Student-backed Bill Increases Legal Protections for Students Wednesday, Aug 24 2022 

By Tate Luckey

Julia Mattingly, a senior Political Science major, was at the center of a defamation case last summer, learning that properly defending her case would be an arduous process.

She said university attorneys reviewed her case. They determined her allegations did not rise to a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

A representative from the Dean of Students told her that she should file a formal complaint to receive a conduct hearing, but she would have to act as her own attorney by collecting affidavits from all of those involved and preparing an oral argument to be presented to a board.

“As an undergraduate who has absolutely no legal experience, I was shocked at the notion I was to represent myself at the hearing and was not allowed to seek help from legal counsel,” Mattingly said.

And while she initially felt defeat and frustration, she and junior Political Science major Liam Gallagher turned this incident into advocacy and action. They partnered with state representatives to create HB290, or the Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act.

Julia Mattingly talks in a press conference about House Bill 290.

What does it do?

House Bill 290, which is now Kentucky Revised Statute Chapter 164, is a due process bill for students at public colleges and universities in Kentucky. It provides protections for students, including

  • Procedural protection for students accused of violating their university’s  code of conduct if that violation could result in a suspension, expulsion or removal from housing. 
  • Requiring that students have the ability to defend themselves, that they are presumed innocent.
  • Students must be given written notice of charges against them and have access to the evidence and facts against them. 
  • Students must be judged by an impartial hearing panel where an investigator may not also serve the panel. 
  • Students are given the ability to cross-examine witnesses and be represented by an attorney. 

 

These new protections are for both the accused and victims of potential code of conduct violations. They also have the ability to cross-examine, have an impartial hearing panel, and can be represented by an attorney.

The act also allows both respondents and complainants to appeal the final decision of the governing board of the university in the Kentucky Circuit Court system. 

“This is really a first-of-its-kind action, allowing students to take action against their universities when their rights were violated is a huge win. The bill also has a reporting requirement that every three years public post-secondary institutions must report the number of disciplinary actions that have been taken,” Gallagher said.

The legislation is the most significant measure to help students in the Commonwealth since the 1990s, and it is the largest student rights protection bill in the United States.

The University of Louisville came out publicly against the bill when it was first filed by Representative Banta, with Mattingly and Gallagher telling The Louisville Cardinal that they learned the university was particularly not in favor of the reporting requirements and the ability to use legal counsel.

U of L argued the reporting requirements could possibly be used to identify students who were in disciplinary trouble and that having attorneys, and subsequent in-house counsel, could be too expensive.

Julia Mattingly and Liam Gallagher (left) with other members of the House Legislature at the signing of House Bill 290

Despite opposition, the bill received national attention from organizations like FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. It also received support from over 70 student organizations in Kentucky, ranging from The College Democrats  to the Young Americans for Freedom and from various LGBTQ+ organizations. It was ultimately signed into law by Governor Beshear over the summer.

Getting Involved

“I likely made 200 calls to the Legislative Research Commission hotline to leave messages for legislators. I had the honor to testify and share some of those stories in both the house and senate,” Gallagher said.

“The best way to get involved in the state or local legislative process is to participate in political student organizations here on campus,” Mattingly said . “If I had not been involved with the Young Democrats at U of L I would not have been given the opportunity to go speak on this bill in Frankfort.”

Gallagher noted that for anyone else who wants to try and create a change, even just leaving a message can be enough.

“Start with sending a letter or calling the Legislative Message Hotline (1-800-372-7181),” he said. “When someone calls the LRC Hotline they can ask to leave a message for any of the 138 legislators in Frankfort. That message is then placed on their desk for them to read. “

Gallagher was amazed their efforts could lead to such change. “When you work for a candidate and they do something to change a law or support a cause you support you can say ‘I played a small part in that’. Students that have been affected by the lack of due process in Kentucky’s universities- I believe us banding together have played a large role in the bill’s passage.”

You can read the specifics of the bill here.

Photo Courtesy // Julia Mattingly //

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Vaccine mandates do more harm then good Friday, May 28 2021 

By Zachary Baker–

With the end of the pandemic in sight, hope of going back to normal is rising. For many of us, that means getting vaccinated, removing our masks and returning to work and in person classes. 

