- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
- Contact your elected officials:
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming state and local events.
- 5/13/2017: a Kentucky Appeal court sided with a t-shirt store owner who refused to print t-shirts for an LGBTQ Pride celebration, arguing that it would mean giving support to a message that goes against his religious beliefs. The court ruled that the right of free speech does not include the right to use someone else's property to promote one's message.
To see past updates for Kentucky, click here.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Kentucky lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- SB 120  will lift employment barriers for felons and allow Class C and D felons to earn compliance credit while on probation and parole.
- HB 327/SB 63 would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- HB 110 would establish an External Detainee Fatality Review Panel to conduct reviews of in-custody deaths.
Harmful bills proposed by Kentucky lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- SB 5 prohibits abortion after 20 weeks; it also outlines punishments against physicians who perform an abortion after 20 weeks, including revoking their licenses. The bill establishes a criminal penalty for physicians.
- HB 1 effectively made Kentucky the 27th Right to Work state. The law allows union members to choose whether or not they want to pay union dues, while still receiving union benefits. These laws are essentially meant to weaken the unions' power in states.
- HB 2 requires women to have an ultrasound prior to an abortion, and be offered the chance to see images and hear a fetal heartbeat before an abortion.
- HB 3 eliminates the "prevailing wage" on public construction projects, meaning that contractors no longer have to pay workers a specified minimum wage.
- HB 14 "Blue Lives Matter" bill would include members of law enforcement in hate crime protections.
- HB 151 Permits students to enroll in the school closest to their home. This bill would effectively end desegregation in Jefferson County, which has long had a policy in place to ensure racial equity countywide.
- HB 106 and HB 141would require all branches of state and local government and all school boards to ensure that bathroom and changing facilities are used by people based on their sex assigned at birth.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 29 days before Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. A non-photo ID is requested every time you vote.
- Elected jailer: Kentucky is the only state with an elected jailer position . Jailers are elected every four years along with other county officers . Jailer duties include supervising the county jail, transporting prisoners, and maintaining a budget . Currently, several counties without county jails have elected jailers, and SB 39  was recently passed to hold those jailers, referred to as "no-jail jailers," accountable for their work. The next election for jailers will be held in 2018.
- Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the uninsured rate in Kentucky has fallen by 61%. More than a million people in Kentucky are covered by Medicaid or CHIP, with more than 150,000 Kentuckians having gained coverage when Medicaid was expanded. As Republicans push to repeal the ACA with no replacement, millions of Kentuckians may go without health care in the near future.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 498,000 people in Kentucky (or 11.3% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 486,000 people (or 11.0% of the population) would lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/26/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.)
- The number of uninsured people in Kentucky is predicted to be 250,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 686,000, a 174.5% increase.
- Kentucky is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Kentucky could pay up to 57% more for the same coverage as men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Kentucky is estimated to be the third-hardest state hit by repeal overall, with the third-highest rise in numbers of uninsured by 2019 and second-highest rise by 2021.
- According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, at least 30% of non-elderly adults in Kentucky stand to be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay Strategy, young adults in Kentucky could pay $622 more in 2018.
- 68 people have been killed by police in the state of Kentucky from 2013 through 2016.
- 16% of the people killed by police were black.
- Louisville Metro Police Department has a homicide rate of 15.067 for all people, and 44.40 for black people. Lexington Police Department has a homicide rate of 10.142 for all people, and 23.62 for black people..
- A Pew Center Research study from 2014 found that there were 50,000 undocumented immigrants among the 4.413 million population in the state of Kentucky.
- In a span of four years, there were 6,143 new immigrant business owners in Kentucky, with an income of $451 million, composing of 5.4% of the state's net income.
- Undocumented workers paid $38.8 million in state and local taxes, $21.9 million in sales taxes, $11.5 million in personal income taxes and $5.4 million in property taxes.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Kentucky does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses.
