Kentucky Politics

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says the state will take some concrete steps to remedy some of the racial inequities laid bare by both the coronavirus pandemic and the recent protests of police treatment of Black people in Louisville and across the country.

Beshear says the state will begin an effort to extend health insurance to every Black person in Kentucky.

“My commitment today is we are going to begin an effort to cover 100% of our individuals in our Black and African-American communities. Everybody,” Beshear said. “We’re going to be putting dollars behind it, we’re going to have a multi-faceted campaign to do it. But it’s time, especially during COVID-19 when we see what happens when you don’t have coverage; we’re going to make sure everyone does.”

He says that will include extensive outreach, and include positions similar to the “Kynectors” who worked under his father’s administration to spread the word about Kynect, the state’s insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act. It will also rely on community partners and partners in the education system.

“It is a historic time in the demands that we’re seeing for justice and equality, it’s a historic time because already with what was happening with COVID, the world was going to be different afterwards and the United States was going to be different afterwards, and Kentucky was going to be different afterwards,” Beshear said. “And now, our commitment is to make sure it’s not just different from a public health perspective, but it is truly different from an equality and a justice perspective.”

Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said steps are already underway in the state’s education system to improve outcomes for all students, including students of color. She has proposed three immediate changes: appointing a current student as a non-voting member of the state Board of Education, requiring statewide implicit bias training for school faculty and staff and implementing a new recruitment programs to get more teachers of color into the classroom.

“For many of our kids, the first leaders outside of their homes are their teachers,” Coleman said. “Kentucky’s kids of color deserve to see themselves reflected in their community leaders and all of our children are better prepared for their future when exposed to a diverse community of leaders and teachers.”

Coleman said the state will work with Kentucky’s two Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Kentucky State University and Simmons College of Kentucky on recruitment.

There will also be more attention paid to police training in the wake of the recent cases of Black people killed by law enforcement, including Breonna Taylor and David McAtee.

Secretary J. Michael Brown said most law enforcement training was suspended due to COVID-19, but the state is committed to getting eight hours of training for “the majority” of officers in some “very specific” and “very timely” topics. The new eight-hour online class for law enforcement will cover implicit bias, use of force, civil rights laws, ethics/accountability, emotional intelligence and community relationships.