SENATORS BOWEN, HIGDON CALL FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY OF KRS AT PUBLIC PENSION OVERSIGHT BOARD MEETING

SEAL

Commonwealth of Kentucky
Senate Majority Office

For Immediate Release
Contact: John Cox
502-564-3120 Ext. 202

SENATORS BOWEN, HIGDON CALL FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY OF KRS AT PUBLIC PENSION OVERSIGHT BOARD MEETING

FRANKFORT, KY. (October 26, 2015) – At Monday’s Public Pension Oversight Board (PPOB) meeting in Frankfort, Chairman-Senator Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro) and Senate Majority Whip Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) reacted to action by the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS) Board of Trustees to increase Executive Director Bill Thielen’s salary by more than 25 percent.

“I am very troubled that the KRS Board of Trustees, in the midst of rising shortfalls and stagnant raises for state employees, chose to raise Mr. Thielen’s salary by 25 percent to $215,000 a year,” Senator Bowen said.  What’s more disturbing is that a member of the KRS Board of Trustees went on to say that he is not concerned about criticism from the legislature because he ‘doesn’t work for the legislature.’”

“This may be true, but all of us do work for the people of the Commonwealth, and I don’t think it sits well with taxpayers when government leaders, who are ostensibly ‘public servants,’ are granted huge raises while the people that pay the large salaries struggle to make ends meet,” Bowen added. “And it goes without saying that large raises will result in larger pensions upon retirement.”

Bowen went on to cite concerns expressed earlier this year that KRS and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) were paying hefty hourly rates to law firms, far in excess of the normal $125 per hour maximum, without any responsibility to have these contracts reviewed by the Government Contract Review Committee.

Senator Higdon said at the hearing that the large pay raise for Mr. Thielen was a “line in the sand” event for him, and announced his intention to introduce legislation to make non-elected members of the KRS Board of Trustees subject to Senate confirmation, and to investigate the possibility of legislation making KRS executive director raises above the annual CPI subject to Senate approval, as well.

“Now we have another instance in which KRS is awarding a large salary increase to an employee, and the contract itself is not subject to review by the General Assembly, unlike almost every other state government agency personal services contract,” Senator Bowen said. “Both KRS and KTRS are currently exempt from the Model Procurement Code, which establishes conflict of interest and anti-kickback rules, grants vendors the right to file protest with the Finance Cabinet over the awarding of a contract, and makes personal service contracts subject to Government Contract Review Committee.”

The Public Pension Oversight Board was created by the General Assembly in 2013 to bring more transparency to the operation of KRS.  In 2015, the PPOB’s authority was extended to include oversight of the Legislators’ Retirement Plan, the Judicial Retirement Plan, and KTRS.

“This trend toward greater transparency should continue,” Bowen said. “KRS and KTRS should not operate as islands to themselves, and I urge fellow PPOB members to adopt consensus legislation to remove these agencies’ exemption from the model procurement code so that their personal services contracts, such as this one with the executive director will be subject to further review by the General Assembly.”

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Wednesday, Feb. 11 in the Senate

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015) – After approving three pieces of legislation in Senate Bills 27, 55 and 77 on Tuesday, the Senate anticipates another busy day Wednesday, the 11th day of the legislative session. A look at Wednesday’s Senate schedule below:

  • 9am (Annex Room 154): Senate Transportation Committee Meeting
  • 10am (Annex Rm. 131): Senate Health & Welfare Committee Meeting
  • 12pm (Annex Rm. 154): Senate State & Local Government Committee Meeting
  • 2pm (Senate Chambers): Senate convenes

*To view Wednesday’s full legislative schedule, click here.

*Don’t forget you can watch live coverage of the day’s legislative action from KET by clicking here.

