FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) – Kentucky lawmakers convened Friday morning for the start of a special session called by Governor Matt Bevin. A quasi pension bill has been filed as well as two Democrat plans to solve the crisis with quasi Kentucky governmental agencies like regional universities, health departments and rape crisis centers.
Three plans are going to get some consideration--that's a big deal here in Frankfort. And while it was a relatively quick day for the Senate, this work is getting started in the House, which introduced the bills.
House Bill 1, sponsored by Representative James Tipton (R) from Taylorsville--and pushed for by Bevin--would allow the agencies to leave the defined benefit plan, offering alternative plans for new hires and freezing pension liability increases for a year.
House Bills 2 and 3 are Democrat-led bills that Minority Leader Rocky Adkins said will freeze the liability increase for 24 years, keep defined benefits and, he claims, pay down the unfunded pension liability several years earlier than the Republican plan.
Although Republican leadership agreed to hear the Democratic plans, Leader Adkins took issue with Governor Bevin's call for the special session, which strictly defined what would be taken up.
“This is, in my opinion, yes, a violation of separation of powers. This, in my opinion, may be the first step of driving that stake in the heart of legislative independence,” Adkins said.
Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) of Louisville agreed.
"The [governor's] proclamation is too narrow. The legislature's job is to legislate, so let's come in here and actually have solutions to the pension problem offered by all sides instead of some ideological decision by the governor," McGarvey said.
Senate President Robert Stivers (R) of London argued that it is within the governor's rights to call the session and set the agenda, narrow as it may be. He added that he expects the Democrats to slow down House Bill 1 in favor of one of their own. Minority Leader McGarvey said he would like the legislature to consider more than just the bill favored by the governor.
"I hope the week goes and that we take in from all sides, we listen to these governmental agencies that are requesting this relief instead of just forcing this ideological solution that the governor is trying to put off on everybody," McGarvey said. "We have to take the time to get this right. We owe that to the taxpayers of Kentucky. We owe that to the people who depend on a pension for their retirement."
Republican Representative David Meade of House District 80 called on all legislators to put their heads down and work it out.
“We will vet these bills, we will decide what is the best route to proceed and we will move forward, but for now let's stop the rhetoric, let's get down to business and let's work together to pass something for the Commonwealth," Meade said.
A committee will hear the plans Saturday, likely in the early afternoon with a hope the full House could vote by Monday.