Andy Beshear sworn in as Kentucky governor Tuesday, Dec 10 2019 

Beshear defeated incumbent Matt Bevin to become the 63rd Governor of Kentucky.

        

Gov. Matt Bevin’s last day in office received with tears and applause from staffers Tuesday, Dec 10 2019 

Bevin received a long round of applause from administration employees who lined the hallway as the outgoing governor walked to his office for the final time.

        

Beshear Inauguration To Feature Traditional Pomp, Public Events Monday, Dec 9 2019 

Andy Beshear InaugurationAndy Beshear will be sworn in as Kentucky’s 63rd governor on Tuesday, five weeks after he defeated incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin by a little more than 5,000 votes.

Beshear’s Inauguration Day will be full of traditional pomp and circumstance that has developed since Kentucky’s first governor Isaac Shelby took office in 1792. And most of the festivities will be open to the public — a departure from some previous inaugurations.

Bevin will leave office at midnight on December 10th and Beshear will be officially sworn in during a private ceremony at 12:01 a.m. at the Governor’s Mansion.

As required by the Kentucky Constitution, Beshear will have to promise that he has never participated in a duel — a requirement of all public officials and lawyers licensed to practice in the state dating back to the 19th century, when dueling was common practice.

A delegation of Frankfort citizens will present the incoming governor’s family with a platter of beaten biscuits and country ham, a custom that custom dates back at least 100 years, when an outgoing first lady left a baked ham, white cake and a platter of biscuits for her successor.

The public portion of Inauguration Day events begin at 7:30 a.m., when the City of Frankfort will host a breakfast reception at the Kentucky History Center for inaugural visitors.

An inaugural parade will take place from 10:00 a.m. until noon and will be aired live on KET. Beshear announced that teachers will serve as grand marshals of the parade as a show of appreciation for educators who buoyed his election following opposition to outgoing Gov. Bevin’s education policies.

Beshear, incoming first lady Britainy Beshear, Lt. Gov.-elect Jacqueline Coleman, her husband Chris O’Bryan and all of their children will ride in open horse-drawn carriages provided by the Kentucky Horse Park.

The public swearing-in ceremony for Beshear and Coleman will take place on the Capitol steps at 2:00 followed by an open house of the Capitol building. Weather in Frankfort is forecast to be cold and rainy on Tuesday.

The Grand March, a formal presentation of Beshear, Coleman and other incoming constitutional officers, will take place at 8:00 p.m in the Capitol Rotunda and feature the Louisville Orchestra led by music director Teddy Abrams. It will also be broadcast live on KET.

Inauguration Day festivities will be capped off by two inaugural balls on the Capitol grounds that are open to the public and will last from 9 p.m. until midnight.

Gov.-Elect Beshear’s Board Of Education Overhaul Would Be Unprecedented Monday, Dec 9 2019 

If Gov.-elect Andy Beshear fulfills his campaign promise to replace the members of the Kentucky Board of Education, he would be the first governor to do so since lawmakers tried to insulate the board from political pressures in 1990 as part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Beshear, a Democrat, has said he would overhaul the Board of Education by executive order “on day one,” a rallying point for many educators who disagreed with priorities of the current 11-member board appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Beshear has also said he hopes that the board would replace its only employee, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who was hired shortly after Bevin’s appointees took control of the board in 2018.

In a statement Crystal Staley, communications director for Beshear’s incoming administration, said that the move would help create a “positive tone in Frankfort” in a statement.

“Gov.-elect Beshear has only said that we must have a Board of Education and commissioner that is fully committed to public education, which requires a change that he will make after being sworn in,” Staley wrote.

Beshear, Bevin At Odds

Beshear and education advocates have criticized Lewis for his stances supporting charter schools, a push for a state takeover of Louisville’s public school system in 2018 and collection of teacher absence records when educators called in sick to protest at the state Capitol earlier this year.

But an overhaul of the Board of Education would be similar to the very thing Beshear repeatedly sued Bevin for — using the governor’s reorganization powers to shape state boards to his liking.

Although Bevin totally replaced several state boards throughout his four years in office, he didn’t use his reorganization power to overhaul the Board of Education. Instead, his Board of Education appointments came when members’ terms lapsed, giving them full control of the board starting in 2018.

Beshear challenged Bevin’s total replacement of the University of Louisville board of trustees in 2016. Then in 2017, Beshear argued that Bevin didn’t have the power to create a panel of charter school to advise the Kentucky Board of Education and totally replace boards that deal with certifying teachers and curriculum standards. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the governor had the power to execute both of those executive orders.

