A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky legislature adjourns until Feb. 2; one bill sent to Governor, budget discussion will continue

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Kentucky General Assembly spent the last day of the first part of the 2021 session working on the state budget and sent one bill to the governor. 
There were four budget bills under consideration, for the Executive Branch, Transportation Cabinet, Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch. 
All four were passed as continuation budgets of the current fiscal year. The...

Commentary: Kentucky General Assembly must prioritize business recovery in legislative session

By Ashli Watts, Brent Cooper, Sarah Davasher-Wisdom and Bob Quick Special to KyForward 2020 has been a year like no other, filled with unprecedented challenges and continued uncertainty. As we entered this new decade, Kentucky’s economy was growing, unemployment was low, and our workforce participation was rising. This growth ended when COVID-19 hit, and businesses were forced to close, scale back,...

Senate Democrats re-elect McGarvey, Parrett in leadership positions; Thomas newly elected

Senators Morgan McGarvey of Louisville and Dennis Parrett of Elizabethtown were re-elected to serve in Senate Minority Leadership positions by their Democratic Senate colleagues. Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington is newly elected to leadership and will become Minority Caucus Chair. He replaces outgoing Sen. Johnny Ray Turner of Prestonsburg. Sen. Reggie Thomas (left), Sen. Morgan McGarvey (center) and...

Kentucky by Heart: Exploring well-known, and not-so-well-known, state symbols of the Commonwealth

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I taught mostly fourth-graders during my 28-year full-time teaching career, and I always loved the subject of Kentucky history, geography, and the state’s culture. I particularly enjoyed covering the state symbols, which have official designations from the Kentucky General Assembly. The teaching of such made it easier for me as my students usually responded with...

ACLU-KY voter registration campaign underway to register Kentuckians with past felony convictions

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) has launched the most expansive voter registration and engagement campaign in its history. A total of 175,000 Kentuckians with past felony convictions had their voting rights restored by executive order in December 2019. While these Kentuckians’ voting rights were automatically restored, they still must register to vote if they want to participate...

As many put off checkups, men encouraged to get prostate exam; early detection key to beating cancer

By Steve and Heather French Henry, Kristy Young and Melissa Karrer Special to KyForward Cancer screenings save lives among men. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, too many Kentuckians are forgoing or delaying their annual health exams and cancer screenings. By putting off these important doctor appointments, we risk trading one public-health crisis for another. We cannot risk more late-stage cancer...

Kentucky Smart on Crime adds three new member organizations; goal is justice system reforms

Kentucky Smart on Crime, a broad-based coalition that advocates for common-sense justice reforms that enhance public safety, strengthen communities, and promote cost-effective sentencing alternatives, has announced the addition of three new partner organizations, NAACP of Kentucky, Kentucky Criminal Justice Forum, and United Way of Kentucky. The groups join 11 current partners: American Civil Liberties...

Interim Joint Committee on Education hears from KDE, stakeholders on reopening schools amid virus

By Sky Carroll Kentucky Teacher The Kentucky General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Education heard updates this week regarding reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), along with other Kentucky education leaders and the commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA). On June 24, KDE Interim Commissioner Kevin C. Brown...

New laws approved during regular session of Kentucky General Assembly go into effect July 15

Most new laws approved during this year’s regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly will go into effect on July 15. That means voters will be asked to show a photo ID at the polls, veterinarians will be allowed to make a report to authorities if they find an animal under their care has been abused, and holders of state-issued ID cards will be added to the list of potential jurors. While COVID-19...

Discussion continues on shape of school in the fall; legislators hear from educators about challenges

By Sky Carroll
 Kentucky Department of Education At its recent meeting, the Kentucky General Assembly’s Interim Joint Committee on Education heard concerns from superintendents about how to safely but efficiently return to in-person instruction in the fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Greg Schultz, superintendent of Oldham County Schools, emphasized the importance of in-person instruction, but...

