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Lawmakers Review the 2022 General Assembly

Renee Shaw and guests review the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly. Guests: Sen. Robert Stivers (R-Manchester), President of the Senate; Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville), Senate Minority Floor Leader; Rep. David Osborne (R-Prospect), Speaker of the House; and Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Shively), House Minority Floor Leader.
Season 29 Episode 14 Length 56:33 Premiere: 04/18/22

About

Kentucky Tonight

KET’s Kentucky Tonight, hosted by Renee Shaw, brings together an expert panel for in-depth analysis of major issues facing the Commonwealth.

This weekly program features comprehensive discussions with lawmakers, stakeholders and policy leaders that are moderated by award-winning journalist Renee Shaw.

For nearly three decades, Kentucky Tonight has been a source for complete and balanced coverage of the most urgent and important public affairs developments in the state of Kentucky.

Often aired live, viewers are encouraged to participate by submitting questions in real-time via email, Twitter or KET’s online form. Viewers with questions and comments may send an email to kytonight@ket.org or use the contact form. All messages should include first and last name and town or county. The phone number for viewer calls during the program is 800-494-7605.

After the broadcast, Kentucky Tonight programs are available on KET.org and via podcast (iTunes or Android). Files are normally accessible within 24 hours after the television broadcast.

Kentucky Tonight was awarded a 1997 regional Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The series was also honored with a 1995 regional Emmy nomination.

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Renee Shaw is the Director of Public Affairs and Moderator at KET, currently serving as host of KET’s weeknight public affairs program Kentucky Edition, the signature public policy discussion series Kentucky Tonight, the weekly interview series Connections, Election coverage and KET Forums.

Since 2001, Renee has been the producing force behind KET’s legislative coverage that has been recognized by the Kentucky Associated Press and the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Under her leadership, KET has expanded its portfolio of public affairs content to include a daily news and information program, Kentucky Supreme Court coverage, townhall-style forums, and multi-platform program initiatives around issues such as opioid addiction and youth mental health.  

Renee has also earned top awards from the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), with three regional Emmy awards. In 2023, she was inducted into the Silver Circle of the NATAS, one of the industry’s highest honors recognizing television professionals with distinguished service in broadcast journalism for 25 years or more.  

Already an inductee into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame (2017), Renee expands her hall of fame status with induction into Western Kentucky University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in November of 2023.  

In February of 2023, Renee graced the front cover of Kentucky Living magazine with a centerfold story on her 25 years of service at KET and even longer commitment to public media journalism. 

In addition to honors from various educational, civic, and community organizations, Renee has earned top honors from the Associated Press and has twice been recognized by Mental Health America for her years-long dedication to examining issues of mental health and opioid addiction.  

In 2022, she was honored with Women Leading Kentucky’s Governor Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award recognizing her trailblazing path and inspiring dedication to elevating important issues across Kentucky.   

In 2018, she co-produced and moderated a 6-part series on youth mental health that was awarded first place in educational content by NETA, the National Educational Telecommunications Association. 

She has been honored by the AKA Beta Gamma Omega Chapter with a Coretta Scott King Spirit of Ivy Award; earned the state media award from the Kentucky Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 2019; named a Charles W. Anderson Laureate by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet in 2019 honoring her significant contributions in addressing socio-economic issues; and was recognized as a “Kentucky Trailblazer” by the University of Kentucky Martin School of Public Policy and Administration during the Wendell H. Ford Lecture Series in 2019. That same year, Shaw was named by The Kentucky Gazette’s inaugural recognition of the 50 most notable women in Kentucky politics and government.  

Renee was bestowed the 2021 Berea College Service Award and was named “Unapologetic Woman of the Year” in 2021 by the Community Action Council.   

