KYGA18 day 52 begins today!  

While #1 seeded teams were pitched out of the NCAA men’s tournament, Senate Bill 1 for the pension reform is in a ditch at this moment, a legislative bracket-buster.
Pension Reform, the pension fix, full funding of the pension — by any name, it’s in trouble. Stalling in the Senate, pension reform faces tough odds based on the projection of President Robert Stivers.
The House version of the state budget calls for raising the cigarette tax plus creating a first in the nation opioid dose tax. This combined revenue would protect parts of the pensions that had been cut in the original plan last October.
Meanwhile, the Senate opposes additional taxation, leaving the two chambers at odds. We will likely see the Senate’s version of the state budget within a day or two. As with past sessions, a conference committee of House and Senate leaders will have to meet to find agreement.
Al Cross biweekly column named eight key Senators who balked at the Senate pension plan, largely due to cuts to the retirement payments to teachers. Dozens of public school teachers continue to demonstrate every day on the pension issue.
The pension and the state budget matter most. The legislature ends on Friday, April 13 as it stands. The constitution sets April 15 as the final day, however this year April 15 is a Sunday. The constitution forbids the legislature to meet on a Sunday.

 Recently in the News

Article: ‘Kentucky Senate plans to reject tax increases. Will that mean less for education?’

Week in Review March 12-16

SB66 is currently on the back burner until SB1 is worked out. This bill phases in the large increases in pension costs for libraries, school districts, health departments and other workers who fall under CERS (County Employees Retirement System). If the Kentucky legislature does a complete overhaul of the pension systems, this would provide relief on pensions to those in CERS. SB66 places a 12 percent cap for the next decade on increases in pension contributions for these public employers.

HB227 Net Metering bill passed the Kentucky House this week by a narrow vote of 49-45. This bill has been highly controversial, but sponsor Rep. Gooch (R-Providence) says the newest version reflects a compromise based on extensive work with many stakeholders: “We’ve done everything we could to try to satisfy. We don’t think this bill will put solar operators out of business. As a matter of fact, the utilities still have to buy back your excess power.” In this version, the KY Public Service Commission is authorized to establish pricing rates for the solar energy customers put back into the power grid. As evidenced by the vote, strong opposition still remains.

HB604 In wake of the Marshall County shooting, Rep. Coursey introduced legislation that requires mental health professionals to be in each district. For every 1,500 students there would be one mental health professional. Another segment of the bill requires schools to be “trauma-informed.” Under the direction of the mental health professional, schools will build ‘trauma teams’ that would “provide training, guidance, and assistance” to school and staff and help students in need.

Coursey is a graduate of Marshall County. The bill passed the House on Friday by a vote of 81-1.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up

This week: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Kentucky vs. Kansas State. Louisville plays Mississippi State in the NIT. Sadly, Xavier, Murray State and the University of Cincinnati will watch from home.
March 27-28 Concurrence only days —  House and Senate finish regular business
March 29 Veto period begins
April 6 Opening day of Spring Meet at the historic, iconic Keeneland Race Course
April 9 Veto period concludes
April 12-13 Complete all action, Days 58 and 59 of Session
April 13 SINE DIE

The Session Calendar and the Committee Schedule are great to bookmark. We’ll monitor Committees for you as bills pertaining to your issues come through.

Our team will continue to send weekly reports to share top stories and any information that may be helpful. See our Facebook and Twitter pages for real-time updates. 

Kentucky Legislative Weekly Wrapup video.