GLI Legislative Update: Week 3

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Many GLI priority bills stole the spotlight in Frankfort the third week of the legislature’s 2017 regular session.

Senate Bill 1, Sponsored by Sen. Mike Wilson, is the most comprehensive education reform bill our Commonwealth has seen in a long time and will align Kentucky’s educational standards with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. SB1 will also return much of the power back to individual school districts. GLI supports high academic standards for our students in order to create a workforce that will meet the demands of the future.

Senate Bill 1 passed unanimously out of the Senate today and will next be considered by the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 2, Sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, outlines the confirmation process and requirements for appointees to the state retirement boards. It will also require the disclosure of investment fees and holdings. The goal is to ensure that investments made in public pension systems remain transparent, accountable, and sustainable.

SB2 passed unanimously out of the Senate and was reported favorably in the House State Government Committee.

Senate Bill 78, Sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, will prohibit tobacco use on school property. Students, school personnel, and visitors will be prohibited from using tobacco in schools, school vehicles, properties and activities. Tobacco cessation and smoke-free workplaces are longstanding priorities of GLI.

SB 78 passed the Senate on Wednesday and awaits action in the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 151, sponsored by Sen. Stephen Meredith and Sen. Wil Schroder, passed the Senate on Thursday. SB 151 will protect the widely successful franchisor-franchisee business model in Kentucky. Although franchisees don the names of big corporations, they are still essentially small, locally owned businesses.

 SB 151 passed the Senate on Thursday and awaits action in the House. GLI testified before the Senate Economic Development, Tourism & Labor Committee in support of SB 151.

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House Bill 35, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, will allow a business to pursue a public benefit, in addition to profit, and enshrines a company’s mission for future generations. Public Benefit Corporations are recognized in 31 other states and allows businesses to pursue capital from a new and growing group of impact investors.

HB 35 passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday and will be considered by the Senate Agriculture Committee on State and Local Government.

House Bill 72, also sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, will address the endless appeals process that opponents of development projects have used to kill economic investments in our community by requiring the post of an appeal bond by the appellant. HB 72 will deter frivolous appeals, allow legitimate cases to proceed, and make the process fair.

HB 72 passed out of the House on Tuesday and will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

 

House Bill 296, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, will address the problems facing Kentucky’s $1 billion workers’ compensation system. HB 296 will clarify how the limitation on reopening claims already in Kentucky law will be applied, set an appropriate time period for filing claims on an injury that presents symptoms years after exposure and will require that treatment guidelines be developed and implemented to ensure the proper standard of care while allowing for flexibility in care for special cases. Increasing the efficiency of the system will drive employers’ cost down, improve injured workers’ access to care, and return the individual to work more quickly.

HB 296 is being considered by the House of Representatives after being reported favorably in the House Economic Development & Workforce Investment Committee.

House Bill 330, sponsored by Rep. David Osborne, will lengthen the tax increment financing (TIF) model for the KFC Yum! Center. HB 330 would extend the TIF from 20 years where it is currently, to no less than 20 and no more than 45 years. If action is not taken on this important issue, the arena could default on bond payments, and significantly reduce the economic impact it provides businesses, restaurants and hotels by attracting top tier sporting and music events.

HB 330 was filed this week and awaits action in the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee.

GLI was on hand during the signing of House Bill 1, the new law designating Kentucky as a Right to Work state. Kentucky employees now have the freedom to choose whether or not they join a union at their place of work. GLI has been a strong advocate for Right to Work legislation for years and we commend the leadership of the House, Senate and Governor for signing this GLI priority into law.

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Across the river, GLI has continued to work with our regional partners to pass legislation that will improve our bi-state region.

House Bill 1211, authored by Rep. Steven Stemler establishes the Indiana-Kentucky transborder groundwater authority to study ownership rights in the groundwater resources shared by our two states. GLI testified in favor of HB 1211 before the Statuatory Committee on Interstate and International Cooperation on February 7th.

HB 1211 passed the Indiana House of Representatives unanimously on Wednesday. It has been sponsored by a State Senator from our region, Senator Grooms and awaits action by the Indiana State Senate.

The GLI Advocacy Team continues to meet with our elected officials on both sides of the river to advance legislation outlined in our 2017 Legislative Agenda. Click hereto view the progress of the other bills we are tracking.

GLI Legislative Update: Part II Begins

Several GLI priority bills were on the move in the legislature’s first week back for part II of the regular session.