However, in spite of many of the restrictions being lifted, some colleges such as Berea College are requiring that students get vaccinated in order to return to campus in the fall. 

Despite my support for vaccination, I would say that this is a policy that is likely to do more harm than good. 

We have reached a point where state governments across the entire U.S. have begun to take away restrictions and focus heavily on reopening their states. This, too, is occurring within Kentucky. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said that “the state’s emerging economy is set for liftoff as final capacity restrictions related to COVID-19 will end Friday, June 11.” 

Right now, we are seeing plans to close vaccination sites across the state due to a lack of long-term demand. 

“Not since the week beginning March 9 has the state achieved its goal of administering 90 percent of the vaccine doses it receives each week. The week beginning April 13, just 84,968 doses were administered of 158,470 received — just 54 percent,” said FOX19 Reporter Brian Planalp. 

Herd immunity is incredibly important for the success of the vaccine, but it is obvious that many people are refusing to get it — either out of fear of the side effects, a lack of trust in the government and the manufacturers, or out of spite. 

While I can say that those decisions may be selfish, we also have to admit that the decision to get vaccinated cannot be forced onto people. Instead, we have to convince them to take those steps towards safety for all. 

Not only do mandatory vaccination policies affect those who have disorders or allergies that can prevent them from getting the vaccine, but it also harms those who have legitimate fears about how certain versions of the vaccine were created. 

For all of us who want to get back to normal, it makes sense to want everyone to get vaccinated so we can live with minimized risk. 

But the truth of the matter is that there is a lot we do not know about the long-term requirements for dealing with COVID-19, such as whether we will require boosters every year or whether there will need to be more vaccines for the various new strains that will appear. 

Punishing others who want to get back to normal but want to do so while waiting on more information does nothing to convince them to contribute to the vaccination efforts. 

Meanwhile, it is important to still encourage everyone to get the vaccine. The vaccine is a great step towards helping us move towards a full reopening. 

Dr. William McKinney, professor and associate dean of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at U of L, said, “In many ways, vaccines have become a victim of their own success. Vaccines against polio have very nearly eradicated this deadly disease worldwide. Those against smallpox have already done so.”

“Persons who weren’t alive when polio was rampant in the U.S. don’t remember the extensive efforts to cover the population and how dramatic the results were in lowering risk of paralysis for generations of Americans, thereby taking this protection for granted,” he said. 

While the mandatory policies do seem rational for many, we also have to acknowledge how they can harm the very cause that we’re working toward. The policy will only push people away from getting vaccinated or make them resentful towards those who force them to get the vaccine without them seeing the value that comes from it.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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Provost recommends that professors move in-person classes online Friday, Nov 20 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm recommended that professors move in-person instruction for Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 online where possible due to the rising COVID-19 cases in Kentucky. The announcement was made over two emails, one sent to faculty and one sent to students.

This recommendation comes after Governor Andy Beshear mandated that K-12 schools switch to online learning after Nov. 20 until at least Dec. 7 for elementary schools in green zones and Jan. 4 for all other schools. He did not issue a mandate for colleges, but he commended universities who chose to switch to online-only instruction after Nov. 20.

“Like many other institutions, U of L already had planned to end face-to-face instruction next Tuesday, and so I know that some of you have final, in-person meetings and assessments scheduled for Monday and/or Tuesday,” Boehm said in the email to faculty.

“We agreed to ask faculty to consider whether what you have planned for those two days next week can be delivered remotely, and if so, to please make arrangements to be remote next week.”

Faculty who have plans for instruction that are best delivered in-person can still choose to meet in person but should contact their students to inform them that class will continue in person as planned.

The final two days of undergraduate class on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 should be delivered remotely as well as any finals scheduled during finals week.

File graphic// The Louisville Cardinal

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear limits Cardinal football games to 12,000 fans Monday, Sep 7 2020 

By John McCarthy–

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the University of Louisville home football games cannot exceed 12,000 fans. This announcement by Beshear comes only two weeks after U of L announced its own plan that would limit capacity at Cardinal Stadium to 18,000 fans.

Beshear also made adjustments to the safety precautions Cardinal Stadium planned to implement, including tailgating and parking lot restrictions.

The reduction in fans takes Cardinal Stadium down to 20% capacity. U of L plans to host a total of six games in Cardinal Stadium this football season.

