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June 12, 2015

June 12, 2015

Journalists from around the state discuss news of the day with host Bill Bryant. Guests: Adam Beam, Kentucky statehouse reporter, The Associated Press; Jack Brammer, Frankfort bureau chief, Lexington Herald-Leader; and Erica Peterson, environment reporter and managing editor, WFPL in Louisville.
S41 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere: 6.11.15

Week of June 12 Comment on Kentucky

Come July 1, about 800 minimum-wage employees in state government will get a nice pay raise. The question is, will they get to keep it?

The journalists on Comment on Kentucky discussed the political implications of Gov. Steve Beshear’s wage hike and other news in the commonwealth last week.

Beshear’s action affects those employed in the executive branch of state government, and will raise their pay from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Tipped workers such wait staff at state parks will be increased from $2.19 to $4.90. The order also affects minimum-wage earners employed by entities that have personal service contracts with the state. Beshear says the increase was the moral thing to do.

Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader says some Republican lawmakers criticized the move. He says House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) said Beshear took a move from President Obama’s playbook by using executive action to enact something that wouldn’t pass legislatively. In recent sessions the General Assembly has entertained bills to increase the minimum wage in the state, but the measures have failed to pass.

So is the increase permanent? Brammer says the action can be rescinded by the next governor who will take office in December, or by the state legislature. Adam Beam says Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway’s campaign supported the move, while Republican nominee Matt Bevin opposed it. Beam adds that Democrats have made raising the minimum wage a key issue in recent years, but he notes that the issue did little to boost the candidacy of Alison Lundergan Grimes in her U.S. Senate bid last year.

To Reveal or Not to Reveal
The candidates’ tax returns are already becoming an issue in the general election campaign. Adam Beam says Bevin has said he won’t release his returns. The Republican businessman argues that doing so would only create a distraction and does nothing to improve the state’s economy.

Jack Brammer says he expect Democrats to launch campaign ads asking Bevin what he’s trying to hide by keeping his tax returns sealed. Meanwhile Conway has invited reporters to his headquarters this week to review his tax returns for the past three years.

Tax returns have played a role in previous gubernatorial contests. Brammer says in 2007, then-candidate Steve Beshear initially opposed releasing his returns before finally relenting. Brammer says Beshear has released his returns every year since then. In 2011, Republican candidate David Williams declined to release his returns even though Brammer says Williams had criticized a previous GOP gubernatorial candidate for not doing so.

Coal and the Governor’s Race
Both Bevin and Conway took some heat last week for attending a secret coal industry meeting in Bristol, Va., where Brammer says the candidates spoke to more than 100 coal representatives. The media were not notified of the event or permitted to attend, and what the candidates told the group remains unknown.

We do know that the gubernatorial contenders oppose the Obama Administration’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants. Conway was the only Democratic state attorney general to join a lawsuit against the EPA over the proposed rule. Erica Peterson of WFPL Radio in Louisville says a federal appeals court rejected that suit last week, saying the plaintiffs couldn’t sue over a proposed rule. Conway has pledged to renew the challenge if the Clean Power Plan is finalized, which the EPA is expected to do later this year.

Part of the new rule would requires states to present plans for meeting carbon dioxide limits set for their states. The Beshear Administration is already preparing a plan for Kentucky, but Peterson says both Conway and Bevin have pledged not to submit a plan for the commonwealth as a way to protest what they say is EPA overreach.

Compliance Plans at Question
But Peterson notes Kentucky may not have to do anything to meet the target reduction set for the commonwealth. She says a number of coal-fired power plants in Kentucky are already slated for closing under existing EPA regulations for mercury and other toxic air emissions, while other plants are switching to cleaner-burning natural gas. Still another series of generating stations will shutter in the coming years because they’ve reached the end of their operational lives.

Given these changes, Peterson says current state energy officials believe Kentucky may not need to make any further reductions to meet the proposed greenhouse gas limits.

But here’s the irony, according to Peterson: If the next governor fails to submit a reduction plan for Kentucky, then the state would be forced to enact a generic plan developed by the EPA for all non-compliant states. Peterson says that could be force Kentucky to do far more to comply than it otherwise would have if the state had submitted its own reduction plan.

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 41 Episodes

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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