Death benefits, Daylight Saving and expungement among issues tackled by legislators

Published 5:14 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2020


State Representative

Budget subcommittees have started meeting regularly to discuss funding proposals for transportation projects, education and human resources needs. Those proposals will also be heard by the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee and may be included in the budget bill that is expected to come before the House by late February or early March.

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I joined fellow legislators in voting for legislation aimed at protecting line-of-duty death benefits for surviving spouses. The measure, HB 271, preserves the death benefits of a widow or widower if he or she chooses to get remarried. Current law mandates that if a surviving spouse remarries, the death benefit they receive is reduced to 25 percent. Under the proposed legislation, the surviving spouse will receive 75 percent of the deceased spouse’s retirement if they choose to remarry. It is estimated that this legislation will only affect 14 people today, but it sends a strong message that we stand by the folks who serve and protect us.

The House passed a House Concurrent Resolution 53 urging Congress to allow Kentucky and other states to permanently adopt daylight saving time, or DST. Several other states have already approved legislation to make DST permanent, including Florida, Washington and Tennessee. Whether or not a change is made is ultimately up to the federal government, which sets the dates for daylight saving time — also referred to as “daylight savings time” and “daylight time.” Those changes must be approved by Congress, which is where HCR 53 sponsors hope the legislation will shed some light. 

Members of the House Judiciary Committee approved HB 327, which would automatically expunge the criminal records of anyone who was acquitted or had criminal charges dismissed. Those eligible for expungement under the bill would be able to request that the acquittal or dismissal remain on their record, while individuals with past acquittals and dismissals would be allowed to petition the court for expungement at no cost to them. It seems to make sense that someone who was not found guilty of a crime should not have that crime on their criminal record.

Legislators passed several pieces of legislation addressing the retirement plans offered to state employees. I am extremely pleased to share that among them was HB 270, which places future legislators in the Kentucky Employee Retirement System (KERS), the same pension system as state employees. Currently, legislators have their own retirement fund, which is managed by the judicial form retirement system. The measure also reduces funding to the legislative pension until its funding level is equal to or less than the KERS. This measure only applies to future legislators because — like all current state employees — we are considered part of the inviolable contract. 

Pension and pay measures also took a step forward with approval of three bills in the House State Government Committee. Bills to close the state Legislators’ Retirement System, change how pension liability costs paid by public employers are calculated, and amend statutory language on any future state employee annual COLAs (cost of living adjustments) all advanced, with all bills returned to the full House for further action. 

Much work is left to do this session as budget negotiations and other important matters vie for lawmakers’ time and attention.

Please continue to stay informed throughout the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly by following all the daily legislative action on the Legislative Research Commission website at, or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at (866) 840-2835.

Daniel Elliott (R-Danville) represents Boyle and Casey counties in the Kentucky House of Representatives.