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Kentucky judge allows lawsuit against newly signed pension reform to continue

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin signed the controversial pension reform bill into law earlier this month.

A Franklin Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday that Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear's lawsuit against a recent pension reform law can move forward.

The office of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin had sought to disqualify the lawsuit, arguing that it presenteda conflict of interest because Mr. Beshear had previously provided lawmakers with legal advice on the bill. "The attorney general filed this suit against the very legislators who were recipients of — and who heeded — his legal advice regarding the legality of the bill," Mr. Bevin's office said.Judge Phillip Shepherd rejected the governor's conflict-of-interest argument Wednesday, a spokesman for Mr. Beshear's office said.

On April 10, Mr. Bevin signed into law a pension reform bill that included placing future teachers in a new cash balance plan. The following day, Mr. Beshear's office filed a lawsuit against Mr. Bevin and legislative leaders, arguing that the measure violated an "inviolable contract" by reducing workers' rights and benefits. Mr. Beshear's lawsuit also condemned lawmakers for passing a bill that lacked an actuarial analysis at the time and was not subject to public comment or testimony, and for not allowing sufficient time to fully digest the changes before the bill went to a vote.(The pension reforms had been tacked onto a bill that initially dealt with wastewater-related services.)

Mr. Beshear is also seeking a temporary injunction against the pension reform law.

"Today's ruling recognizes that, as the attorney general, I'm the people's lawyer, and it is my duty to fight on behalf of teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers and other public servants," Mr. Beshear said in a statement Wednesday. "I will continue to protect the rights of our public servants and to enforce the constitution's requirement that our government is transparent and never turns a sewage bill into a pension bill ever again."

The court is expected to make a decision on the lawsuit by June.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bevin could not be reached for comment by press time.