“It’s a 20 percent capacity with everybody spread out and only sitting next to family units. [U of L] worked pretty well with us. They started out in a different place, but at the end of the day, they showed commitment,” Beshear said.

Beshear also announced that tailgating will be banned and masks will need to be worn at all times, even while sitting in the stands. Temperature checks will be conducted at all entrances. If a temperature reads 100.4 or higher, attendees will be directed to a cool-down tent. After ten minutes, attendees in the cool-down tent will have their temperature checked again.

The UPS Flight Deck, Adidas Club and Norton Healthcare Terrace will all be closed to fans.

Fans and season ticket holders await a detailed media tour of Cardinal Stadium this week. The Cardinals will be hosting Western Kentucky University Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.

File Photo// The Louisville Cardinal

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Churchill Downs announces there will be no fans at the Kentucky Derby Thursday, Sep 3 2020 

By Cole Emery–

The Kentucky Derby will have a different look this year as Churchill Downs officials announced there will be no fans in attendance this year. This came after they planned for a limited attendance of 23,000 guests.

The Kentucky Derby has been held every year since 1875 and has been run on the first Saturday in May every year since 1946. “Louisville is fortunate to have America’s longest continuously held sporting event and the brand awareness associated with this grand tradition,” said Karen Williams, president and CEO of Louisville Tourism.

The good news is that the tradition will continue this year amidst the global pandemic that has reshaped the world since March. The bad news is that the 146th running of this iconic race will be the strangest in history.

“Churchill Downs has worked diligently over the last several months to plan a safe Derby with a limited number of spectators in attendance,” reads a Churchill Downs statement. “We were confident in that plan, but … with the current significant increases in COVID-19 cases in Louisville as well as across the region, we needed to again revisit our planning.”

The decision came after Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, was deemed a “red zone” in terms of coronavirus cases and considered in a “critical” situation. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear agreed with the decision, calling it, “right and responsible,” according toWLKY.

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Surging Coronavirus Cases Threaten To Derail Reopening In Ohio Valley Monday, Jul 20 2020 

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At the Community Farmers Market in Bowling Green, Kentucky, vendors and shoppers are adjusting to the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic. That includes wearing face coverings, maintaining distance, and taking other precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

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Formerly Disenfranchised Kentucky Voters Cast Their Ballots Monday, Jun 22 2020 

For many in the Ohio Valley, voting is a choice, a right they are free to exercise if they want to. But for Jackie McGranahan and the more than 175,000 other formerly disenfranchised Kentuckians, this primary election is special. It’s her first chance to vote since 2008. 

She won’t be going to a voting booth. Elections are a bit different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most voting in Kentucky is happening by mail. But even though she couldn’t go to the polls with her friends or be handed her ‘I Voted’ sticker, that didn’t stop McGranahan from savoring the moment of voting.

“I filled out the absentee ballot. I signed my name and I waited for my postman to come so I could hand it to him directly from my porch to know that my vote will be counted, that I have a voice,” McGranahan said.

ACLU of Kentucky

Jackie McGranahan

McGranahan lost her right to vote after being convicted of a felony drug-related charge. Until late last year, Kentucky banned people with felony records from voting, even after completing their sentences. Now, Kentucky is catching up to Ohio, West Virginia, and 46 other states, at least temporarily, by allowing some people who have served their sentences after being convicted of a felony to cast a ballot. Following up on a campaign promise, Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order shortly after taking office, restoring voting rights for people who have served their time for non-violent, non-sexual felony offenses.

McGranahan has been sober and in recovery for more than four years. She works with the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and said normally she’s the one pushing other people to exercise their right to vote. She said so many people like her know what it’s like to not have a voice in politics.

“I remember on Election Day that everyone was taking pictures of their I voted sticker, and it was all over Facebook,” she said. “And it was really exciting for people, but for me, it was a different feeling. You know, it’s kind of, it’s an empty feeling.”

McGranahan remembers the moment her colleague called her to give her the good news. 

“She called to say, ‘Jackie, you can vote.’ And I remember that feeling with tears running down my face that it seemed unreal, but it was so exciting,” she said. “And my heart was filled, completely filled with just excitement, and energy, anticipation.”

