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January 12, 2015 6:09pm

Legislative Update: January 12, 2015

Over the course of the 2015 legislative session in Frankfort, GLI will be providing weekly updates for our members. This posting is the first update for the 2015 regular session, including initial movement on GLI’s policy priorities and the results of leadership elections.

The rhythm of the odd-year sessions of the General Assembly lends itself to high intensity activity in small doses. For example, the legislature kicked of the 2015 session this week with a four day organizational session that finished on Friday and leaves the General Assembly in recess until February 3. However, before leaving town on Friday the legislature managed to file over 200 bills, elect new leaders, and organize more than two dozen committees in each chamber.

GLI Priorities

1. LIFT – Local Investments For Transformation, which is legislation that would provide for a local option sales tax got a lot of discussion in Frankfort this week. It was filed as House Bill 1, the bill number reserved for the House’s top priority, and was filed by Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo. Further the bill received endorsements from many legislative leaders and the Governor during the week.

2. Telecommunication Reform – Doing away with antiquated regulations that are hampering investment in new technologies is the impetus behind Senate Bill 3 filed by Sen. Paul Hornback and House Bill 152 filed by Rep. Rick Rand. GLI is supportive of these bills and will be working to get them passed when the General Assembly returns in February.

3. Heroin Abuse – If there was one issue talked about the most in Frankfort this week, it was legislation to combat Kentucky’s heroin and opiate abuse problems. The issue took legislative form in Senate Bill 5, filed by Sen. Chris McDaniel, and passed by the full Senate 36-0. The bill now heads to the House where Speaker Stumbo and several key House leaders have expressed their willingness to try and pass the legislation this session.

4. Stabilizing the Road Fund – Sen. Ernie Harris introduced Senate Bill 29 that raises the floor of the gas tax to a level that will maintain the gas tax at its current level. The indexed portion of the gas tax has dropped 4.3 cents since January 1. Each penny raises $30 million per year, with half shared with cities and counties.

Movement on other GLI priorities like public-private partnerships; road fund solvency; and others will pick up once legislators return in February.

Other Items of Note

New Leaders – The House Majority and Minority caucuses each met on Tuesday and elected their Leaders for the 2015-16 sessions. In the Senate, the Republican and Democrat caucuses elected their leadership teams prior to the session. You can view the Senate Leaders HERE.You can access our post on the leadership elections HERE.

Committee Chairs and Assignments – The House & Senate released their committee rosters this week. We have listed the changes in committee chairmanships in this post and at these links you can access the House and Senate committee rosters.