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Ky. Lawmakers Pass Several Bills Ahead Of Veto Override Deadline

Josh James

As the clock wound down on the 2021 Legislative Session, Kentucky lawmakers sent several bills for the governor's signature.

Kentucky lawmakers have given final approval to a bill to change retirement benefits for new teachers hired starting next year. Supporters say the measure would relieve some pressure on the troubled public pension plan for teachers without solving its massive unfunded liability. Opponents say the changes would become a deterrent in recruiting people into teaching. The House voted Tuesday night to send the bill to Gov. Andy Beshear. The bill would not affect teachers already enrolled in the retirement system. The bill calls for new Kentucky teachers hired starting in 2022 to be placed into a new “hybrid” pension tier.

The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill making it easier to cross district lines to attend school. The bill also would allow funding pools to help pay for educational expenses. The sweeping bill cleared the Senate Tuesday evening. The bill returns to the House for a potential final vote. The Senate amended the bill to expand the potential use of tax credit scholarships for private school tuition. The bill allows for creation of education opportunity accounts, backed by donors who would receive a tax credit. The money could be used for a variety of educational expenses and for public school tuition.

Kentucky lawmakers have passed a bill that removes Democratic Governor Andy Beshear’s ability to appoint a member of his own party to fill vacant U.S. Senate seats. The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk. Under the bill, the governor would have to choose from a three-name list provided by party leaders from the same party as the senator who formerly held the seat. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who won reelection last year, has endorsed the proposal. A veto is likely to be overridden by Republican supermajorities in both the House and Senate.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Kentucky are on the verge of loosening the state’s voting access laws to make limited early voting a fixture. It's in sharp contrast to the bitter partisan battles being waged elsewhere over election laws. The Kentucky measure would give voters three days of no-excuse, early in-person voting before Election Day. But it backs off from the temporary, pandemic-related accommodations made last year that allowed widespread mail-in absentee balloting. The bill drew bipartisan support in winning Senate passage Tuesday. The measure heads back to the House for a potential final vote.

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