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An interview with Rep. Rachel Roberts

We talk with Rachel Roberts of Northern Kentucky about issues and politics in that part of the state, about her relationships with other electeds from both parties, and about the upcoming legislative session, including both the budget and abortion.

26 min read

We talk with Rachel Roberts of Northern Kentucky about issues and politics in that part of the state, about her relationships with other electeds from both parties, and about the upcoming legislative session, including both the budget and abortion. Her comments were insightful, direct, and definitely worth listening to.

Interview Video

Interview Podcast

Transcript of Interview

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Hello, and welcome to Moving Kentucky Forward. I'm Bruce Maples, publisher of Forward Kentucky. This episode, we are excited to be able to interview Rachel Roberts, the representative from Northern Kentucky to the Kentucky House.
She's one of our favorite representatives, and she has a lot of interesting things to share in this interview.

Before we begin, let me encourage you to hit the subscribe button down below so that you keep up with all of the videos that we are releasing on this channel. There's the Moving Kentucky Forward videos, the State of Kentucky videos, and then of course my personal videos.

So without further ado, let's hear from Representative Rachel Roberts.


So we're here today with Representative Rachel Roberts of Northern Kentucky. Thank you so much, Representative Roberts, for joining us today.

It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Bruce.

So you are in a part of the state that is a really interesting place right now politically. You won re-election, last election, is that right?

That is correct.

So you have been able to hold a Democratic seat up there, even though traditionally Northern Kentucky has been fairly Republican. And yet in the last election, at least on the Beshear level, there were a number of blue counties up there. Granted, they were light blue, but why do you think that you were able to hold that seat? And do you see the area changing to more Democratic?

Well, I'll start by telling you that when I first got into office, I wasn't the only Democrat holding office up in Northern Kentucky. I am now the last Democratic state office holder from Northern Kentucky, with the loss of Representative Buddy Wheatley in the last election cycle.

Part of the reason I've been able to hold the seat is that I'm a really well-known entity up there. So fun, trivial fact for you, I ran four times in four years in three different districts because first I ran for state Senate, then I ran in a special election for the House and won, ran again that same November and won again.
And then I was redistricted. So I ran again last time in a different district. So four times, four years, three different districts. So people know who I am. I've been around.

And before that, even before I ever ran for office, I am a small business owner. I was very active in the community. So I think I have been able to reach out to people who see me as Rachel and state Representative Rachel Roberts and not Democrat Rachel Roberts. And that has been helpful.

And for anyone who wants to hold on to their seat, no matter where they are and no matter what their party is, it comes down to results and what you're able to bring back to your district. And in the years that I've been in office, I believe I've been able to deliver really tangible and good results for my district.

So that's interesting for all those seats. I had a Democratic party leader one time tell me when I was considering running for office, he said to run for office, you need one of three things, name, money or story. And then he went on to say, and you have none of them. But see, you have name, you know, everybody knows Rachel Roberts up there. I think that's a real big thing.

The other thing is the redistricting. I was, frankly, worried about you after the redistricting because it was obvious that the Republicans went after Democratic women. I mean, that's just what they did. And so you and Sherlyn both pulled it out. And I was very, I was very pleased at that.

So up there in northern Kentucky, I think I know most of the issues in some parts of the state. And I know, obviously, the Brent Spence Bridge is a big deal up there, but you don't necessarily have a lot of input or sway on that particular issue. So what are the issues that your people are looking to you for results and what have you been able to do for them?

Well, let's start with the Brent Spence Bridge, because it isn't technically in my district, right? It's about a mile and a half away from my house and about a mile away from the edge of my district.

But what works really well, I think, in northern Kentucky is that party politics aside, we have a really core group of people up there, our judge executives, our mayors, myself, and a couple of the other state representatives who are more centrist, much more pragmatic than some who've gotten in more recently, who are willing to put egos and party aside and work on the really big things we know our region needs.

