In additional news regarding the lawsuit Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed on the Pension Bill (SB 151), Governor Bevin has filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court today (Tuesday) to disqualify Beshear and his office from filing the lawsuit, as they have created a conflict of interest by providing prior legal advice to state legislators on SB 151, and this violated Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, which alleges unethical behavior. The lawsuit states that the Attorney General has violated these strict rules, and the Court must disqualify him and his office to protect the integrity of the court system. Bevin further stated that Beshear had sent legal memos to the General Assembly regarding the original pension proposals on SB 1, and that Beshear met with Democratic leaders of both chambers to plan legal options after the passage of SB 151, which is a violation of those same rules, and alleges further unethical behavior of an attorney in his position.
On Tuesday, April 10, Governor Bevin signed SB 151, which was the Pension Bill. It had been approved during the last days of the regular session by the House and the Senate. Wednesday morning, Attorney General Andy Beshear filed a complaint in Franklin Circuit Court against Governor Bevin, Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne of the House, President Robert Stivers of the Senate, the Legislative Research Commission, the Board of Trustees of the Teachers Retirement System, and the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems requesting a temporary injunction, a permanent injunction, and a declaration of rights regarding SB 151 as law. No hearing date has been set for the temporary injunction as of today.
Governor Bevin had also vetoed HB 200, the Budget Bill, and the tax bill, both of which had passed the legislature. Today, the House and Senate both voted to override the Governor's veto, and those bills now become law.
For detailed information on the budget and tax bills, go to lrc.ky.gov and find the 2018 legislative record. Click on Bills- House and the find the bill number. There will be two versions, a condensed summary, and if you click on the bill number in the upper left corner, the original version of the bill appears.
Yesterday, during the House State Government Committee meeting, a committee substitute was introduced to SB 151, a bill regarding waste water management, which contained an unseen pension bill. The bill passed out of committee and was debated on the House floor, passing 49-46. It was then sent to the Senate where it was debated and passed.
Here are the major provisions of the bill, which will now become law:
1. There are no changes to the COLA for retirees.
2. Healthcare for retirees will not be increased.
3. Current teachers can still retire at 27 years or at 30 years and age 57. Future teachers will retire at age 65.
4. Future teachers hired after 7-1-2018 will enter a hybrid cash balance plan. The percentages of contributions are:
School district- 2%
The employee will never lose money on their investments, as the investments will be spread out over ten years of the investment period.
5. Teachers may still accrue sick days to use until they retire. They will be able to use sick days towards service credit up to 12-31-2018. After 2018, sick days will not count toward service credit, but this was never part of the inviolable contract ever. Also, being paid for unused sick days varied from district to district. If you resigned or moved out of state, you have never been guaranteed payment of your sick days, based on individual district policy.
If you have questions about your retirement benefits, call TRS at 800-618-1687. They are the experts.
The Pension Oversight Board meeting scheduled for today was cancelled. No date was offered for rescheduling. I believe that perhaps the board is waiting to see about SB 1 and the resulting legislation. It most likely will be brought forward in the Senate State and Local Government Committee this Wednesday, February 28. I am checking the schedule, and I plan to be there when this bill is brought forth. There is also no word about the Governor's budget either. It is HB 200 and is currently assigned to the House Appropriations Committee. I am urging each of you to contact your legislators, especially your state representative. Because Senate President Stivers co-sponsored SB 1 with Senator Bowen, it is likely the Senate will pass the bill. However, the House is not beholden to the Senate leadership. Unfortunately, I read a news item that Speaker of the House Osborne is supporting SB 1 also. But the House members seem to be freer with their thinking.
