Second day of special session likely to bring protests, drama to Capitol

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – A surprise special session that was called late Monday afternoon by Gov Matt Bevin settles into Day 2 on Tuesday in the state Capitol with lawmakers and advocacy groups scrambling to find their places.


Protests are expected from members of the Kentucky Education Association to again let lawmakers know what they think about how their pension system is being handled.


They showed their strength in numbers at the 2018 legislation session last spring when thousands of teachers came to the Capitol to protest the changes proposed to the pension systems in the bill that was overturned last week by the Kentucky Supreme Court.


Late Monday night in the House, Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, introduced two bills dealing with the overhaul of the pension to set in motion what could be an eventful week.


House Bill 1 is much like Senate Bill 151, the wastewater bill turned pension overhaul that was struck down by the high court earlier this month, with a few provisions removed. The 252-page document has no actuarial analysis. “Not available at this time,” it reads. However, a requirement that the legislature switch to a funding method known as level-dollar funding was removed. It had required large pension payments in the next few years.


House Bill 2 is much like House Bill 362, which capped pension increases for local governments, school districts and regional universities but reduces a 3 percent benefit increase that teachers receive after working 30 years to 2.5 percent in 2024. It also increases in local government payments into the system at no more than 12 percent per year.


Both bills also have a “Severability Clause,” meaning if the court strikes part of the legislation, the remainder stays in effect.


The Senate convened this morning at 10 a.m. but would not receive the pension bills from the House any earlier than Wednesday.


The House State Government Committee, with Miller as the chairman, meets at 1 p.m. and the House convenes at 2 p.m. likely for a second reading of the two bills introduced by Miller on Monday.


“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.


Daily cost of the session is between $60,000 and $65,000.

 

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