McGranahan said the moment was short-lived and bittersweet because so many other people who have been convicted of a felony still can’t vote in Kentucky. 

Temporary Right  

Kate Miller is the advocacy director for the ACLU of Kentucky. She said she’s glad to see the progress that’s been made in the Commonwealth to expand access to voting for more people. But, she doesn’t think Beshear’s executive order goes far enough.

“We don’t think that anyone should lose their right to vote to begin with,” Miller said. “We think that individuals who are currently incarcerated because of felony convictions should be able to vote. And that’s true regardless of what they’re convicted of.” 

Miller said a year ago she never thought the state would see progress on the restoration of voting rights for Kentuckians, but she was impressed with one bill proposed in the 2020 legislative session.

“It was the cleanest bill that we’ve seen in a long time,” she said. “I think, ever, in terms of not excluding individuals not having a waiting period, not putting up additional barriers.”

Miller said that the ACLU often has to compromise, but when amending the state constitution there are only so many opportunities. In this year’s General Assembly, there was a bill proposed that would amend the state’s constitution and automatically restore the right to vote for many Kentuckians. The bill was sponsored by Republican Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Marion County and passed out of committee, but ultimately wasn’t put up for a vote in the full legislature. 

Miller said there’s nothing more fundamental in a democracy than having the opportunity to weigh in on who the decision-makers are for your community.

Beshear said he does not think everyone who has committed a felony should get back the right to vote. He said in his time as Attorney General, he saw the trauma that violent crimes such as rape, human trafficking, and murder can cause a family and community. 

“There are some crimes that are just so bad and the trauma is so severe that I don’t think it’s appropriate to restore those rights,” he said.

It took two Beshear governors to make the change for people like McGranahan. Andy Beshear’s father, former Gov, Steve Beshear, had signed an executive order on his way out of the office in 2015 to restore voting rights to some people with felony records. When former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin took his place in 2015 he quickly rescinded the order. That’s why Beshear wants to see the change made permanent, which would require an amendment to the state’s constitution.

“This is something that is a great step but ought to be enshrined with a constitutional amendment because it ought to become automatic and not depend on who the governor is,” he said.

Because her right to vote isn’t permanent, McGranahan said she wanted to savor the moment of filling in her ballot, not knowing how many more chances she’ll get. 

“It’s constant anxiety, knowing that in the back of my mind…like I’m very, I’m extremely excited to vote but then knowing, that this could be the last time,” she said.

Beshear also launched a website where people can check to see if they qualify for having their voting rights automatically restored. Kentuckians can check their voter registration online, and sign up to be able to vote in November. It’s unclear if absentee voting will be expanded in the Ohio Valley for the general election.

 

Gov. Reports 283 New Coronavirus Cases, A One-Day Jump After Weeks Of Decline Friday, May 29 2020 

Gov. Andy Beshear announced 283 new cases of the coronavirus Friday evening, a significant single-day rise, and nine new deaths.

Beshear cautioned against drawing any conclusions from the increase, saying the four-day average is 158 new cases, and that’s still a drop from where Kentucky was a couple weeks ago.

“I don’t want to suggest that it means something at this point either way,” Beshear said.

The state has now tested nearly 228,000 people. Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander praised the collaboration between health care providers and public health departments, and said the state is aggressively testing at long-term care facilities, where 1,885 cases and 244 deaths have been recorded from the coronavirus.

Protests In Louisville

Beshear opened his briefing Friday by speaking about the death of Breonna Taylor, and Thursday night’s protest, where seven people were shot. No arrests have been made in connection with the shooting.

Beshear said he lived in Louisville for 15 years before moving his family to Frankfort, and that it’s a special place — but also a place where we can see the effects of Jim Crow, racism and longstanding inequality. He noted that Thursday’s protest was very peaceful, and more consistent with CDC guidelines than any he’s seen recently.

These were people truly looking out for human life,” he said. “Other folks very late, more than three hours, in came in and ultimately instigated actions that have been hard to see.”

Protesters broke the King Louis statue by Metro City Hall and attempted to tip over a police transport van shortly before gunshots rang out. Police later attempted to disperse the crowd with tear gas and pepper balls.

