Gov. Bevin appoints three new board of trustee members Wednesday, Nov 27 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

Gov. Matt Bevin filled the three vacant University of Louisville board of trustee spots Nov. 22. Scott Brinkman, Randall J. Bufford and John Chilton are the three new trustees.

Brinkman currently serves as secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet, overseeing the Commonwealth’s Cabinets and implementing policies and programs. He is also on the board of the Waterfront Development Corporation. He was formerly a lawyer in Louisville for 35 years.

Chilton is the state budget director for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Before this, he was a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) for more than 40 years.

Bufford, the only appointee not a part of Gov. Bevin’s cabinet, is the founder and president of Trilogy Health Services, LLC. He was also a board member on U of L’s Nursing and Business School committees.

In the release, there was no information regarding how long each member’s term would last or start. The trustees are set to meet for the last time this year Dec. 12.

Gov. Bevin also made appointments to Western Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky’s board’s.

None of the three new members were available for comment at the time.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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During Debate, Bevin Denies Linking Casino Gambling To Suicide Saturday, Oct 26 2019 

Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear participated in another televised debate Saturday night ahead of the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election.

Bevin and Beshear once again illustrated their sharp differences on issues like abortion, health care, taxes, and whether to legalize casino gambling to try and bring in more revenue for the state.

At one point Beshear criticized Bevin for making inflammatory statements like his claim from over the summer that casino gambling leads to suicide.

Bevin denied ever making the comment.

“I don’t know where this comment about the casinos comes from, I’ve never said anything like that, that’s absolute malarkey,” Bevin said.

Bevin made the comment during an interview on WKDZ in Cadiz in July.

Beshear has proposed dedicating tax proceeds from casino gambling for the state’s ailing pension system.

Expanded gambling has been proposed in Kentucky for years but has not gotten traction in the legislature. Republican leaders of the state Senate recently said the policy would be a non-starter.

On abortion, Beshear said that he supports the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that bans states from restricting abortions before the point at which a fetus could survive outside the womb.

Beshear called Bevin’s stance on abortion “extremist.” This year Bevin signed a law that bans the procedure once a fetal heartbeat can be detected — about the sixth week of pregnancy.

“Under this governor, a 13 year-old raped by a member of her own family and impregnated would have no options. I think that’s wrong,” Beshear said.

Bevin said that Beshear is “pro-abortion,” and said that he stands by his record.

“It is critical that you be honest about the fact that you are pro-abortion and stop trying to couch it in all these safe little comments and trying to find examples where there might be an exception for this or that,” Bevin said.

Bevin also stood by his proposal to reshape the state’s Medicaid system by requiring able-bodied people to prove they are working, in school or volunteering in order to keep their benefits.

“I believe that able-bodied working age men and women, people who could go to work, people who don’t have dependents, should be doing something in exchange for the free health care that the men and women who go to work every day, that they might not have themselves, that they’re paying for,” Bevin said.

Beshear called Bevin’s Medicaid plan “cruel.”

“It just creates bureaucratic red tape and ultimately takes health care away from people,” Beshear said.

Bevin and Beshear will participate in two more debates before the election — the KET debate on Monday night in Lexington and a debate at Northern Kentucky University on Tuesday night.

Beshear Promises Change If Elected Governor Friday, Oct 25 2019 

Listen to the episode:

Democratic gubernatorial nominee and Attorney General Andy Beshear is locked in a close race with Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, according to a recent Mason-Dixon poll. With election day around the corner, WFPL’s In Conversation talked with Beshear about the race and his plans if he unseats Bevin.

Our guests were:

  • Attorney General Andy Beshear
  • WFPL Political Reporter Ryland Barton

Beshear says health care, pensions and education are important issues to Kentuckians, and many feel Bevin cannot effectively address those and other issues.

“What they’re looking for is a governor that listens more than he talks, a governor that solves more problems than he creates,” Beshear said. “They’re looking for someone that, instead of dividing us, can bring us together.”

Host Rick Howlett (Right) Attorney General Andy Beshear (Right)Kyeland Jackson |

Host Rick Howlett (left) with Attorney General Andy Beshear

Beshear has also been critical of Bevin’s education policies and his rhetoric toward teachers. 

Teacher protests of the state’s pension bill brought heavy criticism from Bevin, who said they broke the law. Beshear sued the Bevin administration for investigating the protests and has won support from the Kentucky teachers’ union.

