Vanessa Gallman

Vanessa Gallman

Vanessa Gallman, a Kentucky Lantern freelance columnist, worked for more than two decades as editorial page editor for the Lexington Herald-Leader. She was also a local government editor for The Washington Post and a national correspondent for Knight-Ridder Inc.


Child care — the ‘workforce behind the workforce’ — is in crisis in Kentucky

By: - March 22, 2023

Kentucky lawmakers, concerned that the state has half the workers it needs, cut unemployment benefits to force those who lose jobs to get back to work quicker and set up a program to get ex-inmates directly from prisons into jobs. But a direct, long-overdue way to beef up the workforce would be to provide affordable […]


Demands by protesters and Breonna Taylor’s family helped expose the rot in Louisville policing

By: - March 9, 2023

The fallout of the 2020 Breonna Taylor killing by police, resulting from an invalid warrant, made clear that the Louisville police department has serious problems in management and training. But a two-year federal investigation into the department exposed the depth of the bullying and overall disrespect toward citizens. Attorney General Merrick Garland rightly described the […]


Evangelical movement is in danger of being usurped by a hostile Christian nationalism

By: - March 2, 2023

The 16-day outpouring of spiritual fervor at Asbury University in Wilmore was a welcome reminder that religion should be a search for peace and purpose rather than a strategy for divisiveness and dominance. Christianity is too often used to force others — especially women, minorities, and LGBTQ persons — into narrow thinking and proscribed paths. […]


Parents, pronouns and a place for all in an increasingly diverse world

By: - February 22, 2023

My oldest granddaughter recently married a non-binary person, meaning “they” reject being labeled either male or female. I have used the wrong pronoun a few times because their caring nature feels feminine to me — which I acknowledge is old-fashioned thinking. I will get the pronouns right because it is callous to misgender someone or […]


Do women’s lives matter to federal courts?

By: - February 14, 2023

Far-reaching legal cases, including a ruling by a Kentucky federal judge, raise serious concerns about whether the lives of women — and their decisions about their own lives — really matter. On Feb. 2, a Texas appellate court issued a ruling that it was unconstitutional to remove guns from abusive domestic partners, putting more women […]


Punitive Republican policies won’t whip Kentucky into prosperity

By: - February 6, 2023

Why must someone laid off from a job be further penalized by the state? To be denied long-established unemployment benefits? To be pressured to take an available job rather than find one that advanced a career? Yet Kentucky lawmakers decided the state must become a harsh taskmaster, snapping a whip to get people back into […]


Whatever happened to hemp?

By: - January 18, 2023

Gov. Andy Beshear’s order allowing Kentuckians with at least one of 21 medical conditions to possess eight ounces of medical cannabis was a welcome response to decades of legislative foot-dragging. The drawback: Of the 37 states where it’s legal, Illinois is the closest to fill out-of-state prescriptions. Meanwhile, another cannabis option is already available here: […]


Kentucky still reaps slavery’s bitter fruit as prisons and jails swell with ‘indentured servants’

By: - January 16, 2023

This column,  first published by the Kentucky Lantern earlier this month, inspired Marc Murphy’s political art that we are publishing on the holiday honoring asassinated civil rights hero the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Kentucky resisted the end of slavery, refusing to certify the 13th Amendment at the time and only freeing people six months after June […]

Map of the United States showing guns

Illegal gun use is making Kentucky more deadly; red flag laws could save lives here

By: - December 13, 2022

A Lexington wife and mother was killed in her home Nov. 23 — three days after a judge rejected an emergency protective order that police encouraged her to seek. The ruling: “No imminent threat.” The man she was divorcing called police to report he had shot her. Convicted of a past drug felony, he wasn’t […]


Mitch McConnell diagnosed GOP problem with voters but didn’t follow his own prescription

By: - December 1, 2022

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, after beating back a challenge to his leadership position, offered a reasonable analysis on why his party fell short of midterm election hopes. “We underperformed among indepen­­dents and moderates because their impression of many of the people in our party, and leadership roles, is that they’re dogged in chaos, negativity, […]


Wait a minute, the abortion-rights vote does too matter

By: - November 30, 2022

If Kentucky voters had approved the ballot measure denying any constitutional support for abortion rights, the results certainly would have been used to argue for retaining restrictive bans. So why shouldn’t the rejection of that measure be a key factor in the Kentucky Supreme Court’s various decisions about the constitutionality of abortion laws?  The legislature […]