In Conversation

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The state is preparing to move forward with a bevy of new laws after the conclusion of Kentucky’s 2019 General Assembly last week.

On this week’s In Conversation, Kentucky legislators recapped issues from this year’s General Assembly including abortion, medical marijuana and dealing with the impacts of the state’s ailing pension systems.

Capitol Reporter Ryland Barton guest-hosted the hour-long show, talking to our guests:

  • Rep. Attica Scott, Democrat from Louisville
  • Rep. Jason Nemes, Republican from Louisville
  • Rep. Kim Moser, Republican from Taylor Mill
  • Sen. Morgan McGarvey, Democrat from Louisville

Lawmakers talked about the four abortion bills that passed out of the legislature this year, further restricting the procedure and preparing the state to ban all abortions if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Cathy from Louisville called into the show, asking why legislators focus so intently on the topic, considering few women in Kentucky get abortions.

“Part of what I see, as pushing these anti-choice bills, is power domination and control from a mostly male-dominated legislature,” said Rep. Attica Scott, who voted against the measures. “You will never see me sponsoring a bill related to taking away a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions.”

(Top right to left, counter clock-wise) Kimb Moser, Jason Nemes, Ryland Barton, Attica Scott and Morgan McGarvey on WFPL's In ConversationKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

(Top right to left, counter clock-wise) Kim Moser, Jason Nemes, Ryland Barton, Attica Scott and Morgan McGarvey on WFPL’s In Conversation

Rep. Kim Moser, who chairs the House Health and Welfare Committee, said she supported the bills because it’s important to protect the lives of the unborn, and said women should be fully informed when deciding to go have an abortion.

Lawmakers also addressed the medical marijuana legislation that failed to pass out of the legislature this year sponsored by Rep. Nemes (a topic In Conversation explored before).

Moser argued the federal government needs to research marijuana further before Kentucky considers legalizing the drug. Nemes said the state is ready to legalize it — his bill passed out of the state House of Representatives but did not garner enough support in the Senate.

Lawmakers also passed a bill providing relief to some state universities and agencies that were facing massive increases in the amount they have to contribute to the state’s pension systems (the state’s pension issues have also contributed to Louisville’s budget shortfall).

Sen. Morgan McGarvey said the state cannot meet its basic needs because of its pension obligations, adding that legislators need to find ways to raise more revenue for the state.

Rep. Nemes agreed the state needs more sources of revenue and said the pension debt worries him, but said there is no easy fix for the state’s financial needs.

“We are faced with difficult decisions because terrible decisions have been made over decades to not fund our pension systems and to allow too many agencies to be in the pension system,” Nemes said. “Pensions, Medicaid and our corrections costs are going through the roof. And we have to arrest control of those three issues if we’re going to be successful moving forward.”

Join us next week for In Conversation as we talk with arts leaders about diversity and how they’re working to represent the entire community in their work.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.