So unlike Louisville, we aren't a metro district. We're a community of something like 27 small cities that are all often rowing in the same direction for these big infrastructure projects, but also unique in our own ethos and tonality and vision, right? So I'm grateful that we have that ability to work together up there.

Some of the other things that we've been able to do in northern Kentucky that I'm super proud of is we have, like all of Kentucky, we have a plague of opioid addiction and addiction more widely. And we have some really great nonprofit and public-private partnership programs up there that are doing wonderful things in the realm of addiction care. And that is a totally nonpartisan issue.

I'm grateful to say because sometimes it's not. But in northern Kentucky, we've really been able to pull it together across party lines to fight addiction and to provide services for people in recovery.

One of the biggest issues facing our region, and it's not unique to northern Kentucky, is housing. So I know I lived away from Kentucky for a long time. I lived away from the greater Cincinnati region for a long time out in Colorado, which has been dealing with affordable housing issues for decades, especially in their resort towns. And I would come back to visit my parents who would want to try and entice me to move home. And they would put real estate flyers. This was back in the days when we had flyers for real estate. And they would leave them on the guest bed in their home. And I would be shocked at how affordable housing was in this region. I mean, how affordable housing was. And that's just not the case anymore. I mean, the shift that's happened even within the last 10 years from where it was still very possible in our region to buy a good, move -in ready home in a decent school district that was safe and the home itself was safe. It was in good repair and so on and so forth for under $100,000. And now that's just not possible anymore. You could rent two bedroom apartments for $700 a month and that's not possible anymore. So that is one of the biggest crises we face.

There's a lot of talk about people not wanting to go back to work, which I think is a complete fallacy. But in Northern Kentucky, we have the opposite problem. We don't have enough bodies for all of the work that we have for people. And then we don't have enough room to house those bodies if we could even entice people to move to our region.

That's a really interesting situation because, I mean, I'm familiar with Louisville and my younger son was barely able to get a house to rent and what he's paying for it to me just seems outrageous. And I know that's true in many places.

And it's frustrating because, like you said, you could have more people move there if there was somewhere for them to move to and that's a real issue.

So let me ask you about the small city vibe up there. I live in Louisville, which is ridiculous and has a bazillion small cities. How does that affect you? I mean, do you have to go meet with all of their commissions or do you have some sort of panel of them that you meet with?

So I love it because I have, I believe, nine mayors in my district. There are nine mayors in my district and I have relationships with all of them. And so what I really enjoy about that is that each of them knows their town so intimately and so well. So like right now we're in the budgetary cycle, right? So what I do is I reach out to all of them. I reach out to them regularly, but in this particular cycle, I reach out to all of them and I say, hey, my meeting with the budget chair and with the transportation chair is coming up. Would you please send me your city's needs, wants, and desires for both of those budgets, right? And then they send them to me and then I speak with them so that I can speak about those needs in an intelligent and articulate way.

And if I have questions about them, then I ask them. If I think the budget chair is going to have questions or pushback about the issues, then we'll go through those together until we can come up with a list that we think is attainable. And so I'm really grateful to have that many relationships.

So yeah, nine mayors, generally speaking, nine city managers, nine councils. I have a lot of independent school districts in my area as well, but that just helps me to feel better connected to those communities than if I just had, you know, one mayor, for instance, across the 45, 47 ,000 people that I represent.

So Robert Kahne, in his My Old Kentucky Podcast, did an analysis of the election and he talked about major cities and then he talked about suburbs and he referred to Northern Kentucky as the suburbs of Cincinnati. And then he apologized. He said, Rachel Roberts is going to write me a nasty gram because I said that. But it's true. You are part of Metro Cincinnati. How much does that affect your work and how much does that affect the area you're in?

Oh, wildly. So, you know, I, yes, Robert's going to hear from me on that comment, but I'll tell you that, you know, Northern Kentucky, somehow, sometimes we feel like the redheaded stepchild of both Kentucky and Cincinnati. We're sort of on this island and we're definitely in a donut hole when it comes to media coverage and news coverage of Northern Kentucky, which is another problem we can discuss later on. But we are intrinsically tied to the greater Cincinnati area.

