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By Dr. Paul Coomes and Josh Crawford

It has been about fifteen months since the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across America, initially causing the well-known health care emergency and subsequently, major economic, fiscal, and social distortions. Presumably, we are in the last stages of the damage, as activity has largely returned to normal in most realms of daily life. However, recovery problems linger in some areas, including conventions, hotels, concerts, and cruises. While the pandemic is not over, enough information has emerged to begin documenting the regional economic impacts around Kentucky.

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Policy Primer: Anti-SLAPP legislation and the 1st Amendment

Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) are a tool often used to intimidate or silence critics with expensive legal proceedings. Governments, companies, or individuals may use lawsuits, or even the threat of a lawsuit, to punish those who have exercised their First Amendment rights. Plaintiffs do not file SLAPP suits with any intention to win them. Anti-SLAPP laws aim to prevent these unnecessary and often costly lawsuits that have no objective other than to waste opponents’ money and to intimidate them, especially as these lawsuits can have a chilling effect on constitutionally-protected speech. However, anti-SLAPP legislation must be tailored to allow legitimate lawsuits to continue, while preventing abuses of the system.


Declaring an emergency:

cross-state comparisons and recommendations for reform

The American system of government is a calculated structure of limited and separate governmental powers. In times of emergency, however, it may be necessary for a Governor or local chief executive to have greater power and flexibility in order to respond effectively to a specific set of events. All 50 states have acknowledged these unique needs with statutes that allow Governors to declare an emergency and operate with certain emergency powers. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to country-wide declarations of emergency unlike ever before in modern American history. In light of these unique circumstances, there is an equally unique opportunity to examine state statutes that govern declarations of emergency and to propose reforms. 

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