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Failure To Launch: Special Session Adjourns With No Deal

Josh James

After hours of private caucus meetings and closed-door discussions, Gov. Matt Bevin's special session on pensions ended Tuesday night without a bill.

"Without objection, so ordered, the House is adjourned."

And with that, the extraordinary session called by the governor on Monday afternoon ended just shy of 24 hours from when it began. Observers in the gallery broke into cheers after the brief floor action, which saw acting House Speaker David Osborne delivering a strong rebuke against those who characterized negotiations as secretive.

"We will not shirk from our responsibility. We will preside over the ultimate solution to this problem," he told colleagues on the House floor.

Bevin had argued the Supreme Court ruling striking down pension reforms passed earlier this year warranted speedy action by the General Assembly to ward off a downgrade in the state's credit rating and to "stop the bleeding" in the system.

Critics were quick to sieze on the ill-fated gambit, which cost roughly $65,000 a day, as a waste of taxpayer dollars and a partisan exercise.

"There's never been anything done in this chamber like was done last night," Democratic House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins said. "This is all an ego trip with this governor down here to try to get this done. He needs to look at the numbers. He needs to look to the retirement system board and be able to make the determination that he might be wrong for a chance. "

But Osborne defended the governor's actions. Speaking with reporters, the Prospect Republican agreed that swift action was necessary but acknowledged that, in the end, the caucus couldn't coalesce around the administration's proposal, which scaled back some provisions in the original pension bill in a bid to guard against further legal challenges.

"It didn't work, so it's easy obviously to second guess," Osborne said. "But I think to do anything other than trying to find an expedient solution to this is irresponsible."

The aborted special session lands the legislature back at square one when they reconvene in January. Osborne did not elaborate on if or when lawmaker will revisit the issue.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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