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Bishops’ Statement on Passage of HB 563 – School Choice30 Mar

The Bishops of Kentucky have issued the following statement following the passage of HB 563. A PDF copy of the statement may be downloaded by clicking here.

We applaud the Kentucky legislature for the passage of House Bill 563. This legislation provides more opportunities for parents with limited financial means to decide where their children will best thrive, whether in public or non-public schools. And, because of other forms of assistance in HB 563 that benefit children in public and non-public schools, it will serve students in need throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

We thank Representative Chad McCoy, Speaker David Osborne, Senator Ralph Alvarado and many other elected officials for their support of this much-needed legislation. Kentucky now joins the majority of states in the nation that have some form of educational choice available to families.

We also extend our deep thanks to Charles Leis, President, of EdChoice Kentucky, and Andrew Vandiver, Associate Director, of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, as well as so many other staff and volunteers who worked on this legislation.

There are countless stories of students whose lives have been changed for the better by the simple act of giving them the same choices already enjoyed by wealthy families. We are very grateful that Kentucky families in need now have more opportunities to benefit because of HB 563. 

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville

Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, Bishop of Covington

Most Reverend William F. Medley, Bishop of Owensboro

Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM, Conv., Bishop of Lexington

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KY House Passes Educational Choice Bill for Public and Certain Non-Public School Families11 Mar

House Republicans recently combined Education Opportunity Account legislation with another bill, HB 563, that deals with enrollment at public schools, and considered the combined bills for a vote today. But the new HB 563 initially prohibited Catholic school and other non-public school families from receiving tuition assistance.

Thankfully, Rep. Matt Lockett put forth a floor amendment to include non-public school families in HB 563. But unfortunately, a group of Republicans joined with House Democrats to vote the amendment down. You can find out how your representative voted below:

Vote to Include Non-Public School Families in All of Kentucky

But that is not the end! Rep. Jerry Miller filed an Amendment that would allow non-public school families to participate in counties with a population over 150,000 (Jefferson, Fayette, and Kenton). This amendment passed! While we are disappointed that a more expansive program was not passed, we are thrilled that at least some families will benefit from having educational choice.

Vote on Amendment to Include Nonpublic School Families in large counties.

You can find your state representative and their contact information here. Please thank those who stood with families and express your disappointment with those who did not support these commonsense measures.

What’s next? The bill goes on to the Senate. Please contact your State Senator and ask them to expand the bill statewide, or at least hold strong and keep non-public school families in Jefferson, Fayette and Kenton in HB 563. You can contact your State Senator by clicking here or calling 1-800-372-7181. Tell them to fight to make sure non-public school families are not left behind in 2021.  Ask them to include non-public school families in HB 563! 

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2021 Session Update26 Feb

The 2021 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly is moving fast! After being unable to meet last week due to weather, legislators are now convening five days a week to complete their work. This is a 30-day session and as of this week we are past the halfway point.

The Legislative Message Line can be reached at 1-800-372-7181. You can call that number anytime to leave a message for your state representative or senator, and if you don’t know who yours are, the operators can, based on your address, connect you with the right members.

As we head into the remaining days of session, here are updates on bills that CCK is working on and that we hope will make it through the process and become law.

HB 91 – Has passed the House and now needs action in the Senate. This would propose a constitutional amendment to clarify that there is no right to abortion in the Kentucky Constitution. Kentucky has passed many pro-life laws in recent years, but in other states we have seen state courts strike down such laws by declaring that the state constitution protects access to abortion more strictly than federal law. HB 91 would prevent that from happening. Passing this bill will put this before the voters in the November 2022 election. 

HB 149 – Has been assigned to the Appropriations and Revenue Committee and posted for committee consideration. This is the Education Opportunity Account bill that would incentivize private giving for much needed support for families to make educational choices that best serve their needs.  The bill gained two new co-sponsors this week, putting the total number of House co-sponsors up to 25.  EdChoice KY recently conducted a poll that found that 63% of Kentuckians support an Education Opportunity Account program, including solid majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  HB 149 maintains this high level of support despite opponents spending nearly $80,000 in negative and misleading advertising during the month of January. We must continue to make our voices heard in order to balance out the opposition’s spending.  Please contact your state representative using the LRC Message line and encourage them to do everything they can to move HB 149 forward to a floor vote.

HB 148 – Adds a diagnosis of serious mental illness to the disabilities which prevent execution for persons convicted of capital offenses. This bill cleared the House Judiciary Committee with strong support, 16 of the 19 members voting YEA. It is now posted for passage in the House chamber.

HB 210 – Requires employers to provide the same leave for adoptive parents that they provide for birth parents. Has passed the House and now awaits action in the Senate.

HB 155 – Known as the “Baby Box.” This bill provides a safe, anonymous opportunity for someone to surrender a newborn to proper authorities for care. HB 155 is awaiting a vote on the House floor.