House Bill 72, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, will address the endless appeals that opponents of development projects have utilized to kill investments in our community, by requiring the post of an appeal bond by the appellant. HB 72 will deter frivolous appeals, allow legitimate cases to proceed, and make the process fair.

HB 72 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. GLI testified in support of the Appeal Bond Bill.

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House Bill 35, also sponsored by Rep. Miller, will allow a business to pursue a public benefit, in addition to profit, and enshrines a company’s mission for future generations. Public Benefit Corporations are recognized in 31 other states and allows businesses to pursue capital from a new and growing group of impact investors.

HB 35 passed unanimously out of the House State Government Committee on Thursday, February 9, 2017. GLI is supportive of Public Benefit Corporations.

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Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, would prohibit the use of tobacco by students, visitors, faculty and staff on school property. A healthy workforce is important to a strong economy and healthy lifestyle choices are best learned early.

SB 78 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday, February 9, 2017. GLI is supportive of measures to increase wellness, including smoke-free workplaces.

Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, will require Senate confirmation of the Executive Director of the Kentucky Retirement System and appointees to the KRS Board. SB 2 will also require the disclosure of investment fees and holdings, and will require board members to have previous investment experience. Our pension system drastically needs these reforms to remain solvent.

SB2 passed unanimously out of the Senate on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, and awaits action in the House. GLI is supportive of SB 2.

GLI co-hosted a pizza luncheon in the Capitol on Tuesday February 7 for legislators with our regional chamber partners. We would like to thank Papa John’s for their sponsorship of the successful event.

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On the other side of the river, GLI has continued to work with our regional partners to pass legislation that will improve our bi-state region.

House Bill 1211, authored by Rep. Steven Stemler will establish the Indiana-Kentucky transborder groundwater authority to study ownership rights in the groundwater resources shared by our two states.

HB 1211 passed out of the Statutory Committee on Interstate and International Cooperation on Tuesday, February 7, 2017. GLI testified in favor of HB 1211 before the Committee

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In December and January, GLI awarded our 2016 Most Valuable Policymakers. Due to scheduling conflicts, Kent Oyler was able to honor Senator Jimmy Higdon with his award.  Senator Higdon is a champion of regionalism.  He supported Senate Bill 140, which restores tuition reciprocity for Kentucky’s residents at post-secondary institutions out-of-state.  He has also worked with GLI to secure inclusion of Nelson County in the 2017 tuition reciprocity agreement with Indiana.  Senator Higdon is also one of the most accessible members of Senate Leadership and is always willing to work with members of the business community to increase our Commonwealth’s competitiveness. Thank you, Senator Higdon!

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The GLI Advocacy Team continues to meet with our elected officials on both sides of the river to advance legislation outlined in our 2017 Legislative Agenda. Click here to view the progress of the other bills we are tracking.

Speaker Hoover Previews Part II of 2017 Session

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House Speaker Jeff Hoover spoke to local business leaders at GLI’s Capitol Connections luncheon yesterday and provided a review of the first week of the 2017 legislative session. During his remarks, Speaker Hoover offered an outlook on what to expect for the remaining 25 days of the 30 day session when the legislature reconvenes on February 7th.

Speaker Hoover emphasized to the crowd of 215 at the Olmsted that the General Assembly’s focus would remain on pro-business, economic issues. Several of GLI’s state legislative priorities have already passed this session and signed into law, including right to work, paycheck protection, the repeal of prevailing wage, and legislator pension transparency.

Greater Louisville Inc. looks forward to working with Speaker Hoover and the new house majority to continue our push for legislation to improve the business climate in the remaining days of the 2017 legislative session.  A few outstanding priorities include working towards the passage of medical review panels, which would permit a panel of impartial medical professionals to examine the merits of lawsuits against health care providers. GLI will also be continuing our efforts to improve the education environment in Kentucky with charter school and school choice scholarship legislation and working to pass a law to allow Public Benefit Corporations, so Kentucky can attract new businesses, entrepreneurs and investments.

We are encouraged by Speaker Hoover’s prediction that these issues will have the legislature’s attention when they reconvene and GLI will be there to ensure the business community’s voice is heard on these critical issues.

Perennial GLI Issues Clear Hurdle

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A first in Kentucky’s history, the State House of Representatives has passed Right-To-Work (HB 1) and prevailing wage repeal (HB 3) legislation. These have been perennial issues on GLI’s legislative agenda for years and we congratulate the House legislative body on this monumental occasion.

