Debating Fairness Laws

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Senate Bill 140 and House Bill 171 would amend Kentucky’s civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Although neither measure is expected to make it out of committee during this legislative session, the proposals sparked heated debate on Monday’s edition of Kentucky Tonight.

The bills would add those two protected classes to the stae civil rights act and cover those individuals from discrimination in employment, sale or lease of property, public accommodations, housing insurance, and financial and credit transactions. Covington, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead, and Vicco already have local fairness ordinances. The Danville City Commission is scheduled to consider a similar law next month.

The Kentucky Tonight panel included Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky; Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign; Richard Nelson, executive director of the Commonwealth Policy Center; and Enid Trucios-Haynes, president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

Nelson said he was concerned that fairness laws actually force sexual orientation into the workplace hiring process. “How in the world is the employer supposed to know that somebody is homosexual unless you bring it up?” Nelson asked. “I think employers don’t want to go there.”

Trucios-Haynes responded that 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies already have fairness policies in place.

“They’re not asking people in their interviews what their sexual orientation is,” Trucios-Haynes explained. “More often than not what happens is people are denied promotion opportunities or terminated when an employer finds out that they’re LGBT. So no one is asking for preferences; all we’re asking for is that someone not be targeted and discriminated against merely because of their sexual orientation.”

Watch the full Kentucky Tonight program.

Exploring This I Believe on One to One

Friday, March 21st, 2014

This weekend on One to One, I talk with Dan Gediman, the Louisville producer who recreated the This I Believe series for public radio. In addition to their broadcasts on The Bob Edwards Show, Gediman recently released a book of essays written by Kentuckians. We’ll talk about his work on the series and how he sees This I Believe as an antidote to social media today.

One of our online producers here at KET is John Gregory, a former editor and producer for This I Believe. I asked John to pen a few thoughts about his time with the project:

When This I Believe launched nine years ago, social media was in its infancy and a mobile device was a bulky laptop computer. Now, the entire digital world slips into our pocket with room to spare.

But has this accessibility and immediacy really brought us any closer to knowing those people outside of our circle of Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or Linkedin contacts? I’m not sure it has.

Which is why I still believe in the power of This I Believe. The project can connect us with individuals across the country and around the world who are very different from ourselves. In the seven years I worked on the series, my colleagues and I got to meet an extraordinary array of wonderful people. Very few of them did I actually meet in person. Most of my interactions with essayists occurred through a series of emails and telephone conversations to help them edit and record their statements of belief for the public radio series.

It takes a tremendous courage and trust to plumb the depths of your life experience with a radio producer who calls you out of the blue one day. And yet dozens of people willingly did just that during my time at This I Believe. There was the priest on the Texas-Mexico border who helps Hispanic Americans discover the power of the vote. The Ohio State student who struggles to be more than the depression and addiction that once defined her. The ex-con turned Ivy-League archeologist who pays tribute to the steadfast support of his mother. An Army major in Afghanistan who struggles to understand the death of one of his soldiers. A diner waitress in Chicago who learned the benefits of talking to strangers. The Guyanese writer who finds poetry not just in words but in dance. And the Alabama college professor who realizes “home” is a potent mix of memory and reality.

Without This I Believe, I never would have gotten to know these folks and so many more. They likely wouldn’t have come up in my RSS feed, been pinned in Pinterest, or become a friend on Facebook. But getting to know them and their stories enriched my life; reading their essays may also enrich yours.

That is the enduring legacy of This I Believe – and it’s one in which you can participate. Tell them, what do you believe?

One to One with Dan Gediman airs Sunday at 1 p.m. on KET.

Debating Medical Review Panels

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

It was good to be back on the air Monday with Kentucky Tonight after our brief hiatus for TeleFund — thank you all for your financial support of KET!

Last night we had a solid, vigorous discussion about medical review panels. The Kentucky General Assembly is considering Senate Bill 119, which would require those with medical malpractice claims to go before a review panel before they’re allowed to move forward with litigation in court. The measure passed the state Senate in February and awaits action by a House committee.

The bill would create a three-person expert panel, with a member selected by each side in the dispute and a third panel member selected by those experts. The panel would review the evidence in the case.

Proponents, including Kentucky Tonight guests Dr. Steve Stack, a Lexington physician, and Michael Sutton, a Louisville lawyer and counsel for the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities, argue that the high cost of medical liability insurance in the state is driving away doctors.

Opponents of the bill, including AARP Kentucky President Jim Kimbrough and Vanessa Cantley, a Louisville lawyer and district vice president for the Kentucky Justice Association, say the panels would prolong the legal process for those seeking justice and would not improve the quality of care for Kentuckians.

Here’s a excerpt of our conversation.

Watch the full Kentucky Tonight program.

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