Matt Bevin

WFPL

The absence of the former board chair of the Kentucky Retirement Systems at official meetings is “not acceptable,” according to a judge who temporarily blocked the governor from removing the official.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled last week that Tommy Elliott could still be a member of the agency’s Board of Trustees while the court decides if the governor had the power to remove him from the board three years before his appointed term was set to end.

But Elliott did not attend meetings of the full KRS board or investment committee last week.

During a scheduling hearing on Tuesday, Shepherd said the poor condition of the pension system is an “all-hands-on-deck situation” and he criticized Elliott for not showing up.

“If Mr. Elliott’s too busy to serve, he ought to resign or he ought to be prepared to be replaced,” Shepherd said.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says Gov. Matt Bevin should be investigated for allegedly halting a road project as political punishment for a state representative who refused to switch political parties.

Rep. Russ Meyer, a Democrat from Nicholasville, released audio of a voicemail he received from the governor in December in which he says Bevin threatened retribution for not switching political parties.

“I want to make sure you understand where things are in my mind and the decisions that I’m going to make in the days ahead, the weeks ahead, months ahead,” Bevin says in the voicemail. “I want you to be very aware of what the impact of those decisions will be as it relates to you, your seat, your district, etcetera, just so that we have all the cards on the table.”

According to a story by CNHI News reporter Ronnie Ellis, Meyer said the voicemail was left on Dec. 17, 2015, shortly after he told the governor’s chief of staff, Blake Brickman, that he wouldn’t be switching parties.

Bevin Voicemail Warns of 'Impact' of Not Switching Parties

Aug 30, 2016
Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Democratic Kentucky state Rep. Russ Meyer says Republican Gov. Matt Bevin left him a threatening voicemail after Meyer declined to switch political parties ahead of the legislative session.

Meyer released the 42-second voicemail on Tuesday. In the recording, Bevin identifies himself by name and says he wants "to make sure you understand" the decisions Bevin will make and "I want you to be very aware of the impact of those decisions as it relates to you, your seat, your district."

Meyer said he interpreted the voicemail as a threat to pull transportation projects in his legislative district, which includes parts of Fayette and Jessamine counties. Bevin did not mention any projects in his message.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto confirmed the voicemail and said the governor's office would respond to it soon.

Kentucky LRC

A second Democratic state lawmaker now says Kentucky’s Republican governor asked him to switch parties.

Representative Russ Meyer says when he refused, he was threatened with political retaliation by Governor Bevin’s chief of staff.

Meyer, a Democratic House member from Nicholasville, says Bevin and his chief of staff, Blake Brickman, asked him to become a Republican shortly after Bevin was sworn into office. The alleged request came at a time when the GOP was hoping to win control of the Kentucky House.

Meyer told the CNHI news service that he informed Bevin he wouldn’t switch parties, and that the Governor responded politely. But Meyer says Brickman threatened to pull state-funding from projects in Meyer’s district, and called the Democrat an “Obama-loving baby killer.”

ky.gov

An abortion clinic in Lexington will remain closed after the Kentucky Supreme Court denied an appeal from the facility.

EMW Women’s Clinic closed in June following a legal challenge by Governor Matt Bevin.

Bevin said the clinic couldn’t provide abortions until it received a license from the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Lawyers for EMW have argued the facility is a women’s health clinic that doesn’t need a specific abortion license.

But the unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court Thursday upholds a Court of Appeals’ ruling that sided with the Governor.

The Herald-Leader reports the decision doesn’t involve the legality of abortion, but instead says EMW exists solely to provide abortions and is subject to the state licensing rules.

The clinic is the only abortion provider east of Louisville.

Bevin Submits Medicaid Plan Restoring Allergy Testing

Aug 24, 2016
Creative Commons

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says he has changed his proposal to overhaul the state's Medicaid program and submitted it to the federal government for approval.

The new proposal will cover allergy testing and private duty nursing for about 400,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through the state's expanded Medicaid program under the federal Affordable Care Act. People who are in hospice care, have HIV or AIDS and receive federal disability benefits will also not have to pay premiums or copays.

And the elimination of automatic dental and vision benefits will be delayed by three months. People can still get those benefits by earning credits in a "My Rewards Account" by doing things like earning a GED and having a health assessment.

Bevin said his administration received nearly 1,350 public comments on the proposal.

J. Tyler Frankin

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is suing the federal government to block a rule that says medical providers and insurance companies can’t discriminate against transgender patients. The states of Nebraska, Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas, along with religious provider groups, filed suit Tuesday.

The federal rule is intended to prevent health care providers from refusing care for transgender patients, and for insurers to do away with bans on covering gender reassignment services, including hormone therapy or surgery.

The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Texas, under the same judge who on Monday issued an injunction barring federal government agencies from taking action against school districts that don’t allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity rather than their sex at birth.

In a statement, Bevin said the rule was an infringement on Kentuckians’ constitutional rights.

