A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky to get more funds for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to help more children

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky will soon receive an extra $12.8 million per month for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits program, and groups fighting hunger in the state say the increase will especially help feed more children. Katrina Thompson, executive director of the group Feeding Kentucky, said since March of last year, the state has relied on loosened federal...

New legislation would ban juvenile cases involving kids 12 and under from being brought before a judge

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky kids as young as five or six can legally end up in juvenile court because the state currently lacks a minimum age threshold, but new legislation would ban kids 12 and younger from being tried before a judge. More than 2,000 children younger than 10 were arrested in 2019 nationwide, according to data from the National Juvenile Justice Network. Despite a...

Critics of vaccine ‘opt-out’ legislation say it unnecessarily puts Kentuckians’ health at risk

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Medical experts and health-care advocacy groups warn legislation to expand Kentuckians’ ability to opt-out of vaccinations against infectious diseases is dangerous and unnecessary, especially during a pandemic. Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, the majority whip, said he filed the bill because some of his constituents voiced concern the government might...

Kentucky’s Farms to Food Banks program a lifeline for many as pandemic increases food insecurity

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service As the food-insecurity crisis continues, Kentucky growers are stepping in to fill the void. Last year 371 farmers participated in the state’s Farms to Food Banks program, and advocates say a funding boost could help feed more families at a time when many are facing financial hardship, while also financially compensating growers. (Click for larger graphic) Karena...

Kentucky Youth Advocates leading weeklong series of virtual events urging lawmakers to invest in kids

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Young people and their advocates are participating in a weeklong series of virtual events urging Kentucky lawmakers to prioritize kids’ safety, health, education and economic well-being in this year’s legislative session. The events are part of Kentucky Youth Advocates’ Children’s Advocacy Week. Felicity Krueger, an Adair County high-school...

Critics of Kentucky voucher program say the plan would siphon funds from public schools

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Some Kentucky lawmakers are proposing a statewide voucher program based on tax credits, so families can send their kids to private schools. House Bill 149 would give donors like major corporations a special-interest tax break for giving money to privately controlled organizations that use the funds to pay kids’ private-school tuition. Some 70% of Kentucky...

Ky. counties say cigarettes, vaping hurting economy, seek local control of tobacco marketing, sales

Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Counties across Kentucky say smoking and vaping are hurting their local economies and people’s health, and they’re fighting for the ability to pass local laws about the marketing and sale of tobacco products. A dozen states, including Kentucky, have laws on the books preempting local tobacco ordinances. Betsy Clemons, executive director of the Hazard Perry...

Breonna’s Law prohibiting no-knock warrants to be introduced in legislature; other states support it

By Nadia Ramiagan Public News Service After the killing of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police, some states have moved to ban no-knock search warrants, and Kentucky could soon do the same.

 Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed Breonna’s Law into effect. Pennsylvania and Tennessee are considering similar moves. Florida and Oregon have already banned no-knock search warrants. 

Keturah...

Kentucky environmental groups turn focus to inclusion, diversity in state’s outdoor spaces

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Environmental advocates and outdoor enthusiasts across the state are focusing on inclusion and diversity in hiking, camping and other outdoor activities. Despite wanting to experience nature, many people of color may not have the opportunity to explore Kentucky’s numerous trails, lakes and state parks. (Photo courtesy of The Explore Kentucky Initiatve) Gerry...

Democracy Project helping Kentuckians with past felonies register to vote; many not aware of eligibility

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service More than 170,000 Kentuckians with past felonies have had their voting rights restored, but many may not be aware of the change. Jessica Clark is a volunteer for the Kentucky Democracy Project, a new grassroots effort to get the word out before the Nov. 3 election. Her daughter owns a soul-food restaurant on the north side of Lexington, where Clark said you often...

Kentucky’s childhood immunization rates have plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service There’s been a sharp decline in vaccination rates among Kentucky children since the onset of the coronavirus. And health experts say they are concerned about the confluence of COVID-19, flu season and the potential for other infectious-disease outbreaks. The state’s Department of Medicaid Services reports among Medicaid recipients, from March through...

Virtual public hearing set for Thursday to address ground water pollution at Herrington Lake

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Critics say a plan developed by Kentucky Utilities to address groundwater pollution from an unlined coal-ash pond seeping into Herrington Lake is inadequate. In 2017, the Sierra Club and Kentucky Waterways Alliance filed a lawsuit against Kentucky Utilities, which operates the power plant producing the coal ash, arguing that it violated federal regulations for...

As COVID-19 pandemic drags on, an alarming rise in hunger found among older Kentucky adults

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service The state’s food banks say they’re seeing an alarming number of adults approaching retirement age who need help putting food on the table because of lost wages or employment due to COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, Kentucky had the highest rate of food-insecure older adults in the nation, but advocates said more newcomers, many who have never had...

Kentucky continues to see sky-high unemployment claims as pandemic downturn drags on

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service More than 800,000 Kentuckians have filed for unemployment insurance since the start of the new coronavirus pandemic, and experts warn the economic downturn will likely have ripple effects that could last for years. Ashley Spalding, research director with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy says a major issue for many states is the lack of a rainy day fund,...

Protests in Kentucky, around nation highlight frustration over lack of accountability

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Protests in Louisville and Lexington over the weekend highlight growing public frustration with a system that offers little accountability to those in power. The killings of unarmed black citizens across the country, including Breonna Taylor, who was asleep at her home in Louisville in mid-March when she was killed, have sparked public outrage over the inertia...

Reviving a depression-era program could help put young Kentuckians work in time of national crisis

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service The nation’s youth unemployment rate is the highest it’s been since the Great Depression, and some are calling for creating a new Civilian Conservation Corps to help rebuild the country’s parks and public lands at a time of national crisis. Unemployment in the Commonwealth has soared to 15.4% amid the coronavirus pandemic. And Ward Wilson, executive...

Kentucky is one of 19 states that still allows corporal punishment in schools, but that could soon change

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service State lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban spanking in schools. Kentucky is one of 19 states that continue to allow corporal punishment. Glasgow family court judge Mica Wood Pence is responsible for placing children in foster care. She said when children have experienced physical violence in the home, hitting or spanking in school can do serious damage...

New Interact for Health poll indicates an uptick in misuse of prescription pain medication in Kentucky

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service More Kentuckians report knowing someone who is misusing prescription pain medication, according to a new poll. Colleen Desmond, a researcher at Interact for Health, the group that conducted the survey, said the findings indicate prescription drug misuse continues to be a persistent problem statewide, despite the fact that overdose deaths have dropped. The 2019...

Don’t have a passport? You’ll need a ‘Real ID’ to fly when new identification rules take effect in October

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service By this fall, Americans who don’t have either one of the new “REAL IDs” or a valid passport won’t be able to fly or to visit military bases and federal facilities. Kentucky is urging its residents to take the change seriously. Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, following recommendations from the 9/11 Commission to set higher standards...

Kentucky lawmakers considering bill to ban death for penalty for defendants suffering from mental illness

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Kentucky lawmakers are considering a bill that would prevent seriously mentally ill defendants from receiving the death penalty. A handful of other states, including Ohio, Virginia and Indiana, recently have pushed similar legislation. Patrick Delahanty, director of advocacy for the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, says the bill does not exclude...