And now Beshear says that the high court’s rulings affirm his power to replace all of the members of the state Board of Education before their two-year terms are up.

Incoming Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who recently worked as an assistant principal in Nelson County, said during a press conference this week that the prospective board will include “a team of folks who value public education in the same way that we do.”

“Our goal I know is going to be continue to build out this team with folks who support public education and who see the vision that we see for moving Kentucky forward,” Coleman said.

Teacher Influence

Kentucky teachers have flexed their political muscle in recent years, launching massive protests in Frankfort in 2018 and 2019 to oppose several measures supported by Bevin and Republican leaders of the state legislature — changes to pension benefits, private scholarship tax credits and education funding.

Teachers have also vigorously opposed charter schools, which have been authorized to open up in Kentucky since 2017, but have not received funding amid intense opposition from educators.

Commissioner Lewis has been a focal point of the charter school issue. He headed up a charter schools advisory committee that advised the state Board of Education before he was hired to replace former Commissioner Stephen Pruitt.

But Lewis has fought back against Beshear’s promise to oust him, saying on Wednesday that his critics have mischaracterized him as an opponent of public education.

“Attacks on my character and my commitment and my background make me angry. They make me want to lash out, they make me want to say things about those people that I shouldn’t say. And it’s only my faith that stops me from doing so,” Lewis said.

Lewis said Beshear should reorganize the Board of Education if that’s what he wants to do and if he feels he has the legal authority to do so.

“If that new board has the authority to fire me without cause and that’s what they choose to do, then they should do it. It’s been a long time since I had to worry about having a job. I will be fine,” Lewis said.

Concerns About Politicization Of Board Of Ed

Lewis’ predecessor, Stephen Pruitt, resigned under duress two years before his contract was up after Bevin’s appointees took control of the board in 2018.

At the time, Bevin said that he liked Pruitt personally, but was concerned that thousands of Kentucky students have fallen below academic proficiency under his watch.

Bevin’s moves raised concerns that Kentucky’s Board of Education was being politicized and undermining KERA, the 1990 education reform law that sought to insulate the board from political influence.

KERA made Kentucky’s top education official a position hired by the Board of Education, rather than elected by a statewide vote.

Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, said that Pruitt’s ouster, Lewis’ appointment as commissioner and Beshear’s promise to replace the Board of Education have “increasingly politicized our conversation around education.”

She said that the normal course of appointing board members when their two-year terms expire has “proven successful in the past,” but that if Beshear goes forward with replacing the board, he should do so with non-partisan thought-leaders.

“The conservation around education is too important and it affects families from Republican backgrounds and Democratic backgrounds. We can’t afford to have political conversations about education, we have to protect that space to make sure it’s non-partisan,” Blom Ramsey said.

Terms for Board of Education members are staggered so that some of the 11-member board can be replaced at the start of a governor’s term and the rest can be replaced two years later.

Four board members’ terms will end in April 2020 and seven will end in 2022.

If Beshear reorganized the board before Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature reconvenes in January, lawmakers would have the chance to approve the changes or let them lapse.

Beshear’s first day in office is December 10th.

Supreme Court Leaves Kentucky’s Ultrasound Law In Place Monday, Dec 9 2019 

The Supreme Court has left in place a Kentucky law requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before abortions. The justices did not comment on Monday in refusing to review an appeals court ruling that upheld the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law on behalf of Kentucky’s lone remaining abortion clinic. The ACLU argued that “display and describe” ultrasound laws violate physicians’ speech rights under the First Amendment.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the Kentucky law, but its sister court in Richmond, Virginia, struck down a similar measure in North Carolina.

WATCH LIVE: Democrats’ Impeachment Process Resumes — As Do Battles With GOP Monday, Dec 9 2019 

Updated at 9:11 a.m. ET

Democrats pressed ahead with their impeachment program by reviewing the findings of their earlier investigations — with Republicans expected to battle every step of the way.

Staff attorneys are telling members of the House Judiciary Committee about the conclusions reached by the earlier House Intelligence Committee on the Ukraine affair.

Watch the hearing live here beginning at 9 a.m. ET.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., confirmed on Thursday that she and her lieutenants have decided to draft articles of impeachment against President Trump.

So now, the Judiciary Committee says it must first receive the Intelligence Committee’s report formally and then assess what charges to prefer.

One other event expected on Monday may not permit the Democrats to retain center stage, however.

