Governor Beshear, center, tells this reporter there may be a special session on pension reform.
(Fulton KY) Governor Beshear was in Fulton Monday to announce a new factory. When asked if he would sign Senate Bill 50, the industrial hemp bill born in the Kentucky Senate and stalled in the House, Beshear answered with a resounding "Maybe."
The Governor said that while he supports new farm products, he has law enforcement concerns about hemp. The Kentucky State Police continue to assert that telling hemp from its bad boy cousin marijuana will strain scarce police resources.
The bill stalled in the House Agriculture Committee last Thursday when Committee Chairman Tom McKee refused to allow a vote on the bill. Chairman McKee has said he may bring the bill back up for a vote this week.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo does not favor the industrial hemp bill, so even if McKee does bring the bill out of committee, it is looking more likely as the session comes to a close that the bill will be passed this short session.
Even if it fails to pass this term, with the support of Republican Ag Commissioner James Comer, eastern Kentucky Senator Robin Webb and others, the bill has come farther than any related to hemp.
Pension reform is a big topic in Frankfort. Kentucky's state employee pension fund is woefully underfunded. Ideas continue to float around the General Assembly for addressing the looming budget buster, but nothing has struck a cord on both ends of the Capitol.
When asked whether pension reform would happen in this short session, the Governor praised both Houses on their efforts. But he didn't sound optimistic that it would be finished this session.
Beshear said that pension reform would be "fixed by the end of this year." He said that if it is needed (and it is looking like it will be), a special session to deal with that issue can be called. Beshear didn't think that another session would cause a stir among taxpayers. Despite the fact that sessions run around $30K a day, Beshear thinks the issue is so important that "the voters won't mind a bit" to see the Legislature come back to reform the pension system.