HB 1 allows an employee to decide if they would like to join a union at their place of employment. HB 3 would remove government-determined wages on construction projects, which will lower the cost of state construction projects, saving taxpayer dollars. Both pieces of legislation, sponsored by Speaker Jeff Hoover, show a strong commitment to job creation, talent attraction, and accelerating the economy of our Commonwealth.

GLI applauds the Kentucky House for passing House bills 1 and 3.  We look forward to swift passage in the Kentucky State Senate in the upcoming days, and then onward to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

To see all of the bills GLI is tracking this legislative session, click here.

First Thing’s First: Pass Right to Work

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With the elections in the far rearview mirror, Kentuckians are ready to take the campaign promises to the bank. At the top of the list, Greater Louisville Inc. is particularly hopeful that the Governor and legislative leaders in the House and Senate will pass Right-to-Work (RTW) legislation during the 2017 General Assembly.  The legislation has experienced rapid movement early this week.  RTW was introduced yesterday and designated HB 1, an indication the House has placed it as the top priority for the chamber.

GLI believes union membership should be a matter of personal choice, not a requirement to maintain employment. Critics will claim this law would deny workers the opportunity from joining a union. It is quite the contrary. In fact, a 2015 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that unions gained more members in the then-permitted 25 RTW states compared to non-RTW states.

Since that study, 26 states now allow the option to affiliate with a union. Our state is the only southern state without a RTW law. This includes four of Kentucky’s border states that have enacted this legislation.

GLI’s goal is to recruit new businesses, retain jobs, and encourage expansion in all sectors, simply put, Kentucky cannot afford to lag in its competitiveness. We no longer want our Commonwealth to be by-passed by site selectors who rule us out due to our lack of RTW laws, before we have an opportunity to showcase qualities that make our state a great place to do business. Failure to address this issue during this year’s regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly would be a major blow to the state’s business community and will continue to make our Commonwealth a conspicuous outlier in this much needed area of reform.

Movement in this direction would represent an important step in Kentucky’s efforts to recruit and retain good-paying jobs. RTW states have seen faster growth in manufacturing and non-agricultural jobs, faster per capita income growth, greater capital expenditures, fewer work stoppages, and lower unemployment.

GLI is dedicated to work closely with our state legislators to make certain this remains a top priority for the 2017 session and we look forward to its bipartisan passage in the upcoming weeks.

GLI Legislative Update: January 4

With the 2017 session underway, the GLI Advocacy Team is closely watching legislation that could impact the business community in the Greater Louisville region. The links below track bills related to bi-state issues, business competitiveness, education & workforce development, environment & energy, government, health care, tax issues, and transportation & infrastructure.

The links below will be updated throughout the short 30-day session as more bills are filed and move toward passage. GLI’s tracking of these bills is not an indication of support or opposition. All tracked legislation was chosen based on its perceived potential impact on Greater Louisville’s business community.

 

Bi-state Issues

Business Competitiveness

Education & Workforce Development

Environment & Energy

Government

Health Care

Tax Issues

Transportation & Infrastructure

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

It has been over a month since a wave of red swept through Kentucky. Now that the dust has settled and Kentucky is preparing for its first GOP-controlled legislative session, the Commonwealth has some certainty as to the direction of some priorities for the 2017 General Assembly. With Republicans now possessing the highest elected seat in the Commonwealth and a supermajority in both chambers of the Kentucky General Assembly, several core priorities of the Greater Louisville business community are now much more feasible.

GLI’s mission is to help the Greater Louisville region grow faster and one way to positively impact the business environment is through public policy. Every GLI policy position is viewed through the lens of how it impacts economic growth or cultivates talent in a positive way.

Even with divided government, several of GLI’s priorities made it to the Governor’s desk for his signature this year. Public Private Partnerships (P3), Expungement Reform, Distillery Modernization, Principal Selection, and changes to Pharmacy law were in our win column. Even though there were some missed opportunities from last session, we are now hopeful that many of our perennial priorities will finally see passage in the New Year.