I am also aware of what is taking place in West Virginia. Today is the third day that teachers there have remained off the job in a state-wide strike. About half of the teachers in that state are represented by three unions, American Federation of Teachers, West Virginia Education Association (NEA affiliate), and West Virginia School Service Personnel Association. It appears that their members voted for a work stoppage. But, just like in Kentucky, a strike of public employees is illegal. A similar work stoppage in New Jersey in 2001 resulted in a judge ordering teachers back to work, a continued work stoppage, and then the judge ordered teachers to jail daily based on the alphabetical order of their names for contempt of court. Those teachers eventually returned back to work without any changes to their contracts or a settlement.
Please go to lrc.ky.gov to find out the names of your legislators, progress on bills, and committee membership.
Donna House, Executive Director
February 19, 2018
The House Education Committee meeting was cancelled on Tuesday. Yesterday (Thursday), both the House and the Senate Education Committees met jointly. The items on the agenda were presentations from Sydney Beavers, Woodford County High School senior, and the State President of HOSA. She did a fantastic job explaining how important career and technical education programs are to students. If you work in Woodford County, you can be very proud of this young lady. The other presentations were from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Center for Education and Workforce, Rockcastle Regional Hospital Childcare Center (excellent idea for employers!), Child Development Center of the Bluegrass, and the Child Care Council of Kentucky. No bills were brought forth for consideration.
At this time, the Governor's budget is still in the Appropriations Committees of both the House and Senate. I spoke with one legislator (who is a teacher) late last week who told me that both chambers are working to move funding from other appropriations to fund the healthcare plan of TRS. The opinions that I have heard from legislators is a consensus that the Governor's budget with no allocation for TRS healthcare just won't work. They are not accepting that as an option. On the bright side, Senate President Stivers has stated that putting teachers on a 401(k)-type plan after they reach 27 years is not on the table. That has been removed. I have not heard what proposals are out there for new hirees, or if they are going to have a date in the future for new plans to take effect for new hirees.
The next Pension Oversight Board meeting is February 26. The Education Assessment and Accountability Review Subcommittee (EAARS) is meeting that same day. EAARS is the entity that investigates complaints and allegations of violations, errors, and other NO-NO's that happen in our public schools and school boards. It will all make for some interesting meetings. If you have a chance to come to Frankfort to watch our government at work, this would be an excellent day.
Stay Dry! and please support each other in this day and age of assault and murders of our dear children and staff. My heart is so heavy regarding recent incidents in Marshall County and Parkland, Florida. I am disturbed and weary. I was a new teacher when Columbine happened and shocked us all. Our jobs and lives are under constant attack, and it's getting worse. Please know that I and the staff of KAPE keep all of you in our hearts and prayers. We support you!
Donna House, Executive Director
February 2, 2018
Happy Groundhog Day!
Here's the latest from Frankfort:
There was no House Education Committee meeting on Tuesday, as there were no bills brought forward for consideration.
The Senate Education Committee met Thursday to consider SB 69 and SB 101, with both bills passing the committee. Both will now be submitted to the floor of the Senate for vote.
SB 69 is a bill that has two parts. The first part of the bill re-states that teachers will be provided with HIPAA protections and other federal protections which regular citizens are afforded. To give you some background on the history of this bill, it was an original bill that I have lobbied to bring forward on two separate sessions in the past. The language in the statutes reads that if a superintendent recommended a teacher or employee to have a psychological evaluation, a "report" from that evaluation was to be sent back to the superintendent stating if the employee was fit for duty. Unfortunately, as the board pays for the evaluation, some doctors were inclined to go beyond just a statement for fitness for duty, but to provide a "report" stating the marital, sexual, childhood, medical, and interpersonal history of that employee. "Report" wasn't defined in the statute. The employee, believing there was a confidential relationship between patient and doctor, would and did reveal very personal things that would account for depression, anxiety, or other psychological manifestations of their lives. For instance, if you are going through a divorce and child custody battle, it is really not a happy time, and you might exhibit signs of your emotional turmoil. You might even need some "mental health" days to collect the pieces of your life in order to function and care for your family. Things such as your marital history, sexual history, or other personal relationships are not the business of your employer. The only thing your employer needs to know is if you are fit for duty. The end. This bill will protect teachers and employees of school systems to maintain privacy in their lives and to be given the same protections as other citizens in federal privacy acts.
The second part of the bill mandates changes in the tribunal processl. It allows teachers to be afforded several opportunities to mediate suspensions and terminations before going to a full tribunal process. It also replaces a lay person with an attorney. As a person who has sat through numerous tribunals and hearings in the employment process, I can state that these are extremely stressful, expensive, and exhausting processes. The lay persons brought forth on these panels usually do not have a clue how employment tenure and seniority proceeds in school districts or even understand tenure and its rights according to statutes. They are often confused and need clarifications on many aspects of a certified tenured teacher or an employee with seniority. The new bill states that an attorney will be on the panel who is trained in education law. There are several other features of this bill, but many are expected to be clarified and cleaned up for better language before it is presented on the floor of the Senate.
SB 101 was proposed legislation that cut back on the number of days a district was required to make postings of vacancies from currently 30 days to 15 days. The reason being that this time frame creates hardships on districts, especially smaller ones, and in today's age of technology, people can apply online and hear a response back in 5 days or less.
The next Pension Oversight Board meeting will be February 26 at 1:00. I urge you to attend or watch on CCTV if at all possible. All committee meetings are aired on CCTV via KET. There are links on the lrc.ky.gov page.
Donna House, Executive Director
January 18, 2018
I have gone over the Governor's speech from Tuesday night. He has made several proposals in his budget address, and I know we are all concerned about the health insurance issues. However, I wish to tell you that all of these are proposals. He submits his budget to the Legislature, which begins to tear it apart and review each and every proposal. None of this has passed yet, so once again, I am strongly urging you to contact your legislators to voice your opinion. I was surprised that nothing was mentioned of the retirement systems overhaul or any of the proposals the Governor has brought forth previously. I am still hearing from legislators that not many are happy with prior proposals. As of this week, NO bills have been filed to begin the overhaul process of the Kentucky Retirement Systems. In fact, the Governor is still setting aside massive amounts of dollars to go into those retirement systems in an attempt to stabilize them, so that appears to be a good thing, in my opinion.
SB 73 passed the Senate Education Committee favorably today. If you would like to read the full text of that bill, go to lrc.ky.gov, find 2018 Regular Session Legislative Record in the middle of the page, click that, under Bill Status Information, click on Senate beside "Bills," and then click on 73. It will give you a condensed version. On that page, if you will click on SB 73 on the left, it opens to the full original version, and there are many components to it. The next step will be to submit the bill to the full Senate for a vote, which ordinarily passes when the Committees report favorably on a bill. (But it isn't a guarantee.)
Please go to our FB page, Kentucky Association of Professional Educators and invite all your colleagues to like and follow our page. We are going to start doing some major revamping and redeveloping of our page with boosting posts and getting informaiton out to all of you, along with news, promotions, discounts, and upcoming events KAPE is planning. We have several surprises planned. We appreciate our members and reps so very much. If you are interested in being a building representative for KAPE, please email us back.
Donna House, Executive Director
January 12, 2018
Well, still no news on the pension and retirement issues. One of our KAPE lobbyists, Greg Chaney, was in Frankfort this week on Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday the House Education Committee was scheduled to meet, but that was canceled at the last minute. On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee met. The bill brought forth in that meeting was consideration of SB 71 was a revision in the curricula for human sexuality courses or human sexuality disease courses.
The sessions were canceled today for expected bad weather.
For next week, Monday is a holiday and both chambers are not convening until Tuesday at 2:00, so there will not be a meeting of the House Education Committee on that day. I am keeping an eye on the agendas of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and the House State Committee to see if any bills are filed for the pension and retirement issues. Nothing, so far.
Most legislators are really wanting to get some of these issues worked on, such as the pension issues and tax reform, so keep in contact with your legislators.
Donna House, Executive Director
January 9, 2018
The House Education Committee was scheduled to meet today, but that meeting did not happen this morning. If you aren't aware, Representative Jeff Hoover resigned yesterday as Speaker of the House. At this time, I predict the House is doing some further reorganizing in leadership or committees. The House Education Committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays at 8:00 am. As a reminder, the Senate Education Committee is scheduled to meet on Thursdays at 11:30 am.
I have just checked again, and there are no pension bills filed, as of this morning. I have heard that some legislators are going to suck it up and file a bill, but nothing is showing up at the moment. A pre-filed bill, BR 350, by Representative Moffett mentions funding for the underfunded pension systems, but it is mingled with alcohol taxes, licensing of water vessels, city annexation, and regulations on alcohol distributors. It has not moved to committee. I realize that Senator Thayer is announcing some changes to the pension system, but no legislation has been filed and the House hasn't countered with a bill of their own yet.
Some bills of note: SB 55 is going to limit power of school councils. This bill is proposing the board of education can require school councils to submit an annual report, allow school board members to attend council meetings, permit the superintendent to forward applications to a principal instead of the council, alter the principal hiring process to allow the superintendent to hire the principal after consultation with the school council, require council policy to be consistent with local board policy, review actions of a school council that hinders the operation of the district, and transfers school council authority to the superintendent when the school is identified for support and improvement and the local board makes a request to the Kentucky Board of Education. This bill is sponsored by Senators Schickel, Meredith, Carroll, Givens, Seum, and Wilson.
HB 132 is making a financial literacy course mandatory for high school graduation. That bill is sponsored by Representatives DuPlessis and Tipton.
Please continue checking for information at lrc.ky.gov.
Donna House, Executive Director
With regard to the PFM Group report issued on Monday, KAPE administrative staff would like to stress the following points:
This report is a review of not only TRS, but the pension and retirement systems of all state employees, law enforcement, and other first responders employed by the state. The report was compiled by a third party agency that has no legislative powers. The recommendations made in the report are just that, recommendations. They are not set in stone. The legislators are NOT obligated to act on any of the recommendations. Any changes to TRS (or any of the state retirement systems) will require legislation. NO LEGISLATION HAS BEEN PRE-FILED AT THIS TIME!
KAPE is committed to providing accurate, factual information. KAPE also understands that teachers’ time is limited. The volume of information that has been released is massive. KAPE WILL comb through the reports and disseminate TRS specific information to our members in the most abbreviated form possible to accurately convey the information. Look for these updates at kentuckyteachers.org, our Facebook page, and email. MEMBERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO SHARE ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED TO THEM BY KAPE WITH NON-MEMBERS.
The texts of the full PFM Group report can be found at:https://pensions.ky.gov/Pages/Consultant-Reports.aspx
A joint statement from Gov. Bevin, Speaker Hoover and Senate President Stivers was issued today. The full text of the statement can be found at: https://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/news/2017/08/29/guest-comment-saving-kentucky-s-retirement-systems.html
KAPE intends to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the legislature meets its statutory obligation with regard to retirements and retirement funding. KAPE believes in the ability of each of its members to make their own decisions. KAPE also believes that it is imperative that each individual member reaches out to their local legislators about this issue. KAPE will never suggest that its members behave in a manner that could be construed as subversive during the course of their job duties. KAPE believes in the power of civil discourse. During the next legislative or special session, KAPE wishes, instead, to concentrate on actions that will successfully effectuate change and protect teachers.
Below is a summary of bills heard in these meetings and actions taken at the Committee level.
House Education Meeting (2/16/17)
AN ACT relating to school attendance.
Amend KRS 159.070 to permit a student to enroll in the school nearest to their home, except in cases in which there are academic or skill prerequisites for attendance in the school.
