A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bevin files another suit against attorney general Andy Beshear in back and forth over pension reform bill

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

There’s a new wrinkle in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Andy Beshear seeking that the public pension reform bill passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin be thrown out.
 
An important part of the suit alleged Senate Bill 151 is unconstitutional because it was signed by House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne, who Beshear argued is not the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, according to the Kentucky Constitution.

Gov. Matt Bevin, right, sued Attorney General Andy Beshear again on Wednesday. (Photo from Kentucky Today)


On Wednesday, Bevin filed a petition in Franklin Circuit Court against Beshear seeking a declaratory judgment on behalf of the Commonwealth to confirm that it was constitutional for Osborne to sign every bill passed during the 2018 legislative session.


“Andy Beshear has become the first Attorney General in Kentucky history to claim that every law passed by a session of the state legislature is invalid,” said Steve Pitt, general counsel for Bevin. “By placing politics above the law, the ‘chief law officer’ of the Commonwealth has called into question every act of the 2018 General Assembly.”


If Beshear’s argument were to prevail, the Bevin Administration said in a statement, more than200 bills and resolutions passed this session and signed by Osborne would be invalidated. This would block the legislative, judicial, and executive branch budgets, as well as measures making vital reforms to Kentucky’s foster care and adoption systems (House Bill 1), providing medical care and substance abuse treatment to pregnant inmates (Senate Bill 133), and increasing line-of-duty death benefits for first responders (HB 185).


Beshear’s 49-page suit was filed last week at Franklin Circuit Court also lists the Kentucky Education Association and the Kentucky State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police as plaintiffs.


The defendants in the lawsuit are Gov. Bevin, Senate President Robert Stivers, D-Manchester, Osborne, R-Prospect, the Board of Trustees of the Teachers Retirement System of Kentucky and the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.


The suit claims Senate Bill 151, “substantially alters and ultimately reduces the retirement benefits of the over 200,000 active members of the pension systems, including teachers, police officers and firefighters.  In doing so, it breaks the “inviolable” contract that the Commonwealth made with employees,” under several sections of state law.


The lawsuit seeks a temporary injunction, to prevent the enforcement of SB 151 until the case is heard, and in final judgement, a permanent injunction.


The first hearing in the suit is Thursday at 10 a.m.  During a press conference Wednesday morning on another matter, Beshear said that hearing is likely to consist of scheduling hearing dates on the pension bill suit. 


In a motion filed Tuesday, Bevin’s lawyers say Beshear violated the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct regarding conflicts of interest, claiming Beshear gave legal advice on the legality of the pension bill to members of the General Assembly, which he is now suing.  That included a memorandum sent to every legislator on Senate Bill 1, which Beshear said violated Kentucky law in 21 ways.


Beshear said the motion filed Tuesday would likely not be heard until next Wednesday, although Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd could take it up Thursday, if he desired.


The Attorney General’s office has not responded to a request for comment on the governor’s latest legal action.

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One Comment

  1. J. B. Smith says:

    The suit claims Senate Bill 151, “substantially alters and ultimately reduces the retirement benefits of the over 200,000 active members of the pension systems, including teachers, police officers and firefighters. In doing so, it breaks the “inviolable” contract that the Commonwealth made with employees,” under several sections of state law.
    Well if SB 151 does this and is found not legal under that premise, then SB2 passed in 2013 that did the same thing to KERS & CERS (CERS makes up 75% of the people under the KRS) would have to be illegal, also.

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