How does a KFTC member get in the spirit for I Love Mountains Day? In Berea, a contra dance and a pie auction can do the trick. On Friday the Madison County chapter partnered with the Oh Contraire contra dancers to host a dance and pie auction to raise awareness about mountaintop removal coal mining and to raise money, but most of all to give Bereans a chance to have fun on the dance floor. Around sixty chapter members, Berea residents and college students gathered at Berea’s Russell Acton Folk Center to dance and to write valentines to Governor Beshear, caller Joe Wilkie leading the dancers through a variety of traditional dances throughout the night.
This morning, House Bill 70, our bill to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society, passed out of the House Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee with 6 yes votes, 1 no and 2 abstentions.
Rep Jesse Crenshaw, Terry Nayden (LWV), Raoul Cunninham (NAACP), and Fr. Pat Delahanty (Catholic Conference) gave testimony in support of the bill.
On Wednesday, KFTC members gathered in Frankfort for our first regular lobby day of the General Assembly, kickstarting our 2013 grassroots lobbying for legislation to restore voting rights toformer felons who have served their debt to society.
This was the first time lobbying for several of us, and a key space to learn how.
In all, we talked to 19 legislators, several of which were new themselves, having just been elected the previous November.
Two of our citizen lobbyists were former felons themselves, Mark Romines of Louisville and Teddi Smith Robillard of Lexington. Telling their stories to legislators face-to-face and connecting with them was a really key part of the day.
Legislators can move Kentucky significantly forward by giving serious consideration to comprehensive tax reform legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Wayne on Tuesday.
“The reality is … we are in a state of fiscal crisis,” Wayne said, adding that his intent is “to begin the debate during this session ... and start educating the legislators and the general public about the crisis.”
House Bill 142 would raise about $800 million in new revenue, mostly by tapping income and transactions that now go untaxed. That includes extending the sales tax to about 15 services and lowering to $35,000 per person the exclusion for pension income.
He pointed out that the bill would decrease taxes on the lowest incomes, primarily through a refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
KFTC members joined Rep. Wayne at the press conference, with Becki Winchel delivering a statement on behalf of KFTC’s Economic Justice Committee. She reminded those present that, “Our state budget is one of the best means we have for moving Kentucky and its people forward.
Just days before traveling back to Frankfort for the two upcoming months of General Assembly, new Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith met up with KFTC members at the Perry County Library. This was one of several at-home meetings KFTC members organized this past week to open up communication during this General Assembly as well as to build support for the Clean Energy Opportunity Act. Members from Perry County, Harlan County, and Letcher County met with Sen. Smith about this legislative priority as well as the Kentucky Voting Rights Amendment (HB 70) and other local issues.
We had forty participants from a wide range of groups including Jobs with Justice, NAACP, the Kentucky Council of Churches, Stepping to a New Beat, and the UAW along with a lot of KFTCmembers. Many of the participants were former felons themselves.
We used a lot of the time to let people in the room have a chance to connect, root themselves in why they think restoring voting rights is important, and review the history of ourcampaign and the current landscape.
But after that, we focused a lot on actions to restore voting rights to former felons and we're sharing those out to the broader public here:
I was among seven people arrested in Congressman Hal Rogers's office on June 6 . As a mother of five this was a drastic decision, but one I felt was necessary to bring attention to the issues facing the people of Appalachia.