Kentucky GOP Gov. Matt Bevin clearly doesn't understand the concept of taking the loss. After the Kentucky Supreme Court buried his pension "reform" bill that shredded salaries, benefits, and pensions for current and retired state workers (but of course not lawmakers) Bevin called a surprise special session of the state legislature last night and demanded that the General Assembly and State Senate again pass his unconstitutional legislation.
Kentucky lawmakers rushed to Frankfort Monday evening for a special legislative session that started at 8 p.m., just four hours after Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin made a surprise announcement that he would convene them to deal with Kentucky’s struggling pension system.
“I am going to use the powers that have been granted to me to call the legislature into special session that will be effective tonight at eight o’clock,” Bevin said in a brief statement. “They will be coming in.”
Shortly after 11 p.m., two pension overhaul bills were introduced, both sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville, the chairman of the House State Government Committee. The committee will hold a hearing on the bills Tuesday at 1 p.m. Miller said there will be no vote taken Tuesday on the bills.
House Bill 1 is similar to Senate Bill 151 — the pension overhaul bill lawmakers approved in April that the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down earlier this month — but with some provisions removed. Gone is a requirement that the legislature switch to a funding method known as level-dollar funding, which requires larger pension payments in the next few years.
House Bill 2 is similar to House Bill 362, the bill that capped pension increases for local governments, school districts and regional universities, but includes a plan that would reduce a 3 percent benefit increase teachers receive when they’ve worked for 30 years to 2.5 percent in 2024.
Miller said the House was treating the bills as a proposal from the governor and that he expected lawmakers to make changes, including removing the benefit reduction for teachers and adding a requirement for level-dollar funding.
As lawmakers arrived at the Capitol in waves, many of them still hadn’t seen the proposed legislation Republicans hoped to pass in short order. The House immediately recessed to give more members time to arrive while the Senate held open its roll call until a quorum of members had arrived by about 8:30 p.m.
Republicans then went behind closed doors to discuss their strategy. The full House resumed briefly at 9:35 p.m. to take roll, then immediately went into another recess.
The confusion bred talk of compromise about a possible abrupt ending to the session among some House Republicans and their Democratic counterparts. House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, and former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, said they planned to team up to file a motion to immediately adjourn the special session, a move that would be a stern rebuttal to a governor who has made addressing the pension crisis a core tenet of his political platform.
“This is typical Matt Bevin, he acts like a spoiled middle school kid who did not get his way,” Hoover said.
Bevin cramming this through the legislature as part of a sewer bill is why the law was struck down. Yet here he goes again, trying to pass the same bill again. No wonder Bevin's one of the least popular governors in the country.
Independent polling firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found 38 percent of Kentuckians approved of their governor's performance while 53 percent disapproved. Mason-Dixon, based in Jacksonville and Washington, D.C., interviewed 625 registered Kentucky voters Dec. 12-Dec. 15. The poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Bevin fared only a little better in the conservative bastion of Northern Kentucky, where 40 percent of people surveyed approved and 51 percent disapproved.
A year ago, more Kentuckians approved of Bevin, 45 percent, compared to 41 percent who disapprove, according to Mason-Dixon.
This is not good news for Bevin as he faces re-election in 2019.
The two Democratic candidates running for governor next year, Attorney General Andy Beshear and Kentucky House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins both led Bevin in Mason-Dixon's polling. Beshear led by 8 percentage points, 48 percent to 40 percent while Adkins led by only 1 percentage point, 42 percent to 41 percent.
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a prominent Democrat who is mulling a gubernatorial run but hasn't announced, trailed Bevin by 1 percentage point, 46 percent to 47 percent.
The poll pointed out Kentucky Republicans often trail in the early stages of elections, including Bevin in 2015 when he first won election for governor, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"Given this recent history, it is far from over for Bevin," the pollsters wrote in the study. "However, Beshear is a formidable opponent who won four years ago in a GOP-friendly state election."
Bevin's doing even worse than Trump is in the polls, and November is fast approaching. Now he's trying this stupid stunt again to harm Kentucky teachers and cops and firefighters?
We may get Andy Beshear as governor after all.