A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Richard Nelson: Remembering our nation’s 243rd birthday and the soul-stirring 56 words that define us

Just a few days ago I was in Washington D.C. where I visited the National Archives and saw the Declaration of Independence. It was featured alongside the U.S. Constitution and other historical documents in the dimly lit rotunda. It was amazing to see our founding documents in person. Yet I had trouble deciphering the words. Centuries had taken their toll on the parchment and the ink was fading. I couldn’t...

Richard Nelson: Tomorrow is primary election day in Kentucky; can we defy the low turnout prediction

Kentucky’s primary election is Tuesday and if voter participation in 2015 is any indication, the turnout will be in the neighborhood of a dismal 12 percent. Low turnout is partly because Kentucky is one of a handful of states that elects its governor and constitutional officers in odd-numbered years.  Fewer races mean less campaign advertising. Less advertising means less buzz around the workplace...

Richard Nelson: Equality Act has a clever, noble name but carries troubling consequences

The Equality Act (HR 5) is moving in Congress but Congressman James Comer (R-Tompkinsville) is “deeply troubled” after looking into the details. “It’s a clever name with an allegedly noble purpose,” Comer said before the House Committee on Education and Labor, “but a vehicle for serious harmful consequences.” The act adds “gender identity” and “sexual...

Richard Nelson: Henderson city commissioners should be concerned about fairness to all

A majority of Henderson City Commissioners said they’d like to reconsider a “Fairness” ordinance that elevates sexual orientation and gender identity to civil rights status. Some see the move as promoting diversity and tolerance. Others see it as unnecessary and divisive. What’s fascinating in the midst of this debate is that I have been accused of spreading fear simply because...

Richard Nelson: Signs of life in the Kentucky legislature as flurry of pro-life bills moves through

A flurry of pro-life bills is moving through the Kentucky legislature as swiftly as a Midwestern snowstorm in February, bringing alarm to those who believe the choice to carry a baby to term should be left to the pregnant mother and her doctor. For pro-lifers, such bills signal that the unjust season of abortion on demand will soon be over.  The Roe v Wade Trigger Bill (HB 148) would protect unborn...

Richard Nelson: Hold the horses, reign in Oak Grove Casino project; it makes community less stable

Ever hear the saying “hold your horses?” Well, it looks like West Kentucky Development Corp. needs to reign theirs’ in. This is the partnership between Churchill Downs and Keeneland spearheading a new Standardbred track with up to 12 days of horse racing and 365 days of video slot machines in Oak Grove. But the project hit a bump in the road as a competing race track filed a lawsuit...

Richard Nelson: The true gift of Christmas isn’t found in the robust retail numbers or under the tree

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Annual Retail Survey, American households will spend an average of $1536 on the holidays, up from $1,226 last year. Their analysts say American’s are bullish on the economy. Altogether, we’ll spend over $1.1 trillion in holiday-related retail sales, which includes food, beverages and gifts. Of course, family gatherings with gifts under the tree and office...

Richard Nelson: Declaration of Independence worth celebrating, but what are we fighting for today?

It was 242 years ago when America’s colonial leaders declared their independence from a tyrant who trampled their rights and usurped their self-rule. They outlined 27 specific violations citing a “long train of abuses” reaching back a decade to the Stamp Act and decided the relationship was irretrievably broken. So on July 4, 1776, the Founders formally separated from Great Britain...

Richard Nelson: Supreme Court ruling in case of Colorado baker restores dignity to people of faith

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a religious freedom victory to a Colorado baker who’s been through the legal wringer ever since he declined to bake a cake for a gay wedding in 2012. SCOTUS deftly sifted through the narrative that Jack Phillips’ bigotry led to unjust discrimination against a protected class. As the facts emerged, so did a distinct aftertaste of religious discrimination...

Richard Nelson: Despite drama, 2018 legislative session was a successful production in many ways

The 2018 General Assembly was incredibly productive and even took positive steps to shore up the state pension system, but incessant negative news reports by major media outlets implying Republicans were sticking it to protesting teachers and unfortunate comments by our Governor left many with another impression. It’s funny how high drama and a few entertaining if not painful moments receive...

