A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Many of America’s faithful say it is time to return to church, but some governors continue to disagree

By Lindsey Van Ness Pew Charitable Trusts Gathering to pray feels more important than ever for many Americans of faith, as COVID-19 cases top 2 million in the United States and communities roil with anger about police brutality and systemic racism. Yet many governors and city leaders still prohibit large religious gatherings, angering some clergy — even those who backed pandemic-related restrictions...

Already facing a significant budget gap, Ky. among states in particularly difficult situation after COVID-19

By Josh Goodman Pew Charitable Trusts The coronavirus outbreak, recent market swings, and the drop in oil prices have introduced a high level of uncertainty into state budget development in recent weeks. Policymakers are scrambling to assess the potential risk and the available options for addressing it. For states that had already amassed significant budget gaps — such as Georgia, Kentucky,...

Pew Trusts: Trump’s attacks on vote-by-mail worry election officials, who fear voters may doubt results

By Matt Vasilogambros Pew Charitable Trusts There is growing concern among election officials and experts that the increasingly partisan debate around voting by mail could sow doubt in the results of the presidential election. For months, President Donald Trump has been one of the loudest opponents to vote by mail, which experts agree is a safe alternative to in-person voting during the novel coronavirus...

Kentucky felons among those gaining a voice as more states move to restore voting rights

Matt Vasilogambros Pew Charitable Trusts A mistake Rynn Young made decades ago, when he was just a teenager, cost him the right to vote. Twenty-one years after his drug possession conviction, he got his ballot back when newly elected Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order last month restoring voting rights to nonviolent felons after release. “It’s been a very long time...

Carter County among one-third of counties in U.S. where poverty has grown despite strong economy

By Tim Henderson Pew Charitable Trusts Despite an economic recovery that lifted people out of poverty in most areas of the country, poverty increased in at least one county in every state between 2016 and 2018. The poverty rate grew in 30% of counties between 2016 and 2018, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Census Bureau county estimates released this month. The poverty rate is the percentage...

Kentucky among southern states split on dealing with EPA’s rollbacks of coal ash disposal regulations

A Tennessee coal ash accident spilled onto nearby homes. States are grappling with coal ash regulations as the Trump administration loosens federal rules. (Photo by Wade Payne/The Associated Press, via Stateline) By Max Blau Pew Charitable Trusts As the Trump administration scales back federal regulation of the waste from coal-fired power plants known as coal ash, a handful of Southern states have...

Ky. taking advantage of five-year-old federal policy allowing more kids on Medicaid to get healthcare

Trimble County school nurse Nellie Hewitt takes as student’s temperature at Bedford Elementary School. After a federal rule changed five years ago, states are billing Medicaid for health care provided in schools. (Photo by Amy Wallot, Kentucky Teacher) By Michael Ollove Pew Charitable Trusts A mountain of evidence proves it: Good health translates to better student performance. Children who have...

Pew Trusts: Rural areas hope to get more from national service programs like Americorps

April Simpson Pew Charitable Trusts The Hindman Settlement School was founded in 1902 to educate children living in the Central Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The school now focuses on helping children with dyslexia, and its leaders propose deploying 40 mentors from AmeriCorps, the national service program, to nearby elementary schools to give students the one-on-one attention they need. Brent...

Democrats won big in last week’s off-year elections, but analyst says don’t read too much into the trend

By Elaine S. Povich Pew Charitable Trusts Democrats flipped the Virginia legislature Tuesday — taking control of both chambers and the governorship for the first time in a generation — and apparently knocked off Kentucky’s Republican governor who had tied himself closely to President Donald Trump. Conversely, in deep-red Mississippi, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves won the race for governor and...

Pew Trusts: Hemp cannabidiol products may be natural, but does that mean they are safe?

By Sophie Quinton Pew Charitable Trusts At a recent conference Denver, city and Colorado public health officials recounted their scariest hemp CBD manufacturing stories to a packed hotel ballroom. There was the woman who was making hemp oil in her kitchen crockpot and selling it online. The manufacturing facility with no sinks for workers to wash their hands. The facility where dogs ran underfoot....

