FRANKFORT, Ky. — The bills that worried Kentucky teachers are on life-support this legislative session, but the sick-outs may continue.
JCPS teachers called out of school for the fifth time in two weeks Wednesday, saying they were concerned lawmakers would pass a number of bills that may have a negative impact on public education. Still, it was clear the most worrisome issue for teachers was missing its best bet at becoming a reality.
A bipartisan conference committee approved a revenue bill that did not include the controversial language adding tax credit scholarships from House Bill 205, effectively killing the bill this session. Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins signed the committee's recommendations, with Speaker David Osborne saying it would be next to impossible to do anything with the bill.
"I think that it would be next to impossible at this point. Obviously, we have three days left, and so anything is still, I guess, technically possible, but I think from all practical standpoint it would be next to impossible to do it at this point," Osborne said.
In addition, House Bill 525, the bill restructuring the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System's Board of Trustees, is also headed nowhere this session. House Majority Floor Leader Bam Carney said that with two days left, it's unlikely they can move the bill along.
"I would say it's resting comfortably," Carney said. "It's not in the orders of the day and that leaves us with two days left, so very unlikely."
But even that reassurance from Carney did nothing to settle the nerves of those demonstrating as pleas from even democrat legislatures to stay at work has failed to settle their concerns. Considering last year's last minute change adding pension reform legislation to a sewer bill, teachers said they feel they have more reasons to be suspicious than trusting.
"You know, I think there is a trust factor here now with teachers that they just don't trust the process here in Frankfort," Adkins said, "and they're going to be here to watch it, and if something does happen, it's going to be while they're here with their eyes and ears wide open."
Many said it's too soon to tell if teachers will call out again tomorrow, the day that typically sees a flurry of bills fly through as lawmakers try to beat the clock. Teachers protesting said they would not rule out coming back to see what happens for themselves.
Statement from Sen. Julie Raque Adams, Rep. Joni Jenkins, Rep. Jason Nemes, and Senator Morgan McGarvey:
“After speaking with leadership from both chambers, we want to restate that neither HB 205 nor HB 525 will be rolled into any other bill and be passed this session. Furthermore, there is no time left to pass HB 205 or HB 525 on their own this session. We want people to know that regardless of chamber party, we agree that neither HB 205 nor HB 525 (or a separate bill with similar provisions) will pass in any way, shape, or form this session.
We look forward to continuing a conversation with our constituents over the interim about issues that impact our schools leading into next year’s important budget session. But, for now, we wish to restate that HB 205, HB 525, or any bill with similar provisions will not be called for passage this session.”
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