2020 General Assembly

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Kentucky lawmakers are once again considering a controversial measure that would use a tax credit program to send low- and middle-income students to private schools. Lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have filed identical bills to create the Scholarship Tax Credit Program.

Scholarship tax credit programs are already in 18 states, including in neighboring Indiana, according to the national pro-school choice nonprofit EdChoice. Kentucky’s proposed Scholarship Tax Credit Program would create scholarship funds to send low and middle-income students to private school. Students would have to meet one or more of the following requirements to be eligible for a scholarship:

 


Fayette Co. Public Schools

The frequency of school shootings across the country has Campbell County High School art teacher Brian Harmon and his students on edge.

“It’s scary,” Harmon said. “I’ve been teaching for 18 years, and I’ve seen the anxiety for that increase throughout the years.”

He realized just how anxious students were last year during an unannounced fire drill. The class was working on a sculpture project when the alarm went off. Harmon said his students froze and looked at him. No one would go into the hallway until he checked it first to see if it was safe.

“We live in a world where my kids don’t just react and go outside because it’s a fire drill,” he said. “They look to me and see ‘Am I supposed to go outside, or is this some kind of active shooter situation?’”

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Kentucky’s attorney general has joined Indiana, Tennessee, and 15 other states in urging a federal appeals court to uphold an Ohio law that bans abortions when the unborn child has Down Syndrome. 

Attorney General Daniel Cameron has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  A three-judge panel initially invalidated Ohio’s law, but the entire Sixth Circuit, which has more than a dozen judges, recently agreed to rehear the case. 

The brief argues while current law allows a woman to have an abortion, she doesn’t have the right to decide whether a child lives or dies based on a perceived disability.  The brief says those types of abortions are discriminatory against the unborn child. 


Alix Mattingly

In our latest edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled, a voter ID bill passed a major hurdle on its way through the legislature. Anti-abortion advocates are throwing their support behind new abortion restrictions, and Republican education leaders are pushing for every school in the state to have an armed guard.


LRC Public Information

A bill that would require doctors to resuscitate infants born after failed abortion attempts has passed out of a committee in the Kentucky Senate.

The measure would make it a felony if doctors and other providers don’t “take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of a born-alive infant.”

Incidents where abortions result in a live birth are extremely rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kentucky is one of several states that restricts abortion during or after the 20th week of pregnancy — around the point at which a fetus could be viable outside the womb.

 


Creative Commons

The sponsors of a Kentucky voter ID bill have made changes to the proposal, no longer strictly requiring a photo ID in order to cast a ballot in elections.

The bill originally required voters to show a photo ID or else cast a provisional ballot that would require the voter to follow up at their circuit clerk’s office.

Now voters who have some non-photo forms of ID would be able to cast a ballot as long as they say they have a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID.

 


J. Tyler Franklin

Supporters of the University of Louisville’s purchase of the Jewish Hospital system have lowered their request for state funding from $50 million to $35 million.

In November U of L purchased the Louisville assets of Kentucky One Health, which includes Jewish Hospital, after securing a preliminary agreement for a partially-forgivable loan from former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s new administration is still supportive of the deal, but funding is dependent on the legislature setting aside money for it in this year’s budget writing session.


Alix Mattingly

Frankfort will welcome hundreds of Muslims from across Kentucky on Wednesday, Jan. 22, for the inaugural Muslim Day at the State Capitol.

Muslims from all over the commonwealth will tour the building, meet with legislators, and pray in the rotunda. 

A resolution in the Kentucky House of Representatives in support of the event states that the Muslim community is "a positive contributor to the health and economic well-being of Kentucky, with Muslims serving as doctors, professors, auto workers, small business owners, and in numerous other professions."

Waheeda Muhammad chairs the Kentucky Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR.  In an interview with WKU Public Radio, she said the event is not government-sanctioned.


Kentucky LRC

In Kentucky politics, Gov. Andy Beshear gave his first state of the commonwealth address, calling on the legislature to reach across party lines.

The state legislature finished its first full week, advancing a bill to move gubernatorial elections to even-numbered years, and the sponsor of an anti-sanctuary cities bill has made changes following criticism.

Jonese Franklin from member station WFPL talked to capitol reporter Ryland Barton for latest edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled.


Fayette Co. Public Schools

Off-duty police officers hired to do security at Kentucky public schools would be required to carry guns under a bill sponsored by a top Republican in the state Senate.

The proposal comes a year after the legislature passed a sweeping school safety bill requiring every school in the state to employ a school resource officer. That bill didn’t say that the officers had to be armed.

Campbellsville Republican Sen. Max Wise was the primary architect of the school safety bill and is sponsoring the gun requirement, Senate Bill 8. He says the legislature always intended to have armed officers in public schools.

 


WKU Public Radio

Kentuckians would no longer vote for governor during odd-numbered years under a bill that unanimously passed out of a legislative committee on Wednesday.

Kentucky is one of the few states in the nation that holds elections in odd-numbered years, which generally have low voter turnout because contests for president, U.S. Senate and Congress aren’t on the ballot.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican from Latonia, said that moving the elections would save county governments — which run much of the process — about $10.5 million per election cycle.

 


Baishampayan Ghose/Creative Commons

A legislative committee has unanimously approved a bill that would legalize sports betting in Kentucky, sending it to be considered by the state House of Representatives.

The bill would also regulate fantasy sports and online poker. Supporters say it would raise $22.5 million per year as the state faces stark financial problems.

Rep. Al Gentry, a Democrat from Louisville and one of the bill’s sponsors, said the measure isn’t going to solve all the state’s problems but it’s a good first step.

 


Ryland Barton

Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his first State of the Commonwealth address on Tuesday, urging the state legislature to move beyond partisan disagreements and support his agenda.

One week into Kentucky’s annual legislative session, Beshear called on lawmakers to curb insulin costs, reform the criminal justice system and find new revenue by legalizing sports betting.

Beshear also called on lawmakers to pass a budget that gives teachers a $2,000 per year raise and end cuts to higher education.

 

A Kentucky lawmaker has reintroduced a bill that would give crime victims the same rights afforded to the accused, including a voice in the criminal justice system.

Marsy's Law would guarantee crime victims constitutional protections, including the right to be notified of all court proceedings, the right to be present for those hearings, and the right to be heard in any hearing involving an offender’s release, plea, or sentencing. 


WKU Public Radio

Voters in Bullitt County and southern Jefferson County will head to the polls Tuesday to send a new state senator to Frankfort.

The special election is being held to fill a vacancy in the Senate created by the retirement of Republican Sen. Dan Seum, who had represented Senate District 38 since 1995.

The two candidates — selected by their local political parties in November — are Mike Nemes, a Republican who served in former Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration, and Andrew Bailey, a Democrat and former public school teacher from Louisville. 

 


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