Bipartisan group of KY lawmakers say remaining controversial education bills will not pass

Teachers have flocked to Frankfort over the past two weeks to protest these controversial...
Teachers have flocked to Frankfort over the past two weeks to protest these controversial bills. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Updated: Mar. 13, 2019 at 9:33 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - With limited time remaining in the current legislative session, a bipartisan coalition of Kentucky politicians issued a statement that two controversial education bills will not pass.

Lawmakers have seen red flood the Capitol for weeks now as teachers protest bills they fear may harm public education. But teachers’ biggest concerns may soon be soothed.

The following statement was issued Wednesday around 7:15 p.m. from a group of state lawmakers from Louisville: Sens. Julie Raque Adams (R) and Morgan McGarvey (D) and Reps. Joni Jenkins (D) and Jason Nemes (R).

“After speaking with leadership from both chambers, we want to restate that neither HB 205 nor HB 525 will be rolled into any other bill and be passed this session. Furthermore, there is no time left to pass HB 205 or HB 525 on their own this session. We want people to know that regardless of chamber of (sic) party, we agree that neither HB 205 nor HB 525 (or a separate bill with similar provisions) will pass in any way, shape, or form this session.

We look forward to continuing a conversation with our educators and all constituents over the interim about issues that impact our schools leading into next year’s important budget session. But, for now, we wish to restate that HB 205, HB 525, or any bill with similar provisions will not be called for passage this session.”

House Bill 525 sparked major backlash from teachers, and was the first catalyst for sickouts so teachers could protest in Frankfort.

The bill would restructure the board that oversees teachers’ pensions, taking positions away from the state teachers’ union, KEA, and spreading them among other education groups. It would also add a position to the board appointed by the governor.

"I believe 525 is dead,” Rep. Rocky Adkins, (D) Minority Floor Leader, said. “Again, I’ve been around this process a long time. You know, like Lazarus, things can come back to life.”

So far, the bill passed out of committee and received readings on the House floor, but has not been called to a vote.

Another controversial bill, HB 205, would offer a private school scholarship tax credit. It has shown little movement, but teachers are concerned it could be added to another bill and passed in the final days of the session.

“Anything can happen, but it’s one we probably think needs more work," Rep. Bam Carney, (R) Majority Floor Leader, said.

Lawmakers are trying to assure teachers HB 205 won’t be added to another bill, but there is little trust, as teachers recall the rushed pension reform passed in March 2018 in place of a gutted sewer bill.

It took lawmakers less than 8 hours to pass that law on the last day of the session. It was eventually struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Carney was instrumental in passing that pension reform bill last year.

A third bill that drew ire from teachers in the Jefferson County Public Schools district has passed.

Senate Bill 250 allows JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio to have the final say in hiring school principals, over the decision of site-based decision making councils. It is on Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk awaiting his signature.

Pollio responded to Wednesday’s bipartisan statement on Twitter.

Thursday is the final regular day for this legislative session. After that, the General Assembly will reconvene for one day after Bevin has time to veto any bills on his desk.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.