U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, in split decision, throws out law restricting common abortion method

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today A federal court of appeals panel in Cincinnati, on a split decision, has upheld a lower court ruling that threw out a Kentucky law restricting use of a common method of abortion. Legislation known as House Bill 454 passed the Kentucky General Assembly in 2018 and was signed into law by then-Gov. Matt Bevin. The measure outlawed use of a procedure called dilation and evacuation,...

State General Assembly to reconvene on April 14 for overriding vetoes; Governor’s veto deadline April 13

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2020 session will reconvene on Tuesday, April 14. Both the Senate and House are scheduled to gavel in at noon. By returning to the State Capitol on April 14, lawmakers will resume the legislative session one day later than previously announced. The number of session days has been reduced as a precaution against COVID-19. When lawmakers reconvene, they can consider...

Kim Moser: We will get through this crisis together — because Kentucky is better when we are united

COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has blasted its way across our world, forcing citizens to worry for the safety of their families as reports of more cases and deaths continue to mount. This pandemic has reached our shores and will likely worsen before it gets better. There are nearly 30,000 documented worldwide deaths and that number rises daily. Last week, Congress finally passed a support package to...

This week at the Capitol: Legislation to limit cost of insulin, Marsy’s Law among bills moving forward

Although the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2020 session reached its halfway point this week, much more than half of the workload of this session likely lies ahead. After seven weeks of legislative activity, hundreds of bills have moved closer to becoming law, although fewer than ten have reached the governor’s desk to be signed. That’s typical at this point in a session. It’s likely that the...

Pension bill could force some Kentucky counties to raise taxes in order to receive state assistance

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Under a new pension funding proposal pending before the Kentucky General Assembly, some counties could be asked to increase their public-health taxes to help pay for their health departments’ pension liability. “Because we’ve been giving a free ride to some of these guys, they haven’t had to go to their communities and ask for a tax increase,”...

This week at the Capitol: Lawmakers address issues ranging from voter identification to school safety

As sure as gavel strikes mark the start of a Kentucky General Assembly session, packed hallways in the Capitol Annex are a sign that a session has gone into high gear as people from across Kentucky converge to make their voices heard. That was clearly the case this past week as thousands of Kentuckians came to the Capitol Campus to weigh in on issues ranging from voter identification to school safety....

Ron Daley: Beshear is a listening governor who can revitalize Eastern Kentucky, rural areas

Gov. Andy Beshear’s ability and willingness to listen is just what Eastern Kentucky and the rural areas of the Commonwealth need to in order to advance economically. Not all political leaders have the inclination to listen to the people, but instead desire to speak and pontificate on their own agenda. Over the past four years I have had the opportunity to observe Beshear interact as a listener with...

This Week at the Capitol: Immigration, public assistance reform highlight busy opening week

There’s always a guessing game among Capitol observers in the early days of a Kentucky General Assembly session over which issues will be designated as Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 1 – honorifics reserved for matters considered to be among top priorities by legislative leaders. Part of that answer was unveiled last week when legislation on immigration was filed in the Senate as Senate Bill 1. The...

Bill Straub: Sanctuary Cities — now, is this really the No. 1 problem facing a state like Kentucky?

It’s no secret that Kentucky, sadly, has been a bottom feeder among the states for so long that it swims almost undistinguished from the carp and the flounder. Consider just a few items. The Commonwealth ranks 46th in per capita income, 46th in residents with a high school diploma or higher (48th with a bachelor’s degree for those keeping score at home), 43rd in child poverty, 48th in a measure...

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet completes 100th bridge project through Bridging Kentucky program

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has reached a major milestone, completing its 100th bridge restoration project through the transformational Bridging Kentucky program. KYTC also recently awarded a contract to restore 106 bridges through an innovative design-build project – a move that will efficiently deliver critical bridge projects in 21 Eastern Kentucky counties. Bridging Kentucky is a six-year,...