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Capitol Notes: KTRS bond bill, early childhood bill pass House, head to Senate


Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, debates a bill up for consideration in the Kentucky House of Representatives. (Photo from LRC public Information)

Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, debates a bill up for consideration in the Kentucky House of Representatives. (Photo from LRC public Information)


 

KTRS bond bill clears House
 

A House proposal to authorize $3.3 billion in bonds to reduce the unfunded liability of the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System’s pension fund is heading to the Senate.
 

House Bill 4, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, was approved in the House today on a 62-31 vote. The bill needed 60 votes to pass the House because it proposes authorization of funds in an odd-year, or non-budget, legislative session.
 

The bill would authorize the Kentucky Asset/ Liability Commission to issue the bonds in fiscal year 2015-2016 to reduce the system’s growing $14 billion unfunded liability. Supporters say the bonds, along $116.7 million already budgeted for now-completed state improvements, would help the teachers’ pension system pay off its unfunded liability over 30 years.
 

Stumbo said before a committee vote on HB 4 earlier this month that the bill is expected to guarantee the solvency of the pension fund to 2035 and beyond.
 

An amendment offered by Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, was defeated by a vote of 43-52. Had it passed, the amendment would have authorized $520 million in bonds—the same amount, said Montell, that would be bonded in the first year under the original bill– to fully pay the actuarially required contribution to the KTRS pension fund for one year. It would have also required the state Public Pension Oversight Board to study the issue during that year to “see what can be done not only to provide funding, but to address the other issues that could be driving the unfunded liability.”
 

The amendment would have made the teachers “whole,” Montell said. “They get everything they (would get) in the big bond for the first year. It gives us time to do some work.”
 

Stumbo called the amendment “a Band Aid for a bigger wound,” and said that the larger bond issue is needed. “We’ve got to do something to fix the bigger wound,” he said.
 

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Early childhood ratings bill passes House
 

Early care and education programs would be mandated to follow a state quality-based rating system under a bill passed today by the Kentucky House of Representatives.
 

House Bill 234, sponsored House Education Chair Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, would require state agencies to work with early care and education providers to develop and fully phase in the system for child-care and certified family child-care homes, state funded preschool, and Head Start by June 30, 2017.
 

Funding for the program would come from the state’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant. Graham explained that the bill would require a report be submitted annually to state lawmakers which, among other things, would include recommendations for the “long-term viability” of the system when federal grant dollars run out.
 

An amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, was narrowly defeated by a vote of 47-50. Had it passed, the amendment would have: sunset the rating system at the end of calendar year 2017 (unless extended by the General Assembly); restricted the use of state monies for the rating systems once federal funds are gone, and; required the state to report plans for continuing the system when federal money is no longer available.
 

Wuchner said the amendment was a “responsibility measure” to require the state to consider what funding would be needed to continue a mandated system that, under current law, is voluntary.
 

HB 234 passed the House by a vote of 81-16. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
 

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Accident victim solicitation bill clears House panel
 

The House Labor and Industry Committee today approved a bill that would prohibit health care providers or their agents from soliciting business from motor vehicle accident victims in the days immediately following a wreck.
 

Violators of House Bill 153, should it become law, would face sanctions from their licensing or regulatory agencies according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence.
 

Gooch said most drivers have basic, no-fault personal injury protection which helps cover accident-related medical bills and other costs. The problem, he said, is some providers are “fraudulently” gaining from that coverage, which hurts accident victims.
 

“They’re taking up money that could go to things that the insured needs a lot more than…someone trying to get them to run up a lot of medical bills,” said Gooch.
 

Attorney Don Cox, whose law firm successfully fought to invalidate a 2011 law that HB 153 seeks to replace, said he expects that HB 153, if passed, will also be invalidated. “There are still huge problems with this bill, as it’s written, that will not be overcome in court,” he said.
 

The bill, which was amended by the committee, now goes to the full House for consideration.

 

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The Kentucky Legislature Home Page, www.lrc.ky.gov, provides information on each of Kentucky’s senators and representatives, including phone numbers, addressees and committee assignments. The site also provides bill texts, a bill-tracking service, and committee meeting schedules.
 

To leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 800-372-7181. People with hearing difficulties may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at 800-896-0305.
 

You may also write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
 

From Legislative Research Commission
 


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