2016 Legislature…Week Eight Update

2016 Legislature…Week Eight Update

In the context of the General Assembly, a bill represents everything from an idea about a new program, to a way to solve a constituent’s problem, or complex rules to regulate various industries. There have been over 750 bills filed thus far this session and we expect 100 or more as the House and Senate bill filing deadlines pass this week.

Last week, the pace and volume of legislative activity remained controlled and without any sense of haste. The focus remained on the budget as the General Assembly wrapped up the eighth week of the 2016 Session. House and Senate committees continue to review and take testimony on the Governor’s budget proposal. In both chambers, those hearings have focused on the cuts to postsecondary education and the role that universities and KCTCS play in economic development and workforce development. We expect House budget review to continue for at least another week or two, with a House budget proposal emerging the week of March 14.

Bills of Interest to KAM

We will use this section every week to highlight bills and issues of interest to KAM members. Some we will support and some we will oppose, and sometimes we will ask you to contact your legislators to share our position on those bills.

Workforce Development – This week saw Senate President Pro-Tem David Givens’ (R-Greensburg), Senate Concurrent Resolution 75, pass the Senate Education committee. The resolution now heads to the Senate Floor for action next week. Rep. Larry Clark’s (D-Louisville) House Concurrent Resolution 97 awaits action in the Senate Education committee. Both would set up a Task Force to study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments, and funding of workforce education. KAM is very supportive of these resolutions and looks forward to working with these legislators to not only get these resolutions passed, but to interact with the Task Force in the coming months.

Public Private PartnershipsSenate Bill 132 by Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) and House Bill 309 by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville) would both create a framework for how state and local governments can partner with private industry for infrastructure projects. Both bills are in the Senate Economic Development committee. KAM is supportive of P3s, and issued a letter this week, stating our support for this innovative way of financing the infrastructure the state needs. Call your Senator at 1-800-372-7181 and tell them to support Public Private Partnerships.

Costly Pharmacy MandateHouse Bill 458 is legislation that would restrict the options employers have relative to mail order drugs when working with their health insurer to design pharmacy benefit plans that minimize costs. KAM is opposed to this legislation as our members need every tool possible to manage the growing costs of health insurance for their employees. House Bill 458 could be heard in committee this week and we would ask that you call your Representative and tell them to OPPOSE House Bill 458.

Energy – The good news is that no legislation has moved that would negatively impact manufacturers by either adding to our costs or destroying the regulatory environment that would lead to unnecessary uncertainty in power markets. The bad news is that a few bills have been filed that we are concerned about and are watching very closely:

  • HB 339 & SB 190 Mandates renewable energy usage and energy efficiency programs
  • SB 26 & HB 440 Prevent reversing the flow or substance carried in a pipeline
  • HB 240 Increases fees for pipeline safety

Workforce Development – This has been the most talked about topic of the session. Each chamber and the Governor have ideas about how we provide a better workforce. This is a good thing for KAM as talent acquisition is the top issue for our manufacturers. Here is a rundown of several workforce development bills that KAM is following:

  • Budget – The Governor’s budget proposal contains $100 million for a bond pool to be used for advanced manufacturing training centers. The budget also puts a focus on outcome-based funding for postsecondary institutions like KCTCS.
  • SB 1 – This is an omnibus K-12 education bill focused on improving Kentucky student’s career and college readiness. KAM is interested in the bill’s focus on workplace credentials in the bill.

Business Issues – Thus far in the session we have not seen a significant number of bills related to workers comp or health insurance that are threats to increase costs for manufacturers. This is good news and we will remain vigilant through the rest of the session. Below are a couple of issues of interest to manufacturers with which KAM is involved:

  • SB 132 and HB 309 would create a framework for how the state and local governments can partner with private industry for infrastructure projects called P3s or public private partnerships
  • SB 3 is this session’s Right to Work legislation
  • HB 445 would protect critical infrastructure, like chemical plants, from drones
  • SB 151 would allow temporary total disability payments under workers’ compensation to be offset by wages if a worker resumes work

Keeping You Informed

As in past years, we will continue to communicate with you weekly with bill tracking lists (click HERE to download current bill list), summaries of legislative actions and dynamics, and specific bills of interest. We will also, of course, contact you immediately as issues of particular interest or concern arise. We have also resumed our KAM Conversation Conference Calls, which will take place on Thursdays, at 4:00 EST, throughout the Legislative Session and invite KAM Members to call and take part in this dialog each week.

Calendar & Key Dates

You can access the session calendar HERE. Please keep in mind that this calendar can change if the legislature decides to shift days. We will let you know if that happens; however they must adjourn by April 15, according to the Constitution. Below are specific dates of interest.

March 1 – Last day for new House bills

March 3 – Last day for new Senate bills

March 28 and 29 – Concurrence Only

March 30-April 9 – Veto Recess

April 12 – Sine Die

Meet the KAM Governmental Affairs Team here.

Don’t know who your elected representatives are? Click here to reach the Action Center of the Kentucky Prosperity Project to find this and other important information to help you make your opinion heard on matters affecting you and your business!

Share this post