And, you know, well, I don't consider myself as living in the suburban area. I live in a very urban area. You know, I can walk to a Reds game, for instance, in 15 minutes from my house.

We have a, you know, we have a main street there that feels much more urban than suburban to me, but we are a bedroom community in most of my district, right? We are the places that people drive home to and have dinner in and their kids go to school in and then they drive to Cincinnati for work or they drive to Hebron to the airport for work or they drive to Boone County or Campbell County or, or many other places. So, so that is a fair assessment of my area. We are where people choose to live. And then oftentimes they are commuting out of the district for work.

So you mentioned budget and budget cycle. And, of course, we have the long session coming up and have to do a budget. And we are in the midst of being the beneficiaries of, for one thing, Biden's approach to economics and his, the programs they have passed and the jobs they've generated and so on and so forth. So we have this economy that's just really booming. Add on top of that, the things that Governor Beshear has been able to do and Kentucky's looking at revenue like we've never seen. In contrast to that, we have a Republican majority who is sworn to go to zero income tax and which I think is horribly irresponsible.

So Jason Bailey at Kentucky Policy has put forward this idea that we are way over stuffing our rainy day fund and we have all this revenue and we need to be using it. We need to be spending it on things that people need. So how do you go in, how does that sound to you? And how do you go into the, the session talking about money?

So let's first talk about the economy of Kentucky. So the economy of Kentucky has absolutely been growing. Some really great things have been coming into the state over the last couple of years, you know, and not the least of which was a lot of federal monies from the CARES Act and so on and so forth during COVID.

But the revenues of the state may not be growing to keep pace because we've been cutting the income tax. And the majority party is on a path to try and get us down to zero percent income tax. And for those who may not know, over 40% of the state's revenues of our state budget comes from income tax currently. And what they've been doing to replace the loss in revenue of the income tax is to start affixing sales taxes to certain services.

Now, when we've done that, we are, you know, leaving sometimes eight, $10 on the table for every $1 that we're bringing in from those service taxes. And we haven't put the service taxes on some of the biggest things that would actually generate money.

You know, there was a push to put it on marketing and advertising last time. And then the marketing and advertising lobbyists had issue with that. And we took that off, even though that would have been one of the bigger buckets of sales tax that we could have brought in there.

So then we start looking at what's going to happen down the line as we,
you know, if we were to continue to drop the income tax rate, how do we backfill that? And a lot of people are very concerned that the backfill is eventually going to have to be groceries and prescription medicines, which is nothing I want to see us do in the state. So, you know, I have always been for a graduated income tax. I think it is the fairest tax system that I know.

I think it is a fallacy. And I think it's dishonest for the Republicans to say they're cutting people's taxes because, you know, before we started going to the flat tax,
many Kentuckians paid zero to 4% tax. And all of those Kentuckians had a giant tax raise or increase when we went to that flat 5%. So if in 2016, you were paying zero to 3.75%, you're still paying a higher percentage of taxes now that we've dropped to four than you were then. So them saying that they raised your taxes, but now they're cutting them. And isn't that great? You know, it's disingenuous.

So, yes, we have this massive rainy day fund right now or budget surplus. Yes, I think there are some real opportunities for us to spend one-time money to do some great things in the state. We always have to be careful to not spend one -time money on ongoing expenses. But there are ways to do that wisely.

I've seen some of, you know, the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy's
visions there, and many of which I do agree with. And so, you know, this is a unique opportunity for us as Kentuckians to do some really kind of impactful and sort of once-in-a-generation or, you know, once-in-a-decade kind of investment in the state. And I would love to see us do that. My understanding, however, is that the chair of A&R, at least in the House, is not of the same mindset.

That's a nice way to put it. Yeah, I doubt that that chair is of that mindset.

