Debt ceiling and transgender bills pass Senate

02/27/2015 04:37 PM

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky state Senate passed bills on Friday that would set the debt ceiling at 6 percent and require public school students to use the restrooms of the sex that they were born.

Senate Bill 94, sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, would cap the state’s debt at 6 percent of revenue and would direct any savings realized in drawing down the state’s indebtedness to the underfunded Kentucky Employees Retirement System for non-hazardous state workers. KERS has just 21 percent of the money needed to meet current and future retirement obligations.

“It builds in a discipline that people all around the commonwealth appreciate,” Bowen said. “People want us to operate in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Bowen did not bring everyone on his caucus on board.

Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, voted against the legislation pointing out that the Senate will vote next week on House Bill 298, a bonding issue where the state would partner with the University of Kentucky to build a new cancer research center.

The state is also considering bonding $3.3 billion for the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System.

“I think it would be very contradictive to vote for this and turn around next week and make another vote to expand our needs,” Buford said.

Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, fears the bill would limit options for the General Assembly.

“It would tie the hands of members of the General Assembly to address potential problems or even prevent us from taking advantage of potential opportunities because interest rates are low,” Jones said.

Jones added that he feels mandating cost savings go towards the pension system would not pass constitutional muster.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, supported the bill and said that it’s time for the General Assembly to be fiscally responsible.

SB 94 was passed with a 28-8 vote, and heads to the state House.

Bathroom bill clears Senate hurdle

Senate Bill 76, sponsored by Sen. C. B. Embrey, R-Morgantown, passed the Senate Friday with a 27 to 9 vote.

The bill would require students to use the bathroom of the sex that they were born.

Democratic opponents of the bill felt that the decision of what restroom a transgender child should use should be made at the local school level.

“I don’t see anything wrong with letting our local school boards run their own school systems,” said Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, is fearful that the state is taking way the local school districts ability to run their own schools.

“We are removing the capability of local schools doing what they believe is best for their students,” McGarvey said.

Proponents of the bill say it’s about protecting the rights of all students.

“It is not the responsibility of this body to protect the rights of one particular group,” said Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah. “It’s the responsibility of this body to protect the rights of all.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.