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November 13, 2015

November 13, 2015

Journalists discuss news of the week with host Bill Bryant. Guests: Miranda Combs from WKYT-TV in Lexington; Tom Loftus from the Louisville Courier-Journal; and Kevin Wheatley from Pure Politics on cn|2.
S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere: 11.13.15

News of the Week: November 13, 2015

With a month until inauguration day, Gov.-elect Matt Bevin announced two key staff appointments and launched a website for those wanting to work in his administration.

The journalists on Comment on Kentucky reviewed Bevin’s preparations for taking office and discussed whether the Republican will try to recoup his campaign loans and what health care policy changes he might make.

First Two Posts Filled for New Administration
Last week the governor-elect named Lexington attorney Blake Brickman as his chief of staff, and Louisville lawyer Steve Pitt as chief counsel.

Pitt is a 38-year veteran of Wyatt, Tarrant, and Combs LLP. Kevin Wheatley of cn|2 says Pitt negotiated the settlement of a state hiring investigation against former Gov. Ernie Fletcher. He says Pitt is a highly regarded corporate attorney who can help Bevin navigate the state hiring system.

Tom Loftus of the Louisville Courier-Journal says the 36-year-old Brickman will manage the day-to-day affairs of the governor’s office. Brickman’s political pedigree includes serving as a chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, managing Congressman Andy Barr’s re-election campaign, and advising state Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester). He is also the grandson of former Democratic Gov. Ned Breathitt.

Loftus says he’s curious to see how Bevin fills other key appointments in his administration. Since Republicans have held the governor’s office for only four years in the last four decades, Loftus says the GOP has a shallow bench of people with executive branch experience. He says Brickman and Pitt are strong selections, but cautions that it can take upwards of 50 highly qualified people to keep an administration running smoothly.

The Bevin transition team also launched a website last week to accept applications for the hundreds of non-merit jobs that will be open in his administration. Wheatley says the website initially asked for applicants who shared the governor-elect’s “traditional values.” The transition team changed the wording to say “conservative values” so as to better communicate that Bevin would be inclusive in his hiring.

Health Care Debate Continues
Outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear defended his signature health care achievements in a news conference on Friday. Kevin Wheatley reports that Beshear says the Medicaid expansion will cost the state $257 million over the next two years. But Beshear says that will be offset by $557 million in new economic activity resulting from the approximately 400,000 additional people covered under the eligibility expansion.

Beshear also encouraged the incoming governor to keep the state’s health insurance exchange. Should Bevin dismantle Kynect, as he has pledged to do, it would be the first successful state exchange to be shut down, according to Wheatley.

Tom Loftus says the normally stoic Beshear grew emotional as he discussed the thousands of families who are no longer burdened by the stress of not having health insurance. He says Beshear claimed that the health of Kentuckians will continue to improve as long as the reforms remain in place.

Bevin responded to Beshear’s press conference by saying that the time for politics on the issue is over. Kevin Wheatley says Bevin believes the Medicaid expansion isn’t sustainable. He says the Republican is considering changes to the Medicaid program that could include having recipients pay small premiums for their coverage. Wheatley says Bevin’s transition team will continue to explore options for making health care more affordable for the state.

Campaign Debts
Now that the election is over, some are wondering if Bevin will try to recoup the millions of dollars he loaned to his campaign. Tom Loftus estimates the Louisville businessman gave at least $3.5 million to his primary and general election efforts.

He says previous governors who self-financed their campaigns have sought contributions to pay back campaign debts. Although the practice is often criticized, Loftus says soliciting donations is easier once the individual has secured political office.

But asking supporters for money now could put Bevin in an interesting position. Kevin Wheatley says that’s because the Republican campaigned as a political outsider who wasn’t beholden to campaign contributors.

Eastern Kentucky News
Officials in Letcher County are facing the prospect of significant cuts to local government operations, says Miranda Combs of WKYT-TV. She says coal severance revenues for the county are a quarter of what they were only three years ago. Letcher County was once home to some 70 coal mines; now only three remain.

Combs says a new federal prison is slated for the county, which will create temporary construction jobs as well as several hundred permanent positions once the facility opens. She says there’s also hope that the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative will help lift the county out of its economic despair.

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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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

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September 30, 2016

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September 16, 2016

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September 9, 2016

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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

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July 22, 2016

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July 15, 2016

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July 8, 2016

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July 1, 2016

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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

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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

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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

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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

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S42 E3 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.20.15

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S42 E2 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 11.13.15

November 6, 2015

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