This year’s legislative agenda created a very unusual Session of the General Assembly—one that could have repercussions for the long-term future of the Commonwealth.
The BIG issue was pension reform, which stressed legislators with the challenge of keeping their promises to state workers regarding pensions AND balancing the budget so that everyday citizens are not over-taxed for the sake of only one segment of the population. Both are critical and reasonable goals and yet the two didn’t seem to be compatible in any way. This created a tension that didn’t end until the Session was over and prevented a healthy dialogue on many other issues that were eventually dropped.
To make matters worse, partisan elements in the teachers’ union attempted to make it a political issue rather than a policy issue. Clearly, activists recognized that 2018 is, indeed, an election year and they could possibly make political gain.
The GOOD NEWS is that those with state pensions ended up with almost all of what they asked for and the budget is not far from workable.
But the BEST NEWS is that many good bills and resolutions passed that strengthen Kentucky families and the traditional Kentucky values that help keep families strong.
The good bills were generally found in these categories: sanctity of life, sex trafficking and pornography, and adoption and foster care. And though those categories sound reasonable, there were fierce opponents that showed up to speak against almost all of them.
Issues that could have been addressed but were lost in the tensions of the pension debate included House Bill 326, which would have elevated privacy for ALL public school students and would have ended the “bathroom battles,” and House Bill 372, which would have secured real religious liberty for pastors, churches, religious schools and religious organizations in regards to the newly created definitions of marriage and sexuality.
Though the losses were stinging, the “offensive” victories of good bills passed and the “defensive” victory killing the expansion of gambling made the Session worthwhile.