Beshear Talks Grimes, Legislature, Barkley Dam
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear shared his opinion on several current issues while talking with reporters Thursday in Paducah.
Beshear fielded questions between the announcement and groundbreaking ceremony for TeleTech, who has chosen to bring two customer service centers in Paducah.
Regarding Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has been coy about whether she would seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, Beshear said he didn't know whether she would run or not.
"Well, I've seen some talk of that, and she says she's taking a look at that. So, I hope she takes a serious look at it, I think she'd be a strong candidate," Beshear said. Ashley Judd has also been considering running for the nomination. The winner would face Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014.
When asked about the current legislative session, which was in the veto phase this week, before legislators come back Monday, Beshear said they have accomplished several things, and he's glad a bill passed that raises the school dropout age to 18.
"Our kids are gonna have to stay in school and get a high school diploma, and great day, it's time. You know, the dropout age in Kentucky has been 16 years of age since 1920, and those days are long gone. You can't get a good job anymore if you drop out at 16," Beshear said. "Our school districts, obviously, are going to have to zero in and concentrate on identifying kids who may be at risk of dropping out, and getting them more involved in career technical education, any kind of thing that will interest them so they will go on and complete their education."
Beshear said the legislature is still working on the public pension issue.
"It's a very tough issue, we're working on both a solution to that, and how to fund that solution. We've go two days left, and I haven't given up hope - we may yet get that done," Beshear said.
When asked if there would be a special session, he said it depends on whether the pension problem is solved in the regular session, because the state needs to put this issue behind it and move on.
Regarding the bill to regulate hemp production if the Federal government lifts restrictions on growing the plant, Beshear said he's heard talk about it, and there may be a chance it re-surfaces during the last two days of the session. House Speaker Greg Stumbo would not allow the bill to come to a floor vote after it overwhelmingly passed through committee.
When asked about Murray State University's Board of Regents refusing to renew President Randy Dunn's contract, Beshear said he only knows what he has read. He said his involvement with colleges is nominating people to boards, and he respects the job the Regents have done over the years, so he would not comment or get involved with the controversy (Since his comments were made, a lawsuit was filed by a Lexington attorney, claiming a discussion by some regents at one of their homes violated the Open Meetings Act).
Regarding Barkley Dam, and plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restrict recreational access, Beshear said he is working with Congressman Ed Whitfield and lots of other people to try to get the Corps to reverse their decision.
"I am positive that there are ways to improve the safety situation to some degree, but at the same time, not interfere with commercial fishing and with the sport fishing that goes on," Beshear said.
Beshear was also asked about comments made by a couple of speakers at the TeleTech event, indicating that another economic development announcement could be made soon in our area. He wouldn't give specifics, but did say that the Commonwealth was negotiating with several domestic and foreign companies, and things looked very promising in several areas. Beshear said he would go wherever he needed to go to close a deal if it meant more jobs for Kentuckians.