Kentucky Political News Headlines

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Gov. Beshear Creates Teachers’ Retirement Work Group to Address Funding Issues: 23-member panel to suggest ways to strengthen public pension plan for teachers, retirees

See press release below and executive order attached.

Executive Order attached.


Commonwealth of Kentucky

Office of the Governor






Kerri Richardson




Terry Sebastian



Gov. Beshear Creates Teachers' Retirement Work Group to Address Funding Issues

23-member panel to suggest ways to strengthen public pension plan for teachers, retirees


FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 16, 2015) – In an effort to strengthen the solvency of the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System (KTRS), Gov. Steve Beshear today by executive order created a 23-member work group made up of policy and education leaders.


The Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System Funding Work Group, to be led by former state senator and former State Board of Education Chairman David Karem, will meet over the coming months to develop recommendations to resolve a funding shortfall and stabilize and secure funding for the system that serves over 75,000 active and over 45,000 retired members.


"Our teachers are the foundation of our educational system for the future of our children and grandchildren," Gov. Beshear said. "We must assure that the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System is able to fully honor our commitments to our teachers and those who retired from teaching. Today I'm asking a group of experts to find ways to ensure the future of the KTRS."


According to the system's 2014 actuarial valuation, there is a $14 billion unfunded liability and a 53.6 percent funding status. This is compared with the system's $571 million unfunded liability and 95.7 percent funding status in 2000.


Gov. Beshear said he recognizes that other study groups have examined the KTRS in recent years, but "since the issuance of the reports by these study groups, a number of changes and improvements have been made by the KTRS. We can utilize this prior work in this effort. It is critical that we explore the options and develop recommendations to aid the 2016 General Assembly as action needs to be taken next spring to address this crisis."


The members Gov. Beshear has placed on this working group through an Executive Order include: 


·         David Karem, former state senator and former chair of the Kentucky Board of Education

·         David Adkisson, CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

·         Mike Armstrong, executive director of the Kentucky School Boards Association

·         Jason Bailey, research and policy director for the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development

·         Mary Ann Blankenship, executive director of the Kentucky Education Association

·         State Budget Director Jane Driskell

·         Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen, who shall serve as a nonvoting member

·         Amanda Ellis, associate commissioner, Office of Next Generation Learners in the Kentucky Department of Education

·         Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet Lori Flanery

·         Gary Harbin, executive secretary of the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System

·         State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach, who is also a board member of Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System

·         Secretary of the Governor's Executive Cabinet Mary Lassiter

·         Secretary of the Personnel Cabinet Timothy Longmeyer

·         Roger Marcum, chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education

·         Brent McKim, Jefferson County Teachers' Association president

·         Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

·         Dr. Tom Shelton, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents

·         Dr. Bob Wagoner, executive director of the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association

·         Wayne Young, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators

·         Two members of the Kentucky State Senate designated by the President of the Senate

·         Two members of the Kentucky House of Representatives designated by the Speaker of the House.


The work group will review best practices in other states regarding pension benefits, conduct a comprehensive review of funding options and make recommendations for improving the fiscal solvency of the KTRS. The work group may also contract for consulting services.


With the fiscal crisis that faces the KTRS, Gov. Beshear is asking the work group to complete its work and submit its report to him on or before Dec. 1, 2015.


"I applaud Gov. Beshear for tackling the issues surrounding the solvency of teachers' retirement and for not just kicking the issue down the road for our next governor to handle," said Karem. "With teachers unable to receive Social Security, I believe there is a compelling case that their retirement system must be stabilized. I'm honored to head this work group with such a dynamic membership, and look forward to issuing some real ideas to Gov. Beshear that will help all our teachers."  


"I am pleased with the new working group to address issues with KTRS," Senate President Robert Stivers, of Manchester, said. "I appreciate the Governor's willingness to take action on a very serious issue that is definitely a priority for all legislators. This will not be a quick fix, but rest assured that the Senate Republicans are committed to finding long-term solutions to make this system viable in perpetuity for teachers and all Kentuckians."


"I want to thank Gov. Beshear for taking action and authorizing this diverse and well-qualified work group," House Speaker Greg Stumbo said. "There is no doubt that additional and significant money is needed to address the long-term stability of the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System. I sponsored House Bill 4, which was passed by the House and died in the Senate, believing we had a unique opportunity to provide additional funds in this year's session. My hope is that this work group will inform and help the legislature find the best solution for the needed funding. The General Assembly proved in 2013 that we can take on a project of this size, as we did with state retirees, and I'm confident we can do it again in 2016 for our teachers – they deserve no less."   