In 2015, she received the Green Dot Award for her coverage of domestic violence, sexual assault & human trafficking. In 2014, Renee was awarded the Anthony Lewis Media Award from the KY Department of Public Advocacy for her work on criminal justice reform. Two Kentucky governors, Republican Ernie Fletcher and Democrat Andy Beshear, have commissioned Renee as a Kentucky Colonel for noteworthy accomplishments and service to community, state, and nation.  

A former adjunct media writing professor at Georgetown College, Renee traveled to Cambodia in 2003 to help train emerging journalists on reporting on critical health issues as part of an exchange program at Western Kentucky University. And, she has enterprised stories for national media outlets, the PBS NewsHour and Public News Service.  

Shaw is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Kentucky, a board member of CASA of Lexington, and a longtime member of the Frankfort/Lexington Chapter of The Links Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit organization of women of color committed to volunteer service. She has served on the boards of the Kentucky Historical Society, Lexington Minority Business Expo, and the Board of Governors for the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. 

Host Renee Shaw smiling in a green dress with a KET set behind her.

House and Senate Leaders Discuss Budget Decisions, Limiting Executive Powers, and Stalled Legislation

With the 2022 General Assembly now completed, lawmakers have a chance to catch their breaths and reflect back on their work during the 60-day session.

“Some highlights were (that) there were some really good things in the budget,” says House Minority Floor Leader Joni Jenkins. “The lowlight, we really passed some really divisive bills about education, about abortion access, and I think there were some missed opportunities with the great revenues that we had to work with this time.”

The Shively Democrat says lawmakers could’ve made big, bold investments in pre-kindergarten funding or infrastructure projects. She says the legislature also should have approved sports betting and medical marijuana.

House Speaker David Osborne (R-Prospect) says he supported those measures – not because of the potential revenues for the state, he contends, but because they make good business sense. He says horse racing interests have acted responsibly in the commonwealth for generations, so allowing them to expand into sports betting is a natural extension of their product base. On medical marijuana, he says he’s tired of “making criminals out of sick people.”

“Our caucus and our chamber felt very strongly about both of those items and passed them pretty handily with bipartisan support,” says Osborne. “Unfortunately, they just didn’t enjoy the same kind of support down there [in the Senate].”

Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) acknowledges that all the research he’s read indicates medicinal marijuana use can help people with certain conditions, such as seizures, pain from joint inflammation, and the side effects of cancer treatments.

“But everyone concluded sample sizes were too small, duration was too short, and more study was needed,” says Stivers.

He says the research also shows that prolonged marijuana use is detrimental to brain development in young people, creates a risk of psychotic episodes, and has more carcinogens than tobacco when smoked.

Medical cannabis advocates criticized Stivers for not bringing House Bill 136 to the Senate floor.

“We are prescribing opiates and morphine to people, but afraid to prescribe marijuana,” says Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville). “It’s a missed opportunity because we’re not putting it for a vote in the state Senate.”

State Employee Compensation

Under the new budget passed by lawmakers, all state employees will get an 8 percent pay raise as of July 1. State police officers and social workers are among those personnel who will see an additional bump in pay.

The legislature also appropriated funding for an additional increase in the second year of the biennium, but that money will be allocated based on a compensation review to be conducted by the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet to determine which workers may need higher pay based on the nature of their jobs and the costs of living where they work. Stivers says lawmakers set aside enough money to provide an average increase of 12 percent, though some employees may get more and others less.

“In those areas where you have technical degrees, things that are very, very competitive with private sector, you may have to do 15 percent, or 17 percent, or 18 percent to be able to be competitive and keep good, qualified employees,” says Stivers.

Democrats applauded the increase, calling it a necessary first step to helping the commonwealth attract and retain quality workers.

“We have to keep people in these really important jobs,” says McGarvey. “We have to keep government jobs at least somewhat competitive with private sector, and things were way out of whack.”

