Politics

Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced he is suing Gov. Matt Bevin over a recent executive order that reorganized several education boards.

The announcement comes after the attorney general previously threatened to sue Bevin over the actions and after the governor changed his executive order late last week.

Beshear said that despite Bevin’s changes, “there are still significant constitutional and legal violations.”

“The governor simply does not have the power to dissolve a board, purge all of its members and entirely rewrite the law when the legislature has been explicit in statute about how a board has to be structured, what terms have to be and all the other steps they’ve taken to make sure that that is an independent board making independent decisions,” Beshear said.

“This is not a step that I wanted to have to take,” he said.

Bevin issued a sweeping executive order adding non-voting advisers to the state Board of Education, and replaced boards that deal with certifying teachers and establishing curriculum standards.

This is the fourth time that Beshear has sued Bevin in about a year and the third challenge involving the governor’s authority to reorganize state boards.

Bevin maintains he has the authority to reorganize state boards while the legislature isn’t in session, citing a state law that allows “the creation, alteration or abolition of any organizational unit or administrative body.”

In a statement, Bevin’s press secretary Woody Maglinger said the governor’s overhaul of the education boards are “legal, proper and in the best interest of our students.”

“Attorney General Andy Beshear’s latest lawsuit is just another example of him placing politics above the law,” Maglinger said. “Last year, AG Beshear used the same statute to re-organize his office, and the General Assembly refused to accept his proposed changes. Why didn’t he look in the mirror and sue himself? Why isn’t he being honest with the people of Kentucky?”

The Kentucky Supreme Court recently announced it would hear the governor’s appeal of a lower court ruling that said Bevin didn’t have the authority to overhaul the University of Louisville’s board of trustees.

Earlier this month, Rep. Bam Carney, Republican chair of the House Education Committee, expressed concern over Bevin’s recent reorganization of the state education boards.

“Separation of power means that the General Assembly respects the Governor’s ability to meet the demands of new legislation, but I also firmly believe in legislative independence, which provides strong checks and balances in government to ensure balance of power,” Carney said in a statement.

In an Associated Press report, Carney said the members and duties of education boards should be under the legislature’s purview.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.