FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Both chambers of the Kentucky legislature adjourned late Monday night after Gov. Matt Bevin called the legislation into special session earlier in the afternoon to try and bring a fix to the state’s troubled public pension system.
Bevin made his surprise announcement around 4 p.m., telling lawmakers he wanted them at the Capitol by 8 p.m.
Lawmakers arrived in both chambers with some showing up later than others and both recessing several times through the night. The Senate barely made a quorum with 20 of 38 showing up, including no Democrats. The House had 72 of 100 representatives who came Monday night.
Two bills sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, were introduced in the House after both chambers met behind closed doors.
The Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday and the House at 2 p.m. A House panel will also discuss the bill at 1 p.m.
Bevin’s decision came four days after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down a controversial pension law that Bevin had signed in the spring. It was a bill that stirred up teachers, who protested with marches on the Capitol and threats to “remember in November” on election day.
However, Republicans maintained super majorities in both the House and Senate after the midterm elections.
Bevin can call lawmakers back to the Capitol, but he can't force them to vote. Lawmakers could adjourn the session and take no action.
“We have a legal and moral obligation to provide and deliver on the promises that have been made” to retirees, Bevin said. “The only chance we have of doing that is to change the system going forward.”
Kentucky has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country and are at least $38 billion short of what is required to pay retirement benefits over the next 30 years, according to some reports.
House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said the governor’s actions were 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,” Adkins said. “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.”
Bevin said the Supreme Court ruling could impact Kentucky’s credit rating and needed to be dealt with as quickly as possible. The 2019 regular session of the General Assembly starts Jan. 8.
House Speaker-Elect David Osborne, R-Prospect, said “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 and then have first reading that afternoon in the other.
Daily cost of the session is between $60,000 and $65,000.