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May 9, 2018 10:47am

Persistence Pays Off in 2018

We knew from the outset that the 2018 session would be demanding. Begin with billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities, mounting health care and corrections costs, and stagnant revenues. Throw in a budget and a road plan to craft, leadership transitions, activated unions, and looming elections, and it did not take a policy genius to recognize the serious challenges business faced in Frankfort this spring.

But despite all the dire predictions and slow start, by the end of the session, the hard work and perseverance paid off. Kentucky forged ahead, and the Greater Louisville business community emerged from the chaos with key wins.

GLI achieved 41 of its 61 pro-growth objectives. In addition, our Advocacy team exceeded their 2018 strategic goal of passing or blocking five pieces of legislation, bringing savings to the business community. GLI has an ambitious 2020 goal to strengthen our advocacy operations and demonstrate results by passing or blocking 75 percent of our legislative priorities. With the 2018 session now behind us, our 2020 win rate stands at 72 percent, putting us at 96 percent of our five-year goal.     

Among the top wins for the Greater Louisville business community in 2018 were structural changes to Kentucky’s public pension systems and the first reforms to our workers’ compensation system in two decades. We also saw passage of GLI-backed legislation on confidential peer review, essential skills training in public schools, direct bourbon and wine shipment, regional water and wastewater services, pension phase-in for local governments, unemployment insurance, teacher pay in priority schools, and increased transparency in Attorney General contracting.

GLI worked for many months leading up to the session to shape the budget, tax reform, and road plan. In the budget, we successfully advocated for increasing the SEEK per-pupil amount, full funding for Small Business Development Centers, and the historic amount of funds poured into our ailing pension system. On tax reform, several GLI priorities won out, including reducing the top rates for corporate and individual income taxes, single-factor apportionment based on sales, increasing the cigarette tax, a phase-out of the inventory tax, and preservation of the Angel Investor Tax Credit program along with the Kentucky Jobs Retention Act. With the road plan, GLI championed funding for key construction projects on I-265 and I-71 and secured for our region a greater proportion of available highway funds than in previous years.

GLI played a key role in blocking legislation seeking to roll back progress from last year, such as attempts to repeal or delay charter schools and reinstate prevailing wage laws. We also defeated bills that would have increased costs and imposed regulatory burdens on employers, and we stopped in their tracks bills that would have harmed perceptions of Greater Louisville as a welcoming place to visit, live, work, and do business.

As with any legislative session, there were missed opportunities, despite all the wins. Important priorities for the business community were left unaddressed, such as comprehensive tort reform, net metering modernization, criminal justice reform, legislation to reduce smoking, expanded gaming, and changes to how we fund and allocate resources for infrastructure. GLI looks forward to leading the charge on these issues in 2019.

In Indiana, GLI continued its advocacy efforts in Indianapolis and achieved a major win for regionalism by securing passage of legislation to authorize a study of the Nurse Licensure Compact which can help the nursing shortage. Next year, GLI will work hard to secure full passage of the NLC in Indiana, creating a seamless licensure process for nurses throughout our region.

As we shift our focus to Washington, continue our work with Metro Government, and begin preparing for 2019, it’s important that we not forget the lessons of the 2018 regular session. Though the odds were stacked against progress, we found a way to move forward and achieve success. That could not have happened without the hard work, dedication, and commitment of our investors. Steadfast engagement and persistence make change happen. Thank you for that.

GLI is proud to be the recognized voice of Greater Louisville business in the halls of government. I strongly encourage every GLI investor to be involved with our policy efforts and to lend your voice to advocating for the growth of our region.