Lawmakers also voted pay raises for themselves, which will take effect after the next election cycle, as well as Legislative Research Commission staff. Gov. Andy Beshear line-item vetoed the lawmaker pay raise, which the House and Senate overrode. Jenkins, who is not seeking reelection, supports the idea of a pay increase for lawmakers, but she objected to tying it to raise for legislative staff, calling it “a chicken way to do it.”

“I voted for it because… we do want to make sure that we get the best and the brightest running for these seats,” says Jenkins. “We want to make sure that single moms can serve, that people who work in factories can serve, we want to make sure that those seats are held by people that look like Kentucky.”

Stivers contends that lawmakers don’t make as much money as people may think. He says some of their compensation is actually state-allowed reimbursements for mileage, housing, and meals, which are paid to members when they are required to be in Frankfort.

With all the money allocated to pay raises, Jenkins and McGarvey point out that Republican leaders omitted one critical group of workers: public school teachers and staff.

“It would have sent a strong message that the General Assembly appreciates what the teachers did during the pandemic and the hard work that they do every day,” says Jenkins.

Instead of mandating a statewide pay raise, Stivers and Osborne say they responded to district officials who requested the funding and flexibility to decide how much to increase school personnel pay at the local level.

“We did include historic amounts of additional money to local school districts,” says Osborne. “$525 million in new money the first year alone, and that much plus some more in the second year.”

With that much money in hand, Stivers says local officials could give their teachers and staff at least a 5 percent pay raise.

The budget also failed to include a cost-of-living increase for state retirees. Osborne says lawmakers focused on putting nearly $2 billion in surplus dollars toward paying down the public pension debts, but he says he hopes to boost payments to retired workers in the near future.

“I do think it’s time that retirees have a raise and get those cost-of-living adjustments with the dramatic increases we are seeing in inflation right now,” says Osborne. “If our revenues continue as they appear they are going to, it would be something that we will look at it next year.”

Executive Powers

Legislative leaders also continued their efforts to limit executive powers of Kentucky governors. Stivers and Osborne say those actions aren’t specifically targeted against Gov. Beshear, a Democrat, since they also debated limits during the term of former GOP Gov. Matt Bevin.

“We’ve been equal opportunity critics of both Republicans and Democrats,” says Stivers.

On April 18, Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate blocked two measures passed by the Republican-dominated legislature this year that would reduce a governor’s authority to enter contracts and to challenge state laws in court. Previous measures put limits on a governor’s emergency powers.

Democrats who opposed those measures say legislators should be careful about stripping authority from Kentucky governors.

“Far too often in the recent debate we have focused more on whether we like the decisions of a governor, not whether the office should have that power,” says McGarvey
“I do believe in a strong independent legislative branch, but that doesn’t mean that we can and should take powers away from the executive branch that are executive in function and nature.”

Osborne says lawmakers have been working for 40 years to equalize power between the legislative and executive branches in Frankfort. He argues that Kentuckians want a more agile government than they’ve gotten from governors in the past.

“We do need a strong and responsive executive branch… They need to be able to act quickly and they need to be able to act with authority, so we don’t want to do anything to diminish that beyond reason,” says Osborne. “But at the same time, we also need a government that is responsible and responsive to the citizens of Kentucky.”

Stivers says it’s not unreasonable for lawmakers to be involved in emergency decisions. He says a governor can call a special session within four hours, and lawmakers could pass legislation to respond to a critical need within a day, or three at the most. The Senate president says it’s a question of how far a governor’s policymaking authority should be allowed to go before the Kentucky’s policymaking body is consulted.

But Jenkins contends a state with a part-time legislature needs to be careful about constraining what a governor can do during a crisis, such as the tornadoes that devastated western Kentucky last December.

“I hope we don’t ever go into a situation where we are going to regret what we have done about emergency powers,” says Jenkins.

