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March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017

Journalists from around the state discuss news of the week with host Bill Bryant, including President Donald Trump's visit to Louisville on March 20. Guests: Miranda Combs, investigative reporter, WKYT-TV in Lexington, Tom Loftus, Frankfort bureau chief, Louisville Courier-Journal, and Lawrence Smith, reporter, WDRB-TV in Louisville.
S43 E18 Length 26:32 Premiere: 3.24.17

News of the Week: March 24, 2017

For a while it looked like Kentucky might be a focus of the national debate on the GOP’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Within the span of 10 days, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump visited the commonwealth to tout the American Health Care Act proposed by congressional Republicans.

Then on Friday, it all fell apart.

The journalists on KET’s Comment on Kentucky examined the repeal-and-replace drama and the role state lawmakers played in it. They also reviewed the fates of several bills pending in the General Assembly and discussed new developments in the drug addiction crisis.

The Health Care Debate
More than 17,000 people packed Louisville’s Freedom Hall to see President Trump last Monday. Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV says the president highlighted his executive orders to rescind coal regulations and limit immigration.

Trump also told the crowd that the Affordable Care Act has been a disaster for Kentucky. Smith says the president said the Republican replacement plan would be good for the commonwealth. At the same time Trump pledged to protect those Kentuckians who rely on Medicaid for their health care, says Smith.

But as the week progressed, opposition to the GOP proposal grew to fatal proportions. Smith says there were simply too many progressives on the left and conservatives on the right pulling against the bill, leaving too few lawmakers in the middle to form a coalition large enough to pass the legislation. For example, Democrat John Yarmuth (3rd District), Tea Party Republican Thomas Massie (4th District), and Republican Sen. Rand Paul were all vocal critics of the plan.

After House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a statement saying, “Obamacare is failing the American people and I deeply appreciate the efforts of the Speaker and the president to keep our promise to repeal and replace it.” Smith says he’s curious to see if Paul now tries to bring more attention to the ACA replacement bill he’s proposed.

Tom Loftus of the Courier-Journal says it was a long shot to try to pass such complex legislation so quickly. He says it will also be difficult to unravel the popular aspects of the ACA from the parts that Republicans are eager to change. Loftus says he expects Gov. Matt Bevin to continue to push forward with his plan to overhaul the Medicaid expansion in Kentucky. Bevin contends those changes are needed to contain soaring costs, while opponents of the governor’s plan say it will result in fewer people being covered. Federal regulators have yet to rule on Bevin’s request.

Legislative Session Nears Completion
The Kentucky General Assembly convenes Wednesday and Thursday for the last two days of the 2017 session. Among the high-profile legislation that awaits final approval are massive measures on K-12 education and criminal justice issues.

Loftus says Senate Bill 1 would give more authority to local school districts and overhaul teacher evaluations, school curricula, and accountability measures. The Senate must concur with several House amendments to SB 1, which Loftus says he expects to happen this week. He says he also believes Senate Bill 120 will receive final approval. It’s an omnibus measure that seeks to help prisoners re-enter society and provide them with more job training and drug treatment options.

Legislation to address racial disparities in juvenile justice cases appears to be dead for this session. Miranda Combs of WKYT-TV in Lexington says Senate Bill 20 would identify points of disproportionate minority contact within the state’s criminal justice system. She says Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville), the sponsor of the measure, is concerned that African-American youth are overrepresented compared to their proportion of the general population in the state. Combs says Westerfield hopes to work with the courts and other entities that interact with juvenile offenders to assess the problem even without legislation to mandate a review.

Other legislation still pending, according to Loftus, includes House Bill 333 to resolve financing problems for Louisville’s KFC YUM! Center. He says the House prefers simply extending the life of the tax increment financing (TIF) district around the arena, which helps pay for operating costs. Lawmakers in the Senate want to cap TIF revenues and require additional financial contributions from Metro Louisville government and the University of Louisville.