Richard Nelson: Kids need parents involved in lives; fathers play key role in preventing mass violence

Gabe Parker was described as cold, callous and “shockingly calm” in an interview with Kentucky State Police. The 16-year old is being tried as an adult for killing two of his fellow students and severely wounding 14 others at Marshall County High School earlier this year. The calm demeanor was called “bizarre” by one KSP trooper. And Marshall County Sheriff’s Detective Captain...

Richard Nelson: On sexual harassment, we need a cultural assessment, and each of us must stand up

Sexual harassment and allegations of abuse by high profile politicians are dominating the news and as distasteful the details and disappointed we may be in our political candidates and leaders, we’re forced to process this cultural moment and how to appropriately respond. Where to begin? How about with empathy toward the women who’ve come out of the shadows to share their stories? It takes...

Richard Nelson: All sinners fraught with brokenness, but Christians must ‘love your neighbor as yourself’

One of the most divisive and difficult topics to discuss today is over sexual ethics—specifically involving LGBT issues. It’s a topic most of us avoid. For the few that are engaged, the conversation is often shrill with carpet bomb arguments that leave the public arena riddled with verbal craters and unspent mines making it difficult to navigate civil conversations. I’ve had several instances...

Richard Nelson: Instant racing expansion will be a bust — pie-in-the-sky promises, economic bad bet

Churchill Downs and Keeneland announced a partnership to expand gambling into eastern and western Kentucky and promised they’ll “create hundreds of new jobs, stimulate economic growth and generate funds to increase purses and breeder incentives.” But if the deal ends up like so many communities lured by casino interests’ pie in the sky promises, the economic gains are a bad...

Richard Nelson: Fixing the foster care system critical to improving the lives of Kentucky children

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward If Hurricane Harvey’s record rainfall doused the fiery political climate, then the images of rescue workers saving children have softened embittered hearts in our politically divisive age. One evocative photo depicts a disaster relief worker slogging through muddied Houston waters carrying an Asian woman who is cradling her infant. Yet as Harvey leaves...

Commentary: Tweeting is no way to communicate policy; discussion needed about gender issues

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward President Trump’s tweet barring transgendered persons from serving in the military caught everyone off guard, including policy makers who are still trying to figure out exactly what it means. As we navigate the minefields of this highly charged issue there’s middle ground that nearly everyone can agree on: policy by tweet is no way to run a government....

Commentary: Coverage of Bevin’s real estate deal results in another case of unbalanced journalism

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward The Executive Branch Ethics Commission (EBEC) recently cleared Gov. Bevin of any wrongdoing involving a deal on a home by a campaign donor, but considering the way the Louisville Courier-Journal trotted out the story since it broke earlier this year, its uncertain they’ll accept the unanimous ruling in Bevin’s favor. A week before the EBEC issued...

Commentary: Civility is missing in public discourse — we need to find a way to bring it back

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Civility is on life support. But the body politic was sick long before James T. Hodgkinson assaulted GOP Congressmen at a baseball practice, critically wounding Rep. Steve Scalise and wounding five others after asking whether the men on the field were Republicans or Democrats. Kentucky witnessed a similar event eight weeks ago when a machete-wielding Transylvania...

Commentary: Despite what you might have read, Bevin does give interviews — I had one

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward I recently sat down with Gov. Bevin for an exclusive interview to hear about significant legislative progress, continuing challenges and current initiatives to address Kentucky’s most pressing needs. We talked about a host of issues including foster care and adoption reform, education policy, the state pension crisis, and a special session to modernize the...

Commentary: Constitutional protection for conscience should also extend to the judiciary

By Richard Nelson Special to KyForward Does a judge have a right to his conscience? That’s the question many are asking since a Glasgow Family Court Judge recused himself in cases regarding the placement of children into the custody of homosexual parents. Judge Mitchell Nance said that “as a matter of conscience” he believes that “under no circumstance” would “the best interest of the...