Tribune-Courier News Editor
FRANKFORT — Two legislators representing Marshall County say they do not expect gun control to play a major role in the current legislative session.
“The representative and the senators who are the judicial chairs, and they are both from western Kentucky, where gun control is not a big or popular issue,” Sen Bob Leeper (I-Dist. 2) said. “I don’t think we’ll see much talk about this issue, but we are watching at the federal level and the President to see what will happen there.
Rep. Will Coursey (D-Dist. 6) said he has heard of no pending legislature that would restrict firearm types or ownership.
“I haven’t heard anything coming even down the road, but if I did, I would probably fight the measure,” Coursey said. “I support what (National Rifle Association President) Wayne LaPierre said, and think we should put an armed school resource officer in every school. It’s a great idea, but I don’t think we should put it all on the backs of local law enforcement agencies.”
Coursey added school safety was worth exploring and could not think of a topic more important than protecting students from violence.
Leeper said the general assembly’s main priority now is to find a system to fund the state’s retirement pension plan and to manage its expense going forward.
“We’re not necessarily looking at a strictly 401-k plan for newly-hired workers, but maybe something blended with a system like the existing program. We’re also considering the cost of living adjustment for retirees and how it will affect our overall outcome. If possible, we may keep it in, or we may have to take it out.”
Leeper said another bill gaining traction was HB-1. He said the bill would correct a previous prescription drug law many health care providers say is too restrictive.
“I plan to spend most of the session looking out for taxpayers,” Leeper said. “I plan on a conservative approach and be a watchdog on issues that will affect taxpayers.”
Coursey said he was hopeful the COLA for retirees could be preserved, but was doubtful a final plan would include one. His expectation of a hybrid retirement system mirrored Leeper’s.
“We have so many state employees in our district. I’m doing all I can to advocate, but realistically, it would be very difficult,” Coursey said.
Despite a change in Senate leadership, Coursey does not expect the legislature to have a serious discussion about expanded gaming. He added the Senate has maintained the same level of disdain for gaming that it has displayed recently.
Unlikely a decade ago, Coursey said legislators are now discussing lifting a prohibition on industrial hemp.
“We have a lot to work on in what is just a 30 day session,” Coursey said. “I think there is a real possibility we may have to return for a special session.”