FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear on Wednesday made permanent an independent review panel to examine child deaths and serious injuries from abuse and neglect.
At a Capitol ceremony, Beshear signed House Bill 290, which makes permanent a review panel that Beshear had created by executive order in July 2012. The panel will review case files of child fatalities and near-fatalities and make recommendations on how to improve the state's child protection system. The legislature made some tweaks to the panel, including allowing the panel to have unredacted or edited state social worker case files and expanding the membership of the panel from 17 members to 20 members. The panel will meet quarterly. It will file annual reports outlining changes to the child protection system.
In addition, Beshear has signed into law two key pieces of legislation that would affect Lexington:
■ House Bill 430 — a bill to shore up the Lexington police and fire pension fund — on March 14. The measure, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, is expected to reduce the police and fire pension plan's $296 million unfunded liability by almost half, to $160 million.
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Under the changes, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government would commit $20 million a year — up from the current $11 million — to more aggressively pay off the pensions' unfunded liability over the next 30 years.
Police officers and firefighters would pay more of their salaries into the pension fund. Retirement benefits would be trimmed in several ways, including smaller cost-of-living adjustments for some retirees, smaller base pensions for disability retirements and a reduced payout formula for new hires. Future employees would be expected to work longer before they retired.
■ House Bill 260 — a tax incentive for the developers of the CentrePointe project, earlier this week. House Bill 260 reduces the amount of money the developers must spend before they can start recovering money spent on public infrastructure, such as a parking garage. The threshold for the so-called "signature" tax increment financing, or TIF, project drops from $200 million to $150 million. The CentrePointe project is now expected to cost $260 million.