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Media campaign pushes Congress to act on RECLAIM Act and black lung fund

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 24, 2020

In January, KFTC and several ally groups launched a paid media campaign – including 10 billboards plus radio, newspaper and digital ads in central and eastern Kentucky – calling on members of Congress to stand up for coal miners and communities by passing a package of Just Transition bills in 2020.

The campaign’s message is that Congress must “Fix What’s Broke” by passing bills to clean up abandoned coal mines and polluted waterways and by extending funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for an additional 10 years.

“All these issues are connected,” said Teri Blanton, a former chairperson of KFTC who grew up in Harlan County and whose father died of black lung disease. “It took years of struggle to win the federal laws to protect our health and environment, and decades more to get those rules enforced.

“Now the coal industry wants Congress to let them off the hook. They don’t want to have to pay for black lung benefits or to clean up abandoned mines. Elected leaders can’t let them turn their backs on our workers and communities.”

The ads feature 20 portraits of individual Kentuckians, including coal miners with black lung disease, widows and close family members of miners, and other eastern Kentucky residents affected by unreclaimed mines and polluted water. Each message urges Kentuckians to learn more and take action through the campaign’s website: FixWhatsBroke.com.

KFTC’s paid media is part of a campaign supported by a broad coalition of groups to pass a package of related bills through Congress in 2020. The groups are calling on Congress to:

  • Restore funding for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for the next 10 years to protect essential benefits for miners with black lung disease and their families (H.R. 3876 and S. 3172);
  • Pass the RECLAIM Act to invest $1 billion over the next five years in creating good jobs while cleaning up abandoned mine sites and polluted waterways (H.R. 2156);
  • Reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Program, which requires coal companies to pay into the fund used to reclaim old mine sites and polluted waterways (H.R. 4248).

“We’ve already seen some results,” said Jimmy Moore, president of the Southeast Kentucky Black Lung Association. “I do believe that the one-year extension of the black lung fee which Congress passed last December was a result of all the work we’ve put in.

“But a one-year fix is a political thing. It doesn’t solve the serious problems facing the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund. So, we’ll just continue to fight.”

Currently, the bills are moving forward in the U.S. House, with some support from Kentucky’s congressional delegation. Rep. Hal Rogers and Rep. Brett Guthrie are cosponsors of the RECLAIM Act, while Rep. John Yarmuth is a cosponsor of both the RECLAIM Act and the Black Lung bill.

The House Natural Resources Committee voted to advance the AML Reauthorization Bill on January 15. With that, all three House bills are now ready for a vote on the House floor and may be rolled into a single bill before a vote to send them on to the Senate.

The Senate, at the initiative of Mitch McConnell, also could pass their versions of these bills and send them to the House.

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Call in for Restoration of Voting Rights for People with Felonies in their Past

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 24, 2020

1-28-20 Frankfort Lobbying-3121We’ve been pushing to restore voting rights of people with felonies in their past in Kentucky for 15 years. We’re closer now than ever, but some Senate Republicans are answering this call with voting rights legislation that doesn’t actually give anyone their right to vote back. It will come up for a vote in the Senate tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/25), so calls are needed urgently!

Let us in! Getting in the capitol buildings is challenging experience.

Posted by: K.A. Owens on February 21, 2020

Public access the the capitol and capitol annex is an issue during the legislative session.

Kentucky Needs a Safety Net that Works for Us, Not Against Us

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 20, 2020

Many Kentuckians are simply a lost job, new baby, accident or illness away from qualifying for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP),

Kentucky students speak out against guns in schools, Senate Bill 8

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 19, 2020

Kentuckians need our legislators to put education first. Instead, they prioritized their political wants above what our students really need with Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which forces a firearm into every public school in the state.


Teachers across the commonwealth are paying for classroom supplies out of their own pockets or fundraising for the resources our students need to learn. Our kids and their teachers deserve funding for projects that nurture and educate, not for guns in schools.

Voting Rights EO Decision Tree

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 19, 2020

With information from the Campaign Legal Center's RestoreYourVote.org tool, KFTC has developed a decision tree to use in the field to help people determine if Governor Andy Beshear's Executive Order restoring voting rights to 140,000 Kentuckians applies to them.  Here's a link to the PDF and an image of it is below.  

DecisionTree

KFTC’s London office is on track to be completely solar-powered!

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 12, 2020

Solar panels on KFTC's London office building

Solar panels were recently installed on KFTC’s main office in London. This was the final step in a series of energy upgrades that the building had been undergoing in the last several months, which puts the office building on track to be completely solar-powered.

Northern Kentucky Hosts Coffee For The Commonwealth

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on February 10, 2020

The Northern Kentucky chapter hosted their first Coffee For The Commonwealth in January, inviting legislators representing Kenton County to meet for coffee with constiutents in an informal setting

Big week for Voting Rights last week

Posted by: KFTC Staff on February 6, 2020

Over 36 hours, we had three big voting rights events – a Voting Rights Lobby Day, a Criminal Justice Panel Discussion, and a Press Conference for HB 6.

1-28-20 Frankfort Lobbying-3121 20200128_094608

Voting Rights Lobby Day

In all, we had 34 documented meetings with legislators, 8 lobby teams, and 28 grassroots lobbyists plus the Kentucky Council of Church's great Prayer Day of Action on Voting Rights and 60 UFCW workers there who talked to legislators about HB 6 as a part of their meetings.

Our members built up their confidence in speaking truth to power and we had frustrating and yet valuable conversations with foes and allied legislators alike.

We got a lot done today and we can build on it. Come join us in Frankfort to continue the work!

Voter Suppression is Violence – stop Senate Bill 2

Posted by: KFTC Staff on January 23, 2020

x20200122_102707KFTC members were in Frankfort and on the phones yesterday to fight Senate Bill 2, a photo voter ID law designed to make it harder for some Kentuckians to vote by creating new hurdles for them. It’s especially troubling for young, elderly, low income and people of color communities – people who are less likely to have or need a photo ID. 

SB 2 is supposed to make it harder for people to impersonate someone else on election day. But even the bill's supporters at the hearing couldn't come up with even one example this century of any time anyone tried to do that in Kentucky.

To address this non-existent problem, they’re trying to pass a complicated 66-page bill that restructures a lot of our voting process and they’re trying to do it all in a hurry.

We ought to be making it easier for citizens to vote, though, not harder.

Voting Rights Coalition gathers to set the stage for 2020

Posted by: KFTC Staff on January 13, 2020

Voting Rights Coalition Meeting 1/13/19

Over 40 people from 22 organizations gathered yesterday in Frankfort to celebrate our recent victories around voting rights, come to a shared understanding of Beshear’s executive order, to plan our work in the General Assembly to pass a robust constitutional amendment, and to start to think about how we can work together to register the estimated 140,000 Kentuckians who just regained the right to vote.

Our legislative focus between now and April 15 will be on HB 6, Charles Booker’s bill to restore voting rights to all Kentuckians after they’ve served their time.  This bill is still needed because it doesn’t have the same exclusions as Beshear’s Executive order and it would be permanent. 

To make a difference in this campaign in just a few minutes, you can call the Legislative Message Line (800-372-7181) and leave a message for your senator and representative, plus House and Senate Leadership to say that you “support HB 6.”

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