Gov. Bevin calls Beshear's pension bill claims 'outrageous'; asks court to rule on validity of Speaker Pro Tem signature
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin fired the latest legal salvo Wednesday in the battle over pension reform.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin fired the latest legal salvo Wednesday in the battle over pension reform.
In a filing in Franklin Circuit Court, Bevin asked a judge to rule on the constitutionality of Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne's signature on every bill passed during the 2018 legislative session that ended last week.
The move comes after Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear argued that the new pension overhaul law (Senate Bill 151) is unconstitutional because it was signed by Osborne, who has served as Speaker Pro Tem. The House technically has no speaker after Rep. Jeff Hoover resigned the post after a sexual misconduct scandal last fall.
In a legal filing, Beshear cited Section 56 of the Kentucky Constitution, arguing that Osborne is not the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, and thus his signature on the pension reform law is not enough to satisfy constitutional requirements for its validity or enforceability.
"Section 56 of the Kentucky Constitution provides, in pertinent part, that '[n]o bill shall become a law until the same shall have been signed by the presiding officer of each of the two Houses in open session," Beshear's filing stated. "Under Kentucky law, the Speaker of the House is the presiding officer of the House of Representatives. Representative Osborne is not the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as that position is vacant until filled pursuant to Section 34 of the Kentucky Constitution."
But in a news release, Bevin's office calls Beshear's claims "outrageous."
"Andy Beshear has become the first Attorney General in the history of the Commonwealth to claim that every law passed by a session of the General Assembly is invalid," Bevin's legal filing states. "By placing politics above the law, the 'chief law officer' of the Commonwealth has publicly called into question every single act of the 2018 General Assembly."
Additionally, the filing goes on to call Beshear's reading of Section 56 of the Kentucky Constitution, "tortured."
"If the Attorney General is right (and he is not), then comprehensive and much-needed reforms to Kentucky's foster care and adoption systems will not be implemented (House Bill 1), child marriage will continue (Senate Bill 48), pregnant inmates will not have access to long overdue medical care and substance abuse treatment (Senate Bill 133), increases in line-of-duty death benefits will not be implemented (House Bill 185), and Kentucky will have neither an Executive Branch budget (HB 200) nor the additional revenue with which to implement it (House Bill 66)," the filing states.
Beshear's office released the following statement after Bevin's filing Wednesday afternoon:
"This is just another attempt by Gov. Bevin to distract from his unconstitutional actions in cutting guaranteed retirement benefits from Kentucky's teachers, police officers, firefighters and social workers," Beshear stated. "The only bill I have challenged is the pension bill, Senate Bill 151. This is a scare tactic that will be dismissed by the court."
It's the latest volley fired between Bevin, a Republican, and Beshear, a Democrat, over the state's controversial pension reform bill.
The bill, which offers drastically different pension benefits for Kentucky’s future teachers with some tweaks to those offered to state and local government workers, was passed by the House and Senate last month -- and Bevin announced last week that he had signed it. The 291-page bill had no actuarial analysis before the vote, and since it was filed so quickly, most lawmakers didn't even have a chance to read it before voting.
After its passage, Beshear vowed to sue over the process used to pass the bill.
Below is a copy of Beshear's original filing:
Below is a copy of Bevin's response, which was filed today:
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