LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s Democratic attorney general temporarily delayed another legal showdown with Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday, but warned that he’ll take the Republican governor to court a fourth time if he doesn’t back off an executive order targeting several public education boards.
Attorney General Andy Beshear said he would give Bevin a bit more time after he was informed by the governor’s office on Wednesday that Bevin was reviewing his executive action.
“My hope is that the governor has reviewed the Constitution and Kentucky law, and has realized he does not have ‘absolute authority’ over independent state boards,” Beshear said in a statement. “I will wait until Friday, but I stand ready to defend the Constitution if the governor fails to abide by it.”
Beshear has already won a case against Bevin at the state Supreme Court in which he claimed executive overreach, while two others are pending. Beshear is considered a possible challenger when Bevin runs for re-election in 2019, and the two men have had an acrimonious relationship.
In a letter to the AG’s office, Bevin’s general counsel, Steve Pitt said the governor’s office was considering “certain modifications” to the executive order. Pitt did not specify what changes were being considered, but said an amended order was expected to be filed by Friday.
Last week, Beshear said he would give Bevin seven days to rescind the order or he would take the governor to court again.
Beshear was responding to Bevin’s executive order that dissolved four boards created by the legislature to oversee aspects of the state’s public education system, including boards that oversaw the certification of public school teachers and made recommendations about curriculum.
The governor’s action removed more than 35 board members before their terms expired. Bevin then re-created the boards and appointed new members to replace them.
The order also altered an education law Bevin signed this year by giving him more control over a board lawmakers created to assess state education standards.
State Rep. John Carney, chairman of the House Education Committee, recently said a “significant number” in the GOP-controlled legislature believe Bevin’s use of executive orders threatens their independence. Carney said he believes the governor’s order overhauling several state education boards is legal, but it concerns him “simply because of checks and balances.”
Bevin has relied on an obscure state law to remake much of state government. The law gives the governor the ability to reorganize boards and commissions while the state legislature is not in session. The governor’s order stays in effect until lawmakers can review it.
The governor has used the order to abolish and replace at least 12 boards and commissions.