Bevin imposes hiring freeze, marriage license changes; Scraps fe - News, Weather & Sports

Bevin imposes hiring freeze, marriage license changes; Scraps felon voting rights, min. wage

KY Governor Matt Bevin (Source: WAVE 3 News) KY Governor Matt Bevin (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Former KY Governor Steve Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News) Former KY Governor Steve Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Exactly two weeks after taking office and two weeks before the General Assembly begins its budget session, Republican Governor Matt Bevin has wiped out two legacies of the Democrat he replaced, with the same strokes of a pen Steve Beshear used to enact them.

He also fulfilled one of his promises made shortly after the United States Supreme Court overturned state bans on same-sex marriages.  

"County clerks should not have to compromise their consciences," Bevin said, after a federal judge jailed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for contempt of court following her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

[RELATED: Executive order removes county clerk’s names from KY marriage licenses]

Bevin's Executive Order Tuesday directs Kentucky's Department of Libraries and Archives to modify the licenses to omit requirements for clerks' signatures.

Another Executive Order rescinds Beshear's decree that created an easier path for those convicted of non-violent felonies to regain their rights to vote.

"While (Bevin )has been a strong advocate for the reinstatement of non-violent felony offenders’ voting and civil rights, " reads a news release from the Governor’s Office, “(Beshear's) order is contrary to the Kentucky Constitution and undermines the very right it seeks to restore by circumventing elected representatives in the state legislature and the voice of the people at the ballot box."

Bevin's order "does not affect anyone whose rights have already been restored by (Beshear's) previous Executive Order," but it suspends the application process.

Likewise, Bevin's suspension of $10.10 minimum wage would not affect the estimated 500 state employees who received raises when Beshear's order took effect in June.

Beshear had estimated the raise would cost an additional $1.6 million yearly. Several Republican Senators and Representatives argued that Kentucky could not afford it. 

“Bevin's order relieves executive branch agencies and vendors of the obligation to comply with the higher minimum wage," the Governor release states. "Except as to classified employees with status who have already received increases."

Bevin also has frozen hiring for merit system and at-will, or political employees.  

"All vacant positions in any agency will be reviewed to determine if they are necessary to the maintenance of essential government services," the Governor's Office said.

Bevin's Order also transfers all of his oversight of merit system hiring to the Personnel Secretary, while keeping oversight of political appointees within the Secretary of the Cabinet.

Bevin's final Order Tuesday abolishes Beshear's Employee Advisory Council that reviewed wages, hours and terms of employment for merit employees. The Council is "non-value added," his news release asserted, "given that the Governor has no power to extend negotiation and collective bargaining rights to employees of the Commonwealth."

Bevin has vowed to push for so-called "right to work" legislation that would repeal Kentucky's law requiring employees join unions to work in "union shops."

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