House GOP working to keep pension bill on track after Hoover resignation
Speaker Pro Tem says lawmakers "cannot allow this mess" to distract from solving pension crisis.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky House Republicans are working to ensure that the sexual harassment scandal that toppled Speaker Jeff Hoover does not also derail the pension reform bill.
The House Republican caucus met Tuesday for the first time without Hoover at the helm, trying to work out a compromise pension bill they hope can get more support.
Republicans admit the bill was in trouble before Hoover’s resignation. Now, they are scrambling to rescue the pension bill without Hoover, who had been leading the charge.
“It adds an additional difficulty, if you will, and it was already a difficult process,” said Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville).
Nemes said other House members are stepping up to fill Hoover's void.
“While he led the band, the band will play on.” he said.
The remaining leaders of the House band have been playing behind closed doors, trying to work through problems that threaten the bill's passage. Teachers, in particular, have been vocal in their opposition to proposed cuts in benefits.
“We're working on changes to make it more comfortable with our members and the general public," said House Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher (R-Louisville).
"The teachers and the citizens of Kentucky ... they’ve spoken."
But, scandal or not, Democrats are calling on the GOP majority to slow the sprint toward a special session on pensions.
“If there's any tinkering with the system, it should be done during a regular session," said Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville). "There's no sense in having a special session costing how many hundreds of thousands of dollars to the taxpayers."
Even Republican Wesley Morgan of Richmond said it may be time to push pause.
“Anytime that you jump up and run and overreact, there's always unintended consequences," Morgan said. "And you're talking about a lot of people's lives."
Nemes said there is still time to pass a bill this year but added getting it done right is more important that getting it done fast.
“Whenever we're ready to put the bill forward is when we should address the matter, and not any second sooner,” he said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne released the following statement:
"As legislators, we are working to separate the administrative mess that has presented itself in the last few days from the pension crisis that continues to loom over the Commonwealth. To that end I have met with Senate President Robert Stivers about continuing to work toward a solution that can pass the General Assembly. We cannot allow this mess to distract us from our duty to protect the citizens of Kentucky from the financial catastrophe that awaits should the General Assembly fail to act on the pension situation."
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