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February 17, 2020 9:08am

KYGA20: Sixth week wrap-up

The twenty-eighth legislative day of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2020 long, sixty-day budget session adjourned on Friday. The legislature will not meet on Monday in observance of President’s Day. This week will mark a couple of session milestones:  the 30th legislative day or the halfway point of the session, and the last day for legislators to request bill drafts. The session gained momentum this week with continued budget hearings and movement of significant bills in the legislative process.  

Budget Activity

The legislative hearings on budget and revenue proposals got into full swing with House Budget Review Committees meetings throughout the week. While most of the attention is usually on the executive branch budget and revenue, filed as HB 352 and HB 351, the biennial budget process also involves the budgets of the legislative and judicial branches and the road fund.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton was before the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice, Public Safety and Judiciary during the week. Minton issued a grave warning that the enactment of the Judicial Branch budget as proposed by Gov. Beshear, HB 356, would result in the elimination of nearly 400 positions in the court system.

The Road Fund and Transportation Cabinet budget (HB 354) were also in the news this week as legislators seek to deal with sagging transportation revenues as gas tax revenue is down and broader issues related to transportation funding such as public transit needs have increased. Road fund issues, specifically efforts to increase revenue, have become intertwined with SB 4. Senate Bill 4 is legislation. to place authority of road fund spending and nomination of candidates for the Secretary of Transportation under a statutory board, rather than with the Governor. In published reports, Senate President Robert Stivers said that the Bevin Administration hoarded discretionary road funds for political purposes. SB 4 was favorably reported from the Transportation Committee to the full Senate and has been posted in the Senate Order of the Day for February 18 when it can be voted.  

The House will continue to work on the budget and Road Plan for the next several weeks, making changes to the Governor’s proposal based on their priorities. We expect their work to be completed by the first of March. From there, the bills move to the Senate for additional changes.

Legislative Activity

SB 1, Sen. D. Carroll’s sanctuary city bill, which had passed the Senate last week, was received in the House and assigned to the Judiciary Committee where it has been posted for Committee consideration.  

Speaker Meade’s HB 1 which proposes to revise public assistance programs is reportedly undergoing revisions to address concerns of employers related to provisions in the original bill for moving individuals off Medicaid and on to employer health insurance roles.  

HB 136, Rep. J. Nemes’ bill to legalize medical marijuana was the subject of a lengthy hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.  After lengthy testimony by supporters and opponents, the bill was favorably reported to the full House on a vote of 17 to 1 with 1 member passing. A floor vote is expected in the House this week.

HB 137 (Rep. A. Koenig), to legalize sports wagering in Kentucky, remains posted for passage in the House where it has been since January 17 without being called for a vote. The issue continues to swirl beneath the surface in the House GOP Caucus. 

During the week, the House passed HB 99 (Speaker D. Osborne) to fund the purchase of Louisville’s Jewish Hospital and other KentuckyOne Health assets by the University of Louisville.

Last week, SB 4, passed the Transportation Committee with just a few technical changes. The bill has yet to be heard on the Senate floor, although several legislators, including Senator Stivers, gave floor speeches to discuss the intent and need for the bill. The Governor’s office issued a press release following committee passage voicing their opposition to the bill. We believe the House intends to make changes, assuming the Senate sends it their way. The effort for additional transportation revenue remains tied to SB 4.

The Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation held its first meeting last week. The agenda included a presentation on the Governor’s proposed Transportation budget, HB 353. Secretary Jim Gray and Robin Brewer both presented. Additionally, representatives from public transit agencies across the state discussed the need for more general funds to replace the loss of toll credits that they’ve traditionally used to match federal grants.

Legislation related to employee Leave – HB 390, sponsored by Rep. Samara Heavrin, requires that employers provide the same leave for adoptive parents that they do for birth parents. The bill is posted to be heard in the Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee, and could be heard as early as this week.

Notable Bill Introductions:

SB 173, sponsored by Senator Matt Castlen, is a GLI led initiative to support businesses that wish to develop employer facilitated drug treatment programs for employees struggling with substance abuse disorders. The bill is modeled after legislation in Indiana and provides that various state government agencies will work together to develop regulations establishing the voluntary program. The bill provides that employers shall not be liable for any civil action alleging negligent hiring, negligent retention, or negligent supervision for a negligent act by the employee as a result of the employee’s substance use disorder,

Legislative Calendar 

The Legislative Calendar for the session is available online, but here are a few dates to keep in mind under the current calendar:

  • February 21 – Last Day for Bill Requests
  • March 2  – Last Day to File House Bills
  • March 3 – Last Day to File Senate Bills
  • March 31 & April 1 – Concurrence Days
  • April 2 to 13 – Veto Recess
  • April 14 & 15 – Two Final Legislative Days with Sine Die Adjournment scheduled for April 15