Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 25, 2013

No pension fix late into night



But when Stumbo emerged from the second Democratic caucus around 9:15 p.m. EDT Monday and announced the new funding plan had “around 35 members” who, along with the House Republicans, would be enough combined to pass the measure, Oxendine watched unhappily from a few feet away.

Stumbo said Democrats were free to vote their conscience on the non-funding, reform package which includes the cash balance plan for new employees. Oxendine later said Stumbo and House leadership wouldn’t have ended the meeting “without enough votes to pass it.”

But she promised to remember those Democrats who do vote for it.

“I will commit them to memory and I’ll climb up on the Capitol Dome and shout them out,” Oxendine said.

It was also not known if the latest plan and smaller reduction in the gas tax would calm objections by local officials. Part of the money generated by the tax goes to counties and cities for local road needs, money most fiscal courts and city governments count on each year.

Earlier in the day when the original 2-cent reduction became known, Vince Lang, executive director of the Kentucky Judge/Executives Association, said county officials weren’t happy, noting local officials – unlike the legislature – had always made a full payment into the pension system.

“It’s not right to take money we would have been getting in the gas tax increase and punishing the same people who have always paid their fair share into the pension system,” Lang said.

While the pension resolution didn’t seem in sight by 10 p.m. Monday, it did seem likely both chambers would override Beshear’s veto of House Bill 279, the so-called religious freedom bill.

Stumbo said he will call the measure up for a vote on an override.

The measure would allow some with “deeply held religious beliefs” to disregard some state laws which conflicted with those beliefs unless there is “clear and compelling evidence of a compelling state interest.”

Critics claim the measure might make it difficult to enforce non-discrimination laws and ordinances, but the measure passed both chambers by wide margins and will likely receive more than enough votes to override Beshear’s veto.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.


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