House panel advances Bevin-backed pension bill

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WKYT) - Saturday, 4:45 p.m.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin's pension-relief proposal has cleared its first hurdle, winning approval from a legislative committee during the second day of a special session.

The House State Government Committee approved the measure Saturday after defeating two Democratic-sponsored proposals. The plan backed by the Republican governor heads to the GOP-dominated House, which is expected to vote on it Monday.

All three bills aim to give relief to regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies, such as public health departments, hit by sharply higher retirement costs.

Rep. James Tipton is sponsoring the Bevin-backed bill. Tipton says if lawmakers don't take action, many quasi-public agencies will "go out of business."

Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham condemned the proposal as "immoral." He says it will break a promise made to employees if their agencies leave the retirement system.

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Saturday, 12:20 p.m.

The long-running feud between Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear now includes the language included in Bevin's proclamation calling lawmakers into a special session.

Beshear said Saturday that the Republican governor's proclamation tries to dictate the contents of any pension-relief legislation passed in the session that began Friday.

Beshear is a Democrat challenging Bevin in this year's election. He says the proclamation "runs roughshod" over the Constitution and puts any bill that passes at risk of a lawsuit.

Bevin's deputy chief of staff, Bryan Sunderland, says such claims are "absurd."

Sunderland says there's nothing restricting the legislature's independence. He says lawmakers have the power to pass a bill or to adjourn and go home.

Top GOP lawmakers have signaled they're ready to take action on a pension bill.

6:30 p.m.
Day one of the Kentucky special session took place Friday in Frankfort as lawmakers try to pass a pension relief bill.

Sister station WKYT reports the first day revolved not around the pension bill itself, but around Governor Matt Bevin's guidelines.

"The specificity, in my opinion, is a mockery of the legislative process," said Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins.

"In 2008, Governor Beshear made a 182-page call with the bill included in it," said Speaker Pro Tem. David Meade. "The sponsor of that bill was the gentleman from Elliot."

Adkins said that situation cannot be compared to this one.

Republican leaders did look over the two Democrat bills, reading them twice before assigning them to a committee.

"Certainly we are open to all thoughts and ideas, but again, the call is going to limit us to some degree on what we can do," said Speaker David Osborne.

Democrats insist that Bevin overstepped his authority, while Republicans say otherwise.

"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," said Senator Morgan McGarvey.

Leaders plan to have a bill ready for Bevin to sign on Wednesday.

10:00 a.m.
Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne is predicting that the Republican-led chamber will pass pension-relief legislation in a special session.

Lawmakers convened Friday after being called into session by Gov. Matt Bevin to take up his pension proposal. The goal is to provide relief for regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies burdened by surging retirement costs.

Bevin spent months building support for his proposal. He vetoed a similar measure after lawmakers ended their regular session.

Asked about finally convening after months of suspense, Osborne said: "I don't think anybody's excited about being here, but it is our job to be here."

Minority leaders say they are concerned that the governor's proclamation calling the special session threatens legislative independence.

"He has the ability to dictate the subject but he doesn't have the authority or power to write legislation as well that is our job in this chamber," said House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins.

Many Republicans argue differently saying their legislative independence comes in their decision of whether or not to pass the bill.

A bill reflecting Bevin's plan was introduced Friday. Democrats offered their own version.

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