House Republicans send letters asking Gov. Bevin to back off call for special session on pension reform
House GOP members say the issue is best handled during regular session.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Pressure is building on Gov. Matt Bevin to back off his call for a special session to deal with the pension crisis.
House Republicans, who have generally supported a special session, now want Bevin to put on the brakes. Members of the House Majority Caucus sent two letters to Bevin on Wednesday, one signed by the House leadership and the other signed by 51 of the 64 member GOP House Majority.
In the letters, the lawmakers said the pension issue would be best addressed during the 2018 Regular Session and not a special session.
“So many of our members are just not comfortable going into session right now,” said House Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher (R- Louisville).
Bratcher said with the regular session beginning in less than a month, the complex pension issue should not be rushed.
“We want to make sure we get it right,” Bratcher said.
Public employees, teachers in particular, have loudly opposed the reform bill proposed by Bevin. Lawmakers said they need more time to make changes, have them analyzed and then have the final bill released to the public.
“An issue of this magnitude needs to be available to the public for an appropriate amount of time, so they can look at it, see how it's going to affect them,” said Rep. Jason Nemes (R-Louisville).
Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville) said he is pleased Republicans are coming around to the Democrats' point of view.
“They're now following us,” Wayne said, adding that the letters reflect badly on Bevin. “It speaks volumes about Gov. Bevin's leadership style and his lack of ability to build coalitions and to move a public policy forward."
But Republicans said Bevin deserves credit for tackling the issue.
“He's done a lot of good work on this issue and a lot of others," Nemes said. "We're not in any way trying to undermine this governor."
If there is no special session, some lawmakers said they want pensions handled as soon as they arrive at the Capitol in January.
“We need to make a commitment to the people of Kentucky that we are going to deal with pension reform as soon as we come to Frankfort on Jan. 2 for the regular session and don't do any other bills until we pass pension reform,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown).
“I'm ready to make that commitment, personally,” Bratcher said. “And I believe most of our members in the House are.”
Bevin’s office did not respond to WDRB’s request for comment. Below are the two letters lawmakers sent to Bevin:
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