Kentucky teachers rally despite lawmakers saying controversial bills are dead

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ) — Two controversial bills going through the legislative process in Kentucky were considered dead late Wednesday by lawmakers, but teachers still showed up in Frankfort on Thursday to rally during the last major working day of the session.

It is the second controversial legislative session in a row that has led to teachers packing the Capitol in protest.

This year, teachers have rallied over several bills ranging from adjustments to their pensions, changes to their retirement board of trustees, and a tax credit for private school scholarship donations.

“Public education, we feel, is under attack,” said Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler.

Over the last two weeks, teachers in several districts have staged “sick outs,” where so many teachers called off sick that districts had to close. Though it was a move not authorized by KEA, Winkler says she’s moved by seeing teachers show up.

“I think we're more united than ever,” Winkler said. “This ‘Red for Ed’ movement is not going to stop until we see a robust public education system.”

Winkler says Wednesday’s assurance from some lawmakers that the bills didn’t have time to go through the process, therefore would not pass this session, was not enough for teachers to believe in.

“It's not over until the gavel comes down sine die on the 28th, so that's why people are still here. They’re still watching to make sure. If anything, that statement just sort of heightened people's awareness, like, ‘Why are they telling us this?’ There's just a lot of distrust.”

That distrust stems from last year when a pension bill was added on to a sewer bill at the last minute.

The next step in the session is the veto period. That’s when all bills go to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature or veto. Lawmakers will return later this month for one day to vote to override any vetoes.



 
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