On In Conversation, Beshear said if elected, he would immediately use his authority to restructure the state school board, rescind Bevin’s executive orders related to Medicaid and address inequalities in the state’s justice system, among other things. 

“We have disproportionate outcomes in our criminal justice. The numbers don’t lie, and we have to work every single day to change that,” Beshear said, adding that the state should re-evaluate incarceration laws and invest in disadvantaged communities.

Political Reporter Ryland Barton has been following the governor’s race, and says the state’s pension obligation has been a contentious topic in the state legislature. Barton said Governor Bevin has put more money into the pension system than his predecessors, and Beshear is focusing on potential new revenue to address pension needs.

“Now 15 percent of the entire discretionary state budget, the amount of money that lawmakers are dolling up between all the different parts of state government, is dedicated to the state’s pension system,” Barton said.. “[Beshear’s] proposal is to legalize casino gambling and tax it, and legalize online sports betting and all these other forms of gambling and taxing that money, to bring in more money to the state.”

WFPL asked Governor Bevin to be a guest on In Conversation, but his staff said his schedule is committed. .

Join us for In Conversation next week as we talk about Louisville Metro Animal Services’ new shelter and animal abuse registry.

Judge Rules Gov. Bevin Has Authority To Fire Lt. Gov. Hampton’s Staff Friday, Oct 25 2019 

A judge has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin had the authority to fire two staffers who worked for Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton earlier this year.

Hampton sued to try and reverse Bevin’s move earlier this year, arguing that she is an independent constitutional officer who has sole authority to hire and fire her own staff.

But Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd disagreed in a ruling on Friday, saying that Hampton’s office is subordinate to Bevin’s.

“The Office of Lieutenant Governor has no employees assigned to it by statute,” Shepherd wrote. “Accordingly, the employees assigned to assist the Lieutenant Governor are included within the personnel of the Office of the Governor. The Governor therefore has superseding authority to hire and fire the employees who are assigned to the Lieutenant Governor’s staff.”

Hampton has clashed with Bevin since he decided to not select her to be on his reelection ticket this year, instead picking state Sen. Ralph Alvarado.

Bevin fired Hampton’s chief of staff Steve Knipper earlier this year after Knipper filed to run for secretary of state. The Bevin administration cited a policy requiring non-merit employees to resign if they run for elected office.

Then in May, the administration fired Hampton’s deputy chief of staff Adrienne Southworth. Bevin’s chief of staff Blake Brickman said he authorized the dismissal, arguing that she “repeatedly demonstrated poor judgement.”

In the ruling, Shepherd wrote that Hampton appears to have “discharged all of her assigned duties with dignity, loyalty and honor,” but that hiring and firing powers are exclusively delegated to the governor.

“The record indicates that past Governors have entrusted their Lieutenant Governors with the authority to hire and fire staff members assigned to them,” Shepherd wrote.

“The record here contains no explanation as to why Governor Bevin has not accorded Lieutenant Governor Hampton such basic authority over the operation of her own office. Nevertheless, the Lieutenant Governor has only those duties and powers assigned by the General Assembly or delegated by the Governor.”

When Bevin and Hampton won their election in 2015, Hampton became the first African American elected to a statewide office in Kentucky.

Before that, Hampton worked as an executive in the packaging industry, was an unsuccessful candidate for the state House of Representatives and was active in Bowling Green’s Tea Party movement.

Kentucky governors and lieutenant governors have run as a slate since a 1992 amendment of the state constitution.

Gov. Bevin chose state Sen. Ralph Alvarado to be his running mate for his re-election bid this year.

Vote Like Your Life Depends on It Sunday, Sep 29 2019 

By Ben Goldberger —

Voting in Kentucky is Nov. 5 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Everyone should vote, because to some people, their lives depend on it.

Volunteers have already been asking students if they are registered to vote, and although it can be frustrating, it is necessary.

While nobody likes to be bombarded with questions from a stranger on their way to class, it is so important to know your voting status. 

The issues brought up on the political stage affect everyone, and voting is the way to make voices heard on a national level.

It is easy to dismiss voting with the belief that one vote won’t change the election, but that thought is what causes young voters to not go to the polls. This is an extremely dangerous outlook that ends up hurting the country.

According to the Pew Research Center, it is expected that one in every 10 voters in 2020 will be from Generation Z. Combined with the Millennial vote, youth voters are around 40 percent of the population. 

