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July 22, 2016

July 22, 2016

Journalists discuss the week's political news with host Bill Bryant, including Kentucky delegates' presence at the Republican National Convention. Guests: Bill Estep from the Lexington Herald-Leader; Michael Gossum from WBKO-TV in Bowling Green; and Tom Loftus from the Louisville Courier-Journal.
S42 E38 Length 26:31 Premiere: 7.22.16

News of the Week: July 22, 2016

One party convention is finished, another one begins today, and Fancy Farm is just around the corner.

The busy summer of politics continues both on the national stage and around the commonwealth. The journalists on KET’s Comment on Kentucky recapped the Republican National Convention, reviewed other election stories, and updated several lawsuits pending in state courts.

Convention Recap
The just-completed Republican National Convention included remarks by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and state Sen. Ralph Alvarado. Michael Gossum of WBKO-TV in Bowling Green says Alvarado paid tribute to his parents who were legal immigrants to America. (His father hails from Costa Rica and his mother is from Argentina). The Winchester Republican is the first Hispanic elected to the Kentucky General Assembly. Gossum says Alvarado’s national debut seemed to go well as his charisma appealed to the convention crowd.

McConnell drew a more mixed reaction, says Gossum. He says some of the more conservative RNC attendees booed the Senate Majority Leader. Gossum adds that McConnell enjoyed criticizing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sec. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, made several trips to Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes, who ran against McConnell in 2014.

Fifth district Congressman Hal Rogers attended the convention but did not speak. Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader says Rogers told reporters that the GOP needs to unite behind Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Rogers contends that a victory for Clinton would in essence be a continuation of the Obama administration, extending his environment policies on coal and coal mining.

Fellow Republicans U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and 2nd district Congressman Brett Guthrie did not go to Cleveland. Gossum says Paul, an ophthalmologist, spent the week in western Kentucky hosting several town halls and performing pro bono eye surgeries. Guthrie also conducted constituent meetings and spent time with his family, according to Gossum.

Other Election News
The annual Fancy Farm political picnic will be held on Aug. 6 in Graves County. Gossum says U.S. Senate candidates Rand Paul and Jim Gray will speak, as will Gov. Matt Bevin. He says state Attorney General Andy Beshear won’t attend this year. Gossum adds that picnic organizers hope to feature representatives from the Trump and Clinton presidential campaigns, as well as a surrogate for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

The Republican Party of Kentucky (RPK) holds a significant fundraising advantage over the state Democrats heading into the fall elections. Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier-Journal says the latest Federal Election Commission numbers show the RPK with $1.6 million in the bank while the Kentucky Democratic Party only has about $73,000 on hand. Loftus says that could give Republicans an edge in their efforts to gain control of the state House of Representatives. But he says fundraising efforts for the fall campaign are just getting started, and many races could hinge on how much individual candidates as well as related super PACs might raise.

One such group got a significant boost from a Louisville businessman. Loftus says Humana co-founder David Jones donated $250,000 to Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super PAC that was formed to help Sen. McConnell during his 2014 reelection bid. Now the group is focused on flipping the state House to GOP control. Loftus says Jones is deeply concerned about public pension liabilities and thinks Republicans are better positioned to reform the retirement systems.

Recent special elections are enabling more alcohol sales around the commonwealth. Bill Estep says there have been 51 votes in the past two years to expand alcohol sales or allow them for the first time in historically dry precincts, communities or counties. Of those elections, Estep says 42 have been successful. He says recent votes allowed Cumberland and Metcalfe Counties to go wet, and Mayfield and Williamsburg to expand local sales of alcoholic beverages.

For years a jurisdiction could only be totally wet or completely dry, says Estep. But in 2000, the state legislature changed the law to allow sales by the drink under certain restrictions, such as only at large restaurants or at a golf course clubhouse. Estep says proponents of alcohol sales argue it creates jobs, boosts tourism, and generates tax revenues. He says dry locations are more likely to have a wet-dry vote if a neighboring community or county goes wet.

In the Courts
The U.S. Dept. of Justice has sued to block the acquisition of Louisville-based Humana, the nation’s fifth largest health insurer, by Connecticut-based Aetna, which is the third largest health insurance provider in the U.S. Tom Loftus says federal officials contend the merger would reduce competition in the health insurance market and drive up costs for consumers. He says the suit also puts the 12,000 Humana employees in Louisville in limbo until there’s a resolution to the case. The Justice Department also sued to halt the merger of two other health care giants, Anthem and Cigna.

Attorney General Andy Beshear scored two minor victories in his efforts to check the executive authority of Gov. Bevin. Last week, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled that Beshear could join separate lawsuits dealing with the governor’s reorganization of the Kentucky Retirement System Board of Directors and the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

The KRS suit involves whether Bevin had the power to remove Tommy Elliott as board chairman, and to increase the number of members on the board. Loftus says after Shepherd’s ruling, Republicans called on Beshear to withdraw from the case, citing his longstanding relationship with Elliott. Loftus explains that Beshear represented Elliott in a 2010 civil case before the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance for his handling of campaign and inaugural funds for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. Elliott later contributed $2,000 to Behsear’s campaign for attorney general, according to Loftus.

The Bevin administration argued that Beshear should be disqualified from challenging the U of L restructuring because an opinion from former Attorney General Jack Conway indicates that governors do have the authority to reorganize state boards. Loftus says Judge Shepherd said that opinion didn’t apply to this particular case.

Loftus says Shepherd is expected to decide in the next several weeks whether to put a hold on Bevin’s restructuring of both the U of L and the KRS boards. If that occurs, Loftus says both entities would revert back to their previous board memberships until the cases are finally resolved.

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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