KRS

Gov. Matt Bevin’s attorney says the office will appeal a judge’s ruling that temporarily blocks the governor’s removal of the former chair of one of the state’s pension boards.

Kentucky Retirement Systems board chair Tommy Elliott sued the governor for removing him from the panel in April, three years before his term was set to expire. Attorney General Andy Beshear joined the lawsuit in June after Bevin abolished and reorganized the board, adding four new members.

On Monday evening, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd ruled that Elliott should remain on the board while the case is still pending. Shepherd denied a request to temporarily block Bevin’s overhaul of the board.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, said the order was “inconsistent and improper” because Elliott was never a member of the governor’s newly constituted board.

J. Tyler Franklin

The judge presiding over a challenge to Gov. Matt Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees expressed frustration on Tuesday that the opposing parties hadn’t come to an agreement on which version of the U of L board should be in charge of the school.

Attorney General Andy Beshear sued Bevin for abolishing the 17-member U of L board and replacing it with a 10-member board made up of his own appointments.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shepherd temporarily blocked the move late last month, effectively restoring the old version of the board, which Bevin scrapped in June.

On Tuesday, Shepherd said he had been optimistic that questions about the school’s governance would settle after the temporary injunction, but now he’s “concerned.”

“I was still hopeful that there would be some agreement or some consensus that would develop without any issues with regard to the governance of the university while the case is pending,” Shepherd said. “It is now, I think, abundantly apparent to the court that that is not going to happen.”

As a result, Shepherd said the court will expedite proceedings of the case.

Thinkstock

A judge says he will rule Tuesday on whether to temporarily block Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of the board that oversees the pension system for most state workers.

Bevin abolished the Kentucky Retirement Systems board in June and created a new board with additional members. He also removed board chair Tommy Elliott in April, three years before the end of his term.

Elliott and Attorney General Andy Beshear have sued Bevin over the moves.

KRS attorney Brian Thomas said that the board needs clarity on whether the new board is legal before making important investment and personnel decisions in the coming weeks.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin has asked the Kentucky Court of Appeals to overturn an order that blocked his overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

Bevin dissolved the 17-member board by executive order in June, alleging dysfunction among the group. He later reconstituted it as a 10-member board.

Earlier this month, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard temporarily blocked the move in the midst of a challenge brought on by Attorney General Andy Beshear.

In a motion filed with the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Bevin’s attorneys said that the court “abused its discretion” in blocking the overhaul.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments on Thursday over a challenge to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s mid-year cuts to state colleges and universities.

In March of this year, Bevin issued an executive order reducing the amount allotted to higher education for the final quarter of this fiscal year by about 2 percent.

The reduction has been challenged by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and three Democratic state representatives, who argue that Bevin has thwarted the legislature’s power over budget decisions.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in favor of the governor in May and the state Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the case.

Steve Pitt, general counsel for the governor, argued Thursday that in general, the governor can unilaterally make spending cuts to state universities and other agencies but the courts can step in if they think the cuts amount to an “abuse of discretion.”

ky.gov

Kentucky's Republican governor and Democratic attorney general are preparing to take their dispute over state funding for public colleges and universities to the state's highest court.

The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Steve Beshear over Gov. Matt Bevin's decision to reduce the allotments of the state's public colleges and universities.

Beshear says the state legislature controls state spending, and Bevin's order reducing the institutions' allotments by $17.8 million was illegal because lawmakers didn't approve it.

Bevin argues lawmakers give money to state agencies and the governor, as the state's chief executive, can order some of those agencies not to spend all of it. A state judge ruled in Bevin's favor in May.

Office of Ky Governor

A $500,000 contract awarded by Kentucky's Republican governor to investigate his Democratic predecessor has survived a challenge in a state legislative committee.

Democrats on the Government Contract Review Committee failed to muster the five votes required to recommend canceling the contract, awarded to an Indiana law firm. It likely would not have mattered, as lawmakers can only recommend that the governor cancel the contract. Ultimately, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration has the final decision.

Bevin announced his intention to investigate former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear earlier this year, saying his staff had found numerous examples of corruption. The two governors have clashed over public pensions and health care policy since Bevin took office.

Democrats say the investigation will not be impartial because several of the attorneys hired have ties to the Republican Party.

Bevin Combines 3 Boards Amid Questions Of Executive Power

Aug 9, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky’s Republican governor has abolished and replaced three more boards and commissions as a state judge is considering whether he has the authority to take such action.

Gov. Matt Bevin on Monday abolished the Kentucky Board of Claims, the Board of Tax Appeals and the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. Together, eight people served on those three boards.

Bevin’s order creates a new Kentucky Claims Commission of three people. Bevin says the new commission will decide tax appeals, crime victim compensation claims and negligence claims against the state. He says it will save $350,000 a year.

Bevin has abolished and replaced at least five other boards and commissions. Three of those orders are being challenged in court. Last month, a judge temporarily blocked Bevin’s order abolishing and replacing the University of Louisville board of trustees.

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