The other thing that, well, I'm an economic and stats nerd. So, you know, I could talk about this for a long time. But it seems interesting to me that you could take some of this surplus and instead of spending it on one-time projects, you could put it into funds and spend the interest on ongoing programs, such as child care.
You could give people a child care credit or affordable housing credits or,
heaven forbid, basic income, you know, UBI.

Okay, so let's talk about the session for just a minute. You're one of, what, 20 Democrats right now? So basically, whatever the Republicans want to do, they just do. They don't have to talk to you. They don't have to worry about your vote. They just go do what they want to do.

What is your relationship, broadly — you don't have to name names unless you just want to — with the Republicans from Northern Kentucky? How well do you all get along and are you able to work together on some things?

So first, let me go back to there being 20 of us. At the time that we are recording this, we've just gotten through the election and we were down to 19 with the untimely and very tragic passing of Representative Lamin Swann. Tuesday night, his seat was filled by Democrat Adrielle Camuel out of Lexington, and so we are back at full strength and we cannot wait to get Representative Camuel into office and get her on her feet.

As far as Northern Kentucky goes, yes, there are Northern Kentuckians that I can still work very well with. They tend to be sort of the legacy lawmakers who've been there for a while now.

I like that term, “legacy lawmakers.” That's good. I'm going to steal that.

Well, it bears mentioning that we are such a new body. There's a lot of conversation about term limits and we can have that debate, but Kentucky almost has the opposite problem, especially in the House. Something like 83% of our members have been there for six years or less. We have a lack of institutional knowledge. In my opinion, in some cases, too much turnover. Now, would I like it to turn over to different parties holding the seat? Of course, but I just mean that when we're all there for a while, we get a little tempered and that's a good thing because government works best when there's a natural amount of friction in the middle ground and that takes some seasoning. It just absolutely does. We all come in wanting to swing for the fences and then we start realizing that good government is patient and most of us really kind of have sort of crappy patience practices, right? But when you've been there for a while, you start realizing that that's the simple truth of it. Good government is patient.

And so those of us who've been there for a while tend to work really well together. I am the only Democrat. So if I don't have good working relationships with the judge executives, all three of whom are great people and great judge executives and happen to be Republicans, then I'm not going to be able to do things for my community. If I don't have good relationships with the chair of Senate A&R, Senator Chris McDaniel, I'm not going to be able to bring things back to my community. If I don't have good relationships with Kim Moser and Kim Banta,
both of whom carry a lot of weight in the House, it's going to limit what I can do for my community.

So my legislative philosophy is, number one, just don't be a jerk, right? Like don't be a jerk. Let's try and figure out the ways we can work together. And I can find common ground with anyone. That doesn't mean I can work with anyone, but I seek to find the common ground.

And if I'm focused on policy and a specific policy, like for instance, the bill I got through a couple of years ago was a criminal justice reform bill. It was a victim's rights bill. And it needed the buy-in of the police. So I went to the two lawmakers at the time who had a background in law enforcement, who were Sal Santoro,
Representative Sal Santoro, who's no longer there, and Representative John Blanton. And Sal and John and I don't agree on a lot of stuff, but we can find common ground there and work together there and put together a really good piece of legislation and get it all the way through.

So that's sort of my legislative philosophy. And I'm lucky that there are still several members of the Northern Kentucky Caucus that I can work really well with. There are also just, frankly, several new members that I just don't know well enough and haven't found that common ground with yet.

Again, I really appreciate the fact that you were able to say these things in a non-controversial way. There are some other new members that I would probably be less sanguine about, but that's okay.

So let's talk for a minute about the whole legislative body. I really appreciate your approach. I have told many times that one of my heroes legislatively is Teddy Kennedy, because when Teddy Kennedy died, they interviewed a Republican who had been a peer of his for a long time, worked with him. And they asked the Republican what Kennedy was like in the Senate. And he said, look, he wasn't called the Liberal Lion for nothing. We knew where he was coming from all the time. He made it very, very clear, but he would come into a committee meeting and sit down at the table and his first words out of his mouth were, okay, what can we get done?