There are also a number of criminal justice reform bills that have received significant support and are moving through the process. As a member organization of the Kentucky Smart on Crime coalition, CCK supports the following bills that are moving through the process

HB 126 – Raises the threshold for a theft to be a felony to $1,000, closer to the national average (KY’s threshold is currently a very low $500 for most types of theft). HB 126 has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

SB 84 – Establishes requirements to help ensure that Kentucky women who are incarcerated and pregnant receive access to critical resources and have safe and healthy pregnancies. Has passed the Senate and now awaits action in the House.

SB 4 – This is an effort to limit the use of no-knock warrants, an issue which has received increased attention since the killing of Breonna Taylor. SB 4 has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

HB 25 – Would remove the prohibition on people with felony convictions receiving KEES scholarships for which they are otherwise eligible. Has passed the House and now needs Senate consideration.

SB 36 – Ends mandatory transfer of some cases from juvenile court to adult court. Has passed the Senate and awaits consideration in the House.

SB 80 – Improves police accountability by establishing a duty to intervene and laying out policies to root out officers who break the law or engage in misconduct. Has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House.

And finally, we have seen one bill already become law! SB 9, the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act passed the General Assembly in January.

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Myth/Fact on Education Opportunity Accounts02 Feb

CCK is joining with parents, educators and students to support educational choice bills HB 149 and SB 25 during the 2021 legislative session. The legislation would create an Education Opportunity Account (“EOA”) program. Under an EOA program, private donations are awarded via financial assistance to families to cover extensive educational services including K-12 tuition assistance for attendance at non-public schools, online learning programs, tutoring services, career and technical courses, dual-credit options, and more. This legislation would positively impact the lives of thousands of Kentucky public and non-public school students.

Unfortunately, some opponents are misrepresenting the legislation. To help set the record straight, the EdChoice KY coalition has published a Myth/Fact document addressing some of the most common falsehoods being spread about Education Opportunity Accounts. ‘You can find the document below along with helpful links.

Ready to help Kentucky students succeed? You can contact your legislators in support of the legislation by clicking here.

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Reopening Schools Safely – Bishops’ Letter to Governor Beshear12 Aug

On August 12, the bishops of Kentucky sent the following letter to Governor Beshear to share with him the current plans for reopening Catholic schools for the new academic year. For more details about individual schools, please look for communication from your local diocese and school.

A PDF version of the letter may be found here.

Dear Governor Beshear,

Thank you again for your leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we have worked together these past several months to keep Kentuckians safe, we have appreciated your leadership and the regular communication you have provided to the public and to civic and community leaders.

Reopening schools for the new academic year in a responsible way involves many difficult decisions and a great deal of consultation and work, as you well know. We appreciate the diversity of situations in which individual schools find themselves and the challenge of balancing all of the risks involved. We write to inform you of the diligent work that has been done by the administrators, teachers, parents, and others throughout our Catholic school community, and our plans for safely reopening Kentucky’s Catholic schools.

We plan to begin reopening our schools for the fall semester next week, with some schools having start dates later in the month. All of our schools have developed models to begin the school year.

We have considered several factors in making this decision. First, our school leaders have been working diligently to ensure a safe environment for all of our students, teachers, and other personnel. We are confident we can provide a safe environment and be ready to respond when there are positive cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty, or staff.

Second, we are concerned for the welfare of our students and their spiritual, social, emotional, and academic progress. We are mindful of the challenges parents face as they strive to balance family life, work, and the need to support their families with the needs of children who are trying to participate in non-traditional instruction.

Third, our school leaders have developed excellent working relationships with public health officials, particularly our local health departments, and this will enable us to respond effectively to problems as they arise.

Finally, we understand the pandemic is very much a fluid situation and things can change very quickly. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments, either system-wide or at individual schools, as needed. In addition, during the week of September 6, all four dioceses of the Commonwealth will conduct an evaluation of our experience to date and will make any needed changes.

We look forward to continuing communication with yourself and your office in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to navigate this crisis. Please be assured of our constant prayers for yourself, your staff, and all of our public health officials.

Sincerely,

Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville

Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, Bishop of Covington

Most Reverend William F. Medley, Bishop of Owensboro

Most Reverend John Stowe, OFM Conv., Bishop of Lexington

Latest news

Bishops’ Statement on Passage of HB 563 – School Choice
The Bishops of Kentucky have issued the following statement following the passage of HB 563. A PDF copy of the statement may be downloaded by clicking here. We applaud the Kentucky legislature for the passage of House Bill 563. This legislation provides more opportunities for parents with limited financial means to decide where their children […]

KY House Passes Educational Choice Bill for Public and Certain Non-Public School Families
House Republicans recently combined Education Opportunity Account legislation with another bill, HB 563, that deals with enrollment at public schools, and considered the combined bills for a vote today. But the new HB 563 initially prohibited Catholic school and other non-public school families from receiving tuition assistance. Thankfully, Rep. Matt Lockett put forth a floor […]

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