Richard Nelson, Director of the Commonwealth Policy Center, was in studio Tuesday morning to talk to WPKY about several issues currently affecting the state.

Richard told listeners that the Commonwealth Policy Center is a statewide group that was formed 12 years ago to help conservatives get elected into the state legislature to better serve the citizens of the Commonwealth. Richard stated that he’s been involved in public policy for over 20 years and moved to Kentucky from Wisconsin to follow a career in policy making with other conservative policy groups before joining with several others to create the Commonwealth Policy Center.

Richard said that the policy center works to put into place policies and candidates who will protect a person’s inalienable rights and will steer legislation with a set moral compass. The Commonwealth Policy Center also holds candidate training sessions to teach conservative candidates how to run effective campaigns; versions of the candidate training will take place all over the state in May and June. The policy center will also send out voter guides closer to elections in November that will show where candidates stand on current issues, both statewide and nationally. Richard also mentioned that as the Director of the center he travels statewide to speak to churches, political groups, and civic groups, produces a daily Commonwealth Minute that airs on over 50 radio stations across the state, and writes a weekly column for several newspapers about current issues.

Richard then spoke about a few issues making their way through legislation right now, including House Bill 454 that will ban abortions after 11 weeks, House Bill 1 that concerns adoption and foster care reform, and the pension crisis. He stated that House Bill 1 will make adoption easier by forfeiting the parental rights of fathers who have no contact with their children. The bill will also bring about less paperwork for social workers and will decrease the cost of adoption and the amount of time children are kept in the foster care system before adoption.

Richard then mentioned that there was agreement between both the House and the Senate on the pension reform but that legislators became concerned after protests from teachers and state workers and decided to hold off on the vote. The pension bill will come up for another hearing during the last week of the spring session; but, if nothing is passed, Richard believes it will be highly likely a special session will be called. Richard also reminded listeners that the pension crisis was something that was a long time in the making, that for many years it sat underfunded because the state legislature consistently took money from the fund that they did not return.

He mentioned that he, and those at the Commonwealth Policy Center, are against legislation that would introduce gambling in Kentucky as a way to pay for the pension fund. He stated that if it’s a bad idea for a family to go to a casino in hopes of doubling their family budget, wouldn’t it also be a bad idea for the state to turn to gambling to fix it’s budget woes? The Commonwealth Policy Center believes that fixing the pension crisis starts with creating a better climate for businesses coming into the state by way of tax reform. They believe that fixing the currently outdated tax reform would cause the already increasing new investment in the state to continue to rise, which would help ease the stress the pension crisis will put on tax payers. Richard also briefly mentioned the legalization of hemp production in the state, stating that if there is a market and an opportunity for Kentucky’s farmers to utilize this crop, then Kentucky’s farmers should be allowed to do so, adding that hemp production would be a new source of income and would lead to economic growth for the state.

More information about the Commonwealth Policy Center can be found on their website, commonwealthpolicycenter.org. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. You can also hear their daily Commonwealth Minute before the morning edition of the news here at WPKY and during our local Sunday programing.

You can catch the full interview with Richard Nelson, where he talks more in depth about many issues facing Kentucky, below.

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