President Trump and Andy Barr rally in Richmond, Kentuckians respond

Posted by: Matthew Frederick on October 15, 2018

President Donald Trump made a trip to Eastern Kentucky University on October 13, where he rallied supporters for Representative Andy Barr in the 6th district congressional race.

Approximately 6,500 people flooded the university’s Alumni Coliseum in support of the president and his policies, filling it to capacity. Others from across the Commonwealth of Kentucky came together across the street to take action, display signs, sing chants and express themselves in the view of the country’s chief executive.

The event turned out to be an experiment in developing democratic dialogue and practice. An estimated 1,500 people lined up by 8 a.m. to attend, as many more came to EKU throughout the day. The doors to the coliseum would not open until 4 p.m., and the president’s appearance was not slated to start until 7 that evening.

Estimates indicate that more than 400 people gathered in the designated protest area, including members of KFTC, the Kentucky Dream Coalition, the Bluegrass Activist Alliance, EKU and Berea College students, as well as many others from across Kentucky. Many more were able to participate digitally through social media platforms, such as Facebook’s live video function.

Many Kentuckians took a variety of actions to lift up a vision for our communities and build grassroots power. KFTC members across the state plugged into community canvases to discuss the upcoming November elections with folks at their front doors.

For folks who were unable to attend the demonstration in Richmond or go canvassing door-to-door, KFTC hosted a Democracy Blitz Phone Bank. Folks who joined the virtual phone banks from their homes heard a report from Richmond, developed a shared understanding of what hangs in the balance in this moment, and made calls to new voters in Kentucky to discuss how folks can advance a vision for Kentucky through the electoral process.

This Saturday highlighted multiple ways KFTC members took action to insist that Kentuckians deserve leaders who respect us all, and when those who don’t come into our Commonwealth, we work to build new power.

Damien Hammons, a member from the Cumberland chapter of KFTC who attended the action in Richmond, spoke on live video, addressing the common view that, “We often feel like one vote doesn’t make a difference.” He continued to explain his own robust participation in democracy, saying, “There’s so many different times you can give a candidate one more vote – give them a little bit more leverage in our government, so our government will represent us and will represent who we should be. I’m super excited for November 6. Make sure to go out and vote everybody.”

Madison County KFTC member Kris Tina Anderson attended the action in Richmond as well. When discussing what motivated them to take action, Kris Tina noted that the event presented “a really great opportunity to inspire people to go and vote come November. I want to challenge people’s ideas about what Donald Trump’s policies have done in terms of the climate. I am very passionate about the climate. I want to see a statewide Fairness Ordinance, as well as renewable energy.”

Kris Tina spoke to the depth and range of issues that motivated Kentuckians to take action during the president’s appearance. Many in the crowd lifted up racial justice, immigrants' rights, clean energy, women’s rights and the variety of ways that Rep. Andy Barr and President Donald Trump have gotten the country further away from meaningful action to address these concerns.

Although protesters attended the event with a variety of concerns and grievances, the demonstration powerfully lifted up a vision for thriving communities as well. Members of the Kentucky Dream Coalition led the crowd in chants of “I believe that we will win.”

While many found themselves on the ground on Saturday at the event, many others were able to participate, observe and express themselves in a multitude of other ways, especially through social media videos. For the diverse and expansive Commonwealth of Kentucky, this is what democracy truly looks like. Kentuckians came together to take action rooted in solidarity and to build grassroots power.

As we look toward building a better, beloved community of people, KFTC members are utilizing many different tactics and strategies. As we advance our goals, our membership is more than willing to take advantage of all the tools available to improve our democracy, our community and our lives.

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How Absentee Voting works in Kentucky

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 12, 2018

29626112627_8f4825f8ec_oOn election day, Tuesday, Nov 6th, polls in Kentucky will be open 6am to 6pm.

Unconditional Early Voting isn't allowed in Kentucky (as it is in many states), but in most cases, if you won't be in the Kentucky county where you're registered to vote on election day, you can vote absentee.