- Kentucky does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- Per CPE policy KRS 13:0245 Section 8, an undocumented student graduating from a Kentucky high school is allowed to enroll at in-state universities. Undocumented or DACA students are not eligible for KEES, CAP or other in-state financial aid, but they can apply for other scholarships.
- In 2012 President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children, the action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. 
- Between 2012 and 2016, 4,858 applicants for DACA were approved in Kentucky. 5,392 applied.
- Undocumented immigrants in Kentucky make up 1.1% of the labor workforce.
- Undocumented immigrants make up 0.8% of the state’s population.
- Immigrants make up 4.5% of Kentucky’s employed population (92,803 people).
- If all the undocumented immigrants were deported, Kentucky would lose $756.8 million in GSP and 12,059 jobs.
- If all undocumented immigrants gained legal residence, they would pay $55.3 million in state local taxes.
- Kentucky does not have an official state policy on immigration.
- Kentucky rejected proposition SB6, which would have allowed law enforcement to check the legal status of any person stopped for a traffic violation or other offense if they were suspected of being undocumented.
- Kentucky does not have any sanctuary cities. Woodford County, Franklin County, Scott County, and Campbell County are not willing to accept “notifications or detainers.” This is a term that refers to the I-247 form and method followed by ICE of taking custody of undocumented immigrants believed to be deportable. The policy is seen as ineffective because most of the individuals issued such a detainer have not actually committed a crime.
Kentucky has taken in more than 6,000 refugees since 2011, with the top nationalities resettled being from Myanmar, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Much of the work involving the resettlement of refugees is handled by Kentucky Refugee Ministries, a nonprofit that has been welcoming refugees since 1990.
- In 2016, 474 refugees arrived in Kentucky.
- In 2016, 54 refugees settled per 100,000 residents in Kentucky.
- Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Owensboro are some of the cities that have welcomed refugees in Kentucky.
- Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has worked to implement online voter registration, and former Governor Steve Beshear issued an executive order expanding voting rights to felons who had completed their sentences. The order was replaced a month later, when Governor Bevin took office.
- The majority of the state voted for Trump, though many voters were excluded from voting because of prior criminal records. At present, people convicted of past felonies can have their record expunged and regain the right to vote (with a $100 fee) if they have a five-year gap between their sentence or probation, are nonviolent, and have not committed a crime of a sexual nature. Roughly 7% of Kentucky's population is ineligible to vote due to felony charges.
- There 40,169 incarcerated individuals in Kentucky in 2014—20,969 in prison and 19,200 in jail.
- 53,350 people were on probation, while 14,019 were on parole.
- Of the prison population, 4.1% were serving life sentences, while 0.4% were serving life sentences without possibility of parole.
- White individuals were imprisoned at a rate of 431 per 100,000 people, while black individuals were incarcerated at a rate of 1,411 per 100,000, and Hispanic individuals were incarcerated at a rate of 183 per 100,000.
- 9.14% of the Kentucky population was disenfranchised in 2016 due to felony convictions, while more than a quarter (26.15%) of the black Kentucky population was disenfranchised due to felony convictions.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Kentucky residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan: 
- Households: 97,000
- Adults and children: 280,000
- Children: 165,000
- In 2015, an average of 368,596 households and 768,882 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Kentucky. In 2011, approximately 19% of the population of Kentucky was receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps). The average monthly benefit per Kentucky household was $244 per household and $117 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 44,682 households, including 22,758 families and 36,985 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Kentucky was $262 in 2014. Average benefits in Kentucky have fallen in value by 34.4% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 26,119 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 9,369 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received an average of $281.24 per person, for a total of $2,635,000.
- 111,100 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Kentucky had 38 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Kentucky, there were 4,237 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 410 families, 512 veterans, 199 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 382 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Kentucky received $459 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Kentucky, over 85,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Kentucky households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Kentucky’s infrastructure received a score of C from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- This study gave the state “good” scores for aviation, inland airways, and energy, and transit, bridges, roads, and dams as being in “poor” condition.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 31.4% of Kentucky's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 34% of Kentucky's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $185 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Matt Bevin (R), providing a safe and reliable transportation system is a major infrastructure goal for Kentucky.
