by Rep. Joni Jenkins, House District 44
More than 75 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war on Japan after the deadly attack on Pearl Harbor and America. In his address to the nation, the president said December 7, 1941 was “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.”
Decades later, Kentucky now has its own infamous day forever to mark the unprecedented attack on Kentucky higher education, workers, families and women perpetrated by the Republican regime in the legislature and Gov. Matt Bevin.
Never in the history of the Kentucky General Assembly has so much damage been inflicted upon its citizens in a such a spectacularly dizzying and deliberately calculated pace.
Kentucky workers have now lost their rights for which they have fought for decades under HB 1, which decimates their certainty of good wages, benefits and job safety guaranteed under union contracts.
In another massive blow to blue collar workers, men and women working in construction will earn less money under the revocation of Kentucky’s prevailing wage law, thanks to the passage of HB 3.
The unprecedented power grab was not limited to labor as the Republican legislature, puppets carrying out the vindictive retribution of their governor, slammed through a bill that will place the University of Louisville’s accreditation in serious peril.
Instead of exercising adult patience and waiting for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ ruling on the governor’s proposed reorganization of the UL board of Trustees, expected within days, the Republicans succumbed to their infantile governor’s quest for authoritarian control and rushed SB 12 to passage which gives Gov. Bevin absolute power over the university’s board appointments.
In an insidious attack on Kentucky women, those seeking an abortion will now have to endure an invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedure designed to deter women from their decision and inflict further pain and humiliation upon them.
And even though the Supreme Court decision allows abortions up to 24 weeks, SB 5 reduces that period to 20 weeks, clearly creating a constitutional violation.
Added to this cadre of the repressive Republican agenda the constant suppression of Kentucky voices this week, which included purposely reserving committee rooms for a private interest breakfast ensuring union representation being locked out of the debate, restricting access to gallery passes, deceptive political maneuvering on SB 12, and manipulation of the legislative process, including imposing 30 minute limits on House Floor debates, and you have the seeds of a tyrannical takeover.
A massacre on the middle class has been accomplished, fulfilling the Republican mission aimed at destroying economic equality, silencing opposing philosophies, seizing ultimate power and thwarting women’s rights.
The breadth and scope of the Republican attack on Kentuckians in six short days is unprecedented in our history and will have long lasting and devastating consequences on our commonwealth.
There has never been a more illustrative example of the dire warning that “elections have consequences” than today.
War was declared on Kentuckians on January 7, 2017.
Democrats may be bloodied from this battle, but we will continue to stand and fight for the rights of every man, woman and child as we navigate the murky and dark days ahead.