Despite challenges, Kentuckians make an impact in Frankfort | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Despite challenges, Kentuckians make an impact in Frankfort

You’ve made an impact during the 2021 General Assembly. Some of these impacts have been on legislation – a key meeting with a legislator that changes the course of a bill, or a push of calls and tweets that makes the will of the people more visible and harder to ignore. We also set a goal this session to continue to build the power we need. So many impacts have been in our own communities, talking with neighbors and networks about the bills that impact us, and the work of our legislators. 

We’re still gathering all of our collective impacts. But this is a dispatch to reflect back on some of the important ways you’ve shown up during this General Assembly:

Breonna’s Law

KFTC supports Breonna’s Law, HB 21, sponsored by Rep. Attica Scott and created in collaboration with Louisville communities. For much of the session, Republican leadership refused to consider HB 21 or assign it to committee. Instead, Senate President Robert Stivers’s SB 4 – a weaker bill that limits the use of no-knock warrants – will become law. 

But the power of the people and the leadership of Rep. Scott brought the issue of no-knock warrants to Frankfort and to the nation. Breonna’s Law is, as Rep. Scott called it, a “policy movement” because people stood in the streets for justice for Breonna Taylor, lobbied, made calls, tweeted at Speaker Osborne and President Stivers, and got their friends to do these things, too. And now, efforts are taking shape to pass stronger, local ordinances. We’re not finished, not by a long shot. 

Voting Rights

The Voting Rights Strategy Team and allies hosted a beautiful lobby day that also helped more Kentuckians join the work of making our democracy healthy. More than seventy members and allies participated. And thousands joined in through social media. On the Voting Rights Lobby Day, more than seven-hundred and thirty people engaged with KFTC’s social media – a nearly seven hundred percent increase. Every year our legislature stalls on passing Voting Rights, too many Kentuckians are denied their rights, but we keep building power. 

Economic Justice

The Economic Justice Committee learned new skills and took on new roles to beat back proposed tax cuts, to fight for a budget that meets Kentuckians’ needs right now, and to fight for public education and food security. 

The legislature passed several bills that would squander our public dollars, with no public input or scrutiny. KFTC’s Economic Justice Committee hustled to expose the legislature’s actions and support people in speaking out. In the space of just five days, one-hundred and eighty six people sent letters to their legislators about the tax cuts and our budget. 

At-home meetings

Big Sandy members held a meeting with Senator Johnnie Turner about HB 272, a bill that would allow a ten percent late fee added to delinquent water bills, and prohibit the Public Service Commission from assessing the penalty. The bill would also prohibit the governor from suspending late fees and/or utility cutoffs for any utility (water, gas, electric, sewer) owned by a city during an emergency. 

When the bill was heard in committee, that senator pointed to conversations with constituents as the reason that he was opposing it. The bill was successfully stalled that day, giving KFTC and allies more time to bring its impacts to light. It was vetoed by Governor Beshear, but the veto was overridden in the final days of the session. 

With Love, Kentucky

We took our collective frustration to the Capitol and turned it into something really beautiful and unique with our event: With Love, Kentucky. We had an installation of yard signs to represent our many hopes for Kentucky, grab the attention of lawmakers as they walked from the annex to the Capitol, and lift our spirits toward what’s possible. Two fantastic musicians, Shawna McCown and Nate Orshan, shared their craft with us. Sojourner Truth’s words reverberated off the Capitol building thanks to a reading from Brenda Martin. KFTC member Deb Graner anchored the event, talked with the media, made sure participants were well cared for, and even made time to recite her favorite hymn. 

We had more than one person who hadn’t heard of us before say they were excited to get involved after seeing us take action with creativity and art. Thanks to all who showed up and contributed to making this day of action really special and so much fun! 

Phone and text banks

In the spirit of reaching out to our neighbors and networks, members experimented with phone banking and texting Kentuckians about Breonna’s Law, the budget, housing, and Voting Rights. We’ve made thousands of calls, and have had hundreds of great conversations about economic justice, racial justice, and a healthy democracy. The Economic Justice Committee had one-hundred and twenty-eight conversations over text with folks who were excited to learn more about the budget and tax cuts, and were willing to talk with their legislators about it! Every one of these connections – every one of these Kentuckians – is vital to the work of organizing. 

The impact of this work can be hard to see, especially when we’re dealing with an unfriendly legislature and a short session, and when bills fly through before all legislators get to see them – let alone the public. But our work matters, and it doesn’t stop in Frankfort. It lives in our communities as we continue to build toward authentic governing power. 

Thank you for the ways you’ve shown up, and continue to show up.