Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 27, 2013

Confusing, long day in Frankfort



The day began with an 8 a.m. meeting of the House Agriculture Committee where Chairman Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, said the committee would hear testimony on Hornback’s hemp bill. But he made clear there would be no vote on the bill; instead, the committee would take up a committee substitute which would call for a study of hemp’s economic appeal.

But after testimony from both supporters and opponents, it became clear McKee’s committee – including Democrats – was prepared to pass Hornback’s bill.

Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, made a motion to approve Hornback’s bill and several committee members shouted out seconds. But McKee ruled the motion out of order and recessed the committee until after the day’s House session.

Later during a recess of House floor session, McKee called a meeting of the committee at his desk whereupon he simply adjourned the meeting, apparently bringing to an end House consideration of the bill.

The House then took up its version of a pension reform bill previously passed by the Senate.

Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, would move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan and end cost of living adjustments while preserving current benefits for existing employees and retirees.

But the key provision of the bill is to fully fund the annually required contribution (ARC) and the Senate bill provides no way to pay the ARC.

The House re-wrote the bill to preserve defined benefits for all employees, current and future; preserve COLAs so long as they are pre-funded; try to bind future legislatures into having to make the ARC payment; and allow the legislature to amend benefits going forward for employees hired after July 1, 2013.

As the House prepared to vote, Hoover quoted a statute which requires any change to pension benefits to include an actuarial study before the bill is passed out of committee, something the House bill didn’t have. But Stumbo cited another court case which said the General Assembly establishes its own rules and the courts are reluctant to interfere, thus ruling Hoover’s objection out of order.

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