2019 General Assembly

Ryland Barton

Kentucky’s Republican-dominated legislature has convened to consider Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to help regional universities and “quasi” state agencies deal with a massive spike in pension costs.

Bevin summoned lawmakers to Frankfort for the special legislative session, where only a bill that meets a 12-point list of requirements outlined by the governor in his call for the session will be allowed to pass.

Bevin has been rallying support for his proposal for months and Republican leaders of the legislature say they have enough votes to pass it.

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

The Kentucky State Police agency says it’s not taking a position for, or against, a new law that allows citizens to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.  KSP is, however, issuing some advice. 

KSP is encouraging Kentuckians to do some homework before traveling to other states.  The new law may not apply elsewhere, and if stopped by police in other states, Kentuckians could be subject to arrest.  Sergeant Josh Lawson says most, if not all, of Kentucky’s surrounding states still require a permit for concealed carry.

J. Tyler Franklin

Nearly 200 bills passed out of the Kentucky legislature this year and most of them will go into effect on Thursday.

The new laws include a “constitutional carry” provision that allows people to concealed carry guns without a license, job protections for pregnant workers and an expansion of Kentucky’s expungement law that allows people to get some low-level felony convictions cleared from their criminal records.

Laws generally go into effect 90 days after the conclusion of the annual legislative session.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin has crafted a new version of the pension bill he vetoed last month and is expected to call a special session for lawmakers to consider the issue soon.

The measure is similar to the one that Bevin rejected last month. It allows regional universities and agencies like health departments to exit the state’s pension system to avoid a spike in the amount of money they have to contribute to it.

It would also add to the state’s pension debt by allowing some of the agencies to exit without paying the full share of what they owe to the retirement systems.

J. Tyler Franklin

When Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed the pension bill that passed out of the legislature last month, he promised to call lawmakers back to Frankfort to do it all over again in a special legislative session before July 1.

But the timing of the yet-to-be-announced session is complicated, because state universities affected by the measure say they need clarity on whether they will face massive increases in the amount they have to contribute to the pension systems when they start writing their budgets on June 1.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin is feuding with the Republican leaders of the state legislature after he vetoed the pension bill that passed on the last day of this year’s legislative session.

The bill would have allowed regional universities and other agencies to exit the state’s pension system to avoid a spike in their pension costs. It would have also allowed the state to take over the agencies’ finances if they default on pension payments and suspend benefits of their retirees.

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet has subpoenaed Jefferson County Public Schools, in relation to teacher-led sickouts that forced the school district to close six days while educators protested at the state legislature.

A JCPS spokeswoman confirmed that district officials received the subpoena Wednesday afternoon, and the district later released a copy of the subpoena. The Labor Cabinet’s deputy secretary and communications staff did not respond to a request for information regarding the subpoena, which was first reported by Insider Louisville

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Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature approved four anti-abortion measures this session, all of which were signed into law by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Bevin has signed several anti-abortion bills since he became governor in 2015 with nearly all of them struck down either temporarily or permanently in federal court.

During a rally at the Capitol earlier this month, Bevin — who’s also running for re-election — celebrated the anti-abortion measures being passed through the legislature and called himself the “most pro-life governor in America.”

Simpson County Schools Facebook

For as many education bills that Kentucky lawmakers passed in the 2019 legislative session, many other proposed measures failed.

Whether some of these bills fell flat primarily due to strong opposition from this year’s especially vocal educators or from a lack of unified support from the General Assembly’s Republican majority is still up for debate.

Here are some of the 2019 legislative proposals related to education that stalled out, got stuck in committee or were dead on arrival:

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On the final day of Kentucky’s legislative session, lawmakers passed major financial legislation dealing with pensions and taxes, and a host of other measures like a statewide ban on tobacco in schools and a requirement that workplaces accommodate pregnant employees.

The Republican-led legislature also overrode the two bills that Gov. Matt Bevin had vetoed earlier this week.

Bevin still has the opportunity strike down any of the legislation that passed on the last day, but lawmakers will not be able to override any more of his vetoes.

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Kentucky lawmakers have advanced a bill that would allow regional universities and “quasi” state agencies like local health departments, mental health departments and rape crisis centers to exit the state’s pension systems, ultimately increasing the unfunded status of the retirement fund for most state workers.

The bill would also reduce retirement benefits for some current state employees and could drastically affect retirees if agencies don’t promptly make payments to the state.

Liz Schlemmer

On the final day of the legislative session, state senators confirmed Governor Matt Bevin’s nine appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education. The Senate confirmed eight of those appointments by a concurrence vote Thursday afternoon, then unexpectedly singled out the resolution to confirm the appointment of appointee Gary Houchens for a full debate.

“In Mr. Houchens in particular, we have someone who has publicly warred with our educators,” said Louisville Democratic Senator Morgan McGarvey. “His social media account,  his op-eds are numerous and clearly outline his version of education in Kentucky. I say ‘education’ because they don’t outline a vision for ‘public education.'”

Creative Commons

The expansion of Medicaid came just in time for Vickie Young. For years, Young cleaned houses. The 63-year-old from Carlisle, Kentucky, bought her own health insurance, which kept getting more expensive as she got older. She has a bunch of health conditions from cleaning all those years including two torn rotator cuffs and a deteriorating disc.

“And then when Obamacare was enacted, I went on and I qualified for Medicaid — [it was a] huge relief,” Young said.

But now she’s worried. On Wednesday a federal judge blocked Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky. It’s the second time Judge James E. Boasberg has struck down Kentucky’s proposal to change the state’s insurance program for low-income people — the first was in June 2018.

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky Department of Education recommends school districts revise their leave policies to close a “loophole” that allows teachers to hold “an illegal work stoppage.”

The move comes in response to teachers in 10 counties staging a so-called “sickout” for a single day in February to protest an education bill in Frankfort. Bullitt County Public Schools closed for a total of 3 days, and Jefferson County Public Schools for a total of 6 days, as some teachers continued to call in sick during March to advocate at the Capitol.

J. Tyler Franklin

On the last day of the legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers are advancing new tax breaks that would benefit companies that are spread across multiple states and countries.

The measure allows multi-state companies that are now required to use “mandatory combined reporting”— a change to the tax code enacted by state lawmakers last year — to spread their financial losses evenly across their various affiliates, a financial benefit to the companies.

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