And this person said, that's how he moved all this legislation because he would come in and say, okay, what's the loaf we can cut if we have to, but let's talk about what we're gonna do.

I had a discussion one time with a previous member of the House. And I made the comment that our Kentucky Republicans were not as crazy as some of the national Republicans and that they didn't seem to be quite as authoritarian as the national Republicans.

And she disagreed. She said, no, no, no. Look at some of the rule changes they have made. Look at the way they run the House and the Senate. Look at the fact that they never talk to us before they bring a budget out or whatever the case may be.
So without naming names, I'm not asking you to, how big a problem do you think that is with the majority party in Frankfurt? Are they moving more and more toward an authoritarian approach to governing or not?

Yeah, absolutely. So yes, I will find a way to work with anyone I can work with. But then I also have to remember that I am working in an unhealthy environment that is set up for me to fail in, right? And not just me. It's set up for Kentuckians broadly to fail in.

I spent a lot of the summer traveling around the country, attending various seminars and trainings and speaking engagements and talking to a lot of lawmakers from other states. And I would tell them what we were up against as a hyper-minority, but just even what any lawmaker's up against trying to get a bill through. And they were, for the most part, aghast. And many of these were Republicans who were serving in hyper-majorities in other Republican states. And they're like, God, we would never treat our Democrats like that.

It's not just them treating the Democrats like that. It's them treating all members sort of like this. So an example of it is, as a reaction to COVID, we passed a bill all the way through from introduction to the governor's desk in one day just to prove we could, which is horrible governing. It's horrible.

We regularly now introduce a bill late in the session, send it to a committee. We get notice that that bill is gonna be in the committee, say at nine or 10 o'clock the night before for a committee hearing at eight in the morning. Our staff will stay up all night trying to read it, trying to make sure we have the briefings on it. We'll get there and then there'll be a committee sub that usually we don't even get to see.

Now, if we want to try and amend a bill, so let's say this is a horrible bill and we know it's a horrible bill, but there's a good way to make it less bad. Something pretty obvious. It would just make it less bad. It might not even change substantively the bill. It's just like, you guys missed this. This would make it better.
We have an amendment for that.

Well, then after they've committee subbed it in committee that morning, they'll take it straight to the floor that afternoon. Well, there's a rule that they put in place that says we can't have an amendment unless it's in order, meaning that it's amended to the most current version of the bill, which would be the committee sub that passed that morning. But then that amendment also has to have been filed 24 hours before it comes to the floor. And if they put it on the floor that afternoon, then there's literally not 24 hours. So every amendment is out of order. And this is one of the ways they cram these horrible bills through so that they can't be properly vetted and so that the public can't have a say so.

And this is where I really get frustrated because while we are a representative form of government and I am there to be the voice of the 45,000 plus people that I represent, a lot of those people care really deeply about specific issues and they want to make sure their individual voice is heard too. And they don't have that opportunity in the current system, the way it is being run. And that is not democracy.

I appreciate your explaining that, going into that. I know that many of our readers understand that because we cover the legislative sessions fairly closely and we've explained mule bills and so on and so forth. I sometimes think that it would be helpful if there were some way to get that message across to the voters that this is what's going on in Frankfurt. But I haven't found a good way to do that past the people who read our site.

Well, what I'll tell you is that I consider one of my chief jobs in this role to be to educate people on state government. I didn't come up in state government. I wasn't like a complete policy wonk before I got into office. I was just an engaged citizen who realized I had the capacity to do more and wanted to do more for my community.

But now that I'm here and I understand how it works, I think it's part of my duty to explain in layman's terms what's going on up here. So I do a TikTok a day during session, a three -minute roundup of what happened in session and how people can be better advocates and allies within the system that we have at any given time in the session.

And when I started it, it was sort of an avenue for me to vent and for me to collect my thoughts. But I'll tell you, it has gotten so much bigger than I ever expected.