- Kentucky has two Planned Parenthood centers. They do not provide abortions.
- In 2015, one center was in a rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage area.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 424,500 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is currently one abortion provider in Kentucky—down from three in 2015.
- In 2014, 12.9 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Kentucky had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is a 20-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
- Kentucky citizens have access to an abortion fund, organized by Kentucky Support Network 
As of January 27, 2017, there is only one abortion clinic in the state of Kentucky, located in the city of Louisville, meaning the majority of Kentucky women will have to travel and stay overnight in order to receive an abortion. The EMW Women's Clinic, which operated in Lexington, closed after Governor Bevin and the Inspector General of Kentucky made a point of denying the clinic the licensing it needed to remain open.
Women and Wage Equality
- In Kentucky, 18.4% of women live in poverty. This figure is 5% over the national average, which stands at 13.4%. Single mothers make up 47% of that figure, while women 65 and older make up 13.2%.
- Women in Kentucky make $0.82 for every dollar made by men, which is $0.02 above the national average of $0.80.
- African American women make $0.68 for every dollar made by white men, and Latina women make $0.57 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in Kentucky
- Kentucky programs sheltered 3295 victims of abuse and their children between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014; 40% of these were children.
- Kentucky programs provided 119,718 bed-nights between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014; 45% of these were children.
- In a single day in Kentucky in 2014, 10% of people seeking services were turned away due to lack of resources.
- 1 in 9 women in Kentucky has been a victim of forcible rape.
Religious freedom laws
Religious freedom laws protect the right of people to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. A State Religious Freedom Restoration Act was enacted in Kentucky in 2013 for that purpose, but it has recently been used to say that the rights of individuals or business owners are violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people. Another law was passed in March 2017 allowing students to express "religious views" in school, which LGBTQ+ groups have said allows for discrimination against LGBTQ+ students.
Although the state of Kentucky has a nondiscrimination policy for state employees, it lacks nondiscrimination laws in employment, housing, public accommodation, education, adoption, foster care, insurance, credit and jury selection. The state has also passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (ultimately used to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals on religious grounds).
Kentucky recognizes de facto parenting but does not have laws on second-parent adoption, surrogacy, nondiscrimination in foster care, foster parent training, consent to inseminate (meaning that in the case of the insemination of one member of a female same-sex couple, the partner not carrying the child is not automatically recognized as a parent) or parental presumption for same-sex couples.
While LGBTQ+ individuals are protected broadly, Kentucky's current legislation, effective July 14, 2000, does not specifically address trans people and does not require specific reporting of LGBTQ+ hate crimes.
- Kentucky has passed laws against cyber-bullying, but it lacks comprehensive school laws aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ youth and has passed school laws that criminalize youth. Such laws tend to disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ students.
- The Kentucky legislature is currently considering a so-called "bathroom bill" (which requires "the executive branch of state government to designate every multiple-occupancy bathroom or changing facility it controls to only be used by persons based on their 'biological sex'").
Health and safety
Kentucky does collect data on LGBTQ+ individuals, but does not include LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination protections in ACA exchanges and bans insurance exclusion for trans health care. It does not include transgender health care in state Medicaid and inclusive health benefits for trans state employees. The state does not allows gender marker changes on drivers’ licenses or birth certificates.
- Kentucky is ranked 36th in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $5,348 per student.
- As of 2013, Kentucky ranked 27th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $50,326 per year.
- 88% of students in Kentucky attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 80% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 0% of total public school enrollment.
- Kentucky's overall graduation rate is 88%, which is above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates are as follows:
- White: 89%
- Latino: 84%
- Black: 77%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 79%
- American Indian: 89%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 84%
- Limited English Proficient: 68%
- Students with Disabilities: 71%
Consumer Protections/Workers' Rights
- Kentucky has no state minimum wage. The minimum wage in the state is thus the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
- Kentucky has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Kentucky has no state law for paid family leave.
