Kentucy Governor Steve Beshear has announced he is vetoing a controversial religious freedom bill. Civil rights groups had urged a veto, saying the measure would essentially legalize certain forms of discrimination against gays and lesbians by groups and individuals who could claim they were doing so because of their religious beliefs.
Some church groups from across the state have been urging Beshear to sign the bill, saying it would give stronger legal standing to people who claim their religious rights have been violated.
“Religious freedom is a cornerstone of this great nation, and a right enshrined in both the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution,” Gov. Beshear said in a statement released by his office. “I value and cherish our rights to religious freedom and I appreciate the good intentions of House Bill 279 and the members of the General Assembly who supported this bill to protect our constitutional rights to practice our religion."
State leaders are still working to find solutions to the Kentucky's troubled pension system —but he's not promising a deal the time the General Assembly regular session ends next week, Gov. Steve Beshear said on Monday.
Beshear has mediated sessions between House and Senate leadership on reforming the pension systems and how to fund them, after the chambers came to an impasse on the issue.
Those conversations have continued since the General Assembly adjourned last week for the veto period, but Beshear said he can't predict whether legislators will strike a deal before the 2013 session ends.
"One can never predict what will happen in the end, particularly in a legislative session but I feel good about where we are right now," Beshear said.
If lawmakers can't reach a deal, a special session to deal with the issue is likely.
After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18 celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law.
Flanked by House and Senate lawmakers—as well as First Lady Jane Beshear—the governor officially signed the law in a ceremony in his conference room. The bill would make raising the dropout age voluntarily for school districts until 55 percent of all districts made the change. Then it would become mandatory statewide. The legislation is a compromise reached by lawmakers in the 2013 General Assembly session.
Jane Beshear says the fact the five year fight on the issue is over is monumental for education in the Commonwealth.
"And I can't say it's a small step, it's a huge step," she said.