The first week of the 2018 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly is in the books, and pension reform is still a major priority for most of us in Frankfort. Along with passing a two-year budget and two-year road fund, pension reform must occur in order to put Kentucky’s poorly-funded pension systems on the right path to solvency. We have listened to feedback from our constituents and believe we are close to having another draft of a pension reform bill to release to the public soon. This is a complex issue and although we would have liked to have resolved this matter earlier in 2017, the process ultimately determines when legislation is ready to be released and voted upon.
On the very first day of session we were pleased to welcome the 100th Army Band from Fort Knox to kick things off with the playing of the National Anthem and My Old Kentucky Home. We also had some procedural measures to take care of – one of them was to officially swear Senator Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) in as the new Senate President Pro Tempore. This week’s Senate activity was mostly procedural as we adopted Senate rules for the 2018 Session, swore in new Senate leadership, and confirmed new committee chairmen and members. New Senate bills and resolutions were introduced, many of which were assigned to committees for a public hearing. Bills must be presented at a public committee meeting and passed with a majority vote before heading back to the Senate to be voted on by the entire Senate body. Once the Senate approves a Senate bill, it heads to the Kentucky House where the same process occurs. The Senate has to agree to any changes the House makes to the bill before it is submitted to the Governor for his consideration and if approved by him, finally signed into law.
Besides passing a budget and pension reform, the Senate majority has several priority bills that we would like to see passed this session. Three of those bills are constitutional amendments: Senate Bill (SB) 2, tort reform, aims to cut down on frivolous lawsuits; Senate Bill 3, known as Marsy’s Law, outlines a crime victim’s “bill of rights” that ensures equal representation in the judicial system; and Senate Bill 4 would move statewide constitutional office elections to even-numbered years to increase voter participation and save taxpayer dollars. Senate Bill 5 will help independent pharmacists remain competitive by regulating pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs).
Adoption and foster care, criminal justice reform and judicial redistricting will also likely be issues that will once again be examined by the General Assembly, but our main focus and priority will continue to be a budget and pension reform.