Attorneys general perform many tasks as a state’s highest law enforcement officer, such as helping victims of fraud and scams, enforcing our laws and defending them in court, issuing legal advice to state agencies, enforcing federal and state environmental laws, handling criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions, deciding open records law appeals and acting as public advocates in areas such as child support enforcement.
In his three years in office, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, who is running in a crowded primary to earn the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor in the general election against Gov. Matt Bevin, should rightfully be credited with addressing the opioid crisis in our state, for working hard to end the long waiting period for rape kit testing and ruling in favor of transparency several times in open records law cases.
However, aside from those accomplishments, which we believe are important, Beshear has spent considerable time as attorney general suing Bevin at every turn, mainly over the state’s failed pension system, which is one of the worst in the country.
For eight years, Beshear’s father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, did nothing to try to deal with this elephant in the room. He did propose expanded gambling to address the problem, but it never went anywhere, even when Steve Beshear was governor with a Democratic-controlled legislature. Other administrations previous to Steve Beshear’s also kicked the can down the road on pension reform, which has put us in this mess today, in part because they were beholden to the state’s well-funded teachers’ unions.
That’s a real shame, because their lack of action for many years made our pension system a huge mess. Thankfully, we now have a governor in Bevin who has actually tried to do something about it.
It hasn’t gone smoothly, and Bevin can be faulted for calling a previous special session that proved useless, but at least he is trying to get the worst pension system in the country in better shape. In 2018, lawmakers passed legislation that Bevin signed into law that would have had an impact on this mess, only to see it struck down by a Franklin County circuit judge because it was not passed with the required three votes.
In hindsight, the GOP-controlled legislature should’ve known better. This session, another pension-related bill was sent to Bevin, only to be vetoed. There is talk of a future special session to try to get pension relief legislation passed and signed into law.
Back to Andy Beshear: We take issue with his continued lawsuits against Bevin on the taxpayers’ dime. These suits show a person who clearly has a personal vendetta against Bevin.
Andy Beshear’s latest lawsuit, filed Monday, aims to block subpoenas from the state Labor Department’s investigation into teacher “sick-out” protests that shut down schools in some counties for several days in February and March. Among other information, the Labor Department seeks the names of teachers who might have used sick days to attend rallies in Frankfort, according to The Associated Press.
On Thursday, the Department of Education turned over records from 10 school districts related to sick-outs between Feb. 28 and March 14 after receiving a subpoena from the Bevin administration, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis told The Courier Journal.
We have stated that we believe the sickouts by teachers were irresponsible and sent students a bad message. The protests forced students to stay home when they should’ve been in school learning. We are still of that opinion.
State law clearly states that the Labor Department has the legal right to investigate potentially illegal work stoppages and to issue individual fines to those found to have been involved. The department’s subpoena seeks any documentation teachers provided, including doctors’ notes. The cabinet also wants copies of district sick leave policies and records in which district officials discussed the decision to close schools due to sickouts, according to the AP.
Andy Beshear said the subpoenas are unlawful because the sickouts were not related to teachers’ employment conditions. How could the pension issue not be related to working conditions?
Andy Beshear – who, like his father, has proposed the tired old idea of expanded gambling to fix our pension problem – could not be any more wrong on this issue. The Labor Department is acting appropriately in trying to determine whether any aspect of these work stoppages violated law. We predict Andy Beshear will lose this legal fight, which is funded once again on the taxpayers’ dime.
It is possible to conclude that the lawsuit filed by Andy Beshear is not about the teachers or fighting for what is right, but rather part of his effort to become governor.
Bevin’s chief of staff, Blake Brickman, said it well when he said the lawsuit shows that Andy Beshear is “more concerned about politics than the law.”