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Judge Gives Beshear The Green Light On Pension Suit

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear.

A Franklin Circuit judge has cleared Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear to move forward with his lawsuit challenging the state’s new pension law. Gov. Matt Bevin is seeking to disqualify Beshear over an alleged conflict of interest.

Bevin’s team claims Beshear ran afoul of the law by offering legal advice to legislators on pension reform prior to launching a lawsuit to overturn the legislation.

Judge Phillip Shepherd sided with the Democrat in a ruling Wednesday, saying he wanted to move swiftly because portions of the pension bill go into effect in July. Beshear has argued the measure sending new teacher hires into hybrid cash-balance retirement plans severs the inviolable contract with state employees.

"In the end, we're going to win this lawsuit," the top lawyer promised. "Because the General Assembly and the governor have violated the constitution."

Bevin general counsel Steve Pitt maintains the attorney general contributed to talks on the original pension reform bill and met with House and Senate Democrats to discuss legal options after the passage of Senate Bill 151.

"Once he decided to provide legal advice, in detail in fact, to the legislators on this point, then he crossed the Rubicon," Pitt argued. "It was too late for him to go back at that point in time. This is not like Skyline Chili. You can't have it two or three or four ways."

The case is expected to go to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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