It's time – it's long past time – to Let Us Vote!

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on January 28, 2015

KFTC members and allies are planning a series of public actions with the message of “Let Us Vote” during the upcoming legislative session. These efforts are aimed at winning passage of a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to nearly a quarter million Kentuckians. As U.S. Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis has said, "The right to vote is precious, almost sacred, and one of the most important blessings of our democracy." 

Yet Kentucky is one of just a small handful of states that permanently takes away the right to vote from anyone convicted of a felony, unless they receive a pardon from the governor. In a majority of states, voting rights are automatically restored when people are released from prison or off parole. Kentucky’s lifetime voting ban for people with felony convictions is embedded in outdated language in our state constitution.

As a result, the population of voting age citizens who cannot vote in Kentucky is larger than Bowling Green, our third largest city. Shamefully, our state has the second highest rate of African-American disenfranchisement in the country.   

In order to change the state constitution, sixty percent of the members in both chambers of the Kentucky legislature must vote for proposed legislation. Then the issue needs to go before Kentucky voters for approval. In other words, until the legislature acts, all Kentuckians are being denied the right to vote on this important issue.

This year there are four similar pieces of legislation proposed in the Kentucky General Assembly by prominent Democratic and Republican lawmakers: House Bill 70 and Senate Bill 70 and House Bill 26 and Senate Bill 26. Similar legislation has already passed the House 9 times in the last 8 years, always with wide bipartisan support. However Senate leaders have consistently acted to block the measure. (Last year the Senate passed the bill, but only after loading it up with restrictions that made it meaningless and unacceptable to the House.)

Please join us in the weeks and months ahead to make your voice heard on this important issue!

 1.    Attend prayer vigils at the Capitol, each Tuesday in February from 12 to 1 p.m. Pastor Anthony Everett of Wesley United Methodist Church will lead a weekly prayer vigil in front of Senate leaders’ offices on the second floor of the Capitol Annex on Tuesdays from 12 to 1 p.m. during the month of February. People of all faiths and traditions are welcome. We will reflect together on the dignity of every person, sing songs of redemption and liberation, and be visible and vocal witnesses to injustice.

 2.    Participate in a Voting Rights Lobby day and Rally, Thursday, February 26. Join us in Frankfort and bring people with you! When you arrive to lobby (between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. is best), please come to room 113 of the Capitol Annex for a brief training. The rally will take place in the Capitol Rotunda from 1-2 p.m.

3.    Call, write and visit your legislators to ask them to support restoration of voting rights. You can call the toll-free message line (800-372-7181) and ask to leave a message for your state representative and senator. If you don’t know their names, the people taking messages can look up that information. Our basic message is: “Please support HB 70 and restoration of voting rights in Kentucky. It is time to Let Us Vote.” You can also email any legislator through their webpages, which can be found at www.lrc.ky.gov.  And you can lobby with KFTC in Frankfort on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays between February 3 and March 6. Please communicate with Lisa Abbot at 859-200-5159 or lisa@kftc.org to let us know what day(s) you will join us.

4.    Have conversations and use social media to spread the word! Once this bill makes it through the legislature, it will need support from a majority of voters. That’s why it is so important for us to have conversations with our co-workers, family, friends and neighbors. Face-to-face conversations are the most meaningful way to engage others, but there is also a role for social media. When you communicate about this issue online, please use the hashtag #LetUsVote.

5.    Write letters to the editor. The next few weeks are an important time to write letters to the editor expressing your support for restoring voting rights, and urging Senate leaders to pass HB 70. You can find a great 15-minute video produced by KFTC about writing effective letters to the editor at http://vimeo.com/106961983.

6.    Stay tuned for more information about actions in Frankfort during the final full week of the legislative session, March 2-6, 2015. KFTC members are considering a range of possible actions to urge state senators to do the right thing and pass HB 70. Please keep one or more of those days open so you can participate.


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MSU food services workers looking for better treatment through union representation

Posted by: KFTC staff on January 19, 2015

Food service workers at Morehead State University will be voting Wednesday on whether to be represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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Whose Moment Is It?

