FRANKFORT, Ky. — In a story June 12 about an executive order issued by Gov. Matt Bevin, The Associated Press reported erroneously the number of lawsuits Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has won against the governor in lower courts. Beshear has won one such lawsuit, not two.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Rep. Carney: Bevin’s executive orders concern GOP lawmakers
A powerful Republican lawmaker says a significant number in the GOP-controlled state legislature believe Gov. Matt Bevin’s use of executive orders threatens their independence
By ADAM BEAM
FRANKFORT, Ky. — A powerful Republican lawmaker says a “significant number” in the GOP-controlled state legislature believe Gov. Matt Bevin’s use of executive orders threatens their independence but he stopped short of endorsing a lawsuit proposed by the state’s Democratic attorney general.
State Rep. John Carney, chairman of the House Education Committee, said he believes the Republican governor’s recent executive order overhauling several state education boards is legal, but it concerns him “simply because of checks and balances.”
Bevin’s order added four non-voting members to the state Board of Education and completely replaced boards responsible for certifying teachers and setting curriculum standards. The members and duties of those boards’ had previously been set by the legislature.
“I really feel like that’s probably something I would rather see be in our purview,” Carney said.
Bevin has relied on a little-known state law that gives the governor authority to reorganize state government when the legislature is not in session. He has used it at least a dozen times to abolish and replace at least state boards and commissions. Republican lawmakers have mostly gone along with Bevin’s changes. Carney said lawmakers need to “have a discussion” about changing the law that gives Bevin that authority.
“It has taken a long, long, long time for the General Assembly to get legislative independence,” Carney said. “You’ve got a Republican governor you want to work with. I mean, we do. But again, at some point the trains are going to collide.”
Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has sued Bevin twice over his decision to abolish and replace the boards of trustees at the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Retirement Systems. Beshear won one of those lawsuits at the lower court level, and both cases are still pending in the state appellate courts.
On Wednesday, Beshear announced he will sue Bevin a third time if he doesn’t rescind his executive order reorganizing the state education boards by the end of this week. Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper noted the law states governors can use executive orders to propose “the creation, alteration or abolition of any organizational unit or administrative body.” She said governors have used the law 357 times since 1992.
Carney said he would not support Beshear’s lawsuit. He said Kentucky has “too many problems and too many issues to have a personal feud” between the governor and attorney general. Republican Senate President Robert Stivers has also sided with Bevin, saying: “I stand with Governor Bevin as I have in similar lawsuits in the past related to board reorganizations.”
Republicans now control the state legislature for the first time in memory. They mostly got along with Bevin, but he did veto four bills they passed. Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to override all of those vetoes.