However, if voters from these generations decide not to vote, older voters will decide the political officials that shape our country. This puts candidates in office that will benefit them instead of the newer generations.

“I think it’s pertinent for young people to vote because we have a unique experience where the policy changes that are made affect us for a long period of time,” senior Cultural Non-Profit Development major Arii Lynton-Smith said.

One of the biggest examples of this is the climate change emergency. This issue is going to affect younger voters for the rest of their lives, but it is not as much of an issue for most older voters. If younger voters and politicians do not get involved, these issues will never be dealt with until it is too late. 

This election, almost all statewide positions are open, meaning the whole political scene in Kentucky can change. Gov. Matt Bevin is up for reelection after being named the country’s least popular state governor this year. Bevin is being challenged by the current Attorney General and son of Bevin’s predecessor, Andy Beshear.

All other major roles in the government are up for election this year as well, so this is the time to utilize your civil right and duty to vote. 

When asked why voting is important to her, Lynton-Smith said, “Just 60 years ago, people that looked like me were bullied and kept out of the polls.”

Voting is not a chore. It’s a privilege.

In such a diverse nation, it is critical for people of all different backgrounds to vote in every election in order to truly represent the ideas and needs of this country.

If nothing else, vote for your peers who cannot. Vote for the students victimized in way too many school shootings whose lives were taken before they had the opportunity to vote. Vote for Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and the hundreds of other innocent African-American teenagers who have had their opportunity taken away from them by police officers. 

Vote while you still can, because in this country, you never know when that will be taken away from you. 

Graphic by Alexis Simon / The Louisville Cardinal

The post Vote Like Your Life Depends on It appeared first on The Louisville Cardinal.

Donald Trump Jr. Headlines Sparsely-Attended Bevin Rally In Pikeville Thursday, Aug 29 2019 

The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., headlined a sparsely-attended campaign rally for Gov. Matt Bevin in Pikeville on Thursday. It was the latest in a string of events attended by President Trump and his surrogates supporting Bevin’s reelection bid.

Bevin is facing a tough race against Democratic rival Andy Beshear and is trying to rally support in eastern Kentucky, which used to be a Democratic stronghold but has trended Republican in recent years.

Trump Jr. spent much of his speech criticizing Democratic presidential candidates and urged the audience to continue eastern Kentucky’s trend towards the Republican Party.

“What would your grandfather say about today’s Democratic platform?” Trump asked. “This is not your grandfather’s Democrat Party. Not even close. This is socialism pushing on communism.”

Only about 200 people attended the event, which was held in Appalachian Wireless Arena.

Last week, President Trump headlined a private campaign event in Louisville supporting Bevin. The White House has also sent Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump to attend campaign events with Bevin this year.

Pikeville and much of eastern Kentucky used to be a stronghold for Democrats in the commonwealth, but the region overwhelmingly voted in favor of Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

Bevin is trying to bolster support in the area after losing much of it to Republican challenger Robert Goforth during this year’s primary election.

Goforth is a relative political newcomer but garnered 39 percent of the vote statewide during the primary election.

At the rally, Bevin called on the audience to vote for him based on his stances opposing abortion and so-called “sanctuary” cities, while supporting the president and the rights of gun owners.

“Those values are not unique to any one party, but increasingly at the national level they all find themselves on one side,” Bevin said.

“I’m asking you, truly, in this race, in this election November 5, please I’m asking you: vote your values, not your party.”

Bevin is the most unpopular governor in the country according to a recent poll conducted by Morning Consult, partly due to a series of gaffes and inflammatory comments about teachers.

DeRonda Smith, a retired teacher from Hazard, said after the rally that Bevin unjustly “gets a bad rap” from teachers.

“I don’t think they really see what he’s trying to do for them. He’s trying to better their retirement,” Smith said. “People don’t like change. Change is never easy for anyone. That’s why he gets a finger pointed at him.”

Sam Newton, spokesperson for Beshear’s campaign released the following statement after Bevin’s rally:

“Matt Bevin’s small and poorly attended political event will do nothing to make the families of Eastern Kentucky forget how he’s attacked public education, ripped away health care, and insulted teachers,” Newton wrote.

“Under Governor Bevin, many Eastern Kentucky families are making less every year. And Bevin has still failed to explain why his administration ignored a paycheck protection law for nearly 1,000 miners — and could have paid the Blackjewel miners in Harlan.”

