What to watch for when lawmakers return for final days of session

04/12/2018 03:37 PM

Legislators from around the state return to Frankfort on Friday for one of the final days this legislative session, and they have several heavy lifts in front of them.

After nearly three-months in session, lawmakers will make a final scramble in their remaining 48 hours to again pass a budget and revenue measure after Gov. Bevin vetoed their compromise plan.

Overriding vetoes on tax and budget bills

Lawmakers will have to carefully count their votes and decide if they can cobble together enough support to override Bevin’s vetoes. The override would take a simple majority in both chambers. Any additional tweaks to the legislation could be vetoed by Bevin, so they’ll still need his support on changes not in the original bill.

Sources tell Pure Politics leaders believe they have enough votes to override the bills, but there are discussions with Bevin to prevent unintended consequences from the rushed bill.

Meanwhile, some in the GOP ranks are advocating not overriding and going into special session.

On the tax reform measure, advocacy groups continue to be vocal about the need to increase the tax on cigarettes by a dollar, and not 50 cents as lawmakers agreed upon in the compromise plan.

Bevin is also asking for a more “smart, thoughtful, more balanced approach” to taxing — he’s calling for a comprehensive plan be put into place. Lawmakers could always be called back to Frankfort in a special session to address tax reform by Bevin if they don’t make the changes he expects.

Pension phase in

Bevin also vetoed a measure which would have phased-in pension contributions for city and county governments, as well as school districts and quasi-governmental agencies while also creating a way for entities to withdraw from the pension system through “buy-outs”. Bevin said he supports the phase-in provision, but vetoed the bill because the buy-out provision was “very problematic.”

Lawmakers will have to decide whether they will pass the bill with just the phase-in language, or still include a buy-out provision and override the veto.

Constitutional amendment, other issues

There are a bevy of other bills, from medical marijuana to anti-solar legislation and a gang violence measure that could come back to life or find a second-wind in the final 48 hours.

Another item that was moving fast and then slowed down would move the election year for the governor, lieutenant governor and all of the constitutional officer elections from the current odd numbered years to even numbered years.

Republicans argue the move would save the state money, but Democrats say it would help the GOP win at the ballot box when more Republican votes are cast during federal election cycles.

Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics available exclusively on Spectrum News. Pure Politics is 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 his coverage of the backlog of DNA rape kits waiting to be tested in Kentucky. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Pure Politics airs weeknight at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Nick on Twitter @NStorm_Politics. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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