Last week, several Southern Kentucky members gathered on WKU’s campus to celebrate the long-awaited launch of an informational and educational handbook. The Homeless and Housing Coalition of South Central Kentucky hopes the Barren River Area Renters' handbook will help lower eviction rates and improve the experience of renting a home for the more than 67,000 renters in the Barren River Area.
KFTC members Tanya and Christian Torp are recognized among 50 Community Heroes in honor of Cesar Chavez Day, March 31. On the birthday of the late civil rights activist and labor leader, the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voice for Families campaign is featuring on its website local leaders who are redefining poverty.
A state Earned Income Tax Credit is gaining momentum! During last week's lobby day, members made sure that every legislator got customized information (thank you KCEP!) about how a state EITC would impact the people in their district. Most of this information was part of a larger conversation about the EITC's role within comprehensive tax reform like the Kentucky Forward Plan, and the opportunity in pairing an Earned Income Tax Credit with increasing the minimum wage in Kentucky.
The folks at KFTC's Economic Justice Lobby Day – twenty or so, and lots of great folks we've gotten to know from Women In Transition and Network Center for Community Change, and many first-time lobbyists – met the challenge head-on of working with at least four issues (in many more bills) that would impact Kentuckians' lives. It was a full day!
Senate Bill 99, known as the AT&T bill, is back to Kentucky, along with a big herd of telecommunications lobbyists. The bill was defeated last year largely because of it's impact on Kentucky's rural communities, which would have been essentially written out of landline access.
A major civil rights gathering will take place on March 5 in Frankfort as many people come together to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march in 1964 led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Everyone who is proud of Kentucky’s historic role in helping to end segregation in the nation and for being the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to have a state Civil Rights Act is enthusiastically invited to participate,” according to a press release from the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
The Local Option Sales Tax (LOST, or LIFT as it is now called in Louisville) bills have been filed in Frankfort, HB 399 and SB 135. If approved by the legislature in 2014, these bills would require a state constitutional amendment to allow cities in Kentucky the power to collect sales tax. If passed by state voters, cities would then put it to their voters. LOST/LIFT has been getting a lot of press in Louisville, and Gov. Beshear has indicated his willingness to support it. Louisville’s Mayor Fischer is a proponent, and is advocating for a 1% LOST/LIFT that would be for a specific amount of money for specific capital projects approved by local voters to allow “local” “democratic” control over revenue.
House Bill 1, sponsored by Speaker Greg Stumbo, and House Bill 191, sponsored by Representative Will Coursey, would incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by 2016, and the tipped-minimum wage from $2.13 to 70 percent of the full minimum wage. Lifting the minimum wage to $10.10 would raise wages for one in four Kentucky workers. It would also benefit 22 percent of the state’s children who have a parent that would be affected, or 228,000 kids.
Senate Bill 99, the AT&T-drafted legislation, is a great deal for the telecommunications giants AT&T, Windstream and Cincinnati Bell. It will allow them to abandon their least profitable customers and service areas as well as public protection obligations. But it is a risky and potentially dangerous bet for Kentuckians. Kentucky House members should turn it down.