Commissioners reappointed and new appointments made
The Shelbyville, Simpsonville and Shelby County Commission on Human Rights has increased its numbers to nine Commissioners over the past two months. Two new Commissioners were appointed to represent the City of Simpsonville by Mayor Ronnie Sowder and the City Commission. Two Shelby County Commissioners were reappointed to three-year terms by Judge-Executive Dan Ison and the Shelby County Fiscal Court.
In March, Michelle Isenberg and Dana Presley, both Simpsonville residents, were named and sworn-in to the Commission. Ms. Isenberg fills an unexpired term until 2024. Ms. Presley will serve a two-year term ending in 2025.
In April, Norris Beckley and Robert Marshall were reappointed as Commissioners representing Shelby County. Both men have served previous terms on the Commission. Their terms expire in 2026. They will be sworn-in soon.
“We have been working for a while to bring the Commission’s numbers up to the 11 Commissioners required by our establishing ordinance,” said Commission chair Alvin Farris. “We look forward to getting two more Commissioners on board so the Commission truly represents the social, economic, religious, cultural, ethnic and racial groups which comprise the population of Shelbyville, Simpsonville and Shelby County.”
Racial Justice Scholarship Contest
The Equal Justice Initiative, in partnership with the Shelbyville Community Remembrance Project Coalition, held a scholarship contest open to 9th– through 12th-grade students attending public high school in Shelby County, Kentucky. Prizes which were awarded to four participants in three categories - essay, visual arts and digital works.
Click here (link to https://scchr-ky.org/eji-awards) to see winning entries.
Local Human Rights Commission changes its email address, adds a P.O. Box
The Shelbyville, Simpsonville and Shelby County Commission on Human Rights recently changed its email address as part of an effort to reach out to the residents of Shelby County. The new email is email@example.com.
The Commission also can be reached by mail at P.O. Box 174, Shelbyville, KY 40066.
"Both the email address and post office box are being monitored regularly. Every effort will be made to respond to inquiries in a timely manner," said Commission Chair Alvin Farris. “The best way to reach the Commission is by postal mail or email until we resume our in-person monthly meetings."
The Commission will hold its first in-person meeting in two years on Monday, April 4, 2022, at 6 p.m. at the Stratton Center, 215 Washington St., Shelbyville. The Commission has been meeting via Zoom since April 2020.
Welch is sworn in as Commissioner
Doug Welch was sworn in as the latest Commissioner to the Shelbyville, Simpsonville and Shelby County Commission on Human Rights. Shelby County Judge-Executive Dan Ison appointed Welch and officiated the swearing-in ceremony on July 7, 2021, at the Shelby County Courthouse.
In his first meeting with the Commission, Welch said he "likes getting involved with activities that help people in our community have a better life. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of the Commission and look forward to what the Commission can do in the future."
Gov. Beshear announced Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund website
On Sept. 8, 2020, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the launch of the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund website (https://teamkyhherf.ky.gov). Kentuckians can visit the website to find out if they are eligible for assistance and how to apply for assistance with rent.
“As we continue to wage this battle against COVID-19, we must make sure renters have a home so they can be Healthy at Home, while also safeguarding landlords against undue financial hardship,” the Governor said.
“When we come out of this global health crisis, we don’t want Kentuckians facing such insurmountable debt from their housing situation that they are unable to recover. This program will provide some much-needed relief to eligible tenants and property owners during these unprecedented times.”
Kentuckians can visit the site to seek information on how to obtain a portion of $15 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act money the Governor pledged to support the Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund. Details of the application of the funds include:
· Eligible landlords can be reimbursed for missed rent payments and receive some advance rent payments to keep tenants in their homes;
· For eligible tenants, the program pays up to 90 percent of past-due rent and may also cover up to two months of future rent;
· For approved applications, payments will be made directly to eligible landlords; and
· Kentuckians may submit applications beginning Sept. 8, 2020. The program is expected to operate through 2022, possibly longer.
Gov. Beshear updated the state’s executive order issued earlier this year on evictions to reflect the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on residential evictions.
Under the CDC order, a tenant who signs and submits a declaration to his or her landlord about the inability to timely pay rent cannot be evicted. This declaration is required to prevent an eviction. Like the Governor’s prior executive orders on evictions, the CDC order does not relieve anyone of the obligation to pay rent or comply with any other obligation under a tenancy, lease or similar contract. The CDC order allows landlords to charge and collect fees, penalties and interest for failure to timely pay rent, but prohibits evictions for nonpayment or late payment of such fees, penalties or interest.
The Governor also reminded Kentuckians of other programs helping Kentuckians pay rent, including the Team Kentucky Fund (https://teamkyfund.ky.gov/) and the Louisville/Jefferson County Eviction Prevention COVID-19 Relief Fund (https://louisvilleky.gov/government/eviction-prevention-covid-19-relief-fund).
Kentuckians seeking legal assistance can contact the Kentucky COVID-19 Legal Helpline (https://www.kycovidlegalhelp.org/) or call toll-free: 833-540-0342. The service is sponsored by Kentucky’s Access to Justice Commission and the four Kentucky civil legal aid programs, AppalReD Legal Aid, Kentucky Legal Aid, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass and Legal Aid Society.
For the latest information on the novel coronavirus in Kentucky, visit https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19.
2019 U.S. Supreme Court decisions affecting Human Rights issues Immigration
In the case of Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, the Supreme Court ruled on June 18, 2020, that the Trump administration could not immediately shut down DACA, a program (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) that shields about 700,000 young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation and allows them to work. Download the court’s decision (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/19-161_g314.pdf) or read National Public Radio’s news coverage of the decision (https://www.npr.org/2020/06/18/829858289/supreme-court-upholds-daca-in-blow-to-trump-administration).
Gay and Transgender Rights
On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. The court considered two cases concerning gay rights, Bostock v. Clayton and Altitude Express v. Zarda, and one case concerning transgender rights, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Download the court’s decision (https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf) or read National Public Radio’s news coverage of the decision (https://www.npr.org/2020/06/15/863498848/supreme-court-delivers-major-victory-to-lgbtq-employees).
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights has just made available six videos online about religion, national origin, disability, race, familial status and discrimination examples—to review them online, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtp-HDuJlAnEvh3LjO2