The Justice Department is set to release an inspector general’s report about the origins of the Russia investigation, one that could provide political ammunition for Republicans if it uncovers wrongdoing by officials or investigators.

The degree to which the report has the power to change the subject in Washington may be reflected in the hearing if lawmakers opt to discuss its findings as opposed to the formal itinerary.

Progress Toward Impeachment

Impeachment is a quasi-legal but mostly political process, the rough equivalent of a criminal indictment. This autumn the House has served in the roles of investigator, grand jury and prosecutor.

Having satisfied itself about the facts and the need for action, the Judiciary Committee now must decide which specific charges to make.

Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday that would happen soon.

“We’ll bring articles of impeachment presumably before the committee at some point later in the week,” he said.

Nadler insisted he was not ready to decide which articles to bring. He and other members have appeared torn about how broad to make their case: Should it focus strictly on the Intelligence Committee’s findings about the Ukraine affair?

Or should impeachment also reference the findings of, for example, former special counsel Robert Mueller, whose conclusions included what Democrats called obstruction of justice by Trump?

That’s one reason why the findings of the Justice Department inspector general report on Monday could be relevant. If the study documents wrongdoing that tarnishes Mueller’s findings, it could affect Democrats’ calculations.

Pelosi, Nadler and others have said the object of the Judiciary Committee’s process is to reach a proper conclusion. So the panel may convene another hearing this week after Monday’s session.

Minority Objections Persist

Republicans led by ranking member Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia have complained all along about the impeachment process and argue that the case about Ukraine not only is meritless, but that Nadler and Democrats have been reckless and sloppy.

The latest dispute is over what Republicans say is the hearing they are owed under the rules for the impeachment process agreed upon earlier this year. They believe they have the right to hear from their own witnesses, and Collins urged Nadler to cooperate before this process moves any further ahead.

“Considering the haste with which this sham impeachment has been conducted, it is imperative that you contact me or my office as soon as possible to consult on scheduling the requested minority hearing day,” Collins wrote. “The requested minority hearing day must take place before articles of impeachment are considered by the committee.”

Whether or not Nadler agrees, Democrats retain the majority on the Judiciary Committee, so he and they determine what actions they’ll take and when.

The panel could introduce, then amend or “mark up” articles of impeachment, then send them for a vote in the full House. If enough members support it, that would trigger a trial for Trump in the Senate.

Republicans control the upper chamber, and they’re expected to acquit Trump. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he’ll convene a trial as required under the Constitution but that he thinks it’s “inconceivable” that the needed 20 Republicans would break ranks to remove Trump.

Trump, for his own part, has said he hopes the House moves quickly to impeach him in order to set up a Senate trial that Republicans could use for their own political purposes.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Metro Council Priority Will Be City Budget, Now And Into 2020 Monday, Dec 9 2019 

Metro Council will hold its last meeting of 2019 on Thursday, and President David James (D-6) says the key issue now and headed into next year will be the city’s budget.

The council will consider an ordinance that recommends deploying most of a $4 million surplus from the last fiscal year to create a pension payment fund and to move up a police recruit class.

As the city’s required pension payments continue to rise over the next several years, questions of where and how to distribute funds will be points of scrutiny for public officials.

James said there are a number of categories of legislation that will come up on Thursday, and “probably the most important is the budget conversation will be taking place at the next council meeting about the surplus funds … in the mid-year adjustment. I think that’ll be a good part of the part of the conversation.”

Metro Council approved more than $25 million in cuts to this fiscal year’s budget, driven largely by the pension shortfall. That came about after the state’s pension board changed the assumptions for Kentucky’s retirement plan, and the city’s bill outpaced revenue.

Here are some of the key items James said Metro Council will consider in its meeting Thursday, which is open to the public at City Hall and will be streamed online.

Beshear stands behind final plan promises Friday, Dec 6 2019 

The seven major appointments that they said are fundamental to helping the administration bring Kentuckians together, move the Commonwealth forward in a positive way

        

Beshear to appoint AG-elect Cameron to complete rest of term Friday, Dec 6 2019 

Cameron will take office as Attorney General on Dec. 17.

        

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Governor Bevin’s Last Week Friday, Dec 6 2019 

This week on Kentucky Politics Distilled, outgoing Gov. Matt Bevin claimed he lost his reelection because Democrats “harvested votes in urban areas.” Gov.-elect Andy Beshear named some of his cabinet secretaries. And education commissioner Wayne Lewis defended himself, as his job might be in jeopardy in the new administration.

Listen to the show:

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