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February 16, 2015 6:15pm

Legislative Update: February 16, 2015

The GLI Advocacy Update is Greater Louisville Inc.’s weekly source for GLI Advocacy news and events in Washington, Frankfort, and Metro Hall. To subscribe, click here.

It was a GREAT Week!

The legislative process is a fickle beast, handing out victories one minute and dashing hopes the next. So, when it hands you several victories in one week you enjoy them while you can because you never know when the next shoe will drop. Below we have summarized the significant activity this week on GLI priorities, but first a quick status on where we are in the 2015 Regular Session.

For the most part, all of the major issues are on the table for the 2015 session. Each chamber has taken action on its priorities and in some cases each chamber has offered its version of the top issues of the session. Both chambers have moved in a very deliberate manner and with the midpoint of the session approaching and the legislature having used 13 of their 30 days for this session, the intensity of legislative activity is likely to continue.

GLI Legislative Agenda Updates

LIFT – Local Investments For Transformation, which is legislation that would provide an option for voters to enact a 1% sales tax in order to raise revenue for specific projects, passed the House this week. House Bill 1 passed 62-35 and the enabling legislation House Bill 344 passed 57-38. The bills now head to the Senate for action.

Prevention & Treatment of Heroin Abuse – One of GLI’s top legislative priorities is getting legislation in place that will address the heroin epidemic affecting Kentucky. The House passed House Bill 213 this week, which is the House version of the anti-heroin abuse bill. It joins Senate Bill 5, the Senate version of this critical legislation that has passed out of its originating chamber. GLI urges lawmakers to find a compromise and pass this much-needed legislation.

Roads & Infrastructure – Senate Bill 29, sponsored by Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Oldham), is legislation that raises the floor of the gas tax to a rate that will maintain the gas tax at its current level. GLI supports Senate Bill 29 and recognizes the catastrophic impact our transportation system would face if the legislature fails to act. Also of interest is House Bill 289 introduced by Rep Arnold Simpson (D-Kenton) reformulates the road fund revenue sharing to a formula of thirds based on population, road mileage, and land area. The bill provides a more equitable share to cities and urban areas, which GLI supports. Public Private Partnerships are a critical financing component needed for the infrastructure Kentucky will need in the future. The P3 bill, HB 443, was filed by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pike) this week. GLI is supportive of this legislation and hopes for its swift consideration this session.

School Leadership – One of the key education issues for Louisville and JCPS for the 2015 Session is to give superintendents more flexibility in selection of principals within school districts. Legislation to provide that authority, Senate Bill 132, sponsored by Sen. Dan Seum (R-Louisville), passed out of the Senate this week and now heads to the House for action. GLI supports this legislation and is hopeful for swift consideration by the House.

Smoke-Free Kentucky – One of GLI’s top health priorities for the 2015 Session is support for a ban on smoking in certain public places. House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington), passed the House 51-46 and now heads to the Senate for action.

Telecommunication Reform – Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, (R-Shelby) would remove antiquated regulations and allow Kentucky to modernize its telecommunications system, passed out of the Senate State & Local Government Committee this week and could be heard on the Senate floor next week. It joins House Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford), which is also out of committee awaiting action by the full House. GLI is supportive of the House and Senate efforts to pass this important legislation.

Other Items of Note

Beer Distributors – GLI is opposed to House Bill 168, which would interfere in the free market by changing longstanding beer distributor laws in regards to who can be a distributor. This legislation, sponsored by Speaker Stumbo, will have a chilling impact on out-of-state companies which have already or may be considering a future investment in Kentucky. The bill unfortunately passed out of the House Economic Development committee this week, but GLI will continue to oppose the bill on the House floor. Passage of this bill could lead to the loss of 170 jobs in Louisville alone.

Crowdfunding – House Bill 76, sponsored by Rep. Steve Riggs (D-Louisville), would allow Kentucky investors to participate in crowdfunding, which is a way of funding a project or venture from a large number of people. GLI is supportive of this legislation and was pleased when the House passed the bill 96-0 and sent it to the Senate for action.

This legislative update contains information on GLI priorities that experienced movement over the past week. For a complete list of the bills we are tracking from our entire public policy platform, click HERE.

Call to Action
Help Boost Kentucky’s Bourbon Boom

HB 198 will further enhance tourism along the world famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and would bring more visitors to the Commonwealth. This legislation allows distilleries to sell visitors their products by the drink, a privilege already held by wineries and breweries in Kentucky and distilleries in most other states. HB 198 especially allows burgeoning craft distilleries to better market their products and creating more tourism traffic for all businesses in the commonwealth.

Please call you legislators today at 1-800-372-7181 and let them know you support HB 198.