Committee Update: Legislative pension reciprocity bill clears Senate panel

01/15/2014 01:03 PM

The Senate State and Local Government Committee on Wednesday made quick work re-approving two bills that stalled in the House last year.

The committee unanimously agreed to move forward Senate Bill 4 brought forward by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill. It gives lawmakers the opportunity to decline a bump in their public pensions if they switch from a legislative job — usually with an annual salary of $30,000-$40,000 — to a higher paying job elsewhere in state government, such as a judgeship or cabinet position.

Currently, legislators who do switch jobs get to calculate their length of service in the legislature with the higher salaries from their other government jobs, which gives them a more lucrative pension.

While McDaniel said the bill would only apply to “several dozen” lawmakers, he said he believes the issue will become a political one in elections.

“I think this is a matter of public trust and people feeling like people should be in legislative service not necessarily enriching their own benefits,” McDaniel said.

Sticking with the theme of trying to cut costs, the committee also moved legislation to bump back the election of the governor and other statewide officers to even numbered years starting in 2016. Those elections currently fall in the year before the presidential elections. Making that change, though, would require an amendment to Kentucky’s constitution.

McDaniel, who is sponsoring that bill as well, said the state would save about $3.5 million every four years. And McDaniel said it would save counties $13.1 million in 2015 and $14.2 million in 2019.

In addition, Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, added that by moving the election years it would likely increase voter turnout in statewide elections.

To move the elections, however, would mean that current constitutional officers and the governor would have to serve an additional year. Members moved the bill forward, but several Democrats said they looked forward to debate on the political implications on the Senate floor.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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