*We also have posted pictures from the last two days in the Senate to our Facebook page (click for link)

Other Wednesday Headlines:


 

Day 6 of #KYGA15

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015) – A full schedule of committee meetings will occupy Kentucky Senate members throughout Wednesday morning, followed by session convening at 2 p.m. EST. Below is a schedule displaying the time, committee, and room number for Wednesday’s Senate committee meetings:

  • 9am – Senate Transportation Committee (Annex Room 154)
  • 10am – Senate Health & Welfare Committee (Annex Room 131)
  • 11am – Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee (Annex Room 154)
  • 12pm – Senate State & Local Government Committee (Annex Room 154)
  • 1pm – Legislative Research Committee (Annex Room 125)
  • 2pm – Senate Convenes (Senate Chamber)
  • Upon adjournment – Senate Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations Committee (Capitol Room 327)

To view KET’s LIVE legislative coverage, click here.

To view the full LRC schedule for Wednesday, Feb. 4, click here.

SENATE WRAPS UP PART ONE OF KY G.A. ’15 BY APPROVING FOUR PRIORITY BILLS

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Friday, Jan. 9, 2014) – After successfully passing the “heroin bill” and “right-to-work” bill on Thursday, the Kentucky Senate approved two more pieces of legislation (referred to as an “administrative regulations” bill and an “informed consent” bill) on Friday morning to close out ‘part one’ of the two-part, 2015 legislative session.

Immediately following Thursday’s session which passed Senate Bills 1 and 5, the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee met to hear Senator Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville)-sponsored Senate Bill 4, which redefines current law by requiring that a woman considering an abortion have a face-to-face meeting with her physician before following through with the procedure. After hearing testimony from a group of supporters, the measure was reported out of committee favorably.

Following the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee meeting, the Senate State and Local Government Committee met to hear Chairman and primary bill sponsor Sen. Joe Bowen (R-Owensboro) present Senate Bill 2, which would prevent the executive branch of state government from administrating regulations found deficient by the General Assembly. Senate Bill 2 also was reported out of committee favorably and both bills were approved on the Senate floor Friday morning.

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“I was pleased with what we were able to accomplish in this four-day period,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) said Friday. “We wanted to send the message that the Senate is here to lead, to be bold and to get things done in Frankfort.

“Every piece of legislation we acted on this week touched on the goals we’ve outlined this session – to create Kentucky jobs and strengthen Kentucky families. I think it was a successful four days and we plan to build on this momentum as we move toward part two of the session in February.”

KY SENATE REPORTS TWO OF TOP FIVE BILLS OUT OF COMMITTEE

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015) – Two bills the Kentucky State Senate Majority deemed part of its “Top 5” were reported favorably out of their respective Senate standing committees Wednesday: Senate Bill 1, “The Right-to-Work Bill, and Senate Bill 5, “The Heroin Bill.

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The Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, unanimously passed the Heroin Bill sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, following testimony by numerous groups & individuals in support of the legislation.

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Chair Alice Forgy Kerr then convened the Economic Development, Tourism & Labor Committee where Senate President Robert Stivers spoke in favor of Senate Bill 1 and was joined by David Adkisson of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and Hal Goode of the Kentucky Association for Economic Development.

“Our caucus is determined to create Kentucky jobs and strengthen Kentucky families,” President Stivers said. Stivers noted that both pieces of legislation are key to the underlying goals of the majority caucus, and he thanked other members of leadership and all of the senate members for their work prior to session and over the holidays.

“All of our leaders and all of the senators devoted extra time prior to session to study issues and legislation so that we could ensure that while we are here during what is a “short” session,” Stivers said.  “We are using the time we do have efficiently and in our constituents’ best interests.

“These priority bills are going to be voted on, and I expect passed, on the Senate floor the first week of session, so there is no question that our members are doing their work and getting legislation to the House in a timely manner.

“And you have to remember, while the bills did move fast the first week of session, what you are seeing is the result of legislation that has been through past sessions and committee hearings, and since adjournment last session, our senators continued to work on them. There were a lot of long days, late nights, discussions, debates and studies to get to this point.”

After the Senate committee meetings adjourned, members from both the House and Senate convened in a joint session Wednesday evening for Governor Steve Beshear‘s final State of the Commonwealth Address.

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