FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Less than two months ago, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed into law Senate Bill 1 which is billed as the largest education reform bill passed in The Commonwealth since the early 1990s. But an Executive Order filed by Governor Bevin last week is drawing a warning from Attorney General Andy Beshear, rescind the order or face legal action.
At a Wednesday news conference, the AG accused Governor Bevin of abusing his power by filing the order calling to reorganize 7 boards connected to SB1.
"We set the separation of powers up as a state to protect our rights," said AG Beshear, “and if a governor can rewrite a law immediately after it's written, we're not talking about being treaded on, we're talking about being trampled on."
The Attorney General says he's giving the governor seven days to rescind his executive order or face another lawsuit. The Governor's Press Secretary released a statement standing by the Governor's Actions calling them “legal and proper, and in line with the actions of prior governors." The statement also questioned whether General Beshear is "just a hypocrite" because the AG's father, former Governor Steve Beshear, also abolished boards.
The two sides are headed to the State Supreme Court over the Governor's similar decision to scrap the U of L Board of Trustees. Beshear won another case in front of the high court involving higher education budget cuts. The reorganization of the Kentucky Retirement System board is in a lower court.
Senate President Robert Stivers backed the Governor before and is this time too calling the move a "political ploy" in the statement he released today.
The Attorney General described his move this time as the only way to stop the Governor from what he called an ongoing abuse of power.
"We also know that there are up to 39 more reorganizations coming," said Beshear. “The use of this statute has just gotten abusive, it's got to stop and we are going to seek a stop through the judiciary for it."
The Governor has until close of business next Wednesday before the AG says he intends to act.
Both sides have filed briefs in the U of L Trustees case with one more filing before a date can be set to argue the case before the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The following is a statement from Bevin's press secretary:
"Gov. Bevin’s use of KRS 12.028 to reorganize the Board of Education and other education-related boards is legal and proper, and in line with the actions of prior governors. The statute has been used by Democratic and Republican governors to reorganize executive branch agencies 357 times since 1992, including 103 times by Gov. Steve Beshear. Attorney General Andy Beshear must think the law applies differently to Republicans and Democrats. He is wrong.As an example of just two of these similar executive acts, does AG Beshear believe his father acted illegally by completely abolishing and recreating the Horse Racing Commission (Executive Order 2008-668) by executive order? What about Steve Beshear’s abolition and recreation of the State Fair Board (Executive Order 2014-834)? Or is AG Beshear just a hypocrite?"
The following is a statement form Senate Pres. Robert Stivers:
“The recent letter from Attorney General Beshear threatening to sue Governor Bevin over a reorganization is yet another example of our Attorney General picking and choosing which cases to defend and not defend on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.I stand with Governor Bevin as I have in similar lawsuits in the past related to board reorganizations, and I believe this is nothing more than a political ploy from Attorney General Beshear.
I have been in the legislature since 1997 and I don't recall any other Attorney General suing another governor this many times over KRS 12.028."