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January 29, 2016

January 29, 2016

Journalists from around the state discuss news of the week with host Bill Bryant. Guests: Tom Loftus from the Louisville Courier-Journal; Lawrence Smith from WDRB-TV in Louisville; and Nick Storm from cn|2.
S42 E13 Length 26:35 Premiere: 1.29.16

News of the Week: January 29, 2016

As they start their fifth week of the General Assembly session, legislators have a budget proposal from the governor, and incumbent lawmakers seeking re-election this year know who they might face in November.

With those two milestones out of the way, the real work can begin in Frankfort.

The panel on last weekend’s Comment on Kentucky discussed Gov. Matt Bevin’s spending plan and what the candidate filing deadline tells us about key state political races this year.

Governor Proposes ‘Conservative’ Budget
Bevin’s budget calls for cutting about $650 million from state spending to help free up money to put towards the unfunded liabilities in the public teacher and employee retirement systems. Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier-Journal in Louisville calls the governor’s plan a “conservative budget” that sticks to Bevin’s campaign pledge to downsize state government.

While Bevin protected base funding for primary and secondary education, Loftus says many extended school services like family resource centers and pre-kindergarten programs will lose dollars. He says higher education also took a significant hit, and the state’s public universities could see their appropriation tied to certain performance-based criteria.

Despite saying he wants to end the practice of taking excess money in protected accounts to pay other government bills, Bevin’s plan does call for several fund sweeps. Loftus says the governor wants to take $500 million from the public employee health insurance fund and $10 million from the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund to set aside for future retirement system payments. Loftus says State Budget Director John Chilton contends paying down pension debts is a higher priority than conserving scenic and natural areas.

If Bevin’s call for 9 percent cuts across all state agencies holds, and if revenue projections remain strong, Loftus says Kentucky’s Rainy Day Fund could contain as much as $523 million by the end of the biennium. Loftus says that’s close to what national credit rating agencies say the state’s emergency reserves should be.

A Busy Election Cycle Ahead
More than 300 individuals filed to compete for state and federal offices in the commonwealth this year. When the filing window closed last Tuesday, the list of who is and isn’t running yielded several surprises.

Eleven sitting state representatives chose not to seek re-election, according to Nick Storm of cn|2. That group includes Democrats Johnny Bell of Glasgow and Leslie Combs of Pikeville. Storm says those open races offer significant opportunities for Republicans to pick up House seats and possibly gain control of the chamber.

In all, 220 people filed to run for state House and Senate seats. Storm says Rep. Jonathan Shell (R-Lancaster) was tasked with recruiting GOP candidates this year and secured 91 to seek office. Only eight Democrats in the General Assembly will go unchallenged in this election cycle.

Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville says several state senators will face primary challengers this May. Jefferson County Democrats Gerald Neal and Tom Riner as well as Republican Ron Crimm will face opposition from within their own parties. Smith says that may indicate that voters feel the incumbents are out of touch with their constituents.

In the race for U.S. Senate, seven Democrats filed for the chance to run against Sen. Rand Paul in November. The big name in that group is Lexington Mayor Jim Gray. Nick Storm says it will be interesting to see how the openly gay Democrat fares with rural Kentucky voters.

Abortion Matters in the News
Late last week the state House overwhelmingly approved an informed consent bill to regulate abortion services. Storm says this is the first time in years that the lower chamber has passed a pro-life measure sent to it by the Senate. With Democrats only holding 50 House seats (one fewer than a constitutional majority), Storm says Republicans were able to force the issue to a floor vote.

The original legislation required patients to have a face-to-face consultation with a medical professional 24 hours before having an abortion. The House amended the bill to say that consultation could be done by video teleconference to save the patient additional travel expenses. The measure now goes back to the Senate for concurrence on the new language.

While that issue played out in the legislature, the Bevin administration ordered a Jefferson County clinic to stop providing abortions. Lawrence Smith says Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky recently began offering the procedures in Louisville. He says Bevin contends the clinic doesn’t have the proper licensing to do abortions because Planned Parenthood hasn’t contracted with an ambulance service and hospital to provide emergency care if needed by a patient.

Smith says the clinic has stopped providing abortions until they fully complete the licensing process.

The opinions expressed on Comment on Kentucky and in this program synopsis are the responsibility of the participants and do not necessarily reflect those of KET.

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Comment on Kentucky

About Comment on Kentucky

KET's longest-running public affairs program has been assembling journalists to offer perspectives on the week's news and newsmakers since 1974. The program is hosted by Bill Bryant.

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Season 42 Episodes

October 28, 2016

S42 E52 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.28.16

October 21, 2016

S42 E51 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10.21.16

October 14, 2016

S42 E50 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.14.16

October 7, 2016

S42 E49 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.7.16

September 30, 2016

S42 E48 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.30.16

September 23, 2016

S42 E47 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.23.16

September 16, 2016

S42 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.15.16

September 9, 2016

S42 E45 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.9.16

September 2, 2016

S42 E44 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.2.16

August 26, 2016

S42 E43 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.26.16

August 19, 2016

S42 E42 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.19.16

August 12, 2016

S42 E41 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.12.16

August 5, 2016

S42 E40 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.5.16

July 29, 2016

S42 E39 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.29.16

July 22, 2016

S42 E38 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.22.16

July 15, 2016

S42 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.15.16

July 8, 2016

S42 E36 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.7.16

July 1, 2016

S42 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.1.16

June 24, 2016

S42 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.24.16

June 17, 2016

S42 E33 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.17.16

June 10, 2016

S42 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.10.16

June 3, 2016

S42 E31 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.3.16

May 27, 2016

S42 E30 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.27.16

May 20, 2016

S42 E29 Length 26:53 Premiere Date 5.20.16

May 13, 2016

S42 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.13.16

May 6, 2016

S42 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.6.16

April 29, 2016

S42 E26 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.29.16

April 22, 2016

S42 E25 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.22.16

April 15, 2016

S42 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.15.16

April 8, 2016

S42 E23 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 4.7.16

April 1, 2016

S42 E22 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 3.31.16

March 25, 2016

S42 E21 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.25.16

March 18, 2016

S42 E20 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 3.18.16

March 11, 2016

S42 E19 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.11.16

March 4, 2016

S42 E18 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.4.16

February 26, 2016

S42 E17 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.26.16

February 19, 2016

S42 E16 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.19.16

February 12, 2016

S42 E15 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 2.12.16

February 5, 2016

S42 E14 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.5.16

January 29, 2016

S42 E13 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 1.29.16

January 22, 2016

S42 E12 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.22.16

January 15, 2016

S42 E11 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.15.16

January 8, 2016

S42 E10 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.8.16

January 1, 2016

S42 E9 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.1.16

December 18, 2015

S42 E7 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.18.15

December 11, 2015

S42 E6 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 12.11.15

December 4, 2015

S42 E5 Length 24:51 Premiere Date 12.4.15

November 27, 2015

S42 E4 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.27.15

November 20, 2015

S42 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.20.15

November 13, 2015

S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.13.15

November 6, 2015

S42 E1 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.6.15

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