A Franklin County Circuit judge, who Governor Matt Bevin derided as a “political hack,” cleared the way for six new administrative law judges to being hearing workers’ compensation cases in Kentucky.
Since he took office in December 2015, the GOP governor and Judge Phillip Shepherd have repeatedly butted heads over state government restructuring. In June 2016, Gov. Bevin dissolved the seven-member Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission and replaced it with a five-member commission. In apparent protest, Judge Shepherd did not allow the newly-appointed ALJs to join the other eleven, and the resulting backlog quickly grew to about 400 cases. Making matters worse, four Commission members resigned and Gov. Bevin refused to appoint replacements until the disputed ALJs took office. The governor’s office welcomed Judge Shepherd’s ruling in a statement, but the Kentucky AFL-CIO is still reviewing the decision.