The House and Senate are also at odds over competing bills to address the drug crisis. Loftus says each chamber prefers its own version of a measure that toughens penalties for traffickers of heroin and the synthetic narcotic fentanyl, and limits the number of days that doctors can supply certain patients with prescription painkillers.

Other Updates on the Addiction Crisis
First responders are discovering a troubling new trend among those with a drug addiction. Combs says overdose victims are declining hospital treatment after they’ve received the life-saving drug naloxone. She says police and paramedics in Kenton County find that they end up making multiple runs to the same locations to revive overdose victims they’ve treated in the recent past. Combs says first responders find it frustrating that drug users won’t use an overdose incident as an opportunity to seek hospitalization and treatment for their addiction.

Another development involves complications from the use of dirty needles to inject narcotics intravenously. Combs says the syringes can carry a type of bacteria that infects the heart valves of drug users. That’s resulted in a rise in expensive and complicated valve replacement surgeries for individuals in their 20s. She says the valves aren’t designed for patients that young, so the replacement valves will likely have to be replaced within a number of years.

A drug treatment facility in Lawrence County is specializing in helping pregnant women kick their drug habits. Combs says Karen’s Place Maternity Center in Louisa treats expectant mothers and provides them a place to stay for the first three months of their newborn’s life. Combs says the program seeks to teach the mothers a new way to live rather than sending them home with an unresolved addiction and a new baby.

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 43 Episodes

October 27, 2017

S43 E50 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 10.27.17

October 20, 2017

S43 E49 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 10.20.17

October 13, 2017

S43 E48 Length 26:44 Premiere Date 10.13.17

October 6, 2017

S43 E47 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 10.6.17

September 29, 2017

S43 E46 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 9.29.17

September 22, 2017

S43 E45 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 9.22.17

September 15, 2017

S43 E44 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 9.15.17

September 8, 2017

S43 E43 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.8.17

September 1, 2017

S43 E42 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.1.17

August 25, 2017

S43 E41 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.25.17

August 18, 2017

S43 E40 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.18.17

August 11, 2017

S43 E39 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 8.12.17

August 4, 2017

S43 E38 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.4.17

July 29, 2017

S43 E37 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.28.17

July 21, 2017

S43 E36 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.24.17

July 14, 2017

S43 E35 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 7.14.17

July 7, 2017

S43 E34 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.7.17

June 30, 2017

S43 E33 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 6.30.17

June 23, 2017

S43 E32 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 6.23.17

June 16, 2017

S43 E31 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 6.16.17

June 9, 2017

S43 E30 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 6.9.17

June 2, 2017

S43 E29 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.5.17

May 26, 2017

S43 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.26.17

May 19, 2017

S43 E27 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.22.17

May 12, 2017

S43 E26 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 5.12.17

May 5, 2017

S43 E25 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 5.8.17

April 28, 2017

S43 E24 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 4.28.17

April 21, 2017

S43 E23 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.24.17

April 14, 2017

S43 E22 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 4.17.17

April 7, 2017

S43 E21 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.10.17

March 31, 2017

S43 E19 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 3.31.17

March 24, 2017

S43 E18 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 3.24.17

March 17, 2017

S43 E17 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 3.17.17

March 10, 2017

S43 E16 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 3.10.17

March 3, 2017

S43 E15 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 3.3.17

February 24. 2017

S43 E14 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.24.17

February 17, 2017

S43 E13 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 2.17.17

February 10, 2017

S43 E12 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.10.17

February 3, 2017

S43 E11 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 2.3.17

January 27, 2017

S43 E10 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 1.27.17

January 20, 2017

S43 E9 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.20.17

January 13, 2017

S43 E8 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 1.13.17

January 6, 2017

S43 E7 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 1.6.17

December 16, 2016

S43 E6 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 12.16.16

December 9, 2016

S43 E5 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 12.9.16

December 2, 2016

S43 E4 Length 24:46 Premiere Date 12.2.16

November 18, 2016

S43 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.18.16

November 11, 2016

S43 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.11.16

November 4, 2016

S43 E1 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 11.4.16

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