A Warren County lawmaker says he feels good about the chances of a pension reform measure being finalized by the end of the legislative session. Republican Representative Jim DeCesare told WKU Public Radio he doesn’t think there are many differences remaining between the two parties.
“It was my understanding that when we left there both sides weren’t that far apart," said the Rockfield lawmaker. "We just have some details to work out on three or four main issues. And the hope is that they can come to some sort of a conclusion and some kind of result that everybody can live with.”
DeCesare said pension reform is “without a doubt” the single most important issue lawmakers need to hammer out before the session ends. A bill passed by the Republican-led Senate creates 401-K like retirement plan for new government workers, while a House-passed bill would use money raised from the lottery and horse tracks to fund the state’s pension contributions.
Most Kentucky lawmakers are back home for the next week-and-a-half, while some conferees remain at the state capitol trying to work out differences between the House and Senate. All lawmakers will return to Frankfort March 25-26 for the final two days of the regular session.
Gov. Steve Beshear has said he believes Senate Republicans and House Democrats remain too far apart on the pension reform issue to get a bill finalized by the 26th. Beshear predicted a deal would have to be done in a special legislative session.
The pension reform bill isn't the only thing up in the air. A much talked-about industrial hemp bill remains in limbo, and the future of legislative redistricting maps is also uncertain. Rep. DeCesare has a keen interest in the redistricting issue. The maps passed in the Democratic-led House would place DeCesare in the same district with two other current GOP House members: Rep. Michael Meredith of Brownsville, and C.B. Embry of Morgantown.