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News and Notes for Thursday

Even during the holidays, the news keeps coming.

7 min read

Gov. Beshear: Voter approval of public funding for private schools unlikely

Gov. Andy Beshear told LINK nky on Wednesday that he doesn’t think Kentuckians would approve a constitutional amendment to allow public funding for schools outside of the state’s current public education system.

When asked about any future legislative efforts to redefine common schools, aka public schools, for that purpose, Beshear said, “I believe that would take a constitutional amendment. I do not believe the people of Kentucky will vote for a constitutional amendment. The creation of another school that would directly compete with the public school and receive public dollars is not the answer.” (LINK nky)

Haley slams DeSantis for stumping in Iowa with Massie, who’s opposed votes condemning antisemitism

Nikki Haley denounced Republican presidential rival Ron DeSantis in Iowa Sunday for campaigning in the state with Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, the lone House Republican who voted last week against a GOP resolution condemning antisemitism on university campuses. “You can’t be pro-Israel and bring the most anti-Israel Republican into this state, who voted against fighting antisemitism on college campuses,” Haley said. “And that's who he brought to your state.” (Herald-Leader)

Beshear refers to Trump’s anti-immigrant language as dangerous, dehumanizing

Republican Donald Trump's anti-immigrant language in his quest to win back the White House is dangerous and dehumanizing, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said Tuesday, warning that the rhetoric makes it more difficult for Congress to reach a meaningful U.S. border security deal. Beshear — whose resounding reelection last month in solidly Republican Kentucky raised his national profile — said a balanced approach is needed on immigration: one that protects the nation's borders but recognizes the role legal immigration plays in meeting business employment needs. (Herald-Leader)

Kentucky child care advocates say Beshear’s budget doesn’t do enough 

Gov. Andy Beshear is asking the legislature to spend $141 million over the next two years to stabilize the child care industry, but some advocates for children say that won’t be enough.

Beshear’s budget proposal comes as pandemic-era federal assistance is ending, leaving Kentucky’s child care providers to face potential closures, tuition increases and wage cuts for staff if the state doesn’t subsidize the industry. Beshear wants funding to support reimbursement rates and help open more child care facilities and slots. The governor also wants to spend $172 million to begin funding universal preschool for Kentucky 4-year-olds.

Advocates worry that Beshear’s plan would not provide enough financial support to child care centers to make up for their losing 4-year-olds to the new proposed preschool programs. (Kentucky Lantern)

Kentucky school board member must vacate seat due to conflict of interest, AG’s office says

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office on Monday notified a Montgomery County Schools board member that he was ineligible to serve on the board because his brother works for the school district. “The Office regrets that this unfortunate situation occurred,” said a letter to representative Josh Oney from Jeremy J. Sylvester, assistant attorney general. But Sylvester’s letter said the office of the attorney general has a duty to enforce the law, “which in this case is unambiguous.” (Herald-Leader)

Governor lauds Kentucky State Police for 18-month investigation shutting down organized cargo theft

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that over the past 18 months the Kentucky State Police (KSP) Vehicle Investigations Branch has recovered more than $5.2 million in cargo theft property, shutting down an organized theft ring responsible for more than $10 million in theft. During that 18-month period, the KSP opened 16 cargo theft investigations, resulting in 10 federal indictments and seven arrests. (NKyTribune)

Groups say largest conservation easement in Kentucky history will protect 54,000 acres

An easement on more than 54,000 acres of forest land in southeastern Kentucky will preserve public access for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and hunting and permanently protect the area from large-scale development, according to groups involved in the deal. The Nature Conservancy, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation announced the agreement Tuesday. The deal establishes what is called a conservation easement on 54,560 acres of land in Bell, Knox and Leslie counties, known as the Cumberland Forest Wildlife Management Area. (Herald-Leader)

Attorneys for Kentucky woman seeking abortion withdraw lawsuit

Attorneys for a Kentucky woman who sued demanding the right to an abortion withdrew the lawsuit after the woman learned her embryo no longer has cardiac activity. In a court filing Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky told a judge the attorneys will “voluntarily dismiss” the lawsuit that was filed Dec. 8. Lawyers for the woman pointed to a Kentucky Supreme Court decision that said abortion providers cannot sue on behalf of their patients, limiting the legal actions to individuals seeking an abortion. The lawsuit had sought class-action status. (Herald-Leader)

Kentucky to receive additional federal funding to expand electric vehicle charging network

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the state will seek to expand its network of electric vehicle charging stations through grants from the federal government that will become available next spring.

“This fall we selected seven developers to build a total of 24 charging stations along interstates and parkways,” Beshear said during a press conference last week. “We will be issuing another request for proposals in early 2024 to fund more. This is a grant from the federal government, where we have to have so many of these charging stations every so many miles on our interstates and parkways. We have such a great system of those roads in Kentucky, that it covers a lot.” (Hoptown Chronicle)

Flu, Covid-19 and RSV rates are so high that the CDC has issued a health advisory urging more Americans to get vaccinated

"Low vaccination rates, coupled with ongoing increases in national and international respiratory disease activity caused by multiple pathogens, including influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19), and RSV, could lead to more severe disease and increased healthcare capacity strain in the coming weeks," says the advisory, which also reported a rise in multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children following Covid-19 infection. The state Department for Public Health' s latest weekly respiratory-illness report shows Covid-19 and RSV activity is high; flu activity is increasing; and hospitalizations for RSV are increasing. (KY Health News)

Some rural Americans hope the Farm Bill can help in getting broadband services to their homes and businesses

Farming families need broadband for education, connection, and to compete in global food markets. Too often, farmers feel cut off from the rest of the world with few viable options, reports Emily Baron Cadloff of Modern Farmer. “Millions of Americans live without reliable internet services. For farmers and food providers, this leaves them lagging behind competition and stuck with outdated equipment. Now, they're looking to the Farm Bill for answers.” (The Rural Blog)

Bipartisan Senate disgust over Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric: ‘I guess his children are poisoned’

Democratic senators on Tuesday lambasted former President Donald Trump for his Hitleresque comments on immigrants over the weekend, with top Republicans in the chamber also chiding the GOP’s de facto leader. “Considering that two of his wives are immigrants, I guess his children are poisoned," Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, told The Messenger, when asked about Trump's remark about immigrants "poisoning the blood" of America.

Trump’s extreme rhetoric on immigration reached a fever pitch on Saturday, when he said in New Hampshire that immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” The comments garnered criticism from both sides of the Senate — at a time when senators are locked in high-profile negotiations with the White House over changes to border and immigration policies.

“Well, it strikes me that didn’t bother him when he appointed Elaine Chao as secretary of transportation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., quipped when asked about Trump’s comments on Tuesday. (The Messenger)

Report: Current Congress on track to pass fewest laws of any Congress in decades

The current Congress has passed the least laws of any other congressional session in modern history in its first year of operation, a new analysis finds.

The 118th Congress, marked so far by utter chaos in the GOP-controlled House, has only passed 20 bills that were signed into law by President Joe Biden, according to data from data analytics company Quorum and reported by Axios. By contrast, the analysis finds, other historically unproductive sessions that occurred when Republicans controlled one or both chambers, under Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, passed between 70 and 73 laws in their first year.

This makes the 118th Congress the least productive in its first year since at least the 101st Congress in 1989 and 1990 when President George H.W. Bush was president — in which lawmakers passed over 400 laws, according to the Axios analysis. Most congressional sessions since then have passed between 300 and 450 laws in both years in office. A separate HuffPost analysis last month found that the 118th Congress is on track to be the least productive since the Great Depression. (Truthout)

And from the Twitterverse ...


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