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November 10, 2017

November 10, 2017

Journalists from around the state discuss the news of the week with host Bill Bryant, including the latest on proposed public pension legislation. Guests: Adam Beam, Kentucky statehouse reporter, The Associated Press; Tom Loftus, Frankfort bureau chief, Louisville Courier Journal; and Beth Musgrave, reporter, Lexington Herald-Leader
S44 E2 Length 26:33 Premiere: 11.10.17

News of the Week: November 10, 2017

Last week’s surprise resignation of Rep. Jeff Hoover as speaker of the state House of Representatives upended the GOP majority in Frankfort and their plans for pension reform.

The journalists on KET’s Comment on Kentucky discussed the ramifications of the sexual harassment settlement agreement involving Hoover and three other House Republicans. They also reviewed the latest in the pension debate, challenges facing the state’s U.S. senators, prospects for the 2018 elections.
 

Hoover Hospitalized Following Resignation
Just days after The Courier-Journal reported that he had secretly settled a sexual harassment claim, Rep. Hoover resigned as House Speaker on Nov. 5. In his statement, the Jamestown Republican admitted making mistakes and apologized for them, but he denied harassing anyone, according to Tom Loftus. When Hoover finally announced his resignation as Speaker at the end of his statement, Loftus says the lawmaker’s voice cracked with emotion.

Loftus says Hoover wanted the speaker’s job his whole life. Hoover’s father was a long-time Republican operative who was elected to the state House in 1986. But Welby Hoover died before taking office, and in his place, party officials selected his wife to represent their south-central Kentucky district. Jeff Hoover followed in his parents’ footsteps and was elected in 1996 to serve that same district.

Loftus says Hoover brought significant political skills and experience to being Speaker, even though he only got to serve in the post for less than a year after Republicans gained control of the House in 2016 elections.

Hoover was hospitalized late last week for a heart-related issue, according to his family. Adam Beam of the Associated Press says Hoover’s father had diabetes and died from a heart attack, and that Hoover himself was diagnosed with diabetes earlier this year. House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook) issued a statement wishing Hoover a speedy recovery, according to Beam.

What’s Next for the House and Pension Reform
For now, Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne (R-Prospect) is serving in Hoover’s place. Beam says Osborne has taken “operational control” of the House but isn’t calling himself speaker. Loftus describes Osborne, who has been a state representative since 2005, as ideologically consistent with Hoover and House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell (R-Lancaster).

The House GOP caucus has launched an investigation into the alleged sexual harassment involving Hoover as well as Representatives Jim DeCesare (R-Bowling Green), Brian Linder (R-Dry Ridge), Michael Meredith (R-Oakland). That investigation is expected to be completed in about 10 days.

Meanwhile House Democrats are calling for an independent review of the allegations. Beth Musgrave of the Lexington Herald-Leader says Democrats fear the findings may be kept private under attorney-client privilege between House Republican leaders and the Louisville law firm they hired to conduct the investigation. But Musgrave says the Republicans have pledge to make the report public.

Among the key questions still to be resolved is how much money was paid under the settlement agreement, and who paid it. Beam says it’s uncertain whether the four men listed in the settlement paid it, or if public funds or private donations were used.

The scandal has interrupted the Bevin Administration’s push to complete public pension reform before the end of the year. Beam says it’s difficult to see a path to a special legislative session in the remaining weeks of 2017 given the harassment investigation and the upheaval in House leadership.

Late last week, consultants released a financial analysis of the proposed changes to the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System. Beam says that review indicates the reforms would cost the state an additional $4.4 billion over the next 20 years. He says that will give critics of the reform legislation more ammunition. A similar analysis of the impacts on the Kentucky Retirement Systems is expected today.

A coalition of groups representing teachers and school officials released their own reform proposal last week. Beam says lawmakers are unlikely to adopt the “Shared Responsibility Plan” but he says the current draft legislation will have to be changed before it will gain enough votes for passage.

U.S. Senate News
The next-door neighbor who allegedly attacked U.S. Rand Paul at his Bowling Green home has pleaded not guilty to assault charges. Beam says Rene Boucher allegedly tackled Paul while the senator was mowing his yard. Paul suffered six broken ribs in the incident and has excess fluid around his lungs.

Beam says no one knows the exact nature of the dispute between the two men, although reports indicate it was an argument over lawn debris. He says Paul has retained a personal injury attorney in the matter.

