Lifting our voices from Home during the General Assembly

It’s a long drive from eastern Kentucky to Frankfort; a full day’s work, to say the least. That’s why members of the Letcher County Chapter of KFTC are getting creative to lift their voices around important issues this Legislative Session. 

The chapter is wrapping up a solid week of terrific work around Kentucky’s General Assembly, right here at home. Last Wednesday, several members hosted a Mountain Talk program on local community radio station WMMT 88.7 FM. The program’s theme of Voting Rights in Kentucky followed up on a recent radio news piece covering a lobby day and rally at the State Capitol in Frankfort organized by the Kentucky Voting Rights Coalition. The Mountain Talk featured clips from that rally as well as commentary from former felon Kristi Kendall in Floyd County,WMMT Mtn Talk on HB 70 retired judge Jim Bowling in Bell County, and the father of a former felon/ coal miner, Carl Shoupe in Harlan County.  

Besides the too often told story of firsthand disenfranchisement of themselves or family members, Judge Bowling gave powerful testimony of his experience sitting on the bench, forced to hand down harsh felony convictions for offenses that once were misdemeanors.

“My eyes eventually opened to the futility of this approach when I began to see kids on my docket who I had coached in Little League or boys who had played in my yard, or star athletes and beauty queens from good families and hundreds more just like them. None of these kids were real criminals. Many of these kids have been imprisoned or have completed the terms of their probation. They have paid their debt. A majority of them have cleaned up their act and are now productive citizens. If we the people continue to deny these folks the right to vote we will end up with a new class of citizen, the politically disabled.”

You can hear the recording of this program and the full radio piece, with clips from the Capitol rally, about Voting Rights on WMMT’s Mountain News & World Report and more about Mountain Talk on www.wmmt.org.

Charlie Hall wrote to his representative Keith Hall, “I am a resident and property owner in Pike and Letcher Counties and can clearly see that the state tax structure needs reform. I am asking that you give serious consideration to supporting the ‘Kentucky Forward Plan.’ It could go a long way to ease the burden of Kentucky’s poorest.  Lower and middle class workers are the backbone of production and put too much of their dollars back into a system that is not working. Please support House Bill 220 and shift some of the burden to the upper class and still provide incentives for economic expansion.”

This past Saturday, Sharman and Jeff Chapman-Crane hosted the eighth annual ‘Crepes of Wrath’ brunch and letter writing party. Half a dozen gathered on Pine Mountain in Eolia for delicious breakfast crepes and produced dozens of letters to legislators and ballots for I Love Mountains Day 2014, coming up next Wednesday Feb. 12. You can create your own ballots or Cast Your Vote online and learn more about I Love Mountains Day at kftc.org/love. Join the east KY carpool to I Love Mountains Day at Whitesburg Food City, leaving at 7 am.

Their letters addressed to east Kentucky’s representatives and senators asked for voting rights and a stronger Democracy, policies to save money and create jobs with clean energy solutions, and a fairer tax structure to move Kentucky forward. The ballots, created to deliver at I Love Mountains Day, asked for the chance to vote for “clean, affordable energy, higher minimum wage, clean water, and good jobs in eastern Kentucky” to name a few.

Last night, the chapter hosted a final General Assembly Mountain Talk focused on economic justice, tax reform, and the statewide budget crisis. The show was hosted by a member of KFTC’s Economic Justice Committee, Mimi Pickering, and featured in-studio guests Tom Sexton of the Whitebsurg City Council, as well as Leatha Dollarhide, a senior citizen who has had her SNAP benefits cut. Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Director Jason Bailey called in to speak about The Center's ongoing work to address economic issues in the Commonwealth. Hear this recorded program and learn more about Mountain Talk, locally on 88.7 FM or online at www.wmmt.org.

Crepes of Wrath

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