Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky Educational Television’

Political Heavyweights Add Muscle to Hemp Bill

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Kentucky’s Agriculture commissioner recruits some Kentucky ambassadors from the Beltway to muscle through a bill positioning Kentucky for industrial hemp production if the federal government allows.

Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Senate Ag Committee chairman Paul Hornback, calls for the state Ag department to establish conditions and procedures for licensing industrial hemp growers who would have to plant a minimum of 10 acres.

Agriculture Commissioner Comer’s office would assume all of the responsibilities of Senate Bill 50 from certification that hemp seed is below the appropriate THC level, administering background checks and licensing growers, providing GPS mapping of industrial hemp production to law enforcement and inspecting the crops and conducting tests when necessary.

Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer voiced his opposition to the measure out of fear law enforcement would be hard pressed to distinguish between marijuana and hemp in outdoor fields except through laboratory testing.

An unlikely trio of Kentucky’s federal delegation banded together in favor of Senate Bill 50 and made their appeal before the Ag panel: Republican Thomas Massie of the 4th Congressional District; John Yarmuth of the 3rd CD and Kentucky’s junior US Senator Rand Paul.

Paul donned his dress shirt made of hemp made in Canada while  pitching the bill before the Senate Ag panel. He said Kentucky is sending profits to our neighbors up north, which he decried as nonsense. Senator Paul has a plan in Congress to legalize industrial hemp production in this country, or seek a waiver for Kentucky.

Kentucky’s third district Congressman John Yarmuth joked about why an urban federal lawmaker from Louisville is interested in industrial hemp legislation. Yarmuth says he’s interested in hemp because it can mean new jobs.

Thomas Massie, Kentucky’s newest Congressman from the fourth district in Northern Kentucky, spoke in favor of Senate Bill 50 from three different perspectives: as a legislator, a farmer, and an entrepreneur. He and Yarmuth have filed a bill in Congress that would exempt hemp with less than .3 percent of THC concentration from marijuana laws. In economic terms,
Massie explained where Kentucky stands in the hemp movement.

Paul Hornback’s Senate Bill 50 cleared the Senate Ag committee unanimously and now heads to the Senate. In a press conference after the vote, Senate Majority Caucus Chair Dan Seum said he hadn’t gauged Republican’s reception to the bill yet and didn’t know if it would be called for a floor vote this week.

Watch KET’s  “Legislative Update” each weeknight during the session for a report of the day’s Capitol activities at 11pm ET on KET and follow @ReneeKET throughout the day on Twitter for updates.

My Grown-up Christmas Wish

Friday, December 21st, 2012

On the eve of December 14th, 2012, my pre-holiday merriment was devoid of any grim imaginings of the mind-numbing violence we would learn of just hours later at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

My favorite holiday song “Grown-up Christmas List” was blaring that night as just one of the selections (without special significance) on a compilation CD and functioning mostly as background music as I toiled with gift boxes and bows.

I haven’t listened to those lyrics in the same way since last Friday morning when sorrow replaced joy at the news of more young souls plucked before the promise of their bloom.

I was reminded of my own blessed childhood after taping an interview with Susan Pope earlier that week. Pope is a Danville, Ky., playwright, musician, and actor who grew up in a violent household. Her father, who she says suffered from mental illness, exercised his rage on her mother, and sometimes on her and her sister. Her mother would excuse his abuse as provocation on her part, an untruth she needed to believe more than her daughters. After years of abuse, her mother found the courage to leave.

Violence carries its scars, and most of them reside in a survivor’s mind. In dramatic fashion with enormous physicality and dark humor, Susan confronts the trauma of her violent past in her one-woman play “Dreadfully White.” She plays 10 different characters with five-and-a-half Styrofoam wig heads as props and supporting cast. Her portrayal of family abuse is not “in-your-face” or gratuitous. It’s abstract, not purely autobiographical and, at times, zany.

In our interview last week, Susan told me her story of survival and forgiveness and how she reconciled her past so as not to taint her own intimate and parent-child relationships in adulthood. You can watch the show online.