Ky. Supreme Court Rules Bevin Can Reject Beshear Opioid Contracts Thursday, Aug 29 2019 

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin is allowed to reject contracts Attorney General Andy Beshear made with private law firms to sue drugmakers over their role in the state’s opioid epidemic.

Beshear’s office has sought assistance from several law firms as it sues drug manufacturers and distributors in nine different cases.

In a statement, Bevin celebrated the legal victory, accusing Beshear of trying to direct contracts to “his friends and campaign donors.”

“As Attorney General, Andy Beshear claimed that he is above the law and attempted to put his campaign donors ahead of the interest of Kentuckians in ongoing cases with opioid manufacturers,” Bevin wrote.

“If allowed to continue, that practice could take millions of dollars away from Kentuckians who need it most and put it in the pockets of Andy’s largest campaign contributors.”

The ruling comes as Beshear is challenging Bevin in this year’s race for governor.

Beshear tried to award the contracts in 2017, but was ultimately denied by Bevin’s Finance and Administration Cabinet. Beshear then sued over the denial.

In a statement following the ruling, Beshear said that Bevin “just gave the opioid companies one of their biggest wins nationwide.”

“This decision has devastating impacts on our cases against companies that have ravaged our state and will cost taxpayers millions,” Beshear wrote. “Bevin took these actions to prevent the attorney general from holding these companies responsible for the death and addiction they have fueled.”

Beshear said he would seek to have the case re-heard.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Special Session Begins Saturday, Jul 20 2019 

This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin’s special legislative session on pensions is finally taking place and Democrats think he’s tied the legislature’s hands. Bevin and Democratic rival Andy Beshear clashed during a debate at the Kentucky Farm Bureau. And Kentucky lawmakers responded to President Trump’s inflammatory tweets.

Listen to this week’s show:

Gov. Bevin’s Special Legislative Session On Pensions Starts Friday Thursday, Jul 18 2019 

State lawmakers return to Frankfort on Friday for a special legislative session to deal with surging pension costs currently being experienced by regional universities and “quasi” state agencies like local health departments.

Gov. Matt Bevin issued the official proclamation for the session on Thursday afternoon, summoning lawmakers to Frankfort and laying out what he hopes will pass into law.

The proclamation is narrowly tailored so that lawmakers will likely only be able to consider a proposal that Bevin has hammered out with Republican leaders of the legislature.

In an interview on WHAS Thursday afternoon, Bevin said there are enough votes to pass his bill.

“I’ve been well-assured by leadership of the House and Senate that they are ready, willing and able and we’ll get it done in the next week or so,” Bevin said.

Bevin’s proposal would provide lower pension costs for the universities and “quasi” agencies as long as they exit the state’s pension system and pay off their share of the state’s pension debt.

The proposal would also give a discount to those agencies if they choose to freeze the pension benefits of their employees and move them into less-generous 401k retirement plans.

There are about 9,000 people currently working for the agencies that would be affected by the bill.

Democrats and state worker groups argue that Bevin’s proposal would be illegal because it would move employees out of the state’s pension system without their permission.

House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins said that Bevin’s proclamation is so specific that it “makes a mockery of the legislative process.”

“Matt Bevin only has the power to call and dictate the subject matter of a special session.  He does not have the power to write the legislation as well. This is clearly a violation,” Adkins asid.

Jim Carroll, spokesman for the Kentucky Government Retirees advocacy group, said that under Bevin’s proclamation “legislators appear to be effectively blocked from considering any bill other than BR 19 (Bevin’s proposal).”

“We are appalled and disappointed that, in direct conflict to the interests of affected stakeholders, an alternative bill will apparently not receive the fair hearing that it deserves,” Carroll said.

Democrats in Kentucky’s House of Representatives have proposed their own bill to try and address the issue by temporarily shifting money from the state’s retiree health insurance fund and adopting slightly more optimistic assumptions for pension investments and payroll growth — moves that would require the agencies to put less money towards pensions.

Democrats also argue that Bevin’s proposal will take a three-fifths majority to pass out of each chamber of the legislature because that’s how many votes it takes to pass bills that spend or raise money outside of a “budget-writing” session.

During the interview on WHAS Thursday, Bevin said “we have the votes needed to pass this and that’s all that matters.”

