Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Pink, Black, And Blue In Bevinstan

Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin has signed a raft of bills from the now deeply red GOP-controlled General Assembly, and Kentucky's transformation into yet another awful Republican state is pretty much complete at this point.

Planned Parenthood stands to lose any shot it had at government funding for family planning under a bill signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on Tuesday.

The law will puts Planned Parenthood at the back of the line among organizations seeking family planning funding in Kentucky.

Bevin has signed more than 50 bills into law since the start of this year’s legislative session, including another on Tuesday that allows attacks on police officers and other first responders to be prosecuted as hate crimes.

While the so-called “Blue Lives Matter Law” doesn’t increase penalties against those convicted of committing a hate crime, it is considered when violaters come up for sentencing, and it is included when it comes time to consider probation or parole.

Kentucky becomes only the second state, beside Louisiana, to enact such a law.

With the family planning funding law, pro-life advocates hope that, after health departments and similar organizations receive their money, none would be left for Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, sponsored the legislation, which established a tiered system for distributing federal family planning dollars.

“This would place Planned Parenthood, which does not provide comprehensive health services at the back of the line for federal family planning dollars,” Wise said last week.

Kentucky lawmakers have make implementation of the law dependent on Congress reversing the Obama administration’s action blocking states from withholding funds from Planned Parenthood affiliates. Wise said he included that provision to protect Kentucky against potential lawsuits.

Planned Parenthood supporters said the organization has voluntarily stopped accepting those family planning funds for its Kentucky operations. But Wise said he hopes his bill would cut off that funding source if Planned Parenthood seeks the dollars again.

Also passing: Kentucky will join the race to the bottom with charter schools that have already become major scandals in neighboring Ohio and Indiana.  As in other states, the bill was passes to help low-income and black and Latino students as they have the "most to benefit" but in Ohio's case at least, charter schools continue to be a complete disaster.

Meanwhile the bill most likely to go to court is the state's new "student religious freedom" law, which among other things allows students in public schools to openly participate in religious activities while on campus and would allow student religious organizations at publicly-funded schools and universities to openly discriminate against LGBTQ students for membership.

The law, Senate Bill 17, will allow students to engage in religious activities and to express religious views in public schools and in their assignments. It would also allow teachers to include lessons about the Bible in discussions of religion and history.

The legislation stems from a 2015 decision to remove references to Jesus Christ from a student production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

But LGBT rights groups assailed the new law, which they say codifies legal discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. One provision of the law allows student religious groups to set their own rules for membership, which LGBT rights groups say is a path to discrimination.

“No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign. “While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.”

The bill passed both the state Senate and state House with broad bipartisan support. Just three state senators and eight House members voted against the new law.

Bevin's not off the hook on this one even facing the veto-proof margin, he gladly signed it anyway.

But this is my state now, Bevin has signed dozens of new GOP laws and they'll take effect later this summer, and any hope that Kentucky wasn't totally the joke of the nation will disappear in a flash.  Anyone who isn't a Christian white male cop isn't wanted here, it seems.

By the way, the first time a public school kid in Kentucky decides they want to pray towards Mecca under this new law, I wonder how it will hold up.

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