As has become routine for the odd-year short session, the legislators return from the organizational session recess ready to get to work. The General Assembly returned to action last week to complete the remaining 26 days of the 2015 Regular Session. Bill filing has been extremely heavy with legislators nearly doubling the number of bills filed in just four days. We expect that to continue heading towards the bill filing deadlines of February 13 in the Senate and February 17 in the House. Committee action will be heavy in both chambers this week with the Chairs looking to pump out their priorities.
LIFT – Local Investments For Transformation, which is legislation that would provide for a local option sales tax, is poised to move this week. It was filed as House Bill 1, the bill number reserved for the House’s top priority, and has received two readings; once it is considered in committee it can go directly to the floor for consideration.
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, was filed this week by Sen. Dan Seum (R-Louisville). GLI supports this legislation and is hopeful for swift consideration.
Smoke-Free Kentucky – One of GLI’s top health priorities for the 2015 Session is supporting a statewide smoking ban. House Bill 145, sponsored by Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington), passed out of the House Health & Welfare Committee on an 11-4 vote. The bill now heads to the House Floor, where it could be voted on as early as this week.
Stabilizing the Road Fund – 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. The bill received a full review before the Senate Transportation Committee last week, with business leaders and local government officials testifying in favor of the bill. 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.
Telecommunication Reform – House Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford), would remove antiquated regulations and allow Kentucky to modernize its telecommunications system. The bill passed out of the House Economic Development committee last week and could be acted on by the full House this week. GLI is supportive of the House’s efforts to pass this important legislation because it would enable additional investment in telecommunications infrastructure, which spurs economic development.
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 would have a chilling impact on out-of-state companies which have already or may be considering a future investment in Kentucky. 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 because it spurs entrepreneurship; GLI was pleased to see the bill was posted for consideration in the House Banking & Insurance Committee for this week.
Medical Review Panels – Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville), establishes Medical Review Panels. Moving swiftly, Senate Bill 6 was filed, heard in committee, and passed out of the Senate 24-12 all in four legislative days. The bill is now headed to the House for action. Legislation creating medical review panels is a long-term priority for GLI.