Greetings from Louisville!

At 1101 Central Avenue in District 40, across the street from Churchill Downs, is the Greetings From Louisville mural. It was painted in October 2018 by muralist Victor Ving as part of his Greetings Tour public art project. The site was chosen because even though it is adjacent to one of the most iconic venues in Kentucky, “the immediate surrounding neighborhood did not often get the funding and love it deserves.” The owners of the property, John and Mary Kay Dixon reached out to the team with a goal to brighten up the neighborhood by adding a piece of public art for our community.

Thanks to John & Mary Kay for their engagement and initiative to improve a part of our district! Stop by and check it out!

“We originally reached out to Victor’s mural agency looking for some ideas on what to do with the blank wall that faced Churchill Downs. He told us about his personal Greetings Tour project, and we thought it would be a great fit for our community. Together, we came up with content that was relevant to our city and created a piece of public art that warmly welcomes locals and visitors to the neighborhood. They were incredible to work with! We beam every time we drive up to the mural, and cannot thank them enough.”— JOHN & MARY KAY DIXON

Learn more about the project here:

Letter Guide:

L — Kentucky Bourbon / Fleur De Lis

O — Kentucky Bourbon / Fleur De Lis

U — Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

I — Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

S — Big Four Pedestrian Bridge

V — Big Four Pedestrian Bridge

I — Louisville Cardinals / UofL Sports

L — Louisville Cardinals / UofL Sports

L — Churchill Downs / Kentucky Derby

E — Churchill Downs / Kentucky Derby

Unemployment Benefits for Victims of Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault

During the September meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development & Workforce Investment, Representative Samara Heavrin and I presented legislation that would allow those experiencing domestic, dating, sexual, or stalking violence to be eligible for unemployment benefits. I have filed this bill each session since 2019, and will be prefiling it again in October, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The bill ensures that a survivor of domestic, dating, sexual, or stalking violence who leaves work, or is unable to work, or separated from employment due to circumstances directly relating to that violence will still be eligible for unemployment benefits when the survivor:

  • Fears violence at or en route to workplace
  • Wishes to relocate to another geographic area to avoid violence to themselves, their family, or co-workers
  • Finds it necessary for future safety and health of themselves, their family, or co-workers

Survivors will provide documentation: police, court records; sworn statement; statement from shelter worker, attorney, healthcare provider, clergy.

The benefits are charged against the state’s pooled account, not an employer’s account.

Employees of the KY Office of Unemployment Insurance will be trained on domestic, dating, sexual, and stalking violence and benefits applications.

The Secretary will send an Annual Report to LRC of the number of claims filed.

We heard powerful testimony from Tanya Thomas, Executive Director of the Springhaven Domestic Violence Program, Jillian Carden, Executive Director of Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services, Katie Showalter with the University of Kentucky. This legislation is the result of ongoing collaboration with the presenters, as well as the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, and the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

The Healing Place

This week, I was privileged to visit The Healing Place in Louisville, and got to listen to some incredibly difficult, heartbreaking, and inspiring stories from women who were taking their first steps in recovery. The mission of The Healing Place is to reach individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, provide the tools for recovery, and restore meaningful and productive lives.

Every day, The Healing Place provides food, shelter, clothing, and recovery services to nearly 1,000 individuals at no cost, yet the program saves Metro Louisville taxpayers more than $13 million every year in judicial and prison costs and more than $7 million every year in emergency room visits and other healthcare costs. In addition, The Healing Place was recognized as a “Model That Works” by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The Healing Place model has been replicated in 14 Recovery Kentucky sites across the Commonwealth as well as sites in Richmond, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina.

To learn more about the program, visit

There are many ways you can support the work of The Healing Place. Whether you are able to give a little or a lot, write a check or simply stop by with an unneeded household item, every little bit helps people struggling with addiction to find assistance and hope.

The Healing Place is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and all gifts are tax deductible. Below, you can find ways to help support this great program:


Checks can be mailed to:
The Healing Place
Development Office
1020 W. Market Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Donations can also be made online.






Donations are accepted Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. Donations may be brought to the men’s campus at 1020 W. Market St. or the women’s campus at 1503 S. 15th St. You can also select items from the Amazon Wish List.


Did you know that you can raise money for The Healing Place through your Facebook page? 100% of donations go directly to The Healing Place. Click here to get started.


If your business or organization is interested in conducting a clothing, coat, or hygiene item drive, please e-mail The Healing Place.


Fill out our volunteer application.

Where Y’all Really From?

