Veto overrides, teacher pension bill head week in Legislature

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Rep. C. Ed Massey, R-Hebron, presents House Bill 258, a bill relating to the Teachers’ Retirement System, in the House State Government Committee.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/LRC) – If last month’s quick start to the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2021 session wasn’t enough to show lawmakers were serious about passing priority bills into law as soon as possible, the speed at which they overrode vetoes this week left no doubt.

On Tuesday, lawmakers’ first day back at the Capitol after a recess that started in mid-January, the Republican-controlled Senate and House voted to override all six of the vetoes cast by Gov. Andy Beshear during the recess.

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Lawmakers overrode vetoes on:

House Bill 1. This bill creates a framework for businesses, local governments, schools and nonprofits to operate during COVID-19 restrictions. The House voted 72-22 to override the governors’ veto on the bill while the Senate voted 29-8.

House Bill 2. This legislation will give the attorney general greater authority to enforce laws concerning abortion clinics in Kentucky. The House voted 73-20 and the Senate 32-5 to override the governor’s veto.

Senate Bill 1. This bill states that executive orders that place restrictions on the function of schools, businesses or nonprofits expire after 30 days unless extended by the General Assembly. The same would apply to executive orders that place restrictions on political, religious and social gatherings or impose mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements.

Lawmakers overrode the veto of Senate Bill 1 by a 29-8 vote in the Senate and 69-20 in the House.

Senate Bill 2. This legislation will require some administrative regulations to be in effect no longer than 30 days if they place restrictions on schools, businesses, places of worship or on religious, social or political gatherings. The same would apply to mandatory quarantine or isolation requirements.

Lawmakers voted 31-6 in the Senate and 69-20 in the House to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2.

House Bill 3. This bill will allow civil actions regarding the constitutionality of a Kentucky statute, executive order, administrative regulation or order of any cabinet be filed outside of Franklin County. Non-residents of Kentucky will continue to file in Franklin County Circuit Court.

The House voted 71-23 and the Senate voted 30-7 to override the governor’s veto of House Bill 3.

House Bill 5. This legislation will require legislative approval of any changes the governor makes to the organizational structure of the executive branch. The House voted 71-23 and the Senate voted 30-7 to override the governor’s veto.

On the same day the vetoes were overrode, the governor announced he had filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 1, Senate Bill 1, and Senate Bill 2. In a news release, the governor’s office said the bills would strip his ability to implement lifesaving public health measures during a pandemic.

The next day, a judge called for a 30-day halt to a portion of House Bill 1 to allow time for a full hearing on the merits of the measure.

Besides this week’s veto overrides, dozens of bills took steps forward according to the Legislative Research Commission, including:

Senate Bill 8 would require exemptions from any mandatory immunizations for those who object based on religious beliefs. It would also prohibit orders during an epidemic from requiring the immunization of people who object based on conscientiously held beliefs or the written opinion of the person’s physician that immunization would be injurious to the person’s health. The bill was approved by the Senate on a 34-1-1 vote and now goes to the House for consideration.

Senate Bill 80 seeks to strengthen Kentucky’s current police decertification law by expanding the number of acts considered professional wrongdoing. The new acts would include unjustified use of excessive or deadly force, interference of the fair administration of justice, and engagement in a sexual relationship with a victim, witness, defendant or informant in a criminal investigation. The bill also would require an officer to intervene when another officer is engaging in the use of unlawful and unjustified excessive or deadly force. The bill also calls for the creation of a system for an officer’s automatic decertification under certain circumstances. Those would include being convicted of a felony in federal or state courts or the concealment of such conviction during the police officer certification process.

Senate Bill 80 was approved on Thursday by the Senate Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection. The measure now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

House Bill 89 would make intimidation of a sports official a class A misdemeanor. The bill was approved on Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

Hour Bill 258 would create a new, fully funded hybrid tier for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System. It would not affect current teachers. Starting in 2022, new teachers would be put in the new tier. The bill would change when those teachers could retire. Instead of retiring in 27 years, new hires under this tier would have to work 30 years to be eligible for benefits. New hires would be able to retire at age 55 with 30 years of experience, age 60 with 10 years of experience, or age 65 with five years of experience.

House Bill 258 passed the House 68-28 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.