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Recap of the 2022 Legislative Session

Renee Shaw hosts a recap the 2022 legislative session. Guests: Terry Brooks, executive director of the Kentucky Youth Advocates; Kate Shanks, senior vice president of public affairs at Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Julia Bright Crigler, founder of Bright Strategies LLC; and Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.
Season 29 Episode 13 Length 56:35 Premiere: 04/11/22

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.

Policy Analysts Debate Legislation on Education, Unemployment Benefits, Local Government, and More

The work of state lawmakers will soon be completed, but the analysis of their actions has already begun, both on the bills they have passed and the legislation that has languished.

Veto overrides will comprise a significant part of the final two days of the General Assembly session, including Gov. Andy Beshear’s line-item vetoes of the state budget.

“This budget isn’t the best it can be,” Beshear said on Monday. “While we make some great investments in our future, the budget certainly doesn’t meet the moment when it comes to K through 12 education.”

The governor criticized the Republican spending plan for failing to fund universal pre-kindergarten, offering what he says is an insufficient increase in per-pupil funding for schools, falling short on transportation funding, and omitting teachers from a proposed state employee pay raise.

Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says educators in the commonwealth have not seen a pay increase since 2010, which he contends is making it increasingly difficult for the state to attract and retain teachers.

“Other states are looking at big raises,” says Bailey. “Mississippi just passed a 10 percent teacher raise. Alabama is looking at something that would range even higher than that.”

Budget chairs in the legislature argue that teacher pay should be decided at the district level, not mandated by Frankfort. They say their spending plan delivers enough money to school districts to enable local leaders to determine what pay raises are most appropriate for their teachers and school staff.

Julia Bright Crigler, founder of Bright Strategies LLC, says it’s about giving local districts more flexibility in how they spend their money.

“Teacher raises not happening wouldn’t be because of this budget,” says Crigler. “It’s if those school systems chose to use that money that way.”

Lawmakers remain divided on pre-kindergarten, with Republicans questioning the need for it and Democrats saying it’s an important part of early childhood development.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks says further debate about pre-K is needed to see how it could best mesh with child care services still reeling from COVID pandemic shutdowns.

“We need to make sure that this particular child care ecosystem, which is very fragile right now, is not disrupted too much,” says Shanks. “We need to make sure that the model in place utilizes all different ways of delivering those services: In-home child care, child care centers… cooperative programs, in-workplace programs.”

A bipartisan measure that Gov. Beshear signed in to law will create an Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership to encourage businesses to offer child care options as a benefit to their workers. House Bill 499 appropriates $15 million in the next fiscal year to the effort.

Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks says he’s pleased with state budget support for social workers, behavioral and mental health services for children, and family resource and youth services centers. He says that given GOP leadership opposition to pre-K, lawmakers should focus future legislation on reshaping early childhood services.

“What I hope that does is spur all of us to come together with the business community, with frontline child care folks, with K-12 educators and think about how we can emulate some other states that have really reinvented early childhood into much more of a holistic, focused system.”

Public Assistance and Unemployment

Lawmakers also enacted changes to welfare and unemployment benefits for Kentuckians. House Bill 7 includes a public engagement requirement for able-bodied adults on Medicaid who have no dependents, changes the reporting requirements for people on benefits, and imposes tougher sanctions against those committing welfare fraud.

House Bill 4 shortens the period that unemployed individuals would be eligible for benefits, cuts off payments to people who decline an offer of work under certain conditions, and provides incentives for job training and certifications.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle voiced concerns about how these measures would impact struggling families, especially those living in economically challenged areas like eastern Kentucky. Bailey says 21 Republicans across both chambers voted against the unemployment limits contained in HB 4. He describes the cutbacks to unemployment payments as “crushing” and “cruel.”

“[Unemployment assistance] keeps the families afloat, circulates through the economy, supports local businesses, and helps them find a job that actually meets their skills and capacities and their family budget as opposed to pushing them into the next job that may pay only half of what their previous job did,” says Bailey,

Although HB 4 was a legislative priority for the Kentucky Chamber, Shanks says her membership is attuned to the challenges facing business owners and workers in Appalachian communities and how they could benefit from investments in infrastructure, broadband internet, and child care services.

“We’re going to be looking at eastern Kentucky and the region and what we can be doing policy-wise, what we can be doing with our programs to support re-employment in that region and to support economic development,” says Shanks.

The Fate of Local Control

This session included several efforts by lawmakers to both give more control to local decision-makers and to keep some control firmly in Frankfort.

For example, the final version of Senate Bill 1 gives school superintendents authority over principal hiring, yet also includes a list of 24 historic American documents and speeches that students would be required to learn. In other bills, lawmakers required schools to have armed safety officers, include public comment periods at school board meetings, and ban transgender athletes from playing girls’ sports.

Louisville Democrats also decried how SB 1 singles out the Jefferson County Board of Education by setting limits on how often it can meet. Crigler says it’s only natural for lawmakers to take interest in the state’s largest school district given the problems it has faced over the years.

“There’s administrative issues certainly, there’s inequalities in how education is being carried out there, and there’s a lot disparities,” says Crigler. “I think the legislature is doing the right thing in taking a second look and maybe taking a little more of a hands-on approach.”

As a former school administrator, Brooks acknowledges that there are issues in the Jefferson County schools that have been ignored for decades. But he says the lawmakers should focus on current conditions under JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio, not historical ones. Brooks says SB1 and other legislative actions have left him wondering if the GOP still embraces the philosophy of local control as thoroughly as it once did.

“Is that still a north star, or have [Republicans] become the big government party where Frankfort knows best?” says Brooks.

Beyond the education arena, some Jefferson County lawmakers have decried what they see as a larger legislative “war on Louisville.” They point to House Bill 314 which would allow residents of unincorporated areas of Jefferson County to vote to create a new city outside of Metro Louisville.

Bailey says that’s an effort to dismantle the merger of Louisville and Jefferson County governments that residents there approved in 2002.

“It’s our strongest economic engine and if we affect the way that it’s able to operate… it will trickle down to potentially harm the entire state,” says Bailey.

Work Left Unfinished

The fate of bills on sports wagering, unregulated “gray” slot games, and medical marijuana remain uncertain in the closing days of the session. Shanks says Chamber members are also watching bills on addiction treatment and giving certain convicted felons access to KEES scholarships. She applauds lawmakers for passing a plan to gradually lower the state income tax to zero and she’s looking for even more tax changes in the future.

“There will be more conversations about tax reform,” says Shanks. “There’s some business taxes we’d like to look at, the limited liability entity tax.”

Brooks says he’s curious to know what happened to efforts to address racial inequity in the commonwealth. He says he was encouraged by meetings of the new Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity chaired by Sen. David Givens (R-Greensburg) and Rep. Samara Heavrin (R-Greensburg). But he says those conversations during the interim last year resulted in no legislation this year.

“The Commission on Race needs to be praised,” says Brooks. “My question is what happened to their good work? What happened to their great recommendations?”

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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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