Pension reforms and several other key measures can salvage session, Thayer says

03/11/2013 06:25 PM

A sprint of a session that’s yielded few marquee legislative accomplishments so far can be salvaged if legislative leaders can strike an agreement on pension reforms, taxing district oversight and a few other bills before March 26, Senate GOP Floor Leader Damon Thayer said.

Thayer, a Georgetown Republican, also said this session has reinforced his opinion that short sessions need to be “reformed” to cut down on the number of bills filed and taken up. This 30-day session saw more than 600 bills filed. (10:00 of the interview)

But finding a compromise on paying for increased payments into the Kentucky Retirement System and structural changes to the pension system remains Senate Republican’s top priority, Thayer said. They has an opening negotiating session with other legislative leaders over the weekend in a meeting moderated by Gov. Steve Beshear.

“Governor Beshear ran the meetings and appeared to me to be an honest broker to try to help us get something done during a regular session,” Thayer said. (0:30 of the interview.)

Thayer said a “big part of the negotiations” is whether the legislature must cite the source of money to pay for the government’s full payment into the Kentucky Retirement System. He signaled a willingness to deal with House Democrats on the issue. (1:30)

Thayer, like Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, wouldn’t divulge specific proposals for revenue sources. But tax code changes are potentially back in the mix.

Thayer also said he wants to see the hemp bill, Senate Bill 50, emerge from the House even as Stumbo said it was likely finished for the session.

And he said the Senate won’t agree to the version of Senate Bill 1, the overseas military voting bill. The House added back provisions supported by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes that would allow military personnel to return their ballots electronically. That version was adopted 54-43 Monday night in the House and send back to the Senate by a vote of 57-42.

“That’s not going to pass in the Senate. We are not for allowing people to vote via email. The integrity of the ballot will be compromised,” Thayer said (7:00 of the interview).

Thayer appeared more likely to compromise on House Bil 1, which installs oversight of 1,300 special taxing districts such as libraries and water and sewer districts. (7:30)

And Thayer also wants to see the telecommunications bill that AT&T has been pushing (5:20)


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