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Season 29 Episodes

Medical Marijuana Legalization in Kentucky

S29 E44 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/30/23

Kentucky's Juvenile Justice System

S29 E43 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/23/23

Legislation Introduced in the 2023 General Assembly

S29 E42 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/09/23

2023 Legislative Session Preview

S29 E41 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 12/19/22

National Politics

S29 E40 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 12/05/22

2022 Election Preview

S29 E39 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 11/07/22

Inflation and the Economy

S29 E38 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/31/22

Constitutional Amendments 1 & 2

S29 E37 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 10/24/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part Two

S29 E36 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 10/17/22

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives: Part One

S29 E35 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 10/10/22

U.S. Senate Candidate Charles Booker

S29 E34 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10/03/22

Discussing Flooding's Impact on Eastern Kentucky Schools

S29 E33 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/26/22

COVID-19, Monkeypox and Influenza

S29 E32 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 09/12/22

Eastern Kentucky Flooding and Legislative Relief Package

S29 E31 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/29/22

Child Care in Kentucky

S29 E30 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/22/22

School Safety: Debating State Policies

S29 E29 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 08/01/22

Work, Wages and Welfare

S29 E28 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/25/22

50 Years of Title IX

S29 E26 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/18/22

The Impact of U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

S29 E24 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 07/11/22

Kentucky's Ban on Abortion

S29 E23 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 06/27/22

Discussing New Developments in the COVID-19 Pandemic

S29 E22 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/20/22

Reducing Opioid Addiction Rates in Kentucky

S29 E21 Length 56:36 Premiere Date 06/13/22

Mass Shootings and Gun Laws

S29 E20 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 06/06/22

Discussing the Rise in Gas Prices and Inflation

S29 E19 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 05/23/22

Previewing Kentucky's 2022 Primary Election

S29 E18 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/16/22

Third Congressional District Democratic Primary

S29 E17 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 05/09/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part Two

S29 E16 Length 58:33 Premiere Date 05/02/22

Candidates in the 2022 Primary Election: Part One

S29 E15 Length 58:40 Premiere Date 04/25/22

Lawmakers Review the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E14 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 04/18/22

Recap of the 2022 Legislative Session

S29 E13 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 04/11/22

Public Assistance and Jobless Benefits

S29 E12 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 03/28/22

Abortion Legislation in the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E11 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 03/21/22

State Budget, Taxes, and Other 2022 General Assembly Topics

S29 E10 Length 57:42 Premiere Date 03/14/22

Critical Race Theory and Approaches to Teaching History

S29 E9 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/28/22

2022 Legislative Session at the Midpoint

S29 E8 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/21/22

Name, Image and Likeness Compensation

S29 E7 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/14/22

Child Abuse and Neglect

S29 E6 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 02/07/22

Debating School Choice in Kentucky

S29 E5 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 02/01/22

Debating Provisions in the Proposed State Budget

S29 E4 Length 56:34 Premiere Date 01/24/22

Redistricting, State Budget, and Other Legislative Issues

S29 E3 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/10/22

Discussing Legislative Goals for the 2022 General Assembly

S29 E2 Length 56:33 Premiere Date 01/03/22

Previewing the 2022 Kentucky General Assembly

S29 E1 Length 56:35 Premiere Date 12/06/21

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Early Childhood Education - S30 E42

Renee Shaw and guests discuss early childhood education. Scheduled guests: State Senator Danny Carroll (R-Benton), chair of the Senate Families and Children Committee and sponsor of the Horizons Act, SB 203, that addresses the child-care industry needs in Kentucky; State Senator Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville), member of the Senate Families and Children Committee; Sarah Vanover, Ed.D., author of America's Child-Care Crisis: Rethinking an Essential Business, and policy and research director for Kentucky Youth Advocates; Kate Shanks, vice president of public affairs at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Brigitte Blom, president & CEO of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence; and Andrew McNeill, president of Kentucky Forum for Rights, Economics & Education (KYFREE). A 2024 KET production.

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Abortion Legislation - S30 E41

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The State Budget - S30 E39

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Kentucky Colleges & Universities - S30 E38

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