LRC Public Information

After Republican leaders of the state Senate scrapped a critical vote to change retirement benefits for public workers last week, it’s unclear when or if the legislation will come back up for a vote.

Senate President Robert Stivers said the bill’s supporters were working with members of the Senate and House to see “what can or cannot be changed to get votes in both chambers.”

Meanwhile, tensions have continued to rise over the bill after the no-vote, and teachers and state workers have continued to pack the state Capitol in protest of proposed reductions.

LRC Public Information

Local officials would be able to boost the salaries of teachers in struggling public schools in order to make the positions more attractive to job applicants, under a bill that passed a state Senate committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 152 would only apply to schools that the Kentucky Department of Education considers to be in “targeted” or “comprehensive support and improvement” status.

Sen. David Givens, a Republican from Greensburg, said the legislation would make poor-performing schools more attractive to experienced teachers.

Kentucky Teachers Rally Over Retirement Cuts, Warn of Strike

Mar 9, 2018
Creative Commons

Hundreds of teachers in central Kentucky rallied in front of public schools Thursday morning to protest proposed cuts to their retirement benefits in what could be a precursor to a statewide strike.

Kentucky state Senators on Wednesday took the first step toward passing a bill they say would save taxpayers $3.2 billion over the next 20 years and stabilize one of the country's worst-funded public pension systems. But most of those savings would come from a 33 percent cut to the annual cost-of-living raises for retired teachers, who are not eligible for Social Security benefits.

Updated at 8:35 p.m. ET

The campaign for the leading Democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, said in a letter to the FBI Thursday that it feared it had been hacked.

The potential breach comes as state and federal officials are increasingly worried that enough hasn't been done to improve election security since 2016.

Teacher Unions See Momentum Build with West Virginia Strike

Mar 8, 2018
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As teachers in West Virginia noisily celebrated a 5 percent raise that ended their nine-day walkout, momentum was building elsewhere for similar protests over pay and benefits for the nation's public school teachers.

Teachers in Oklahoma and Arizona are contemplating actions of their own amid growing frustration over meager pay. Teachers and staff in eight Kentucky school districts were planning "walk in" rallies Thursday to protest proposed cuts to their retirement benefits. Teachers in Pittsburgh reached a tentative agreement after threatening a strike, and hundreds of educators held demonstrations this week in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Matt Bevin says teachers are wrongfully attacking him for pushing to overhaul the state’s ailing pension systems, saying they’re either “ill-informed or willfully blind.”

The comment came in response to an angry group of educators who protested a state Senate committee’s passage of a bill that cuts benefits for retired public school teachers.

Though Bevin hasn’t explicitly endorsed the Senate plan, he said teachers should appreciate his approach to fix the public worker retirement programs.

Bill Cutting Teacher Benefits Advances in Kentucky

Mar 7, 2018
Creative Commons

A bill cutting benefits for retired public school teachers has cleared a key hurdle in the Kentucky legislature despite protests from educators chanting "vote them out!"

The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted 7-4 to approve Senate Bill 1. The bill cuts annual cost-of-living raises for retired teachers to 1 percent from 1.5 percent. Republican Sen. Joe Bowen, who sponsored the bill, said it would save the state about $3.2 billion over the next 20 years.

Kentucky Considering Banning Most Child Marriages

Mar 6, 2018

The Kentucky legislature is considering outlawing most child marriages in an effort to protect young girls from exploitation and abuse.

Senate bill 48 would ban county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to anyone 16-years-old and younger. Seventeen-year-olds could still get married, but they would need permission from their parents and a judge. The bill unanimously passed a legislative committee Tuesday and could be called for a vote this week.

Kentucky Lawmakers Begin Review of Medical Marijuana Bill

Mar 6, 2018
Dank Depot/Creative Commons

Supporters of legalizing medical marijuana in Kentucky made their case to a legislative panel Monday, touting it as a safe alternative to highly addictive opioid painkillers.

The bill heard by the House Judiciary Committee would strictly regulate the introduction of medical cannabis, and would leave it up to cities or counties whether to allow it. The panel took no vote on the measure, and its chairman said the bill would come up again later.

The 2018 election cycle has officially begun, with the first primaries being held in Texas on Tuesday.

In every campaign cycle, analysts look at the fundamentals — the political laws of gravity that, in the past, have influenced elections. In 2016, Donald Trump seemed to defy a lot of these laws, and Republicans are hoping they can do the same this year to prevent the hit that the party in power usually takes in a president's first midterm elections.

LRC Public Information

The leader of the state Senate is making no promises on whether proposals to increase the cigarette tax and create a tax on pain pills will be considered in his chamber.

On Thursday, the Republican-led state House of Representatives passed a revenue bill that would increase the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack and create a 25-cent tax that distributors would have to pay for each dose of opioid pills sold in Kentucky.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said he wants to have more analysis on the issue before weighing in.

An increasing number of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, want more gun regulation, according to a new NPR/Ipsos poll that surveyed people in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting.

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

A bill that would allow a select number of Tennessee teachers to carry guns in school is advancing in that state’s legislature.

The measure passed a Tennessee House subcommittee Wednesday at a time when the nation is debating gun control measures following the killings in Parkland, Florida.

The Tennessean reports the bill would empower school boards and school directors to create policies that allow select staff members to carry a concealed firearm on school grounds.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Republican-led Kentucky House of Representatives is set to consider a budget bill that exempts some of state government from spending cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee advanced a budget bill that gets rid of Bevin’s proposed 6.25 percent cuts to K-12 programs, higher education institutions and Kentucky State Police.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky's attorney general says a public pension overhaul proposed by Republican lawmakers would not withstand court challenges likely to follow if the measure becomes law.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear weighed in on one of the legislative session's defining issues shortly before a Senate committee was scheduled to review the pension bill.

In a letter to lawmakers, Beshear said Wednesday that the bill would break the inviolable contract between the state and its public employees.