2016 Legislature…Week Ten UpdateKAM
As we have previously reported, the political situation in the House has impacted nearly everything this session, as both Republicans and Democrats postured for the possible outcome of four special elections that were held on March 8 to determine party control of the House. Well the waiting is over. This past Tuesday, voters went to the polls for special elections to fill four vacant House seats, two of which had been previously controlled by Democrats and two by Republicans. Democrat candidates won three of those four special elections, giving the Democrats a 53-47 majority in the State House.
The immediate impact is on the House version of the budget, which we are expecting to emerge on Tuesday. Tuesday will be the 47th legislative day, leaving only 11 legislative days for the Senate to review and pass their version of the budget, and for House and Senate leaders to convene a budget conference committee and get final passage before Veto Recess begins on March 30. There aren’t many details out yet on the House budget, but we expect education to fare well in the House budget. Both K-12 and postsecondary education are likely to see the largest investments from the House. We also expect much of the budget cuts to state agencies to stand.
We are expecting other legislation to begin to move now that the special elections are over. We saw the House pass the LIFT bills for a local option sales tax late last week and we are expecting the Senate to consider P3 legislation this week.
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 – Senate President Pro-Tem David Givens’ (R-Greensburg), Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 passed the Senate this week and now awaits action in House Education Committee. 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 resolutionsand looks forward to working with legislators to not only get these resolutions passed, but to interact with the Task Force in the coming months.
Work Ready Kentucky Program – House Bill 626, sponsored by Speaker Greg Stumbo, would create the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program. The bill passed out of the House Appropriations & Revenue committee this week and awaits action on the House floor. This new program would provide free tuition for graduating high school students attending KCTCS. KAM continues to review this program, but is certainly supportive of the House Democrats focus on workforce development.
Public Private Partnerships – Both Senate Bill 132 by Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) and House Bill 309 by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville) would 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.
Pharmacy Mandate – House 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 the Senate this week and we ask that you call your Senator at 1-800-372-7181 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. However, there are a few bills which have been filed that we 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 & HB 551 Increases fees for pipeline safety
- SB 89 & HB 103 Removal of moratorium on nuclear energy (SB 89 in House Energy Committee)
- HB 461 Carbon emission allowances for coal-fired electric generating units (Recommitted)
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:
- HB 445 & SB 281 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. (Out of the Senate and awaits action in House Labor & Industry committee.)
Local Option Sales Tax – House Bill 2, a constitutional amendment allowing for a local option sales tax, and House Bill 374, the enabling legislation implementing the tax, both passed the House this week by very narrow margins.The bills now head to the Senate for consideration where the atmosphere has been less hospitable to these local option sales tax proposals. KAM remains very concerned that the language of these bills could lead to increased energy costs, particularly for our smaller manufacturers, and our advocacy team will be expressing those concerns to key Senators this week.
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.
Don’t forget to schedule time for our KAM Conversation Conference Calls, which will take place on Thursdays, at 4:00 EST, throughout the Legislative Session. We invite KAM Members to call and take part in this dialog each week.