FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Matt Bevin has called a special session of the General Assembly beginning Monday night at 8 in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court decision that unanimously held the process used to pass Senate Bill 151, the wastewater bill turned into pension reform legislation, unconstitutional.
During a Capitol press conference announcing the special session, Bevin said, “Our State Supreme Court has chosen to assume for itself responsibilities that are not given to it, constitutionally, and that has created a big financial problem for Kentucky.”
Bevin noted state officials have already been contacted by the credit rating agencies, and the Finance and Administration Cabinet has been provided the information that they need.
“It is our expectation, unfortunately, that will not result in good news for Kentucky. We already have one of the worst credit ratings of any state in America.”
He also said: “We have a legal and moral obligation to provide and deliver on the promises that have been made,” to retirees. “The only chance we have of doing that, is to change the system going forward.”
Bevin added, “I am going to use the powers that have been granted to me, to call the legislature into special session. That will be effective tonight at eight o’clock.”
He described what will happen on the first night. “First readings of the things that are going to be discussed will take place, and the process will begin.”
Democratic leaders in the General Assembly are upset about the roughly four hour notice given them about the special session.
House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, is calling the governor’s actions appalling. “Neither I nor any member of the House Democratic Caucus was consulted or even given a courtesy call that this was happening, and many of our members are unable to make it tonight.”
“To expect legislators to be in the Capitol literally hours after calling a special session, especially during the holidays and three weeks before the next regular session, is the most short-sighted and unnecessary action I have ever seen a governor make. This is nothing more than a continued mockery of the legislative process and an attempt to silence the public. This is a sad day for the people of Kentucky.”
Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, said he also found out about the special session call, after the Governor’s press conference.
Jones, an attorney, said it wasn’t only the process of passing the bill that was unconstitutional, the underlying bill was unconstitutional as well. “Instead of trying to come up with a reasonable solution, this bill furthers the Republican Party agenda of undermining public education. This bill will make it virtually impossible to recruit and retain quality educators for Kentucky’s public schools.”
He also noted, “There is a potentially constitutional lack of notice issue, by the manner this special session has been called. I would hope the Attorney General would challenge the constitutionality of failing to give legislators around the state adequate notice to be there.”
House Speaker-Elect David Osborne, R-Prospect, said he’s ready to go. “We are prepared to convene for the extraordinary session called by the Governor. Our caucus stands willing and able to do the people’s business and lead on the critical issues facing Kentucky.”
It takes a minimum of five legislative days to pass a bill, as three readings are required in each chamber, although a third reading and final passage can be done early in the day in one chamber, then first reading that afternoon in the other.
It costs the state more than $65,000 per day during a special session.