Republican state Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington is claiming Senate leaders punished her for opposing a controversial pension bill by derailing her bill to promote safe disposal of opioid drugs.
“Because of my ‘no’ vote on the pension bill on Friday, my own leadership retaliated by turning their back on the war on opioids and Senate Bill 6,” Kerr posted on Facebook.
The proposal had been approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on March 7, but Senate leaders sent it back to the committee on Monday.
Kerr said her bill was “a simple measure to educate the public on the importance of cleaning out the medicine cabinet and getting rid of unused drugs.”
“All the eyes of the nation were on Kentucky, as we would have been the first in the nation to do this,” Kerr said. “The bill was on the agenda to be passed out of the Senate today (Monday), but they recalled it. God help us please.”
John Cox, spokesman for Senate Republican leadership, denied that Kerr was being punished for her opposition to the pension bill.
“I am told by Senate Majority Leadership that there was a technical issue with Senate Bill 6, and it was sent back to committee Monday with the hopes of addressing said issue in committee,” Cox wrote in an email. “We will work to resolve the issue, and Senate Bill 6 could be voted on again as early as this week.”
Kerr, who has been in the Senate since 1999, said in an interview Tuesday that she has been against the pension bill — Senate Bill 1 — most of this year’s law-making session.
“I voted no last Friday in the Republican caucus against it because the process on pension reform has been flawed from the beginning,” Kerr said. “Teachers deserve all respect and they truly love children. I have been appalled of the condescension that I have seen applied toward them.”
Kerr said she always has been “a good member in my party, but I had to leave the party on this. And now they have punished me by holding my SB 6 hostage.”
Asked if she is aware of any other retaliations against Republicans who opposed the pension bill last week, she responded: “Any of the ‘Unholy 8’ is vulnerable. Stay tuned.”
Kerr was referring to eight Republicans who declined to support the pension bill. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate 27-11. With eight Republicans joining Democrats against the bill, the resulting vote would have been 19-19, which is not enough to pass the chamber. Instead, Republican leaders sent the pension bill back to committee as they search for more votes.
Kerr is chairwoman of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee.
Asked if she is concerned she might lose her chairmanship, Kerr said, “I will continue to serve the people of Fayette County and do what I think is right whether I am a committee chair or not.”