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Judge strikes down Kentucky’s new pension reform as unconstitutional

Judge strikes down Kentucky’s new pension reform as unconstitutional
© Greg Nash

A judge struck down Kentucky’s new pension law on Wednesday, arguing the General Assembly violated the state’s constitution when it was enacted.

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd declared in a 34-page ruling that legislators violated state law when voting on the measure, The Lexington Herald Leader reported.

Shepherd ruled that the General Assembly didn’t follow Kentucky law by giving the bill three readings on three separate days in each chamber.

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He also found that since the bill deals with budgeting, it was two votes shy of the 51 votes required to pass within the 100-member House.

Shepherd did not consider the legality of the provisions of the law itself, the newspaper reported.

The case is expected to be appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

"Today's decision is a win for open, honest, government, ruling that the Kentucky General Assembly violated the Constitution when it turned an 11-page sewer bill into a 291-page pension bill," Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) said Wednesday.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) supported the measure and said in April that teachers owe lawmakers a "debt of gratitude." 

"Anyone who will receive a retirement check in the years ahead owes a deep debt of gratitude to these 71 men & women who did the right thing," Bevin tweeted after the law passed. 

The controversial bill launched statewide teacher protests in April. 

It created 401(k)/pension hybrid, which would decrease the cost of living pay increases for state employees, including teachers. 

It would have required teachers who were hired after Jan. 1, 2019, to work longer before being eligible for retirement.

It also would have stated state employees hired between 2003 and 2008 for pay 1 percent more for retirement health care, The Herald Leader reported.