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March 24, 2017 2:37pm

GLI’s Bi-State Priorities Move in Indiana Legislature

GLI is a regional chamber that crosses state lines.  We work together with One Southern Indiana to collaborate and work on initiatives that benefit both Indiana and Kentucky.

Indiana’s General Assembly convened on January 3rd and will adjourn in late April. The Indiana General Assembly is similar compared to Kentucky, with the exception of the timing when bills move through the legislative process. Indiana House and Senate bills are considered in their respective chambers for the first half of the session. If successful, those bills officially “crossover” to the other chamber for consideration on predetermined dates. Some big issues in consideration include the two-year state budget (Indiana’s budget is determined in even-numbered years), long-term road funding, university funding, reforming school testing, and a workforce-ready grant program.

GLI has been engaged in the Indiana legislature with our partners at One Southern Indiana on a few issues that impact our region. One of GLI’s biggest priorities in Indiana is House Bill 1211, authored by Rep. Steven Stemler. This bill would establish the Indiana-Kentucky transborder groundwater authority, which would study ownership rights in the groundwater resources shared by our two states. The Groundwater Authority is forward thinking and a solid governing measure.  It will prevent Kentucky and Indiana from getting into a prolonged, expensive legal battle over water resources should we experience a drought. On February 7, GLI’s Advocacy team testified in front of the Statutory Committee on Interstate and International Cooperation where the bill received unanimous support. GLI returned to the Capitol on March 20 to support the measure in the Senate Committee on Environmental Affairs, where it passed unanimously.

HB 1211 was adopted by the Senate committee with a committee amendment. The bill awaits action by the full Senate. If passed, it will return back to the Indiana House for concurrence. GLI supports the original version of HB 1211 and continues to monitor the proposed amendments.  

Another top GLI priority in the Hoosier state is House Bill 1286, also authored by Rep. Steven Stemler. HB 1286 would further refine the laws regarding regional development authorities. Within HB 1286, if a regional development authority (RDA) is established after June 30, 2017, the establishing ordinances must specify if the authority has the power of eminent domain, does not have the power of eminent domain, or has the authority per the approval of the municipality’s legislative body. GLI will continue to work with One Southern Indiana in its efforts to form a RDA in Southern Indiana.

HB 1286 passed unanimously in the House and Senate committee on Local Government. It awaits action by the full Senate.

The Kentucky legislature passed its 28th day last Wednesday and recessed for 10 days for the Governor’s Veto Period. There are a few items of unfinished business that may be considered on March 29th and 30th when the legislature convenes for their final two days.

Senate Bill 1, referred to as the “Let Teachers Teach” bill and sponsored by Sen. Mike Wilson, is the most comprehensive education reform bill our Commonwealth has seen in a long time and will align Kentucky’s educational standards with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. SB 1 will also return much of the power back to individual school districts. GLI supports high academic standards for our students in order to create a workforce that will meet the demands of the future.

SB1 passed 94-0 in the House of Representatives on last week after passing 35-0 out of the Senate last month. This bill is received by the Senate for concurrence.

Senate Bill 18, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, is an important piece of legislation that will protect confidential information, such as employee reviews and evaluations, from being provided as evidence in civil action cases. SB 18 language was filed into a House floor amendment and added into HB 409, but was recently withdrawn.

SB 18 passed the Senate in February and awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 120, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, seeks to cut down on recidivism and improve transition after time served. This bipartisan measure will improve Kentucky’s workforce shortage by allowing individuals with a criminal record to have opportunities for employment, pay taxes and support their families. One important piece of this bill includes options for employers with occupational licensing boards and the ability to consider workers with prior offenses. A board maintains the ability to deny a license as they see fit, and SB 120 establishes a fair appeals process.

SB 120 passed the House of Representatives and awaits concurrence in the Senate.

House Bill 72, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, will address the endless appeals process that opponents of development projects have used to kill economic investments in our community by requiring the post of an appeal bond by the appellant. HB 72 will deter frivolous appeals, allow legitimate cases to proceed, and make the process fair.

House Bill 72 was amended in the Senate, and the House of Representatives refused to concur. HB 72 will go to conference committee after the 10 day recess for the Governor’s veto period.

House Bill 206, sponsored by Rep. Bam Carney, will establish a Dual Credit Scholarship Program, which will serve Kentucky students at public, private and community colleges. The bill defines which students are eligible.

HB 206 passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and awaits action in the Senate Education committee.

House Bill 330, sponsored by Rep. David Osborne, will give the Louisville Arena Authority more time to pay off its obligations. The Yum Center is an attraction that injects a great amount of economic life into our region. By extending the time period to collect revenue from 20 years to 45 years, we make sure one of our region’s greatest venues does not default on its bond payments.

HB 330 awaits a vote in the Senate.

For the latest updates, follow our advocacy staff on Twitter: @gliadvocacy #kyga17