Committee Update: Even numbered elections, legislative pension transparency bills clear Senate Committee
01/13/2016 04:10 PM
FRANKFORT – A bill which would move gubernatorial and constitutional officer elections to even numbered years, and legislation requiring the disclosure, upon request, of retirement benefit information of current and former members of the General Assembly passed unanimously out of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, would amend Section 95 of the Constitution of Kentucky relating to the election of state officers, and move the election of state officers to even-numbered years, every four years, beginning in 2024.
If the bill becomes law, winners of the 2019 statewide elections would serve five year terms.
McDaniel told member of the committee that the two main benefits of the move would be to save taxpayers a substantial amount of money, as well as to have better numbers at the polls.
“This will save the commonwealth approximately three and a half million dollars every four years,” McDaniel said. “This will also increase voter participation of our constitutional officers. It is not out of the ordinary to see the difference between and even numbered year election and an odd numbered year election be 20 percent fewer voters.”
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, agreed with McDaniel that even numbered year elections will provide a much better turnout.
“People are creatures of habit and they are accustomed to voting more often in even numbered elections when we’ve got presidential, congressional, county elections occurring,” Thayer said.
Senate Bill 45, also sponsored by McDaniel, would disclose upon request, the names, status, and projected or actual retirement benefit payments and benefits of the same of current and past legislators from the Kentucky Retirement Systems, Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System, Legislators’ Retirement Plan, and the Judicial Retirement Plan.
McDaniel believes that it’s important that taxpayers understand the benefits that their representatives receive.
“It’s important that people understand that their elected representatives are drawing and any potential influences that they may or may not have as we cast votes on the pension system,” McDaniel said. “People should be able to see what it is that legislators do or don’t receive as a result of those votes.”
McDaniel believes that for the most part, taxpayers will see that the overwhelming majority of legislators would have not been boosting their pensions, but there would also be some abuses of the system.
“I think they would find some cases where there have been egregious abuses of the system and by extension of the public trust,” McDaniel said.
The bills are expected to move quickly to the Senate floor for passage before moving over to the House where they have faced challenges in recent sessions.
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