“I have somewhere between 50 and 100, how’s that?”

Bevin and Republican leaders of the legislature say they hope the session will last five days: Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

It costs the state about $65,000 every day the legislature is in session.

This story has been updated.

Beshear Outlines Policies For Veteran Health Care  Thursday, Jul 18 2019 

Attorney General Andy Beshear is appealing to Kentucky veterans with a set of health-related programs and policies he’d work toward if elected governor in November.

“We have a special duty to our veterans whose health care needs so often come from the sacrifice that they have made for our country,” Beshear said, adding that he wants to address some of the biggest challenges of vets.

“Our health care plan is designed to make sure that we can provide the services we need to stop those suicides, to stop that substance abuse. And to truly be there for our veterans.”

Veterans were more than twice as likely to die by suicide in 2016 than people who’ve never served in the military, according to the Veterans Affairs Administration. They also have higher rates of substance abuse issues – about 1 in 15 veterans in 2013 had a substance use disorder, whereas the national average among persons aged 17 or older was about 1 in 11, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Here are the five areas Beshear aims to address with his plan:

  • Train doctors and emergency medical professionals in veteran-specific care. The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure would add classes for civilian medical professionals on challenges specific to veterans under the plan, as VA Hospitals across the state are building a program that allows some veterans to see civilian doctors outside the VA.

“It may be specific training on PTSD related to combat, it may be specific training related to the difficulty… that veterans face trying to get acclimated back to civilian life,” Beshear said. 

  • Allowing veterans to take unpaid time off work to travel to a VA hospital, without fear of being fired. 

Many veterans live in rural Kentucky, and while some care at the VA is free to veterans, many can’t afford to take off work because of fear they may lose their job. Beshear said he’d first allow veteran state employees time off work to go to the VA. 

“A veteran shouldn’t be at a disadvantage, because they get health care through the VA, as opposed to any other employee,” Beshear said. 

Beshear said he doesn’t have a specific plan for how he could gain that kind of access for private-sector veterans, but he thinks regulation or legislation could work and he would look more closely at how to make it happen if elected.

  • Expand access to mental health services via telehealth, allowing veterans to use telehealth to connect with a mental health provider from the VA via a video screen at a local community health center.

Beshear said a big part of his plan includes expanding broadband internet access across Kentucky so veterans can see doctors in their own home. He said he’d also work with the VA to expand existing telehealth programs.

  • Increase veteran-to-veteran outreach on substance abuse issues by partnering with veteran service groups to expand programs that connect veterans struggling with addiction issues with those in recovery.
  • Obtain more federal funding for Kentucky’s VA facilities. Beshear said he’ll work with anyone across party lines and with Kentucky’s congressional delegation to focus on securing funding for VA facilities in the commonwealth. 

Jeremy Harrell is the founder of Veteran’s Club, a social club and nonprofit that provides equine therapy to vets struggling with PTSD. Harrell didn’t endorse Beshear, but he spoke with WFPL about Beshear’s proposals as an Army veteran and advocate. He said many of Beshear’s ideas address the problems veterans face.

Beshear’s proposal to mandate unpaid time off to go to the VA would be remarkable, Harrell said, especially for vets who have hourly or part-time jobs that don’t allow for a flexible schedule.

Regarding Beshear’s plan to allow vets to be seen at private health provider’s offices, Harrell said it’s crucial for those practitioners to know that veterans might not be as willing to open up, or that they might downplay what brought them to the doctor.

“They’re going to have to prod for information,” Harrell said. “It would be beneficial for them [health providers] to go through some sort of military culture class.”

Beshear will face Gov. Matt Bevin during November’s election. Bevin’s campaign manager, Davis Paine — also a veteran — said that the governor understands the challenges that service members and their spouses face as they transition to careers outside of the military. 

“His vision is that Kentucky will be the most military-friendly state in the country,” Paine wrote in an email. “He has made this vision a reality over the last 3.5 years by securing grant funding to improve workforce training initiatives for veterans, implementing policies to further occupational licensing reciprocity and signing numerous military-friendly bills into law.”

During his tenure as governor, Bevin has signed into law and supported several bills aimed at benefiting veterans and their families. A new law signed in 2017 allows veterans with a bachelor’s degree to more easily get a teaching certificate. This year, Bevin signed a law that allows military families to pre-enroll children in school before getting a permanent address and gives interview preference for state jobs to service members.

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