The day of the Newtown shooting, I also learned during another show taping how some who’ve perpetrated violence find redemption beyond facing the consequences for their crimes. In an interview set to air this weekend, ex-con Logan Avritt tells me how he lived a “death-style” life of gang violence. He terrorized targets for money, possessions, or simply because he could — and paid the price for it with a 10-year prison sentence.

Avritt and Quincy Murdock, a former UK football player turned social worker in Fayette County public schools, are helping at-risk kids steer clear of youth violence and gang involvement through their program M.A.D.E. which stands for Motivating Youth All Day Every day. The program teaches conflict resolution, cultural diversity, and media literacy. Their partnership is helping keep kids in school and is getting more diplomas in the hands of those seemingly destined for doom. Our conversation airs Friday at 5pm ET on KET and Sunday at 1:30pm on KET.

In these perilous times when we mourn the premature death (by the most heinous means) of little children and brave adults, I remind myself of the love of those angels and what their deaths teach us.

I am reminded that our children are murdered each day on the streets of our urban cores. Our children are taunted by gangs and lured into their dirty work. They struggle against hunger and sometimes fall victim to it. They suffer at the hands of those entrusted with their care and are failed by a health system that treats the body apart from the mind.

Since Friday, December 14, I appreciate even more those who share their own real-life nightmares of survival, consequence and redemption, and find lessons of healing layered throughout.

In our nation’s grief, we are bound by more than collective condolences for innocents lost. We are united by a grown-up Christmas wish we pray to come true, where “no more lives torn apart, that wars would never start and time would heal all hearts. Every man would have a friend, and right would always win and love would never end…”

Happy Holidays and God bless broken hearts and a healing nation.

Striding ‘Right’ for Black GOP Strategist is a No-brainer

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Charles Badger is not your typical 23 year-old. His tersely stylized, self-description on Twitter provides little insight into what he thinks. In the maximum allowed character length below a picture of a jubilant dude in line dance formation, Charles fonts the following:  “NY-baked-Southern glazed inquisitive Cosmopolitan. Foodie. Bourbonist. Art-Jazz-Hip-Hop lover w/ a change-the-world complex.”

Okay. None of that seems peculiar. And, most of us are down with those having a can-do spirit to make a difference. But, what he doesn’t text out near his cyber avatar that you quickly gather from his Twitter feed is that he’s ‘say it loud, he’s black and he’s proud’ … to be a Republican.

What? Come again? That last part?

It’s a question he’s asked often: ‘why are you, a black man, a Republican?’ Given African Americans’ historic patronage to candidates with the parenthetical ‘D’ flanking her/his name – he understands folks’ curiosity.

Reporters seldom like to look like they’re asking obvious questions, but when I pose it to him in our upcoming interview, his answer provides real insight into his political paradigm. Charles’ urban upbringing in conditions that he says government failed to make better, has a lot to do with his view. He says he lived in a breeding ground for generational poverty that never improved no matter how much public assistance, programs, and services were piped in to help. That’s why he’s a Republican. He’s witnessed – in his words: “the failure of big government.”

Not content to watch from the sidelines and driven by his “change-the-world” complex, the Berea College graduate became a political operative, even before he’d graduated. Charles has already worked for half-a-dozen political campaigns, including the recent 6th congressional district contest that unseated Democrat challenger Ben Chandler. Did I mention Charles is 23?

If you looked carefully at our election night coverage on KET last month, you saw a glimpse of Charles’ brown dome making a cameo behind the night’s new political star, Congressman-elect Andy Barr, who won that 6th congressional district race.  Barr lost to Chandler by less than 700 votes in a match-up two years ago. This time around, Barr scuttled Chandler’s return to the Beltway by more than 11,000 votes. It was a victory he cinched with an arsenal of pro-coal ads, Chandler’s burden of sharing the ticket with a president unpopular in Kentucky, and a tight ground game.  Charles Badger had a heavy hand in Barr’s victory. It wasn’t the first rodeo for either and it showed.

Judging by the way things look now, Charles has a long time ahead in the saddle of politics. When you tune into our interview you’ll learn why. He has a strong command of the issues, a sharp articulation of message, and is trying to change the face we typically associate with the Grand Old Party in Kentucky and beyond.

Check out Charles Badger on Connections — Sunday at 1:30pm on KET. You can watch a preview.

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