Current Kentucky state employees and retirees packed the Capitol Rotunda to encourage lawmakers to rethink some proposals made by a task force on public pensions last year.
Calling themselves the Kentucky Public Pension Coalition, the group of more than a dozen interested organizations encouraged their members to tell lawmakers not to switch to a hybrid pension plan for new hires and to reinstate cost of living adjustments every year.
Bill Londrigan is the president of the Kentucky AFL-CIO and a member of the coalition. And he says a study by the group shows a hybrid 401K plan reduces benefits year after year.
“You know if you look at it, you’ll see the estimates decrease benefits over the long term, something we’re totally against,” he says.
The Tennessee House has voted to cap the number of bills members can introduce, a move GOP leaders think will help streamline business in the chamber.
The Tennessean reports the House passed a 15-bill limit for each member. House Speaker Beth Harwell initially wanted a ten-bill per member limit.
Supporters say the limit on legislation will lead to an increase in the overall quality of bills brought up in the chamber. But opponents describe the move as an effort to muzzle them. Representative Joe Towns of Memphis denounced the limit, saying “this is not the chamber of a communist country.”
The Tennessee Senate, meanwhile, finished their weekly business without deciding whether to bind the chamber to the state’s Open Meetings Act.
A new honors college and international center at WKU and renovations to the University of Kentucky's football stadium and the University of Louisville are among the projects that will benefit from a bipartisan General Assembly agreement is allowing state universities to use their own ability to issue bonds for capital projects.
The soon-to-be approved projects were rejected during 2012 budget negotiations, but will be revived once lawmakers pass an authorization bill, House Speaker Greg Stumbo says.
The plan allows for $363-million in renovation and construction projects at six of Kentucky's eight state universities.
Stumbo says the projects were rejected because of election-year politics — because House lawmakers are elected in even-numbered years — and secondly because universities made unreasonable bonding requests.
And while many projects were rejected last year, the newly agreed upon ones are ready to start immediately.
“We had asked at the end of the last session to bring us a realistic list, what can you accomplish, what is shovel ready, what do you have the funding sources identified for, what can you accomplish in this next year,” Stumbo says.
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office has won a round in a lawsuit against a major drug manufacturer. The state is suing Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, alleging the company lied about the addictive nature of the drug. Purdue Pharma wanted the lawsuit against them heard in federal court in New York, but an appeals court has returned the case to Kentucky.
"I am relishing getting that company in front of a jury in Pike County to talk about what they have done in the way they have marketed this particular type of painkiller," says Attorney General Jack Conway.
Conway says Purdue Pharma helped fuel an epidemic of prescription drug abuse across Kentucky. He expects the trial to result in a big recovery for the state that can go toward treatment for addiction.