Ky. lawmakers delays recess to pass budget

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Efforts to reform the state’s public pension systems have taken a winding road and faced uncertain prospects at times since the issue came to the forefront of public discussion last year.

But after making changes based on input received from stakeholders throughout the General Assembly’s 2018 session, public pension legislation reached the end of its legislative journey this week as lawmakers approved a bill on the issue and delivered it to the governor’s office to be signed into law.

However, lawmakers have adjusted their 2018 legislative calendar in order to convene the Senate and House on Monday in hopes that a state budget agreement will be reached between the chambers at that time. A legislative recess is scheduled to begin Tuesday, with lawmakers returning to the Capitol to adjourn the session by April 14.

One notable change to the public pension legislation in recent days was removing a provision that would have reduced the cost-of-living adjustment for retired teachers. The previous proposal would have reduced that adjustment from 1.5 percent to 1 percent, but there’s no such reduction in the plan lawmakers ultimately approved.

The goal is to stabilize pension systems that face more than $40 billion in unfunded liabilities. More funding is one part of the plan, according to the proposed state budgets both chambers have approved but, as of this writing, have not come to a final agreement on. Changes proposed by the pension reform legislation, Senate Bill 151, are aimed at shoring up the system in a number of ways, such as by placing future teachers in a hybrid “cash balance” plan rather than a traditional benefits plan and by limiting the impact of accrued sick leave on retirement benefit calculations.

While much of the focus at week’s end was on the movement of the pension legislation, a number of other bills also received final approval and were sent to the governor this week, including measures on the following topics:

Prescription medicines. Senate Bill 6 would require a pharmacist to provide information about the safe disposal of certain prescription medicines, such as opiates and amphetamines.

Terrorism. Senate Bill 57 would allow a person injured by an act of terrorism to file a claim for damages against the terrorist in state court.

Police cameras. House Bill 373 would exempt some police body camera footage from being publicly released. It would exempt the footage from being released when it shows the interior of private homes, medical facilities, women’s shelters and jails or shows a dead body, evidence of sexual assault, nude bodies and children.

Abortion. House Bill 454 would prohibit a certain type of abortion procedure, known as a D & E, if a woman is more than 11 weeks pregnant. The legislation does not ban other types of abortion procedures.

Citizens who want to share feedback on the issues confronting Kentucky can do so by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181.