Betsy DeVos: We Need to Reopen In-Person Learning in “Every Possible Situation”

Parents across America would like to get their children back to school, but also do so in a safe way. In some areas, that has been difficult. The city of Boston recently shuttered public schools after an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases.

Despite having the virus, Donald Trump has also pushed for the reopening of schools. And he is joined in lock-step by his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

On Wednesday, DeVos held a virtual conference call with the Pacific Research Institute. During the call, she made some alarming comments about public schools.

The Secretary remarked, “

We know that in some places where there is a spike in cases of the virus, that there may have to be short times of working at a distance, but for those families who need and want this for their children, learning in person, there’s no other substitute for it.” read more

The Strongest Labor President Ever: Biden Makes his Pitch to Unions

Unions have always been critical to Democratic electoral success. A big reason Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 was that she bled even a few members in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Joe Biden feels strongly that he can win those voters back. The former Vice President is polling much better in these states. And Biden continued his push to recapture union votes during a Monday virtual event AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The candidate told viewers, “You can be sure you will be hearing that word ‘union’ plenty of times if I’m in the White House. If I have the honor of becoming your president, I’m going to be the strongest labor president you have ever had.”

Biden also took to Twitter, writing, “Wall Street didn’t build this country — the middle class did. And unions built the middle class. Donald Trump doesn’t understand that. We need a president who does.”

The Democratic nominee also pointed out how Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response has hurt union workers. He told Trumka:

“He was worried if he started talking about saving peoples’ lives, the stock market might fall. Well we know it’s been great for his rich friends but it hasn’t been so great for the rest of us. If I’m in the oval office, guess who’s gonna be there with me? Unions, labor, you. There used to be a basic bargain in this country: workers shared in the wealth their work helped create.” read more

Kentucky Supreme Court tosses Republican pension law

By Karen Pierog

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a law aimed at addressing the state’s cash-strapped retirement system because it was improperly passed by the Republican-controlled legislature.

The unanimous opinion did not address the legality of pension changes contained in the law.

Kentucky ranks among the bottom of U.S. states in terms of pension funding. It ended fiscal 2018 with an unfunded pension liability of nearly $38 billion, according to preliminary numbers included in a recent legislative update.

Republican Governor Matt Bevin, who has warned about future insolvency for pensions, called the ruling “an unprecedented power grab by activist judges.”

“This overreach by the supreme court will force our state to deal with further credit downgrades and increased borrowing costs for cities, counties, and school districts,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

The state’s high court said the pension bill was not read as required on three different days in each legislative chamber before its passage, rendering the law “constitutionally invalid and declared void.”

Toward the end of their 2018 legislative session, lawmakers removed language from a bill related to wastewater and inserted pension provisions that included putting future teachers into a less-generous retirement plan.

The bill was passed over the objections of Democratic lawmakers and was signed into law by Bevin in April.

Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear sued, claiming the measure violated state statutes and constitutional provisions related to public employee contracts and legislative procedures.

Oral arguments before the supreme court in September focused on legislative procedure.

On Thursday, Beshear said the court’s ruling was “a landmark win.”

“An 11-page sewer bill can never again become a 291-page pension bill and pass in just six hours without legislators even having the opportunity to read it,” he told reporters.

“From this day forward, the legislature has to act in the light of the day,” he added.

Beshear, a candidate in next year’s election for governor, has proposed expanded gaming through casinos and sports betting to boost pension funding.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis)