Looking down the marble stairs that lead from the third floor of the Capitol in Frankfort on Monday, I saw democracy in action.
Thousands of teachers lined the steps, offering high-fives, hand-slaps, and hugs as I made my way down into their protest, which crowded the handsome stairwells and cavernous rotunda. Their energy was infectious and welcome.
I thought to myself, this is what the First Amendment was talking about when it guaranteed the right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances
Last night was government at its worst. The Republican Majority bent itself into parliamentary pretzels, attaching a 291 page pension reform bill that no one had seen to a sewage bill and passing it into law in an astonishing eight hours. It was wrong.
It wasn’t, however, entirely unexpected. Elections have consequences.
Still I had hoped the landslide of resistance to Senate Bill (SB) 1 - which forced Republican leadership to pull the proposal three weeks ago - would be enough to bury it. I thought that would give us a chance to try again and do pension reform the right way.
Columnist Lewis Grizzard wrote a book titled “Elvis is dead and I don’t feel so good myself.” That just about sums up how I’m feeling after a tough week in Frankfort and a demoralizing loss by the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
The bad: We’ve reached day 51 in a 60-day legislative session, but the General Assembly has not passed either a state budget or pension reform, nor is quick success in view on the horizon.
The budget, after being passed through the House, has had no meaningful hearings in the Senate. At this point, the best we can hope is the Senate Majority will ram it through next week and send it back to the House, so the two chambers can, hopefully, craft a workable plan. Not exactly the legislative fate you would desire for what one of my predecessors, Senator David Karem, often called “the State’s most important policy document.”