Judge rules in favor of AG Beshear on pension lawsuit

06/20/2018 02:02 PM

FRANKFORT- The controversial pension reform has been ruled unconstitutional by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd.

Judge Shepherd released his opinion on Senate Bill 151 Thursday afternoon. The opinion rules the bill is unconstitutional and void because the General Assembly violated the Kentucky Constitution, specifically when it came to the three reading requirement and the majority vote requirement.

The opinion went on to say the Bevin administration is “permanently enjoined” from enforcing the measure. Judge Shepherd did, however, agree with the defendant’s argument that Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne was authorized to sign the bill as acting Speaker of the House.

According to Beshear, Judge Shepherd did not make a decision on whether or not the contents of the bill violated the inviolable contract because he had already ruled the process unconstitutional, thereby voiding the bill.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, who brought the lawsuit says the ruling helps keep open government in the Commonwealth.

“Today’s decision is a win for open, honest government, ruling that the Kentucky General Assembly violated the Constitution when it turned an 11-page sewer bill into a 291-page pension bill. The ruling voids Senate Bill 151 in its entirety, which restores the promised retirements to over 200,000 teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public servants. I am honored to serve as their voice in court,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

As expected, the Bevin administration says they will be appealing ruling—and maintained this opinion will invalidate hundreds of bills that have passed in previous years.

“Today’s ruling from Judge Shepherd was expected in light of his inherent conflict in deciding the validity of SB 151, and an appeal from our legal team is imminent. Judge Shepherd refused to consider whether or not the bill violates the inviolable contract when issuing his ruling, and he invalidated the bill based, in part, on a procedural argument not even raised by AG Beshear. The consequences of this ruling are tremendous for Kentucky because hundreds, if not thousands, of bills have previously been passed by the General Assembly using the exact same process as Senate Bill 151. If all of these bills are now invalidated based on Judge Shepherd’s ruling, our legal system will descend into chaos. For example, cities and counties will go bankrupt without pension phase-in funding, and programs to combat the drug epidemic will be negatively impacted.” read a statement from Elizabeth Kuhn, Bevin Administration Communications Director.

Ben Self, chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party, reiterated the Attorney General’s comments following the ruling:

“The court’s ruling confirms Governor Bevin and the Republican majority’s sewage pension bill is not only bad for Kentucky’s teachers, firefighters, police officers and public employees but also shows that cramming legislation through without a transparent, public process violates the Kentucky Constitution.”

The appeal will likely go directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com



  • Charlie wrote on June 20, 2018 05:36 PM :

    Partisan Judge Shepherd rules in favor of Atty General Beshear. I’ll bet nobody saw that coming! With this ruling the Judge put the pensions of thousands of state workers and teachers in jeopardy while ensuring many county and state governments will not be able to meet their pension obligations hastening the bankruptcy of the systems. The pension reform bill, though not perfect, did insure benefits to those currently in the system. Now, pending appeal, those systems (and the state’s credit rating) are thrown back into chaos. Way to go Little Andy and Partisan Phil!

  • A. T. Coner wrote on June 21, 2018 10:44 AM :

    Little Andy? Partisan Phil? Please tell me infantile Trump name calling is not going to become the standard in KY politics.

  • Charlie wrote on June 21, 2018 04:47 PM :

    A. T. Coner, yet is OK for you to call our President infantile. Unfortunately the standard in KY politics is for the AG, whose two claims to fame are: 1)Son of a former governor. 2) Hiring Tim Longmeyer to accept bribes. To team with a highly partisan judge to make rulings contrary to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth just because the law was passed by Republicans.

  • Raymond Hurst wrote on June 21, 2018 11:49 PM :

    Our State lawmakers discuss a sewer bill and then secretly add the pension bill; then it is overturned in court?!?! Of course Lying Matt Bevin gets upset when Kentucky’s Attorney General does the right thing and gets it corrected in a court of law. We may have some sneaky law makers and a not too bright Governor; but at least we have an AG who knows the law and is not afraid to stand up for his fellow Kentuckians when we are attacked by our lawmakers and our carpetbagger Governor. Maybe Bevin should hang out with Beshear. He might learn something.

  • Ronald J. Ward wrote on June 22, 2018 09:56 AM :

    “Little Andy? Partisan Phil?”

    Charlie, there are many standards of professionalism and norms of government that have been forever shattered both in dialog and in legislation. It’s happened in Washington and our legislation process in KY has taken an unconstitutional turn from our newly elected Republican super-majority.

    When you have a serial lying, vagina grabbing, baby snatching, egomaniac, con man, a man who refers to the free press as the enemy of the people, a rabid racist who has surrounded himself and the White House with white supremacist and has claimed there are good Nazis, has idolized and praised brutal dictators who have murdered and raped their own people, a man you thrives on divisiveness and manipulating facts, it’s in the realm of reasonable intellect to deduce that people may speak of Trump as such. But this really wasn’t even the case here.

    The thing is that when you attempt to emulate Trump in a discussion, it should be fair game for you to be called out on it. And another thing, A.T. Coner never said or implied that Trump was infantile. Please refer to his actual statement: “Please tell me infantile Trump name calling is not going to become the standard in KY politics”. Get it? He’s referring to Trump’s actions (Trump’s name calling is infantile) rather that attacking Trump as a person. Your manipulation and spin of “yet is OK for you to call our President infantile” is both intellectually dishonest and intellectual lazy. It appears you strive hard to be as Trump like as possible.

  • Charlie wrote on June 22, 2018 05:16 PM :

    Many bills have been written into law using the same substitution process as the pension reform legislation, it was invented not by the Republican super-majority but by democrats over the last 50 or so years.

    Your tirade of unsubstantiated accusations in regard to the President of the United States is just evidence of your Trump Derangement Syndrome. Thankfully, as has been recently confirmed, Trump won and saved the country from the corrupt way it has been run and from the likes of Hillary Clinton who seem prone to use the levers of power to enrich herself.

    Please try to become informed before you try to infer (incorrectly) President Trump said there were good Nazis. Just another lie from the corrupt media the President rightly calls out and the one you defend. With each freedom comes responsibility. It is the responsibility of a free press to also be a truthful one. The President, in order to quiet rather than fuel the riots, did point out in Charlottesville that there were good and bad people on both sides. Demonstratively true as one side had some Nazis and the other had some Fascists. Also one side had peace loving folks trying to preserve history, the other had people of good faith who find statues offensive.

    The world has all kinds of people, rather than be constantly divisive, like the previous administration, this President tries to reach out across party, borders and the seas to help us all get along. Reaching out for peace is not “idolizing” foreign leaders we may view as corrupt but possibly setting them up for improved relations.

    Final point, under our current leadership, we are enjoying full employment whereas we have more jobs than unemployed, wages are getting higher and investments are rising. I am not, however, tired of winning yet and look forward to the next 6 years. Yes, I am happy to support President Trump and his policies and I can only wish to be as successful as him.

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