Medicaid Contacts Issued

The state has awarded its contracts for Medicaid Managed Care Providers to Aetna, Humana, Molina Healthcare, UnitedHealthcare and WellCare. Not on the list: Anthem or Passport.

Beshear said Molina has announced plans to put its headquarters in West Louisville and bring with it 1,100 jobs.

A representative of Passport said in a press release that the company will protest the award.

“I actually do believe that while this is hard, saying goodbye to Passport, that we are going to see investment from multiple of the award winners that will be transformational,” Beshear said.

 

 

Ohio Valley Continues Unprecedented Surge Of Unemployment Thursday, Apr 16 2020 

Unemployment insurance claims are still reaching unprecedented levels across the Ohio Valley region.

At least 287,576 people in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia joined those seeking help during the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s in addition to the roughly 755,000 claims form the three states in the previous two weeks.  

The data released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Labor showing more than 5.25 million unemployment claims around the country. 

Labor Department figures for the week ending  April 10 show Kentucky with 115,763 claims; Ohio with 157,218; and West Virginia with 14,595.

Officials from the three states are looking to the jobless figures to understand how deep of a recession the region could be in for. Backlogs across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia continue to be a problem with some people initially being rejected for their unemployment claim.   

Kentucky officials announced this week that the additional $600 a week federal unemployment benefit has been sent out to 156,931 people totaling over $139 million. According to Josh Benton, the Deputy Secretary of Kentucky’s Workforce Development Cabinet, the state has had 521,592 unemployment claims since March 16. 

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy Executive Director Jason Bailey said the unemployment assistance program is dealing with an unprecedented amount of claims and that raises an important question. 

“Are the levels of support and benefits we’re offering people adequate for the kind of economic calamity that we’re really facing at this point?” 

Bailey said unemployment claims could begin to decrease only to be followed by a second surge of claims as the economic fallout begins to affect different sectors of the economy. 

He said the reported claims are just one portion of people who are unemployed and need assistance. It doesn’t include people whose claims are still waiting to be decided, employers who are challenging those claims, or those who aren’t yet eligible for unemployment benefits.   

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said there have been more unemployment claims made in the last month than there were in the last two years and the state is also still dealing with a backlog of those applications. 

“We’re in this battle with the system that we have and it worked well. When the unemployment rate was 4% it worked fine. Both in terms of technology and staffing. It was adequate for the task it was being called to do.” 

Husted said before the pandemic there were about 42 people working in the unemployment call center and now there are almost 1,200. 

The Lt. Gov. said the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services hopes to have 337 more people trained and working to address the backlog in unemployment assistance applications soon. Additionally, Husted announced that by the end of next week Ohio will begin processing the additional $600 a week in assistance from the federal CARES Act.   

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said the state is processing nearly 40 times what they would normally see in unemployment applications and they are also still trying to address a backlog. In an attempt to get payments out to West Virginians sooner Justice announced people will be able to get a direct payment instead of having a debit card mailed to them. 

Philanthropist tests positive for the coronavirus after attending a Speed Art Museum fundraiser Monday, Mar 16 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

A Louisville philanthropist has tested positive for COVID-19 March 13 after attending a Speed Art Museum fundraiser, and possibly came into contact with several Kentucky politicians and the University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi.

The philanthropist, who has been identified as Christy Brown, started experiencing symptoms March 8, the day after she attended the Speed Ball.

The symptoms were not those typically associated with COVID-19, so she was not tested until March 12. She is currently reported to be in stable condition and in self-isolation. Brown is one of the 21 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky.

Besides Bendapudi, Gov. Andy Beshear, Mayor Greg Fischer, Metro Council President David James, Sen. Rand Paul and Rep. John Yarmuth were all in attendance at the fundraiser.

Beshear announced at a press conference on March 15 that he has tested negative for COVID-19. He went on to say that he would be continuing to work and manage this outbreak.

“I will still be here, each and every day, making sure that I do what I need to do to help get us through this,” Beshear said.

Bendapudi announced in a Facebook post March 15 that she is currently not experiencing any symptoms, but she is still self-isolating.

“It is always an honor to lead U of L and for now I will be doing so remotely,” Bendapudi said. “The health and safety of our cardinal community is my number one priority.”

Fischer and Yarmuth are reportedly waiting for their test results in self-isolation.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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