Pew Trusts: Libraries are becoming key to improving public health as hospitals shutter in rural areas

By Sarah Baird Pew Charitable Trusts It’s a sweltering Wednesday morning in Somerset, but at 9 a.m., the Pulaski County Public Library is already bustling. From the community room, the hum of sewing machines echoes into the entryway, as the “pedal pushers” club stitch up their latest creations. An elderly man in sneakers examines a sign advertising a free nutrition workshop for October, which...

Pew Trusts: Many first-time growers still don’t have buyers, but keep dreaming big with risky hemp crops

By April Simpson and Sophie Quinton Pew Charitable Trusts Standing between two rows of thigh-high hemp crops close to the Tennessee-Kentucky border, the retired owner of a New Hampshire convenience store cheerfully recalled why he chose to grow his first hemp crop this year. Barry Paterno, 67, is a gardener, not a farmer — he likes to grow tomatoes and corn. But he saw on the local TV news that an...

Pew: Poll shows Americans want Congress to act to fix National Park’s $12b deferred maintenance

By Marcia Argust Pew Charitable Trusts Summer brings a big jump in visitors to national parks, along with a reminder of how many repairs are waiting to be addressed at these sites to ensure safe access for current visitors and protection of American history for future generations. In fact, the more than 400 sites managed by the National Park Service (NPS) need almost $12 billion worth of deferred...

Pew Trusts: Real ID causing real problems as states cope with changing rules and late rollouts

By Elaine S. Povich Pew Charitable Trusts In half a dozen states, including the most populous state of California, the Real ID rollout is a real mess. Technical glitches, delays and miscommunication are roiling the Real ID implementation in those states, calling into question whether residents will have the secure driver’s license needed to travel by air or enter government restricted areas after...

Pew Trusts: Kentuckians among farmers forced to reckon with push to raise tobacco-buying age to 21

By Max Blau Pew Charitable Trusts Burley tobacco once lined nearly every road in Shelby County. But when Paul Hornback drives through his hometown, the 62-year-old tobacco farmer rarely sees the leafy crop. Despite his fears about tobacco farming, long the lifeblood of his community, Hornback supports the push to ban teenagers from buying cigarettes. Last month, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,...

Pew Trusts: In a newly legal, potentially billion-dollar industry, where are the black hemp farmers

April Simpson Pew Charitable Trusts Clarenda Stanley-Anderson will be the featured farmer of Hemp History Week, an educational campaign in June focused on a newly legal crop that’s at the center of a risky, potentially billion-dollar industry. Stanley-Anderson is considered a pioneer in the nascent hemp agricultural community, for educating others and encouraging young farmers to bring hemp back...

Pew Trusts: Trump administration green lights major Medicaid changes, allowing significant state cutbacks

By Michael Ollove Pew Charitable Trusts In a stark departure from past administrations, the Trump administration is allowing states to enact new Medicaid rules that will curtail benefits and reduce, rather than expand, the number of people eligible for the federal-state health program for the poor. New work requirements have received most of the attention. This year, the administration has granted...

Pew Trusts: Former Kentucky mining towns embrace change, turn to tourism in wake of coal’s decline

By April Simpson Pew Charitable Trusts The same Main Street winds through the old mountain mining towns of Cumberland, Benham and Lynch, crosses a river and runs alongside a creek. The early 20th-century coal mining boom drew people to this remote corner of southeast Kentucky until coal’s dizzying decline sent them away. Today, Main Street hints at a roaring past and the potential for change. Poor...

Pew Charitable Trusts: Eight sweet facts about love and marriage in time for your Valentine’s Day

By Abigail Geiger and Gretchen Livingston Pew Charitable Trusts The landscape of relationships in America has shifted dramatically in recent decades. From cohabitation to same-sex marriage to interracial and interethnic marriage, here are eight facts about love and marriage in the United States. 1 Half of Americans ages 18 and older were married in 2017, a share that has remained relatively stable...

Pew Charitable Trusts: As shutdown continues, consider savings needed for unforeseen emergencies

Pew Charitable Trusts This one of a series that explores how financial shocks and emergency savings are related to the financial well-being of families. Savings may help households cope with unexpected expenses and preserve wealth over the long run. Understanding the frequency and impact of events that might strain budgets, and the resources families have to cope with them, is crucial to building policies...