Important Issues Face Lawmakers in 2015

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

State public pension woes, a local option sales tax for Kentucky communities, a growing heroin problem all over the state, and an increase in the minimum wage: these are just a few of the issues facing lawmakers in the 2015 General Assembly session.

These topics pose important questions for our state and need your scrutiny. You’ll see lawmakers debating the issues on KET when they speak on the floor of the state House and Senate, or in important committee meetings.

You don’t see them when they’re in the hallways or their offices discussing a piece of legislation with constituents or advocacy groups lobbying for a particular bill. That, according to Kentucky Tonight guest Rep. Denver Butler (D-Louisville), is where the real work gets done during the legislative session.

Monday night, Butler joined fellow Democrat Rep. Terry Mills of Lebanon, and Republican Representatives Brad Montell of Shelbyville and David Floyd of Bardstown to discuss the issues facing lawmakers when they return to Frankfort January 6.

Before the program began, I visited the lawmakers in the KET Green Room to ask about the issues they hope to see addressed in the 2015 session.

Click here to watch the full program and read a recap of the discussion.

Kentucky Tonight will take a few weeks off for the holidays. We’ll return on Monday, January 5 as state House and Senate leaders join me for a discussion about the upcoming legislative session.

To all of you, happy holidays and best wishes for the new year.

A Tough Road for Immigration Reform

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports finds that half of the nation’s voters dislike President Obama’s immigration plan. The executive action he announced last week will allow nearly five million illegal immigrants to remain in this country for three years and apply for jobs. The survey respondents opposed to the plan think it will be bad for the economy and will attract even more illegal immigrants.

Monday on Kentucky Tonight, our panelists found very little to agree on regarding the president’s action. Our guests were attorneys Marilyn Daniel and Rachel Mendoza-Newton, Jessamine County Attorney Brian Goettl, and Lexington businessman Ronald Vissing of Americans First.

Daniel, who co-founded the Maxwell Street Legal Clinic in Lexington, disagreed with Goettl on details regarding how undocumented immigrants might be taxed and the benefits they could receive under Obama’s order.

You can watch the full discussion or read a recap of the conversation.

Kentucky Tonight will be preempted next Monday so that we can bring you special programming for KET’s Winter Pledge. We’ll return with a new show on December 8.

Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

The Issue: Same-Sex Marriage

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Is there a more divisive issue in America than the debate over same-sex marriage?

I’m sure many people across the country would say immigration reform is of paramount importance. Opponents and proponents of the Keystone Pipeline would rank their issue at the top. What about the war raging in the Middle East and the fight against ISIS? That ranks right up there too, doesn’t it? And then there’s Ferguson, Missouri.

But those issues weren’t being discussed Monday on Kentucky Tonight.

Because of the history of the gay marriage debate in Kentucky, from the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the court cases attempting to overturn the ban, we decided to examine and explain the latest legal case in the controversy.

Our guests were Lexington lawyer Stan Cave, Martin Cothran of The Family Foundation of Kentucky, Chris Hartman of the Fairness Campaign, and Laura Landenwich, a Louisville lawyer and counsel for the plaintiffs in the latest case argued before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. They discussed the November 6 decision by that three-judge panel and what the ruling might indicate if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the case this next year.

The Sixth Circuit majority upheld the ban on same-sex marriage in Kentucky; it became the first federal appeals court in the nation to rule against gay marriage.

Most legal experts feel certain that the Supreme Court will now step in and hear arguments to either ban gay marriage across the country or allow LGBT couples who are married to qualify for the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.

Proponents of gay marriage argue that being married protects both the couple and their children. Opponents disagree and say that Kentucky’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage – and other laws like it – should be upheld. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation.

The Supreme Court may make a decision by February whether to hear the case.

Watch the full Kentucky Tonight program, or read a recap.

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