For Immediate Release:

September 16, 2021

State Rep. Nima Kulkarni joins with Louisville Public Media & AAPI co-creators  to promote new podcast focused on Asian Americans in Kentucky

 LOUISVILLE – State Representative Nima Kulkarni, the first Indian-American to serve in the General Assembly, has teamed up with Louisville Public Media and three other co-creators to produce a new podcast focused on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the Commonwealth.

            “I’m incredibly proud to work with community leaders like Charlene Buckles, Mae Suramek, and Dan Wu to create ‘Where Y’all Really From?,’” said Rep. Kulkarni. “The idea for this podcast really came from a desire to create a space where the Asian American experience, history, and perspective in Kentucky is highlighted. After hundreds of people showed up to support our AAPI community in the wake of the tragic shootings in the Atlanta area earlier this year, I felt that we needed a new way to continue those difficult conversations, and to try and combat the rise of anti-Asian and anti-immigrant hate in our communities, through shared stories and experiences.

            “I’m excited to join with Louisville Public Media and my friends to make this podcast possible and hope it draws a wide audience, because our story is not just for us to hear,” the Louisville legislator added.  “I know that the thousands of AAPI residents here in Kentucky will learn from and relate to this podcast, and will also know they are not alone.”

            “We are so excited to share the voices and stories of the AAPI community living and learning in Kentucky,” said co-creator Mae Suramek, who is a social entrepreneur and a restaurant owner in Berea.  “It’s been a long time coming. This podcast pushes the narrative of what it means to belong, what it means to be a Kentuckian.”

            The first two episodes of  “Where Y’all Really From” will premiere on September 21, and the remaining 10 episodes will be released weekly on Tuesdays.  The show will be available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and, and a two-minute promotional trailer has been posted.

          The hosts are Charlene Buckles, a Louisville-based activist and fundraiser with ACLU of Kentucky, and Dan Wu, a business owner and activist in Lexington.  They, Rep. Kulkarni and Mae Suramek are the podcast’s creators.

          The first episode features those directly involved with the podcast talking about their own experiences as Asian Americans in Kentucky, what the name of their show means and why conversations like this are important.

          The second episode will feature University of Louisville President Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, the first person of color to lead the university.  Their conversation, according to Louisville Public Media, examines why Asian Americans tend to be overrepresented in middle management but underrepresented in leadership positions.  They will also discuss why women and people of color often replace white male leaders during times of controversy.

          Other episodes will focus on Asian-American children living in rural Kentucky; the journey from refugee to Kentuckian; Asian American representation in pop culture; and the experiences that trans-racial adoptees have.

          “Where Y’all Really From” is the first podcast from Louisville Public Media’s Podcast Incubator, which is focused on developing podcasts for people not usually represented in public media.  Those include people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants and those of marginalized gender.

          “I want to thank Louisville Public Media for being such great partners in this podcast and for amplifying our voices this way,” Rep. Kulkarni said.  “My friends and I are looking forward to promoting those stories that too often are not heard but are such an important part of Kentucky’s own.”

          More information about the podcast can be found here:





Special Session

On September 7th, the General Assembly was called in to a Special Legislative Session in response to a decision by the Kentucky Supreme Court in August, which allowed the legislature to significantly limit a governor’s executive authority to impose emergency health measures during the pandemic, including indoor mask mandates for K-12 schools, preschools and child care facilities.

The House and Senate met for three days, ending their work just before midnight on Thursday.  By the time the final gavel fell, the General Assembly had approved five bills and one joint resolution:

House Joint Resolution 1: Extending state of emergency to January 15, 2022

Senate Bill 1: Nullifying mask mandates statewide 

Not surprisingly, most of the debate centered on Governor Beshear’s and the Kentucky Department of Education’s ability to require face coverings, especially in schools and daycares.  I believe that’s an important tool, especially when the number of positive cases is starting to exceed 5,000 a day.

The legislation takes that statewide authority away, but maintains it locally.  All but 6 school districts in Kentucky, including our largest, have already said they plan to keep the masking requirements in place as it is CDC protocol for children ages two and up.

Schools will also be able to opt into test-to-stay programs that will ease the number of students and staff needing to quarantine if exposed.  This will help, but it likely will not be available where there are already critical medical shortages.  The cost could be prohibitive, too; statewide, expenses could exceed $60 million a week.

School Districts will have more remote-learning days to use and more flexibility in how they are implemented.  An attempt to make this fairer for large districts was turned down, however, meaning a system as large as Jefferson County Public Schools – with more than 150 facilities – will still lose a day of remote instruction even if only one classroom in one school needs it.

