pensions

Office of Sen. Brown

Retired coal miners and coal community activists are on Capitol Hill this week urging action on two important issues for miners: pensions and black lung benefits. Advocates say funds supporting both pensions for retired miners and the federal benefits for those sickened by black lung disease are at risk if Congress does not act. 

Pension Problem

A United Mine Workers of America spokesperson said the miners’ pension fund could become insolvent by 2022. Congress created a Joint Select Committee to shore up this and other similar pension funds that are in jeopardy. But UMWA spokesperson Phil Smith is concerned that the committee is not making enough progress. Smith said Congressional Democrats have proposed a potential solution but Republicans have not responded.


Creative Commons

The lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law will be heard by the Supreme Court of Kentucky on Thursday, pitting Kentucky’s two preeminent political rivals against each other and putting retirement benefits for thousands of teachers and state workers in the balance.

The pension changes were passed during this year’s legislative session amid massive protests and were blocked by a lower court, which ruled that lawmakers violated the state constitution by rushing the bill to passage during a matter of hours.

Bevin Criticized for Comparing Critics to Drowning Victims

Aug 15, 2018
J. Tyler Frankin

Facing a groundswell of opposition from public workers for his proposed pension changes, Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin compared them to drowning victims on Tuesday in that "you just need to knock them out and drag them to shore."

Bevin's comments came during a live interview with Brian Thomas on WKRC in Cincinnati. He said the state must make changes to the pension system or it will collapse, risking the retirements of hundreds of thousands of people and their loved ones.

Kentucky Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Pension Case

Aug 10, 2018
Ryland Barton

The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's appeal of an earlier ruling striking down changes to the state's struggling pension systems.

Kentucky's Republican-controlled legislature passed a law earlier this year that would move all new teacher hires into a hybrid plan and limit how teachers can use sick days to calculate their retirement benefits. In June, a state judge struck down the law because he said lawmakers violated the state constitution by not giving the bill three readings over three days.

Aaron Payne

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts fired up a crowd of thousands of union workers in Columbus, Ohio, with a simple chant: “Fix it!”

The rally last week came on the eve of a Congressional field hearing on problems plaguing multiemployer pension programs like the one retired miners depend upon.

“When the people get to marching, the politicians get to listening,” Roberts roared.


Thinkstock

After last week’s court decision that struck down Kentucky’s new pension law, a Republican state representative says he’s confident legislators will pass a new version of the measure if the decision is upheld.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled last week that the pension law is unconstitutional because lawmakers passed it too quickly. Gov. Matt Bevin — one of the defendants in the court battle — has indicated he will appeal the decision.

Public Domain

This week in Kentucky politics, a judge struck down Kentucky’s new pension law, saying legislators broke the law by rushing the bill to passage. Kentucky’s health secretary says the state will have to cut benefits if a federal court blocks Gov. Matt Bevin’s changes to the Medicaid system. And Democrats no longer make up a majority of registered voters in the state. 


The governing body of Western Kentucky University made a $388,000,000 decision on Friday. 

The Board of Regents approved a budget that will increase tuition and fees by four percent for the next academic year.  The increase will fund four percent raises for faculty and staff, their first substantial salary increase in a decade.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin says the judge who struck down Kentucky’s pension law is “not a very competent attorney,” predicting that the ruling will be overturned because the legislation “doesn’t do much.”

Franklin County Circuit Judge Philip Shepherd ruled on Wednesday that the law is unconstitutional because state lawmakers rushed the bill to passage and didn’t have enough votes to send it to the governor’s desk.

Public Domain

A judge has struck down changes made to Kentucky’s pension systems earlier this year, ruling that lawmakers violated the state constitution by rushing the bill to passage in a matter of hours.

The challenge is the latest in a series of legal disputes between Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

On Wednesday Beshear called the ruling a “win for open, honest government.”

Ryland Barton

This week in Kentucky politics: the lawsuit over the new pension law was argued in court; Kentucky’s new commissioner of education laid out his priorities, which include helping charter schools open up and taking over Louisville’s public school system; and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continued to express concern about President Trump’s tariffs leading to a full-blown trade war.


Ryland Barton

During a hearing on Thursday, the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law questioned why state lawmakers were able to pass the measure out of the legislature in just one day.

State law requires bills to be formally presented on three separate days before they are eligible to be voted on in the state House and Senate, though lawmakers frequently vote to override the rule.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s general counsel Steve Pitt argued the speedy process is necessary late in the legislative session.

Three Warren County Republicans are running for the southern Kentucky House seat held by Democrat Jody Richards since 1976.  Ben Lawson, Troy Brooks, and Todd Alcott are seeking the GOP nomination for the 20th District House seat, which covers part of Warren County including Bowling Green.

WKU Public Radio is introducing you to all the candidates on the ballot in next week’s primary election.  We previously reported on the five Democrats in the race, including Patti Minter, Slim Nash, Ashlea Shepherd Porter, Rick DuBose, and Eldon Renuad. 

Thinkstock

A judge has ruled Kentucky lawmakers broke the law when they held a private meeting to discuss changes to the state's public pension system.

The Kentucky House of Representatives held a closed-door meeting in August to discuss the state's struggling pension plan. Lawmakers justified the private meeting by calling it a gathering of the Republican and Democratic caucuses, which are exempt from the open meetings law.

Public Domain

A judge has denied a request to have Kentucky's attorney general disqualified from taking part in a lawsuit challenging a new law making changes to the state's pension system.

Media reports say Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd on Wednesday turned down the request by Gov. Matt Bevin's attorneys to disqualify Andy Beshear from the case.

Bevin attorney Steve Pitt said Beshear couldn't provide legal advice to legislators on the pension measure and later file the lawsuit challenging the law.

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