Lewis files for second term in state House

Scott Lewis

Rep. Scott Lewis, the Ohio County Republican first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2018, has filed to run for a second term.

Lewis, a former Kentucky state trooper, principal and superintendent of Ohio County Public Schools, represents the 14th District, which includes Ohio County and a portion of east Daviess County.

Lewis was a member of a legislative working group formed to make recommendations on the public employee pension systems. Lewis said Friday addressing funding shortfalls in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System pension, the pension plan for state workers, is still a priority for lawmakers. But Lewis said he did not know what action would be taken on pensions in the upcoming legislative session.

"I'm not sure what direction leadership is going to on pensions," Lewis said.

The KERS system is only about 13% funded, while pensions for the county employee system is 54% funded and the teacher system has 60% of the funds it needs to meet its obligations, he said.

Lewis, who filed a bill last year that would have created a new benefit plan for teachers hired after 2020, said his bill would have kept a defined benefit for teachers, which is important for school districts trying to hire and retain teachers, he said.

"We are losing teachers now from retirements," Lewis said "There's already a teacher shortage.

"The thing that makes teachers unique is people say, 'Just give them a 401(k).' But teachers can't draw Social Security," Lewis said.

Lewis' bill would have "saved over $560 million over 20 years," he said, and it was just for those hired after Jan. 1, 2020. "It kept the teachers in a defined benefit ... It was a bill that would still attract teachers" to the profession.

Lewis' bill was never called for consideration, which he said wasn't unusual given the 2019 session was a 30-day short session.

Lewis said he still has the bill and could refile it for next year's session.

Lewis is also a member of the House Health and Family Services Committee and said a committee priority for the next session includes a bill to cap increases in the price of insulin. Lewis said he is also interested in legislation that would address the Medicaid reimbursement rate corporate pharmacy benefit managers such as CVS Caremark set for small pharmacies.

"At times, (small pharmacies) don't get reimbursed their cost" for prescription drugs they sell, Lewis said.

Lewis said another priority for him is giving communities the option of creating a local option sales tax to generate revenue. Lewis said communities should be able to "at least put it before the community" for a vote."

The option of creating a local option sales tax has been a priority of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce.

Addressing revenue, aging infrastructure and prescription drug prices for seniors will be other priorities, he said.

"I just like public service," Lewis said. "As long as I feel I have something to offer, I'll continue to run."

James Mayse, 270-691-7303, jmayse@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse.

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