General Assembly ends special session in less than 24 hours

December 19, 2018
On Tuesday evening, the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned the special legislative session that began less than 24 hours earlier.

Gov. Matt Bevin announced the session at a press conference at 3:45 p.m. on Monday, asking legislators to report to Frankfort that night by 8 p.m. During the 2018 regular session, the legislature passed a pension reform bill (SB 151), but it was ultimately struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court on December 13 based on procedural grounds. The court did not opine on the legality of the bill’s substance.

Many legislators who supported reform were surprised that the two pension bills introduced during the special session removed some of the key provisions from SB 151, including the move to level-dollar amortization and the creation of an optional 401(a) plan. The governor’s office said several items were removed because they could invite a legal challenge. The House attempted to offer amended bills on Tuesday that put many of the provisions back in, but ultimately the lame-duck legislature determined there was not enough support to pass the bills in such a short time period.

The next regular session of the General Assembly, a 30-day or “short” session, begins on January 8. The legislature will likely take another stab at pension reform, but it could prove more challenging if the bill contains an appropriation. During a short session, a minimum of 60 votes in the House is required to pass an appropriations bill, whereas a simple majority of 51 is required during a 60-day session or a special session. Additionally, a number of new legislators will take office in January, making it difficult to predict how those legislators will react to proposed changes to the pension system.

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