Recent bond rating warnings issued by national credit rating agencies regarding the KTRS are further evidence that this fiscal crisis has financial implications beyond this administration, Gov. Beshear said.


"If Kentucky is to compete for 21st-century jobs, we must have a world-class education system for our children," he said. "The success of such a system is dependent upon the recruitment and retention of outstanding educational professionals. If we do not have a stable, secure retirement system for our teachers, Kentucky will never be able to compete in education at the highest levels."





LRC: New state laws go into effect June 24

See Press Release below from the Legislative Research Commission on new laws taking effect next week. 

For Immediate Release

June 16, 2015



New state laws go into effect June 24


FRANKFORT – Most new laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly's 2015 regular session go into effect next week.


The state constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature. The General Assembly's 2015 session adjourned on March 25, making June 24 the day for new laws to take effect.


There are some exceptions. Bills that contained an emergency clause, such as this year's measure to fight heroin abuse, went into effect immediately upon being signed by the governor. A handful of bills also specified their own effective dates, such as a measure that goes into effect early next year to offer some civil protections to victims of dating violence.


But most new laws – 98 of the 117 passed this year – will go into effect on June 24. Laws that take effect then include measures on:


Beer distribution. House Bill 168 states that beer brewing companies can't own beer distributorships. The measure is meant to affirm that beer is not exempt from the state's three-tier system of regulating – and keeping separate – alcoholic beverage producers, distributors and retailers.


Charitable gaming.  Senate Bill 33 will allow electronic versions of pull-tab Bingo tickets at charitable Bingo halls.


Child abuse. SB 102 will allow a death caused by intentional abuse to be considered first-degree manslaughter.


Child booster seats. HB 315 will require booster seats to be used in motor vehicles by children who are less than eight years old and are between 40 and 57 inches in height.


Crowdfunding. HB 76 will help Kentucky entrepreneurs to gain investors through crowdfunding. The bill will allow people to invest up to $10,000 through a crowdfunding platform while helping businesses raise up to $2 million.


Drug abuse. HB 24 will prevent youth from misusing certain cough medicines to get high -- sometimes called "robotripping" – by restricting access to medicines that contain dextromethorphan. The bill will prevent sales of dextromethorphan-based products, such as Robitussin-DM or Nyquil, to minors.


Drunk driving. SB 133 will expand the use of ignition interlocks for people caught driving under the influence of alcohol. An ignition interlock is a device about the size of a mobile phone that is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle. A person convicted of driving under the influence must blow into the device in order to start their vehicle. If they have a measurable amount of alcohol in their system, the vehicle will not start.


Early childhood development. HB 234 will require early child care and education programs to follow a state quality-based rating system.


Emergency responders. SB 161 will authorize the governor to order that U.S. flags be lowered to half-staff on state buildings if a Kentucky emergency responder dies in the line of duty.


End-of-life care. SB 77 will allow Kentuckians to use a health care directive known as a "medical order for scope of treatment." These orders spell out patients' wishes for end-of-life care. Unlike advance directives, the orders are considered to be physician's orders and are signed by both the patient or patient's legal surrogate, and the patient's physician.


Hunters. SB 55 will ensure that game meat can be donated to not-for-profit organizations to feed hungry people as long as the meat was properly field dressed and processed and is considered disease-free and unspoiled.


Kentucky Employees Retirement System. HB 62 will make sure the agencies that want to leave the Kentucky Employees Retirement System pay their part of the system's unfunded liability.


Newborn health screening. SB 75 will require newborn health screenings to include checks for Krabbe Disease, an inherited disorder that affects the nervous system.


Retirement systems. HB 47 will add the Legislators' Retirement Plan, the Judicial Retirement Plan, and the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System to the Public Pension Oversight Board's review responsibilities.


Spina bifida.  SB 159 will require health care providers to give information about spina bifida and treatment options to parents whose unborn children have been diagnosed with the disorder.


Stroke care. SB 10 will improve care for stroke victims by requiring the state to make sure local emergency services have access to a list of all acute stroke-ready hospitals, comprehensive stroke centers, and primary stroke centers in Kentucky. Emergency medical services directors would be required to create protocols for assessment and treatment of stroke victims.

Tax check-offs.  SB 82 will place check-off boxes on tax forms to give people getting state income tax refund the option of donating a portion of their refund to support child cancer research, the Special Olympics or rape crisis centers.

Telephone deregulation. HB 152 is aimed at modernizing telecommunications and allowing more investment in modern technologies by ending phone companies' obligations to provide landline phone services to customers in urban and suburban areas if they provide service through another technology, such as a wireless or Internet-based phone service. While rural customers can keep landline phones they already have, newly constructed homes in rural areas won't be guaranteed landline services.