Our priorities can be found in GLI’s 2017 State Legislative Agenda. Some of the significant proposals include comprehensive tax reform, with an emphasis on local control; right to work; legal reform, including tort reform and requiring a bond to alleviate the number of appeals that delay redevelopment projects; repealing prevailing wage; authorizing Charter schools; pension reform; and workers compensation reform.  GLI will continue advocating for bi-partisan measures such as criminal justice reform, public benefit corporations, and the angel investment tax credit.

The first gavel of the 2017 regular session will soon be here on the heels of the holiday season. From the first week of floor and committee activities to Governor Matt Bevin’s State of the Commonwealth address, our policy team will have plenty to share in January.

For the latest updates on 2017 Kentucky legislation, please sign up to receive GLI Advocacy Updates: http://www.greaterlouisville.com/Grassroots/ or visit our Advocacy page:  https://gliadvocacy.com/

Happy Holidays from the GLI Advocacy Team!

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The Dog Days are Over: Time to Think Policy in 2017

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The Dog Days of Summer are defined as the six weeks from the beginning of July through Mid-August, characterized by hot, humid days and a sense of lethargy and inactivity. They’re over – and as fall approaches, GLI’s Public Policy Issue Committees are back in full swing in preparation for the 2017 General Assembly.

Perennial issues, like LIFT, tax reform, and right to work will be hot topics of discussion. Yet, many of 2017’s top issues will depend on what happens in November, when majority leadership in Kentucky’s House of Representatives has the potential to change.

If the Democrats hold the House, there could be resurgence in some core issues, such as raising the minimum wage or passing the local option.

If the Republicans take over, we are much more likely to see a concerted push for right to work, a repeal of prevailing wage, or tax reform.

Whichever party comes out on top, it will be critical for the business community to be ready with a strong platform to promote economic development and competitiveness in the region. Committees are scheduled to meet at GLI on the following dates:

·         Environment & Energy August 10, 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.

·         Bi-State Issues August 11th, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

·         Business Competitiveness August 16th, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

·         Health Care August 25th, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

·         Transportation & Infrastructure August 30th, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

 

If you are not currently part of an Issue Committee but would like to be part of the process, please email Stewart Lewis at slewis@greaterlouisville.com.

On August 31st, GLI will also be releasing our 2016 State Public Policy Survey. This is your chance as a GLI member to make your voice heard on the full range of legislative issues. Issue Committees craft our survey questions; the survey is open for two weeks, when members can provide confidential input; then the Public Policy Council takes the survey input into account when determining GLI’s final legislative agenda.

After an extremely successful 2016 session, when we saw the passage of Public-Private Partnerships, Felony Expungement, Mail-Order Pharmacy Reform, Principal Selection, and Distillery Modernization, we hope that even more GLI members will engage in the public policy process to make 2017 even better.

For full descriptions of GLI’s issue committees, click here.

– See more at: http://www.greaterlouisville.com/glimpse/default.aspx?id=14747&blogid=10131#sthash.5ysk6T7Q.dpuf

 

Wake Up Washington! DC Fly-In Recap

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Last Wednesday and Thursday, more than 35 business leaders from Greater Louisville convened in Washington for two days of advocacy in Congress and at the White House. It was a hectic two days for Washington: there a sit-in by House Democrats on Wednesday closely followed by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on Thursday.

Despite all of the chaos around the city and the world, GLI members cut through the noise to touch on some of the big issues businesses in Greater Louisville and nationally. Here are some highlights of what the group heard from officials:

·          Drug Addiction & Mental Health – GLI arrived in Washington to shine a light from employers on the detrimental effects of drug addiction and poor mental health on the workforce in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Congressmen and Senators alike pledged their support to provide funding for the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA) to help curb and reverse drug abuse in our region.

·         Trade Agreements – Though not along partisan lines, Congress has shown that it is divided on whether to ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). GLI supports the agreement, albeit contingent on the inclusion of language to prevent currency manipulation by other nations. Luis Jimenez with the Office of the US Trade Representative made a strong case for the deal, stating that it ensures the United State’s remains in a position to lead the world in defining and enforcing global trade with US standards. While the Kentucky and Southern Indiana delegations were largely supportive of the deal, they all agreed the outlook of its ratification is bleak heading into a lame duck session where both presidential candidates have voiced opposition to the deal.

·         Fair Labor Proposals – A top issue as of late has been the Department of Labor’s finalized rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act, especially the increase of the federal overtime exemption for salaried workers to $47,476 per year. This increase more than doubled the previous exemption and GLI has voiced concern and proposed changes throughout the process. While the rule appears slated to go into effect, legislative fixes that would modify or reverse the new rule have been embraced by nearly all within the Kentucky and Southern Indiana delegations.