The legislation also extends many previously issued emergency executive orders, including easing rules so qualified out-of-state medical personnel can work in the commonwealth and public retirees and retired teachers can return to jobs where the need is greatest without sacrificing benefits.

Senate Bill 2: Banning future statewide mask mandates and nursing home visitor prohibitions

Senate Bill 2 declares the statewide facemask mandate void but encourage vaccinations, COVID-19 testing and greater access to monoclonal antibody treatments, such as Regeneron. I attempted to add an amendment that would provide a pause to organizations throughout the Commonwealth who are providing rental funds directly to landlords. This amendment was defeated on procedural grounds, but I will be introducing legislation that would allow for the backlog of over $300 million unused federal dollars to be disbursed as quickly as possible.

Senate Bill 2 also:

  • Requires Kentucky’s public universities to develop and initiate public awareness campaigns encouraging people to get vaccinated. One focus will be on developing partnerships with athletes, coaches and health care providers to promote the vaccine’s benefits.
  • Assists health care providers, jails, prisons, homeless shelters and local health departments in acquiring COVID-19 tests.
  • Makes it easier to administer the vaccine at the offices of primary care physicians.
  • Allows paramedics to work in hospitals to relieve a nursing shortage.
  • establishes safety protocols for so-called essential compassionate care visitors in long-term care facilities during pandemic-induced lockdowns. They could be a family member, legal guardian or close friend.

Senate Bill 3: Appropriating $69 million of ARPA funds for pandemic

These funds will be redirected to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services to help health care providers, schools and others to implement provisions of SB 1 and SB 2. These include the purchase of COVID-19 tests, the establishment of regional monoclonal antibody treatment centers and test-to-stay programs in schools.

Senate Bill 4: No legislator compensation for veto days in special session

Senate Bill 5: Funding to lure Hardin County economic development project 

This bill appropriated $410 million of the $1.7 billion surplus towards economic incentives for projects valued at $2 billion or more. I passed on this bill in committee, and was the only one to do so, because I believe that we are stewards of taxpayer money and must have as much information as possible before appropriating funds like this towards economic development projects. Braidy Industries was fresh in most legislators’ minds. Ultimately, I voted for the bill, primarily because of the multiple levels of oversight and reporting built in to the legislation. I will continue to monitor how these funds are being used to ensure that we actually receive the economic development benefits touted with this bill.

There were benefits and shortcomings in all of these bills, and I welcome your thoughts or comments about the special legislative session.  My email is, while the toll-free message line for all state legislators is 1-800-372-7181.

Uniform Public Expression Protection Act

During the August meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary, Representative Jason Nemes and I presented anti-SLAPP legislation before Senate and House committee members. I have filed anti-SLAPP legislation since 2019, and am very encouraged that it is moving forward in the legislative process. This particular legislation reflects extensive research and best practices that the Uniform Law Commission put into crafting a model bill in 2020 for consistent use in courts nationwide.

Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) are complaints filed to intimidate individuals and deter them from speaking out in public forums. This threat of costly, long-term litigation has been used to silence whistleblowers, journalists, and political protestors across the country. Examples of SLAPP suits range from restaurant owners threatening defamation suits against customers who leave negative reviews on a website and developers suing citizens protesting the use of eminent domain in their neighborhood. Even sexual assault victims have been threatened with SLAPP suits in an attempt to silence them from going public.

Over twenty states have passed free speech laws designed to counteract this phenomenon and protect peaceful protests and rigorous journalism from frivolous, bad faith lawsuits designed to silence speech. In many of these states, anyone who is subjected to a SLAPP can petition a judge to immediately dismiss the case if their speech dealt with a matter of public concern. However, in many states these laws are still narrowly written. Kentucky is one of the handful of states with no legal protections against SLAPP suits, and the state legislature must work to pass a law that protects the people of Kentucky from these meritless suits.

We should make it easier, not harder, for all Kentuckians to participate in civic life and exercise their First Amendment rights. By passing these new protections, Kentucky will be a leader in protecting free speech rights. We can accomplish this by passing legislation that:

  • Allowing judges to dismiss SLAPP suits that target constitutionally protected speech
  • Requiring courts to adjudicate the suit within a reasonable period of time
  • Allowing judges to award attorney’s fees and costs to the victim of a SLAPP suit to deter future frivolous litigation

This bill has broad bipartisan support, and organizations like the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, Pegasus Institute, Kentucky Open Government Coalition, Kentucky Press Association, and Public Participation Project all support it strongly.