Ky. lawmakers delay approval of Bevin's University of Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. lawmakers delay approval of Bevin's University of Louisville overhaul

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University of Louisville University of Louisville

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) --  State lawmakers delayed action Wednesday on a bill approving Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to abolish the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and replace it with a new, smaller set of members.

The House’s state government committee had planned to take up House Bill 10, but committee chairman Jerry Miller of Louisville said the bill was not ready and immediately adjourned the meeting.

“It’s better to go slow than to go fast and make a mistake,” said Miller, a Republican who lives in eastern Jefferson County.

Bevin has said that the General Assembly’s new Republican majority would simply approve his plan to replace the 20-member trustee board with a 13-member board.

But U of L’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, placed the university on probation last month in the wake of Bevin’s attempted overhaul, which was temporarily blocked by a judge.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, told reporters Wednesday that SACS would have no problem with Bevin’s plan for the board if the legislature votes to adopt it.

But the delay shows lawmakers may not be convinced that implementing Bevin’s changes poses no risks for the university’s accreditation.

“I think there is a desire to be certain on the part of leadership of both (the) House and Senate, so that’s what you’re seeing today,” Miller said in an interview off the House floor on Wednesday.

Rep. Jim Wayne, a Louisville Democrat, said the delay shows the newly installed Republican leaders of the House don’t “have their act together.”

“They couldn’t come up with a bill even though this issue has been burning since last summer,” Wayne said.

Wayne added that the latest draft of the bill circulated Wednesday shows that Republicans understand that Bevin’s plan “threatens” U of L’s accreditation.

In the latest version of the bill -- called a committee substitute – the legislature would create a new board of trustees to which Bevin would later make appointments after soliciting nominations.

(The committee substitute was not made public, but Wayne allowed reporters to view his copy.)

In the original version of the bill, made public Tuesday evening, the legislature would merely confirm Bevin’s executive orders issued last summer by which he abolished the board and created a new one with different members.

On its face, the change appears aimed at achieving the same result with the legislature initiating the board overhaul instead of Bevin’s executive orders.

One of SACS’ issues with U of L is whether the board is subject to undue “external influence”—evidently, from Bevin’s actions last year.

Pitt has said that the legislature – which created the U of L board – cannot be said to have undue influence on it.

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