And what I've really loved about it and what I'm sure you experience is just the breadth of people that it reaches that I wouldn't expect. I was in a parade last year for Memorial Day in Dayton, Kentucky, and this 16-year-old boy came running up to me who, if I just saw on the sidewalk, I wouldn't have assumed was like a staunch, civics-minded young man who was going to approach a Democratic state representative. But he was like, I love you on TikTok. And it caught me. I was like, oh my gosh, I'm so glad you've watched them and learned something.

And then a few days later, I was in Silver Grove at the dairy bar and the older woman behind the counter was like, I love you on TikTok. Totally disparate folks, you know? But they were both receiving the message that way. And so we just have to keep meeting people where they are. If that's on social media, if it's at the bingo halls, I have a lot of bingo halls in my district. If it's at fish fries, if it's wherever it is, we just have to meet people and try to enforce over and over and over again that state government is so impactful on your daily life. And that while the media and the parties will try to nationalize everything and distract you with the shiny penny of Washington, D.C., what's actually going to affect your pocketbook,
your gas tank, all of those things is what's happening at the state level. And you must be engaged with it.

And it is tedious and tiresome work. But if we want to make sure that we preserve democracy in this country, we must engage with state government.

It's really interesting that you say that because when John Yarmuth was in Congress, he would come back and speak at various events that I was at or that I invited him to. And he always said the same thing. particularly toward the end of his time there, he would say, forget D.C. D.C.'s broken. Don't pay any attention to it. Don't spend any energy on it. Focus on your state. Get involved in your state. Get involved in your state legislature. That's where the action is. And that's where you can really make a difference.

Before we wrap up, I want to ask you, is there any topic that you wanted to talk about that I haven't asked you about?

Sure. I'll talk about some policy things that are really near and dear to my heart, if I may.

So the first is that I am the daughter of a mental health care provider, of a substance use disorder counselor. I grew up with his private practice in the ground floor of the brownstone building that I grew up in Cincinnati, as a matter of fact.
And so I have been around mental health care providers and practitioners my entire life. And I have seen what happens when people don't have access to the care they need and what can happen when people do have great access to care. So this is something that's really near and dear to my heart.

One of the first bills I filed and that I have filed every year since I've been there is a mental health care parity bill. This would require state insurers,
anyone with an insurance program in our state, to cover a once-a-year mental health wellness checkup at 100%. Just like your annual physical is covered at 100%. This is obviously optional for people to take advantage of. They'd get a 45-minute, once-a-year checkup with a mental health care provider. And that's a broad term that could be anything from substance use disorder to marriage counseling, to even someone in the clergy who's qualified to be a counselor.
And then the idea here is that, number one, we normalize mental health care.
We make sure that Kentuckians have a trusted provider so that, God forbid, down the line, they have a moment of crisis. They're not calling a stranger or walking into a strange building they've never been in before. They know who to ask for help and they feel comfortable with them.

And then finally, we have a marketplace that entices practitioners to come to our state because we have such a lack of mental health care providers here. So that's a bill that I care deeply about and that I'll be putting forward again this year.

And the other bill I'll talk about is my full recreational adult-use cannabis bill. So this past year, we passed medical marijuana, which is a good step forward, although I will say our bill is the most restrictive medical cannabis bill in the entire country. And from a purely pragmatic economic standpoint, that's not a great program for the state. It costs us money to enforce and to make sure it's regulated, but we're not generating money because we don't get tax pharmaceuticals, right? Hopefully we never will.

So a much better economic driver for the state is to go full adult use. This would allow the state to generate tax revenue. There would still be a medical component for people who need it as medicine to not be taxed and to have different dosages and such, of course, but that we would go full adult. I bring this up now because Ohio just did this, right? And Ohio did it in a way that is going to be very complicated for them because they passed it by referenda, which doesn't have very strong guardrails in place, doesn't necessarily define the marketplace.

So this is coming, whether Kentucky legalizes it or the federal government reclassifies it, it's coming. And what we need to do as a state is be prepared with the guardrails in place for regulation, for testing to make sure that the product is safe for our constituency. And so that we have a tax revenue base in place that can help us continue to fill those coffers that we need to make sure we can provide needed services and amenities for the people of Kentucky.