To vote absentee, there are several hoops to jump through, so it's good to start early:

1. You have to be registered to vote and you have to know what county you're registered in.  You can check that at GoVoteKY.com

KY Voter Registration Deadline Tomorrow (Tuesday 10/9)

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 8, 2018

GetDown 2018

Tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/9) is the voter registration deadline in the state of Kentucky. 

If you're not registered, or need to update your voter address, get down to your local County Clerk's office or register online.

If you want to check your voter registration status just to be safe, visit the Voter Information Center.

Students who are away from home going to school have the right to either use a permanent home address or temporary local address as their voting address, but we encourage students to consider registering locally especially if home is far away

New Steering Committee Convenes and Centers Visionary Organizing

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 2, 2018

On September 22, the newly elected Steering Committee met in Berea for the first time since being elected to represent KFTC’s statewide leadership. Each year following the KFTC Annual Membership Meeting, the Steering Committee meets to review KFTC’s work and hold an orientation for incoming Steering Committee members.

However, the most valuable aspect of this meeting was Steering Committee representatives and alternates taking the opportunity to get to know each other and build community among grassroots leaders across the state. Steering Committee members lifted up that community building is critical for continuing efforts to organizing in ways that are rooted in a vision for the state.

During the orientation, members noted that the present political context requires more than organizing. It requires organizing and actions that are grounded in a vision that shapes the new kind of power KFTC members are working to build. As members reflected on KFTC’s vision statement, many drew direct connections between the vision and collective action.

Joy Fitzgerald of Shelby County noted that KFTC’s vision is, “the foundation of our working democracy.” Conner Allen of Jefferson County noted that KFTC’s vision is why folks across the state are inspired to join, “It’s a values statement and values are why we are here.” Ezra Dike of Rowan County, echoing Allen’s perspective, noted that KFTC’s vision is “a sales pitch and a unifying rallying cry.”

Other items the Steering Committee discussed included Racial Justice organizing, building an inclusive culture for KFTC youth leadership, KFTC’s fall fundraising campaign and the Sustaining Giver program, as well as hiring and staffing for 2019.

We registered 120 students today on UK campus! (and 2 weeks left until the deadline!)

Posted by: KFTC Staff on September 25, 2018

Todg20180925_111656ay is exactly 2 weeks until the October 9th, 2018 Kentucky Voter Registration Deadline. It's also National Voter Registration Day.

The Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter took that occasion to register 120 students on UK's campus at a loud and powerful voter registration table, spreading the word to make sure students know that they have the right to be registered locally, even if they're from far away.

If you're not registered, or need to update your voter address, get down to your local County Clerk's office or register online -  http://www.govoteky.com

Clarifying who can vote and who can't in Kentucky

Posted by: KFTC Staff on September 24, 2018

gIMG_5084To register and vote in Kentucky, one needs to be at least 18 years old by Election Day (Tuesday, November 6), you have to live in Kentucky (temporary student housing works), and you have to be a U.S. citizen.

Those are the basics, but things get a little trickier in Kentucky because our criminal justice system plays an unusual role in taking away people's right to vote.

People with felonies in their past –  Can't (generally) Vote.

Kentucky disenfranchises people with felonies in their past and is harsher than almost any state in the US in that regard.  People can request their rights be restored after they've served their time through this form, but few people know about the process and Governor Bevin denies many requests.  People who have had their record expunged of felonies can also vote.  KFTC's long-term goal is to change Kentucky's Constitution so that people get the right to vote back when they've served their debt to society including prison time, probation, and parole, but for now, this remains a barrier for over 312,000 Kentuckians.

People with misdemeanors in their past – Can Vote!

If someone has a misdemeanor in ther past, that doesn't stop them from voting in Kentucky.  Many people in this situation may have been told that they can't register and vote, but they absolutely can

People currently in jail serving for a misdemeanor – Can't Vote

This disenfranchisement comes from section 145 of the Kentucky Constitution along with felony disenfranchisement.

People serving probation and parole for a misdemeanor – Can Vote!

Even though you're still serving your time, there's nothing stopping you from registering and voting in this case.

People in jails pre-trial who were charged with either a felony or a misdemeanor – Can Vote!

