Legislative Update: March 9, 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.

The Beginning of the End

After the General Assembly was forced to cancel legislative session on Thursday and Friday, we expect the final three legislative days before the veto recess to be like those days would be in most sessions: a frantic race against the clock to deal on amendments and differences of opinion on the remaining legislation of importance to each chamber. Though the chambers only worked three days this week, they have managed to pass seven bills through both chambers up from none heading into last week. We predict those numbers will go way up in the three days ahead. Here is an update on issues specific to GLI.

GLI Priorities

1. 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 are both poised for action in Senate committees.

This last week has been challenging with the weather and other issues taking up oxygen in the General Assembly. While it is frustrating that LIFT has yet to receive a committee hearing, GLI and the LIFT Coalition are exploring every avenue with leadership of both parties to move the bill forward. There are several opportunities for special committee meetings this week. Now is the time for a final push on these important pieces of legislation. Please contact your Senator and tell them to give voters the right to fund projects in their communities!

2. Prevention & Treatment of 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. 

3. Roads & Infrastructure – The public private partnerships bill or P3s, HB 443, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pike), is an alternative method of financing transportation projects in the Commonwealth, passed out of the House and awaits action in the Senate. GLI is supportive of this legislation and would encourage you to contact your Senator and encourage them to pass P3s.  

In regards to road fund solvency, Senate Bill 29, sponsored by Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Oldham), will not likely be the vehicle, but the issues related to capturing the floor on the gas tax are viable heading into the final three legislative days. Please encourage your Representative and Senator to fund Kentucky infrastructure and save the Road Fund.

4. 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. Please call your Representative and ask them to pass SB 132 without amendments!

5. 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) and SB 189, sponsored by Sen. Julie Raque Adams (R-Louisville) remains stagnant in the Senate Veterans committee.

6.  Telecommunication ReformHouse Bill 152, sponsored by Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford),passed the Senate this week and is headed to the Governor’s Desk. 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

CrowdfundingHouse 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 out of Senate Banking & Insurance and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

EPADHouse Bill 100, sponsored by Rep. James Kay (D-Versailles), would permit local governments to establish energy project assessment districts in order to finance energy efficiency projects through assessments on properties participating in the program. The bill has passed the House, the Senate Natural Resources committee and awaits action in the full Senate. GLI is supportive of this financing mechanism for energy efficiency projects.

Beer Distributors – GLI was opposed to House Bill 168, which would require divestiture of Anheuser-Busch, a company operating in Louisville since 1978. The bill passed the Senate this week and now heads to the Governor for his signature. GLI was not pleased with the outcome due to the negative impact to the region and the precedent set for state government to require closure of a company that has followed the law and been a good corporate citizen for decades.  This bill would also require divesture of an operation in Owensboro and Erlanger.

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 awaits action in the Senate Judiciary committee.

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

Tax Transparency – Two bills, HB 361 the Taxpayer Rights Enhancement Act of 2015, and HB 399 which strengthens the current Taxpayer Bill of Rights, is legislation that can bring much-needed transparency, efficiency, and equity to the administration of Kentucky’s tax code. GLI is supportive of these measures.  A hearing was held in committee earlier this week, but the bills did not receive a vote.

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

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