HCS1 – Retain original provisions; specify changes are to begin with the 2019-2020 school year; provide that those residing within the shortest travel distance to a school be given first priority in cases where the capacity of the school may be exceeded; permit a child to attend a school other than the one closest with permission of the district; exclude traditional schools; Interim Joint Committee on Education to be presented testimony on implementation.
Jan 06, 2017 – introduced in House
Feb 07, 2017 – to Education (H)
Feb 16, 2017 – posting waived; posted in committee
Feb 17, 2017 – reported favorably, 1st reading, to Calendar with Committee Substitute (1)
HB241- Student Athlete Safety- Rep. J. Sims Jr. Requires athletes assumed to have possible concussion not be allowed to play again without having a medical evaluation. Passed unanimously with favorable expression- eligible for consent.
HB 269- Substitute Teachers- Rep. S. Riley- Amend KRS 160.380 to allow relatives who are currently ineligible for employment in a school district to serve as substitutes. Passed unanimously with favorable expression eligible for consent.
HB 277- Rep. B. Reed- AN ACT relating to local boards of education.
Amend KRS 160.180 to remove board of education member eligibility restriction that no aunt, uncle, son-in-law, or daughter-in-law be employed by that board. Passed Favorably- (Not eligible for consent)
HB 307- Dyslexia Screening and Interventions- Rep A. Wuchner- Amend KRS 158.305 to revise the definition of “dyslexia”; define “qualified screening tool”; require each school district to develop a policy related to its response-to-intervention system; require teacher preparation programs to include dyslexia and response-to-intervention components; require professional development for teachers on dyslexia and response-to-intervention components; require the Department of Education to establish a list of qualified screening tools; require school districts to administer a qualified screening tool to students at least once per year; describe the action to be taken by schools when a student shows characteristics of dyslexia; require the Department of Education to develop dyslexia resources for teachers.
HCS1 – Retain original provisions except add definition of universal screening tool; require the Department of Education to establish list of approved universal screening tools; require universal screening to be given at least once to each student between kindergarten and grade 3; require additional screening for each student identified for dyslexia.
Feb 10, 2017 – introduced in House
Feb 14, 2017 – to Education (H)
Feb 16, 2017 – posting waived; posted in committee
Feb 17, 2017 – reported favorably, 1st reading, to Consent Calendar Committee Substitute
House Education Committee 2/21/17
HB 128- Bible Literacy in Public Schools – DJ Johnson, D. Hale, C. Morgan AN ACT relating to Bible literacy courses in the public schools.
Create a new section of KRS Chapter 156 to require the Kentucky Board of Education to promulgate administrative regulations to establish an elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible; require that the course provide to students knowledge of biblical content, characters, poetry, and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding contemporary society and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory, and public policy; permit students to use various translations of the Bible for the course; amend KRS 158.197 to permit a school council to offer an elective social studies course on the Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament of the Bible, the New Testament, or a combination of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament of the Bible.
Bill passed with favorable expression- Not eligible for consent.
HB 252- Automated External Defibrillators in Schools- Rep. J. Blanton- AN ACT relating to automated external defibrillators in schools.
Amend KRS 158.162 to require the school council or, if none exists, the principal to obtain an automated external defibrillator by the 2019-2020 school year; require a minimum of three employees be trained on its usage; require the school council or, if none exists, the principal to adopt procedures for its usage and policies on training and maintenance; amend KRS 158.302 to delete language stating that a school is not required to have an automated external defibrillator.
Passed with favorable expression. Was not placed on consent calendar in order to allow other members of the legislature to be educated on this issue.
HB 312- Student financial assistance- Rep. Riley, D. Mayfield- AN ACT relating to student financial assistance.
Amend KRS 164.7531 to end the Best in Class, Best in Care, and Best in Law programs by June 30, 2018; amend KRS 164.769 to allow teacher scholarship recipients who teach dual credit coursework in a high school to receive two semesters of teacher scholarship promissory note cancellation for each semester spent teaching. Passed with favorable expression on consent.