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Kentucky Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Bevin’s Reorganization Of Education Boards

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The Kentucky Supreme Court heard another lawsuit between Attorney General Andy Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday.

Once again, the legal challenge was over to what extent the governor has authority to reorganize state boards while the legislature isn’t in session — this time it had to do with Bevin’s overhaul of several state education boards in the summer of 2017.

Beshear argued that the governor overstepped his authority.

“What this has done is it’s flipped our separation of powers on its head,” Beshear said. “It’s saying that the governor can write new law for eight months, nine months, 10 months of the year and then the legislature can veto it.”

Bevin’s executive order included the appointment of four non-voting charter school advisors to the Kentucky Board of Education and the total replacement of boards that deal with certifying teachers and establishing curriculum standards.

lower court ruled that Bevin’s move was legal, except for his restructuring of a board that deals with disciplinary actions of teachers.

In 2018, the legislature declined to make Bevin’s order permanent and shortly after that year’s legislative session, the governor issued a new order that re-issued many of the changes, with some key differences.

Beshear argued that Bevin’s second executive order showed that the governor was circumventing the legislative process.

But Bevin’s attorney Steve Pitt said that because the new order was materially different from the first one, Beshear’s argument doesn’t hold up.

“The General Assembly every year has acted on governor’s reorganizations. Most of the times they’re approved, sometimes they’re not. But the statute works,” Pitt said.

Friday’s hearing is the latest in a string of legal challenges involving Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general and Republican governor that have reached the state’s highest court.

The two might also face each other during this year’s race for governor — Bevin is running for re-election, but has three primary challengers. Beshear is seeking the Democratic nomination along with three others.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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