Paul’s recovery means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has one less Republican vote he needs to ensure passage of the GOP tax reform package, says Beam. That’s yet another headache for Kentucky’s senior senator. Beam says McConnell called on Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to drop out of his race if allegations that Moore had inappropriate relationships with underage girls proved to be true. Moore is running in a special election to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is now U.S. Attorney General.

Election Updates
The filing window for Kentuckians planning to run in the 2018 elections is now open. The Democratic primary in the state’s 6th Congressional district is the focus of intense speculation as Lexington Mayor Jim Gray considers a candidacy in that race. Musgrave says Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3), the state’s only Democrat in Washington, is encouraging Gray to challenge incumbent Rep. Andy Barr.

Gray could prove a strong candidate in such a match up. Musgrave says Gray got 51 percent of the vote in the 6th district in his unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate last year. But Gray must choose whether he wants to seek a third term as Lexington’s mayor or run for Congress, says Musgrave. The Democratic primary in that Congressional race already includes retired Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, state Sen. Reggie Thomas (D-Lexington), and Geoff Young, a former assistant director of the Kentucky Energy Office.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis says she intends to seek reelection. Beam says this will be the first time Davis has faced voters since she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage. Beam says one of the men that Davis denied a license to may challenge her in that race.

And state Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville) announced that he will retire at the end of his term. Wayne has served in the House for 26 years and Loftus says he has been an aggressive and articulate spokesman for the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

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 44 Episodes

October 26, 2018

S44 E51 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.26.18

October 19, 2018

S44 E50 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10.19.18

October 12, 2018

S44 E49 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 10.12.18

October 5, 2018

S44 E48 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 10.5.18

September 28, 2018

S44 E47 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.28.18

September 21, 2018

S44 E46 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.21.18

September 14, 2018

S44 E45 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 9.14.18

September 7, 2018

S44 E44 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 9.7.18

August 31, 2018

S44 E43 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.31.18

August 24, 2018

S44 E42 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 8.24.18

August 17, 2018

S44 E41 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 8.17.18

August 10, 2018

S44 E40 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 8.10.18

August 3, 2018

S44 E39 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 8.3.18

July 27, 2018

S44 E38 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.27.18

July 20, 2018

S44 E37 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 7.20.18

July 13, 2018

S44 E36 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 7.13.18

July 6, 2018

S44 E35 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 7.6.18

June 29, 2018

S44 E34 Length 22:34 Premiere Date 6.29.18

June 22, 2018

S44 E33 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 6.22.18

June 15, 2018

S44 E32 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 6.15.18

June 8, 2018

S44 E31 Length 26:39 Premiere Date 6.8.18

June 1, 2018

S44 E30 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 6.1.18

May 25, 2018

S44 E29 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 5.25.18

May 18, 2018

S44 E28 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 5.18.18

May 11, 2018

S44 E27 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 5.11.18

May 4, 2018

S44 E26 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 5.4.18

April 27, 2018

S44 E25 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 4.27.18

April 20, 2018

S44 E24 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 4.20.18

April 13, 2018

S44 E23 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 4.13.18

April 6, 2018

S44 E22 Length 26:40 Premiere Date 4.6.18

March 30, 2018

S44 E21 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 3.30.18

March 23, 2018

S44 E20 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 3.23.18

March 16, 2018

S44 E19 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 3.16.18

March 9, 2018

S44 E18 Length 26:40 Premiere Date 3.9.18

March 2, 2018

S44 E17 Length 26:36 Premiere Date 3.2.18

February 23, 2018

S44 E16 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 2.23.18

February 16, 2018

S44 E15 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 2.16.18

February 9, 2018

S44 E14 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 2.9.18

February 2, 2018

S44 E13 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 2.2.18

January 26, 2018

S44 E12 Length 26:38 Premiere Date 1.29.18

January 19, 2018

S44 E11 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.19.18

January 12, 2018

S44 E10 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 1.16.18

January 5, 2018

S44 E9 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 1.5.18

December 22, 2017

S44 E8 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 12.22.17

December 15, 2017

S44 E7 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 12.15.17

December 8, 2017

S44 E6 Length 26:46 Premiere Date 12.8.17

December 1, 2017

S44 E5 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 12.1.17

November 24, 2017

S44 E4 Length 26:35 Premiere Date 11.27.17

November 17, 2017

S44 E3 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.17.17

November 10, 2017

S44 E2 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11.10.17

November 3, 2017

S44 E1 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 11.4.17

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