So since you brought up Ohio, I want to touch on one last topic and that is abortion rights. I was a little surprised to see that that bill, that that constitutional amendment in Ohio passed by as big a margin as it did. And of course we had amendment one or two, I forget what number it was, that failed in our state. And I think that the anti-choice coalition is realizing that they've got a losing issue for themselves.

And some of the Republicans in the state legislature have said, oh, we need to change our ban and make exceptions for rape and incest and so on and so forth, which I, again, I think will be interesting if they can get it passed. What are you hearing on the ground where you are about that topic? Are people talking about it, especially since Ohio just did what they did? And are they looking to you and the legislature to do anything?


I mean, abortion is one of the biggest issues that is facing us right this moment, as far as voters go. It's what voters are screaming out about right now. What is an interesting disconnect, however, is that there are voters who will vote against bans and for access, but then we'll turn around and continue to vote for the same Republican lawmakers that put the bans in place in the first place. So that disconnect is something we have got to really focus on and start sort of screaming from the mountaintops. Like these lawmakers that you continue to put in are actually restricting your freedoms. They are actually restricting your access to care.
So you've got to stop putting them in office if you really care about those issues.

I will tell you that, you know, I mentioned I can walk to a Reds game in 15 minutes from my house. So I'm right across the road. I can see Cincinnati, Ohio from third floor of my home at the risk of sounding like I can see Russia from my front porch, but I can see Ohio from my home.

And, you know, so a quarter of a mile away from where I live, women now have access to reproductive health care. But in my neighborhood, women have zero access to reproductive health care.

And it's also disingenuine for my colleagues to say that now they're interested in exceptions. And let me tell you why.

First, exceptions are very limited and they're very hard to enforce. So if we're going to say there's an exception for rape or incest, what's the barrier? What's the litmus test there that a woman has to cross to convince someone or to legally say this happened to me and I should access care now.

Like what does she have to prove? Does it have to go through court? What is all of that? So let's not fall into the trap of exceptions are all we need. There's a lot more that would have to happen around exceptions to make them actually be effective for the women and girls of Kentucky.

I know this because I put forward an amendment when one of our abortion bans went through a couple of years ago. And it was not because I thought it would fix the bill. It was just a bare minimum. Like at least, at least, can we please do this? And it was an exceptions for rape and incest.

Now, when we vote on amendments or anything, we have three choices. We can vote yes, we can vote no, or we can not vote, right? You can also technically abstain but not voting is always an option. And especially on amendments and sort of procedural things, a lot of times people just don't vote.

Well, 68 of my Republican colleagues, 68 of the 100 members were willing to vote no on my amendment. They were willing to say on the record that they don't care about rape and incest exceptions. They didn't then, and that's their true nature.

So when they're trying to tell you now that they do, they're being disingenuous or they're doing it only because they need to get reelected in their minds. And so they're following that line of dialogue now, but they didn't believe it two years ago and I don't believe that they believe it now.

Thank you. That's a really good statement and explanation of the situation. I'm hopeful, but not a lot, that it will change.

Rachel Roberts, representative from the great state of Northern Kentucky, one of our favorite representatives, may you somehow clone yourself three or four times up there and get us a few more Rachel Roberts up there. Thank you for your time.

Thank you and thank you to your listeners. Please stay engaged with state government.


That was representative Rachel Roberts of Northern Kentucky. We want to thank representative Roberts for her time and for her insightful comments about both the politics in Northern Kentucky and her ability to work with all the different people including Republicans and Independents and her insights and comments on how Frankfurt is working these days. Let us hope that as the new General Assembly is about to start in about six weeks, let's hope that maybe some of that changes to be more collegial and more bipartisan.

Once again, I will remind you to hit the subscribe button down below so that you will see the videos that we release as we release them. And if you have not checked out the site, come to and see what we're doing over there.
Thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.


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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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The Court v. The Voters

The Court v. The Voters

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