Posted by: Meta Mendel-Reyes on December 17, 2014

This is a Movement moment.  Whose moment is it?  Like any of the risings of the past, there are people trying to claim the moment.  But you can’t own a moment, hold it within your hands like a flu

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Long-time KFTC leader Daymon Morgan remembered

Posted by: KFTC staff on December 14, 2014

Daymon Morgan, one of KFTC’s longest and best-known members, has died. He was 88 and had experienced a brief illness.

Daymon joined KFTC shortly after moving back to Kentucky in 1986. As he described in the book Making History: The First Ten Years of KFTC:

"I went into the Army when I was 18 year old. When I came out of the Army I bought a mountain farm in Leslie County. I moved to Ohio and worked for the Chrysler Corporation until 1986. We moved back to the farm. I bought a portable sawmill, a horse and some Mountain Cur hunting dogs. I spent most of my time cutting timber, sawing lumber, hunting with my dogs, farming and working with KFTC."

Daymon also found that a coal company was claiming the mineral under his land.

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Black Lives Matter: KFTC member reflections and resources for learning and taking action

Lexington Black Lives Matter Rally. Photo credit: Meta Mendel-Reyes
Posted by: Lisa Abbott on December 13, 2014

Back-to-back decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City not to press charges against police officers who killed Mike Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, have sparked massive protests, along with heartache, anger, and calls for accountability and change in communities across Kentucky and the nation. The injustices exposed by these recent cases are sadly not new, and neither is the movement that is growing in response to them. However, recent events have created a moment filled with a sense of urgency, energy and determination. 

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2014 Kentucky Kicks Ass Brewfest

Posted by: Sarah Martin on December 2, 2014

Austin Norrid, Danielle Empson, Tyler Offerman>800 Tickets

50 Beers

35 Volunteers

14 Breweries

3 Food Trucks

3 KY Hops Organizations

1 Awesome Honky-Tonk DJ

= FUN!

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Big win: Judge rejects deals between Kentucky officials and coal company

Posted by: KFTC staff on November 24, 2014

The Franklin Circuit Court on Monday issued two long-awaited orders rejecting settlement deals between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet and Frasure Creek Mining arising from the coal company’s thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 through 2011.

In extraordinarily vigorous language, Judge Phillip Shepherd said that due to the coal company’s actions, “The inherent danger of the violations at issue here to the environment is impossible to determine based on Frasure Creek's wholesale abdication of its monitoring and reporting responsibilities, and the cabinet's inability to fully investigate the environmental harm that is likely to have occurred.”

“Since October 2010, we have been in the courts to see that the law be enforced in the state of Kentucky,” said Ted Withrow, a member of KFTC's Litigation Team. “These rulings by Judge Shepherd serve to enforce that right of the people."

In 2010, Appalachian Voices, Kentucky Waterkeeper Alliance, Kentucky Riverkeeper, KFTC and several individuals made public more than 20,000 violations of the Clean Water Act from 2008 to 2010 by Frasure Creek and a second coal company, International Coal Group (which later settled out of court). Under the law, these violations could be subject to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. On the 57th day, the cabinet and Frasure Creek entered a proposed consent agreement that included only 1,520 violations and combined fines of just $310,000.

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Building power for KFTC and for Kentucky: KFTC PowerBuilders

Posted by: George Eklund on November 18, 2014

We are our own best hope for change in Kentucky. We have a vision of the Kentucky we want to create and how to get there. Hardworking Kentuckians share their hopes and dreams every day in laundromats and coffee shops, over kitchen tables and on front porches. How do we share our visions for Kentucky in an intentional way with our friends and families?

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Thanks for helping build a Healthier Democracy in Ky!

Posted by: KFTC staff on November 4, 2014

The polls in Kentucky are getting ready to close. As we await the election results we want to say THANKS for the incredible work done by KFTC members, volunteers, short-term voter empowerment organizers and staff over the past few months. With your help we are building a healthier democracy in Kentucky.

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KFTC and Berea College team up for candidate forum

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 31, 2014

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Madison chapter celebrates 10 years of grassroots work

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 30, 2014

Madison County KFTC members gathered in Berea on October 25 to celebrate the chapter’s 10th birthday, share a potluck, enjoy live music and take silly photos.

The annual Friendraiser was a chance to not only reflect on the past year’s work but also celebrate the good work of the chapter’s first 10 years.

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