Politics

Attorney General Andy Beshear says that any legislation passed during Gov. Matt Bevin’s special session on pensions is at risk of a legal challenge.

Beshear says that Bevin’s official proclamation that called the special session was too narrowly drawn, preventing lawmakers from considering alternate proposals.

During a news conference on Saturday, Beshear called on Bevin to amend his call for the special session.

“There is a simple step that the governor can take to resolve this initial problem,” Beshear said. “He can admit he was wrong, he can say he made a mistake and he can amend the proclamation that called this special session.”

Bevin issued his official proclamation for the session on Thursday, summoning lawmakers to Frankfort to consider a bill that would help alleviate massive pension costs currently being experienced by regional universities and small state agencies.

Bevin’s proclamation included a 12-point list of what lawmakers would be allowed to consider during the session—provisions that Bevin had already hammered out with Republican leaders of the legislature as a potential solution to the spike in pension costs.

House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins raised concerns about Bevin’s proclamation being too specific during the first day of the legislative session on Friday, saying that the call created a “mockery” of legislative independence.

Now Beshear says he might sue unless the governor alters his proclamation.

“If the governor is unwilling to do that, then yes, any legislation coming out of this session is at risk,” Beshear sad. “To mitigate that risk, the general assembly ought to continue acting independently.”

Republican leaders of the legislature pointed out on Friday that in 2008, then-Gov. Steve Beshear also issued a narrow call for a special session—attaching a 179-page bill to his proclamation for a special session dealing with pensions.

But Attorney General Beshear—the former governor’s son—argues that the 2008 call only asked lawmakers to consider the principles embodied in that bill.”

“The difference in this proclamation is 12 mandates that they asked to be non-severable, meaning if any one doesn’t make it, the whole bill ought to be invalid,” Beshear said. “Very different.”

Gov. Matt Bevin’s legislative liaison Bryan Sunderland held a press conference after Beshear’s on Saturday morning, saying that Bevin’s call for a special session was “far less restrictive” than former Gov. Beshear’s.

He also argued that “nothing about this call restricts the legislature from their legislative independence.”

“If they decide they don’t want to pass this or any other piece of legislation, they can adjourn,” Sunderland said.

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