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March 2, 2015 6:18pm

Legislative Update: March 2, 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.

Time is Short

The House and Senate spent the week pumping out nearly a hundred bills through the committee process and off the floor racing against time, which is growing short. Both chambers continued to consider bills originating from their chamber this week and giving little if any consideration to bills from the other chamber, which should begin to take place in the coming week. They will have plenty of key issues to work on as many of the high-profile issues for the session remain viable heading into the session’s final full week.

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 await action in Senate committees. It is very important the business community communicate the need for LIFT amid the anti-tax sentiment legislators face.  This is not a government-imposed tax; it is an opportunity to let the voters decide if they want local control to transform their communities.

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. 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. GLI urges lawmakers to find a compromise and get this needed legislation in place. 

Roads & Infrastructure – Senate Bill 29, sponsored by Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Oldham), is legislation that raises the floor of the gas tax to a level 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) that 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, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pike) passed out of the House this week and now heads to the Senate for consideration. 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), awaits action in the House Education committee. 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 statewide restrictions on smoking in certain public places.  House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington) and SB 189, sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville), have both been assigned this week to the Senate Veterans committee. GLI joins with other supporters in asking Chairman Albert Robinson (R-London) to give the bill a hearing in his committee.  Kentucky employers lose more than $1 billion in health care costs to smoking-related issues each year and the state’s businesses as a whole see nearly $3 billion in lost productivity.

Telecommunication Reform – House Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford) passed the House this week and is expected to be considered in the Senate Economic Development Committee on Monday. If reported favorably, the full Senate will consider the bill later in the day. House Bill 152 andSenate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelby) would remove antiquated regulations and allow Kentucky to modernize its telecommunications system. 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 passed the House this week and was assigned to the Senate Licensing & Occupations Committee, but GLI continues to oppose and encourages Senate Leadership to shelve HB 168. 

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 now awaits action in Senate Banking & Insurance.

Distillery Modernization – HB 198, sponsored by Representative Dennis Keene (D-Campbell), permits bourbon distillers to sell their products by the drink to visitors at their distilleries, just as wineries and breweries already do. HB 198 passed the House Licensing and Occupations Committee awaits passage on the House floor. 

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 this week and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Medical Review Panels – SB 6, sponsored by Senator Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville), creates a system of medical review panels to address the escalating costs directly attributed to Kentucky’s uncontrolled medical liability climate. SB 6 passed the Senate several weeks ago and awaits action in the House Judiciary Committee.  Legislation creating medical review panels is a long-term priority for GLI.

Tax Transparency – Two bills —  HB 361 the Taxpayer Rights Enhancement Act of 2015 and HB 399 that strengthens the current Taxpayer Bill of Rights — are  legislation that can bring much-needed transparency, efficiency, and equity to the administration of Kentucky’s tax code. GLI is supportive of these measures.

This legislative update contains information on GLI priorities that experienced movement over the past week. Click HERE for the GLI Bill Tracker.