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January 2, 2018

 

Before session, legislators filed bills on state employees, sports wagering, marijuana, ethics, disabled veterans

 

State government is shrinking under Gov. Matt Bevin, and state Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, pre-filed a bill last month that aims to address that decrease.

Over the past two years, the number of full-time executive branch jobs has dropped to 30,609 from 31,355, or 2.4 percent, according to the state’s latest Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. That number will only decrease as state employees retire at a faster pace. Since the end of the 2017 fiscal year on June 30, Kentucky Retirement Systems has logged 1,800 retirements in state government, an increase of 31.2 percent over the same period last year, according to data posted on its website.

But while full-time executive branch jobs dwindle, the number of part-time and temporary executive branch employees has increased to 1,661 from 1,575, or 5.5 percent.

With the General Assembly convening Tuesday, a bill filed by Carroll, Bill Request 409, could make it easier to convert that growing pool of part-time employees into full-time employees.

B.R. 409 calls on the secretary of the Personnel Cabinet to promote administrative regulations for an internal mobility program that would not differentiate between full-time and part-time employees in filling full-time positions. Carroll told The State Journal that he’s raising the issue after being contacted by a part-time state employee who was overlooked for an open full-time position. The state senator declined to give the name of the employee or the department for which the employee works.

Today, state agencies looking to fill a full-time position typically request registers from the Personnel Cabinet of either external or internal candidates. But internal mobility registers don’t include part-time and temporary employees, who are instead lumped with external candidates.

“If you’ve got a part-time employee who knows what’s going on and is qualified but they can’t apply for a full-time position, that does not make any sense to me,” Carroll said.

Attracting employees to work for state government in the first place is becoming more difficult, Carroll said.

“We no longer have a retirement system that attracts people to state government, so we’re fortunate when we find someone willing to work for state government for a not very good salary,” Carroll said. “My goodness, why overlook the opportunity to pick up a good employee because they’re not full-time?”

 

Other bills filed by local legislators include:

• Bill Request 155, filed in September by Carroll, would shore up Kentucky’s public pension systems. B.R. 155 would allow sports wagering in Kentucky, with revenue generated to be deposited into the Kentucky Employees Retirement Systems Non-Hazardous and Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement Systems.

• Bill Request 163, filed in October by Carroll, would expand the use of medical marijuana by allowing a physician to recommend the use of cannabidiol or cannabidiol products.

• Bill Request 388, filed by state Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, would strengthen the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, address nepotism and cronyism and improve transparency by requiring more financial disclosure, Kay said in a written statement. He calls it the “Clean Up Frankfort Act.” The bill would also add publicly owned computers or cell phones to the definition of records available for public inspection.

• Bill Request 398, also filed by Kay, aims to aid disabled veterans by amending the Kentucky Constitution to increase the property tax exemption to full assessed value from $37,600 for owners with a permanent and 100 percent service-connected disability. The exemption would also be transferrable to a spouse upon the veteran’s death.

 

By Alfred Miller
Frankfort State Journal

 

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