restrictions on in-person meetings, I engaged in countless Zoom and phone meetings with...

Jim Waters: House Bill 249 amounts to slimy fat in a slippery pot, a testament to corporate cronyism

Imagine the uproar if, during the final days of a Kentucky General Assembly session, political leaders attempted to dishonestly and without full debate sneak through legislation like House Bill 563, which offers tax credits for businesses and individuals who contribute to nonprofit organizations. Suppose they tried to hide the fact that those revenues would fund a controversial school choice program. COVID-19...

Bill Straub: Where oh where is McConnell’s infrastructure plan to fix all the bridges and roads?

It would be redundant to note that the term “infrastructure week,” invoked during the administration of erstwhile President Donald J. Trump, became something of a running joke since the former guy’s entire four-year tenure was itself a running joke, a cruel one but a joke nonetheless. It seemed that every time Trump found himself in a tight spot, constantly, in other words, he dangled the...

Constance Alexander: Crystal Wilkinson’s ‘The Birds of Opulence’ will enthrall Kentucky readers

Imagine a tree, a bird in the tree, the hills, the creek, a possum, the dog chasing the possum. Imagine yourself a woman who gathers stories in her apron. With those twenty-nine words, author Crystal Wilkinson lured me into her stunning novel, “The Birds of Opulence.” With no fanfare, this rara avis swooped in, ruffled its feathers, and snagged me in two breathtaking sentences. Right then I wanted...

Amye Bensenhaver: Legislature’s assault on open records makes is hard to celebrate Sunshine Week

How to “celebrate” Sunshine Week 2021 when all around us is darkness? This is the question the Kentucky Open Government Coalition has struggled with since February 25. On that day lawmakers launched yet another frontal assault on our open records law. This year the assault took the form of HB 312 — until February 25 “an act relating to financial institutions.” But this assault — unlike...

Jason Bailey: American Rescue Plan is a lifeline for Kentuckians, right legislation at exactly the right time

When economies falter and hardship rises, governments must respond with vigorous action. It’s a lesson our country learned in the 1930s with the New Deal, but had seemingly forgotten during the painful decade that followed the Great Recession.  The landmark American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Congress passed this week reflects a rediscovered truth. Its passage is a lifeline to families and communities...

Commentary: Kentucky students and teachers deserve a seat at the state board table

By Pragya Upreti, Sofie Farmer, and Arivumani Srivastava Kentucky Student Voice Team Last year, student and teacher seats were created on the Kentucky Board of Education, a major victory in advancing student voice. As non-voting members, students and teachers across the Commonwealth were finally given representation in the education system they experience directly. Now, less than a year after this...

Nicholas Brake: Ky. legislators should consider an education tax credit with a return on investment

Since the Kentucky General Assembly seems intent on giving away tax credits during this session, I thought, as a former superintendent and economic development professional, that I could offer a bit of advice as to how to offer an education tax credit with an economic return. The proposed education scholarship is a frivolous waste of resources. The members obviously know this is bad public policy by...

Bill Straub: Suddenly Republicans have discovered the national debt they made, and don’t like it

We’re approaching the Spring after an election that saw Republicans lose both the White House and the Senate so, just as naturally as you’d expect the crocuses to bloom, the fancy of GOP lawmakers is turning to the national debt they helped create. The target of the party’s concern this time is the $1.9 trillion COVIDE-19 relief package that passed the House on Wednesday and now goes to President...

Chris Cockrell: Voting accessibility and security increased with HB547; Senate should pass it too

As the 2020 General Assembly enters its final days, lawmakers still have an opportunity to pass legislation that was born out of success rather than a problem. Freshman Representative Jennifer Decker, along with Representatives James Tipton and Josh Branscum, have teamed up with the County Clerk’s Association, State Board of Election, and Secretary of State’s office to develop the most comprehensive...

Steve Shannon: Kentucky’s mental health care safety net is ensuring access in challenging times

The hurt is real for the people of Kentucky and across the globe. The mental anguish of isolation, remote learning, loss of life, economic contraction, and joblessness, weigh heavy on the minds of all of us. Kentuckians are a tough group who have seen good times and our fair share of bad times. None of are immune to the mental strains from the fallout of the pandemic. In fact, according to the latest...

Constance Alexander: For Andrew Cuomo, being the ‘Love Gov’ means never having to say you’re sorry

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo was nicknamed the “Love Gov,” because of his response in an interview conducted by his brother, Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor. Asked about his softer tone while leading coronavirus response efforts, the governor declared, “I’ve always been a soft guy. I am the love gov. I’m a cool dude in a loose mood, you know...

Teresa Werner: Fixing the hidden costs of climate change; every person wants a healthy environment

Our taxes cover disaster relief, our insurance and premiums reflect what the insurers must pay for natural disasters, and we all pay increased healthcare to treat respiratory and other diseases caused by air pollution. The reason why all citizens must pay these costs is the result of a “market failure.” A market failure occurs when the cost of an action is not borne by the party or product causing...