Controversial teacher retirement bill passes House committee

Published: Feb. 28, 2019 at 11:30 AM EST
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A Kentucky House committee has passed a bill which would have an impact on the election of a board overseeing Kentucky teacher retirements.

The State Government committee has passed House Bill 525 11-5 as dozens of teachers packed the room in opposition to the measure.

Rep. Ken Upchurch, R - Monticello, says HB 525 will reorganize the process by which members of the retirement system board are elected. The Kentucky Education Association currently has operational control of the election and nominating process of seven members of the 11-person board. The bill would diminish some of the KEA's control over the process, and the board would grow to 13 members. One of the two new members would be appointed by Governor Matt Bevin, who has the ability to appoint two of the existing members.

The group Kentucky 120 United is calling the bill "as destructive to our pension assets as any bill could be," while Kentucky Education Association president Stephanie Winkler said the organization will do everything it can to prevent the bill's passage.

"We need to help our legislators understand that we are staying vigilant and we are not going to allow anything that is going to damage our pension system or systems, we have two. We need to protect them at all cost because that's all we have," Winkler said.

Winkler would tell the committee Thursday there is not a problem with the board's composition.

Upchurch believes all education stakeholders should have a say in the board election process instead of just the KEA.

"We feel because it is the only board that we are aware of in the state that a private organization has operational control over the election process of a majority of the members, we feel that should be spread out among the stakeholders," Rep. Upchurch said.

The organizer of advocacy group Kentucky 120 sent a private message Wednesday calling for teachers to stay home Friday if HB 525 passed out of committee. That person has since said teachers are returning to work Friday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated the number of members on the board at seven. The board has 11 members, and the bill would expand the board to 13 members.

HB 525 by WKYT on Scribd