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January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

January 9, 2015

Journalists from around the state discuss news of the day with interim host Bill Bryant, WKYT in Lexington. Guests: Adam Beam, Kentucky statehouse reporter, The Associated Press; Linda Blackford, reporter, Lexington Herald-Leader; and Theo Keith, political reporter, WAVE-TV in Louisville.
S41 E10 Length 26:31 Premiere: 1.9.15

A Look at Legislative Priorities

The start of the new year saw lawmakers in Washington and Frankfort hit the ground running with a fresh set of legislative priorities. The panel on this weekend’s Comment on Kentucky discussed what’s ahead for Congress, the state General Assembly, and candidates in the 2015 state elections.

The 114th Congress Convenes
Mitch McConnell was sworn in as Senate Majority Leader on Jan. 6, and Theo Keith of WAVE-TV in Louisville says the senator was eager to complete the ceremony and get to work. Despite veto threats from President Obama, Keith says McConnell wants to push legislation for the Keystone XL Pipeline project, and a change to Obamacare to define a full-time workweek as 40 hours, not 30.

Democratic Congressman and fellow Louisvillian John Yarmuth says McConnell faces significant political challenges in his new job, reports Keith. McConnell must wrangle the 53 other members of his caucus, and find at least 6 Democrats willing to work with him to help move legislation through the chamber. Plus he has 24 members who will face re-election in 2016, not to mention several potential presidential contenders in his ranks.

The president visited Knoxville, Tenn., last week to unveil a proposal to help fund student tuition at community colleges. Linda Blackford of the Lexington Herald-Leader says Obama’s announcement was vague on details but could help boost declining enrollments at Kentucky’s community colleges.

Governor Gives Optimistic Report
In his final State of the Commonwealth address, Gov. Steve Beshear gave an upbeat report on the state’s economy, according to Adam Beam of the Associated Press. With details about lower unemployment, record-setting exports, and a wave of new business investment, Beam says Beshear was setting an optimistic stage for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee to succeed him.

Linda Blackford says two policy items prominent in previous State of the Commonwealth addresses were absent in this year’s speech: expanded gaming and tax reform. Blackford reports that economists suggest Kentucky needs a tax overhaul to support the recent economic gains and generate more revenue for the commonwealth. She says there’s still hope that Beshear will call a special legislative session to tackle tax modernization.

A Busy Legislative Agenda in Frankfort
Blackford says this year’s General Assembly may finally pass protections for couples in dating relationships. She explains that troubling statistics about date-related violence in high schools and colleges have helped coalesce support for the bill. Plus, she says advocates have allayed concerns that allowing dating couples access to emergency protective orders might overload the court system.

Adam Beam says a measure to allow public-private partnerships for transportation projects has wide bipartisan and bicameral support. After numerous attempts at a statewide smoking ban, Beam says that proposal should finally get a vote in the House this session. But the fate of local option sales tax legislation (also known as Local Investments for Transformation) is uncertain. He says some lawmakers, especially Republicans, see it as politically risky to support a measure that essentially allows for higher taxes.

Senate President Robert Stivers announced a surprise agenda item this week when he asked lawmakers to reopen the state budget to fund a cancer research center at the University of Kentucky. Linda Blackford says UK has pledged money and fundraising muscle to the project, but would still need $10 million in state bonding to construct the facility.

2015 Races Heat Up
The candidate-filing deadline for Kentucky governor and other constitutional offices is about two weeks away. Attorney General Jack Conway made his gubernatorial bid official on  Jan. 12 when he filed his paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office. Theo Keith says Conway will reboot his campaign after being absent for much of the last quarter of 2014 due to back surgery.

Bill Bryant of WKYT-TV in Lexington says former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott of Pikeville is expected to run for governor, setting up a three-way GOP primary with James Comer and Hal Heiner.

In another race, 34-year old state Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) filed to run for attorney general. Linda Blackford says Westerfield has earned kudos for his work on the dating violence bill. She reports Westerfield plans to make gay marriage an issue in the race since current Attorney General Conway declined to defend the state’s ban on same-sex unions.

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. 

Program Details

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 41

Eleventh-hour Legislative Recap

S41 E57 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.19.15

March 20, 2015

S41 E56 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.19.15

June 5, 2015

S41 E55 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.4.15

January 30, 2015

S41 E54 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.30.15

January 23, 2015

S41 E53 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 1.23.15

October 30, 2015

S41 E52 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.30.15

October 23, 2015

S41 E51 Length 26:30 Premiere Date 10.23.15

October 16, 2015

S41 E50 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.16.15

October 9, 2015

S41 E49 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.9.15

October 2, 2015

S41 E48 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10.2.15

September 25, 2015

S41 E47 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.25.15

September 18, 2015

S41 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.18.15

September 11, 2015

S41 E45 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.11.15

September 4, 2015

S41 E44 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 9.4.15

August 28, 2015

S41 E43 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 8.27.15

August 21, 2015

S41 E42 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 8.21.15

August 14, 2015

S41 E41 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 8.13.15

August 7, 2015

S41 E40 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 8.6.15

July 31, 2015

S41 E39 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 7.30.15

July 24, 2015

S41 E38 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 7.23.15

July 17, 2015

S41 E37 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.16.15

July 10, 2015

S41 E36 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.9.15

July 3, 2015

S41 E35 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 7.2.15

June 26, 2015

S41 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.25.15

June 19, 2015

S41 E33 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.18.15

June 12, 2015

S41 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.11.15

April 10, 2015

S41 E23 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.9.15

April 3, 2015

S41 E22 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.2.15

March 13, 2015

S41 E19 Length 25:20 Premiere Date 3.12.15

March 6, 2015

S41 E18 Length 24:31 Premiere Date 3.6.15

February 27, 2015

S41 E17 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 2.27.15

February 20, 2015

S41 E16 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.20.15

February 6, 2015

S41 E14 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.6.15

January 16, 2015

S41 E11 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.16.15

January 9, 2015

S41 E10 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.9.15

January 2, 2015

S41 E9 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.2.15

December 19, 2014

S41 E7 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.19.14

December 12, 2014

S41 E6 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.12.14

December 5, 2014

S41 E5 Length 24:31 Premiere Date 12.5.14

November 14, 2014

S41 E2 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 11.14.14

November 7, 2014

S41 E1 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.7.14

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