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March 13, 2015 6:44pm

Legislative Update: March 13, 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

Unfinished Business

FRANKFORT—Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, follows proceedings in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Source: LRC Public Information

The General Assembly is in recess until March 23 & 24, when they will return to finalize action on legislation and consider any gubernatorial vetoes. Before leaving town on Wednesday night, shortly before midnight, the legislature created several conference committees to continue negotiations between the House and Senate on several of the top issues of the session, which we will cover below…

GLI Priorities

LIFT – Local Investments For Transformation, which is legislation that would provide an option for voters to enact up to a 1% sales tax in order to raise revenue for specific projects. House Bill 1 and the enabling legislation House Bill 344, both successfully passed the House this session, but remained stagnant in the Senate this past week as Senate leaders have declared the issue “dead” for the session.  We want the Senate to understand how important this issue is to our region.

A new statewide poll conducted by Kentucky’s leading newspapers and television stations has demonstrated for another year that Kentuckians support local control and LIFT.

63% of Kentuckians favor LIFT
23% are opposed
14 % are undecided

Urge your senator in Frankfort to join the 63% of Kentuckians who favor LIFT and local control. Thanks again for all your support and for pushing this session.

Anti-Heroin Abuse – One of GLI’s top legislative priorities is getting legislation in place that will address the heroin epidemic affecting Kentucky. House Bill 213, which is the House version of the anti-heroin abuse bill, and Senate Bill 5, the Senate version of this critical legislation, have both passed out of their originating chamber. However, negotiations between the House and Senate to resolve differences on this issue will now take place in a conference committee on SB 192GLI urges lawmakers to find a compromise and get this needed legislation in place.

Roads & Infrastructure – The public private partnerships bill or P3s, HB 443, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pike), passed out of the House but never got traction in the Senate. GLI is supportive of this legislation and would encourage you to contact your Representative and THANK them for passing P3s.  In regards to road fund stabilization, it appears that a conference committee on House Bill 299 will be the vehicle for language to capturing the floor on the gas tax.  A resolution to this issue remains within reach heading into the final two scheduled legislative days. Encourage your Representative and Senator to fund our roads and save the Road Fund. 

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 House Education Committee, but with an amendment that needs to be worked out between the House and Senate. We expect that to happen in a conference committee on House Bill 449 dealing with other education issues. GLI supports principal selection by superintendents and would encourage you to call your Representative and Senator and ask them to pass this important legislation!

Smoke-Free Kentucky – One of GLI’s top health priorities for the 2015 Session is support for restrictions on smoking in certain public places. House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington), passed the House this session, but could never get traction in the Senate. GLI joins with other HB 145 supporters in thanking Rep. Susan Westrom and Sen. Julie Raque Adams, who filed a Senate version of the bill, for working tirelessly on this legislation.

Telecommunication Reform – House Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford), was signed by the Governor this week. House Bill 152 and Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelby), would remove antiquated regulations and allow Kentucky to modernize its telecommunications system. GLI was very supportive of the House and Senate efforts to pass this important legislation, and we encourage you to tell your legislators THANK YOU for passing this important legislation.

Other Items of Note

KTRS Bonding – HB 4 is the vehicle this session for legislative action on the large unfunded liability in the KY Teacher’s Retirement System. The House offered up a bonding proposal, which the Senate rejected and countered with a study of the problem and possible solutions. Final negotiations will be made over the veto recess in a conference committee that was appointed.

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 that passed the General Assembly this week and is headed to the Governor’s Desk.

EPAD – House Bill 100, sponsored by Rep. James Kay (D-Versailles), would allow local governments to establish energy project assessment districts to allow for the finance energy efficiency projects through assessments on properties participating in the program. The bill passed the House and Senate this week and is headed to the Governor’s Desk. GLI is supportive of this financing mechanism for energy efficiency projects.

Expungements – GLI is supportive of HB 40, sponsored by Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), which would expand the scope of statutory expungement to include non-violent Class D felonies and prohibit the introduction of evidence for a crime that has been expunged in a suit against an employer for negligent hiring or licensing.  This bill will help address the Commonwealth’s qualified workforce shortage by reducing obstacles that limit business access to over 174,000 work-ready adults.  HB 40 passed the House but never received consideration in the Senate.

Early Childhood Education – One of GLI’s top long term priorities to improve funding and quality for early childhood education. The General Assembly took a big step in that direction this week with the passage of House Bill 234 that puts in place a quality rating system for child care providers being supported by a $44 million Race to the Top grant.

Long-Term Priorities
GLI is always working on priorities important to the business community that we recognize may take multiple years. There was some action on these issues this session, but nothing has passed as of this report:

Comprehensive Tax Reform – The only real proposal was the perennial effort by Rep. Jim Wayne, House Bill 132, which was never considered in House A&R.

Expanded Gaming – This issue never gained traction in either chamber this session, though there were two bills filed HB 300 and SB 199.

Medical Liability Reform/Medical Review Panels – After getting off to a quick start, from introduction to passing the Senate in three days, Senate Bill 6 never moved in the House.

Right to Work – This issue was labeled as the top priority, Senate Bill 1, for the Senate Majority this session. However, it was defeated in the House Labor & Industry committee in mid-February.

This legislative update contains information on GLI priorities that experienced movement over the past week.

Click HERE for the GLI Bill Tracker.