A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Advocates to rally at state capitol this week for policies benefitting children and families

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Advocates for children will gather in Frankfort this week to push for policies that benefit children and families. On Thursday, hundreds are expected to rally to urge legislators to consider boosting child-care assistance and enact a state-level refundable Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income families, among other reforms. Whitley County High School senior...

Rapid confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominees reshaping judicial branch

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Over the past few years, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 185 of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, the majority of whom have a conservative track record. Along with two Supreme Court justices, senators have confirmed 50 circuit court and 133 district court judges. Supreme Court, court of appeals and district court judges are nominated by the president...

Black Lung Trust Fund gets one-year boost from higher excise tax, but experts say more is needed

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Congress has voted to increase the excise tax levied on coal companies that provides cash flow for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. But advocates for miners who need the money say the one-year increase isn’t enough to keep the fund from drying up. The higher excise tax expires December 31. Rebecca Shelton, coordinator of policy and organizing at the...

New AARP survey shows technology causing more people to be susceptible to holiday scams

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Holiday scams aren’t what they used be. Technology is making fraud harder to spot, and according to a new survey by AARP, nearly 20% of participants failed a simple quiz designed to test their ability to recognize the red flags of holiday scams. Nearly 70% of U.S. adults plan to buy gift cards this holiday season. But according to a new study by AARP, scammers...

Kentucky lawmakers file anti-tobacco, vaping bills in advance of 2020 legislative session

Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Concern over the growing use of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products among young people in the Commonwealth has spurred lawmakers to pre-file bills for the 2020 legislative session aimed at making it more difficult for teens to get them. The bills would raise the legal age for buying all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21, and would ban...

State Representative Kim Moser files bill to create statewide mental health first aid training program

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service A House Republican from Taylor Mill has pre-filed a bill that would create a statewide Mental Health First Aid Training Program. State Rep. Kim Moser says the idea is to increase knowledge about the nature of depression and substance abuse disorders, reduce stigma and empower communities to properly help someone experiencing a mental health crisis. According to...

Ky. sees new barriers to abortion after Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to 2017 ultrasound act

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Advocates for reproductive rights say women in Kentucky face yet another obstacle to receiving an abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal this week to hear a legal challenge to a state law. The 2017 Kentucky Ultrasound Informed Consent Act mandates that doctors perform an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion and describe its images in detail....

As open enrollment period winds down, Kentucky assisters ready to help applicants navigate system

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Open enrollment for health coverage through healthcare.gov ends next week, and application assisters say they are still available to help residents figure out what plans are right for them. Georgia Funk is outreach and enrollment coordinator at Big Sandy Health Care in Pikeville. She says many eastern Kentucky residents are still not aware they can enroll. Across...

New report indicates retirement security is critical for Commonwealth to hire quality teachers

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Defined benefit pensions are a major factor for recruiting and retaining new teachers in the Commonwealth, and according to new research by the National Institute on Retirement Security, more than 96% of teachers say whittling away pensions would drastically affect the state’s ability to attract new teachers to the profession. Laura Adams is a fourth-generation...

With sex education on decline, traveling ‘Sexy Sex Ed’ workshop aims to educate Appalachian youth

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Access to sex education is on the decline in rural areas, but one eastern Kentucky native aims to fill the knowledge gap with a traveling free sex education workshop called Sexy Sex Ed. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2006, 71% of rural women were taught about birth control as an option to prevent pregnancy. That number shrunk to 48% by 2013. Tanya Turner,...

Pikeville site one of 19 included in list of proposed abandoned coal mine redevelopment projects

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service A coalition of groups in central Appalachia has identified projects that would clean up and re-purpose 19 abandoned coal-mine sites in four states. Rebecca Shelton, coordinator of policy and organizing at the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, explains the Abandoned Mine Land pilot program is funded with federal grant money that’s being given to qualifying...

Report shows many Kentuckians default early on student loans, especially those with low balances

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Nearly 25% of federal student loan borrowers default within five years of starting the repayment process, according to a new report by The Pew Charitable Trusts. Most of those borrowers showed signs of financial distress almost immediately when it came time to start repaying their student loan debt, the report says. Each year, more than 1 million people default...

Amid Kentucky’s heated pension debate, nearly $580 million in corporate tax subsidies remain untouched

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Funding for Kentucky’s pension system continues to be a fiercely debated topic, and some experts say putting an end to corporate tax breaks could help boost the revenue stream for public-employee retirement plans. Captain Brian O’Neill is a firefighter and president of the Louisville Professional Firefighters Union. He said he’s troubled by the...

Microloans, financial guidance set Ky. domestic violence survivors on path to financial independence

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and one survivor in Fayette County recalls how a microloan helped her get back on her feet after leaving an abusive marriage. Twenty-six-year-old Stacy says she initially used Facebook to reach out to the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence for financial guidance. “I started a microloan because I had...

U.S. Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments Friday related to Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirement

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service The U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., will hear oral arguments today in a case concerning Gov. Matt Bevin’s changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program, known as Kentucky HEALTH. Earlier this year, a federal judge blocked the new rules, which would have required Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer for 80 hours a month in order to receive...

Kentucky’s 26 member-owned nonprofit electric cooperatives part of state’s clean energy future

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service This month is National Cooperative Month, and Kentucky’s 26 electric co-ops supply power to 1.5 million Commonwealth residents in all 120 counties. Electric cooperatives are member-owned, not-for-profit utility companies, often serving rural areas. Unlike a traditional utility that is beholden to its stakeholders, said Rachel Norton, an energy specialist...

Kosair Charities to host training aimed at educating Kentuckians on recognizing signs of child abuse

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Training sessions on how to recognize early signs of child abuse will be held this week in Louisville and Lexington. The events, run by Kosair Charities’s “Face It” movement, are designed to educate social workers, early-childhood educators, emergency medical service providers and concerned community members on how to spot red-flag bruising on children....

New report shows 16 percent of Kentucky’s children are growing up in concentrated poverty

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service The economy may have bounced back from the Great Recession, but that hasn’t helped the 163,000 Kentucky children living in concentrated poverty, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Patricia Tennen, chief operating officer of Kentucky Youth Advocates, says stagnant wages, rising housing costs and lack of job opportunities for parents,...

New health rankings show Kentucky 44th in health of woman and children, but there are bright spots

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky ranks 44th in the nation when it comes to the health of women and children, according to a new America’s Health Rankings report. Chief medical officer for women’s health at Optum, Dr. Linda Genen, said bright spots for the state include a jump in the number of insured women and in the percentage of mothers choosing to breastfeed their babies. More...

Congress considering legislation that would stop surprise out-of-network medical billing charges

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Congress is considering legislation to stop surprise medical bills. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2017, 7% of Kentuckians received at least one out-of-network medical charge. Katy Spangler with the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing said the Lower Health Care Costs Act would help protect consumers. Several years ago, when she was having...