- As of November 2016, the Kentucky unemployment rate stands at 4.8%, with industries such as mining and logging having seen dramatic cuts in employment.
- Kentucky is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Kentucky also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Kentucky does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Kentucky does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
- Current House Bill 165 aims to create tax incentives to promote the increased use of Kentucky coal. There has been little traction in finding ways to pivot away from the use of fossil fuels while providing job security for those in the coal industry.
Climate / Environment
- More than 96% of Kentucky’s electricity generation comes from fossil fuels.
- Kentucky has 13 sites on the National Priorities List.
- In 2014, Black and Asian or Pacific Islander populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—64 (Black) and 60 (Asian or Pacific Islander)—compared to an overall index of 45 and a White index of 43.
- In 2012, Mixed/other and Black adults in Kentucky were most likely to have asthma (Mixed/other 19.7%, Black 19.3%), compared to 10.4% overall and 10.1% of the White population.
- Coal production in Kentucky has experienced a sharp slide—the state led coal production nationwide from 1971 to 1988 but is now ranked fourth.
- The relevant environmental agencies in Kentucky are the Environmental Quality Commission and the Department of Environmental Protection.
- Kentucky Governor Mark Bevin has positioned himself strongly opposed to Obama’s climate policy through his support for Kentucky’s coal industry. He has specifically noted that he will reject any federal climate regulations.
- In 2015, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell led efforts in Congress to block Obama’s efforts to address climate change.
- Two of Kentucky’s top climate officials in the state’s Energy and Environment departments were let go in February 2016, likely due to Bevin’s election.
- The Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission, a body that once served as a semi-independent watchdog over the state’s handling of environmental programs, has fallen into disuse since Bevin’s election.
- In January 2017, Kentucky became one of 13 states to petition the federal Stream Protection Rule on account of the damages it would cause to the coal industry.
- In February, the Kentucky legislature will hear House Bill 50, which would lead all administrative regulation to expire after seven years and could cripple the state’s environmental regulations.
- Kentucky has the third-highest percentage of disabled people in the US: 17.0% of Kentucky's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- Kentucky has the second-lowest employment rate among disabled adults in the US: 27.4%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Kentucky have a 74.8% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 21.2% of eligible voters in Kentucky have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.71%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Kentucky, 32.4% live in poverty, as opposed to 14.8% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 43.0%, as opposed to 28.5% for non-disabled children.[2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In Kentucky, 8.0% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
Beginning shortly after the 2016 election, a variety of progressive organizations began convening across the state.
- The Ally Network connects those ready to mobilize and take local progressive action with existing groups and organizations working throughout Kentucky. Via their website and calendar, they seek to build a central hub where progressive groups in the Commonwealth can easily connect to other groups to find resources, events, and tools to mobilize. It also promotes a weekly newsletter, "Kentucky Action Items," which highlights resistance actions tailored specifically for Kentucky residents based on tactics from the Indivisible Guide.
- CAIR Kentucky, the Kentucky branch of the nationwide organization that enhances understanding of Islam and empowers American Muslims
- Central Kentucky Alliance for Progressive Change
- Kentuckians For The Commonwealth has been active in the state for some time. They work statewide to promote environmental and economic justice, open government, voting reform and racial equality, and a host of other issues. They have several resources to assist activists, including training citizens in how to effectively lobby state lawmakers; members make an annual trip to Frankfort to do just that. They have local, active chapters all over the state that meet regularly and encourage new members to join. Their [KFTC Blog contains timely action alerts and easy ways for people to take action on issues of concern.
Environmental justice groups
- Kentucky Association for Environmental Education
- Kentucky Environmental Foundation
- Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light
- Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition
Disability Rights Organizations
- NAMI Kentucky (National Alliance on Mental Illness)