If you're in jail because you're awaiting trial or sentencing for any offense (and you've never been convicted of a felony), you do have the right to vote.  That's a big deal, because in many Kentucky jails about 70% of the population is pre-trial.

KFTC members speak up in D.C. this week for Just Transition

Posted by: KFTC Staff on September 24, 2018

This week, a delegation of nearly 40 Appalachians from at least eight states – including eight KFTC members – are in Washington DC to meet with members of Congress and push for urgently needed legislation for a Just Transition for miners, their families and their communities. 

Show your support by signing a petition at www.blacklungkills.com

KFTC’s delegation, part of a larger group organized by the Alliance for Appalachia, has scheduled meetings with all eight members of Congress from Kentucky, including Senators McConnell and Paul, plus Representatives Jamie Comer, Brett Guthrie, John Yarmuth, Thomas Massie, Andy Barr, and Hal Rogers.

The KFTC delegation includes three retired miners with black lung and five others who have close family members with the disease. KFTC member Joanne Hill explains why she has made the trip.

“I was born and raised in Harlan County," Hill said.  "My family, well I come from a long line of coal miners. My father had black lung, my brother had it, and my two grandfathers had it. One of my grandfathers had it so bad, there were times he had to use his hands to push his lungs up to breathe. Congress needs to strengthen funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.”

“Also, everywhere we look in my area of Kentucky, we see the devastation that strip-mining has caused. Passing the RECLAIM Act is really important to put jobs back in our communities and make something good come out of all the destruction the coal companies left behind,” Hill said.

The lobbying effort in DC is part of a broader strategy by KFTC and our allies to advance three bills needed for a Just Transition for coal miners, their families, and communities. Specifically, we are calling on Senator McConnell and other members of Congress to take action this fall on:

a) A bill (not yet filed) to strengthen the solvency of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

b) The RECLAIM Act (H.R. 1731), sponsored by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, to create thousands of good reclamation jobs and support longer-term economic development initiatives.

c) The American Miners Pension Act (H.R. 3913 / S. 1911), which ensures that the UMWA's 1974 Pension Plan can continue to pay pensions to retired miners and surviving spouses.

Show your support by signing a petition at www.blacklungkills.com

In addition to meeting with members of Congress, KFTC members are working to:

NKY Hosts Dolores Screening

Dolores Panel members Brenda Moran, Heyra Avila, Monick Chia, and Irene Encarnacion
Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on September 24, 2018

On September 22nd the Northern Kentucky chapter of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth partnered with LULAC – Cincinnati, Mass Action for Black Liberation, Northern Kentuc

Housing issues at forefront of Bowling Green local elections

Posted by: Nancy Bridges on September 19, 2018

In a recent Daily News article "Census data show local growth, challenges", Warren County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said, "It is gratifying to see we are growing. Industry recruitment and workforce development have been a major focus of the local officials in recent years." Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said, “As a community, we have worked together to that goal and we are making progress thanks to the efforts of city, county and state government."

Introducing Grace!

Posted by: Grace McKenzie on September 17, 2018

Hey y’all! I’m Grace Todd McKenzie. Please use she/her pronouns when referring to me. I’ll be working with the Madison County and Wilderness Trace KFTC chapters from late August though late April as I complete my final practicum in my Masters of Science in Social Work. Kentuckians For The Commonwealth was my first choice for this practicum and I am so excited to start digging deeper into the work of KFTC!

Benham & Jackson are first Kentucky cities to pass a local resolution supporting miners and communities

Posted by: KFTC staff on September 15, 2018

The Benham City Council in Harlan County and Jackson City Council in Breathitt County are the first local governments in Kentucky to pass a local resolution calling on members of Congress to pass three bills needed to help sick, disabled, retired and unemployed coal workers and their families and communities. Benham’s city government took the unanimous action at its monthly meeting on September 13. Jackson's city government adopted the resolution one week later on September 20, 2018.

Advocates hope other local governments may soon follow their example. A similar resolution was adopted several weeks ago in Virginia by the City of Big Stone Gap.


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