With only two days left in this year's Kentucky General Assembly session, time is running out for supporters of legislation meant to keep two western Kentucky aluminum smelters—which employ about 3,000 people—from closing.
Under state law, the smelters are required to purchase electricity from the nearest company—Big Rivers Electric, in this case. The smelters say lower aluminum prices have them struggling to pay the bills; they're asking for more options for where they get electricity.
Their legislative supporters want to let the smelters purchase electricity on the open market.
Opponents argue that giving the smelters lower rates or open market options would increase prices for the average customer.
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.