·         Improving Regional Infrastructure – The final request of the GLI delegation was to maintain and improve our regional transportation infrastructure, whether it is road, transit, waterway, or aviation. On the heels of passing the 5-year highway funding bill – known as the FAST Act – the Kentucky and Indiana delegations reaffirmed their support for investments in critical infrastructure that makes Greater Louisville a competitive logistics center and attractive place for business.

·         Reforms to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Health Care Administration – GLI returned to Washington this year asking for reforms to the ACA, including the repeal of the Cadillac and Health Insurance Taxes, reforms to Medicare and Medicaid costs, and a return to the 40-hour workweek. These provisions of the ACA have created the most costs and limitations for employers. GLI also advocated for a reform to the overly-complex Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC), which substantially increase costs for providers. While receiving a sympathetic ear from Congressmen, Senators, and the top health care executive at the US Chamber of Commerce, all agreed that no major changes will be made until the next president takes office.

·         EPA Regulations – Mark Rupp of the EPA spoke with GLI for a second consecutive year about concerns with the Clean Power Plan and the EPA’s expansion of regulation under the Waters of the US rule. While GLI members voiced concern that these regulations will make it more difficult and more expensive to do business in Kentucky, lawsuits by the states have sent these issues to the courts. Mr. Rupp maintained that, while he does not know how the courts will rule, the EPA will comply with their rulings when continuing to enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

In all of these meetings, there was a sense that Greater Louisville is progressing and becoming a stronger region and economic engine for Kentucky. A member of the Kentucky delegation noted that his district in rural Kentucky is counting on the success and investment from Greater Louisville to drive their own economic growth and development. White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and former Louisville mayor, Jerry Abramson cited Louisville as a leader in the nation on issues of labor, education and, of course, distilled spirits.

As several attendees noted on Thursday, the DC Fly-In is critical to maintaining a strong relationship with federal officials all year round. While Congress may not pass all of the Federal Priorities in two days, all of them remember that GLI came – that the business community cared enough to show up. As GLI members departed Washington, they left with relationships a little stronger, an imprint a little bigger, and ready to continue partnerships with elected officials to bring further growth and prosperity to the region over the next year.

– See more at: http://www.greaterlouisville.com/glimpse/default.aspx?id=14660&blogid=10131#sthash.BdZTor05.dpuf

GLI Releases 2016 Federal Policy Agenda

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Ahead of our 2016 DC Fly-In, GLI is releasing a document outlining its federal priorities for the business community in 2016.

“The federal agenda is a unique and essential advocacy tool utilized by our region,” said Kent Oyler, President & CEO, “When we take top leaders on the DC Fly-In, the agenda provides the ability to address a host of issues to our officials on a limited time frame.”

Each issue on the agenda directly impacts multiple businesses in the region. Those include:

  • Reforms to the individual and corporate tax codes, a long-term solution for federal tax extenders, and a measure that allows states to levy a sales tax to online retailers just as they do “brick and mortar retailers”
  • Flexible compensatory practices for private businesses in the wake of the Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule
  • An increase in the H1-B visa cap that fits workforce needs
  • Increased funding for education, especially early childhood education and STEM programs
  • Concerns regarding overly burdensome EPA regulations, including expansion of the definition of Waters of the U.S. and the Clean Power Plan
  • Increased investment for inland waterways and ensuring that funds allocated under the FAST Act are allocated as written
  • Funding for aviation systems and reauthorization of the FAA
  • International trade agreements that do not permit currency manipulation
  • Reforms to the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Audit Contractor program
  • Expanding treatment for drug addiction and mental health
  • Increased access to capital and funding for technical assistance and capacity building for small businesses

The policy priorities were selected by business leaders participating in GLI’s Public Policy Committee system.  GLI also surveyed its membership to obtain feedback on federal policy issues.  You can view the full agenda here.

“The agenda includes issues for businesses of all sizes and industries,” said Sarah Davasher-Wisdom, Chief Operating Officer, “Our committees take a holistic look at the region’s business ecosystem to ensure we are addressing the most timely and pertinent issues.”

– See more at: http://www.greaterlouisville.com/glimpse/default.aspx?id=14603&blogid=10131#sthash.oFVPhRHU.dpuf