2016 Legislature…Week Twelve Update

2016 Legislature…Week Twelve Update

The politics and legislative activity for this week were dominated by the budget process. The Senate passed its budget on Wednesday, see our report HERE. The House refused to concur with the Senate version and pushed the bill into a conference committee. The budget conference committee is made up of leadership and other key members from each chamber who are charged with working out the differences and forging a final budget compromise. The key negotiating points heading for the conference committee seem to be: creation of a permanent fund for future pension spending; cuts to higher education; approaches to scholarships and workforce development.  After meeting on Thursday and Friday this week, we are expecting the conference committee to resume negotiations on Monday at 10:00 am.

Top Issues for KAM

KAM puts a lot of emphasis on our advocacy efforts at the state level in Frankfort. The culmination of those efforts takes place when the General Assembly meets in the first quarter of every year. So with only 4 days left in the 2016 Session of the General Assembly, we ask an important question: What makes for a successful legislative session for manufacturers?

  • No new taxes that are targeted at manufacturers or would unfairly impact manufacturers.We are closely watching House Bill 2, a constitutional amendment allowing for a local option sales tax, and House Bill 374, the enabling legislation implementing the tax. Both await action in the Senate. KAM had been concerned that the language of these bills could lead to increased energy costs, particularly for our smaller manufacturers. KAM is now officially neutral on these bills due to an amendment that will exempt the local sales tax from the cost of industrial and commercial energy.
  • Avoid costly employer-related issues like health mandates or workers compensation.We continue to oppose House Bill 458, 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. 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 would ask that you call 1-800-372-7181 and tell your Senator to OPPOSE HB 458.
  • The legislature addresses KAM’s #1 issue…improving the workforce.House Concurrent Resolution 97 and Senate Concurrent Resolution 75 have each passed out of their originating chamber and await action in the other chamber’s Education committee. Both would set up a Task Force to study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments, and funding of workforce education. Apparently, the state receives nearly $1 billion in Federal workforce dollars, but the state doesn’t have a systematic way of using those dollars. 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.
  • Kentucky’s competitiveness is addressed in terms of tools to improve critical infrastructure.House Bill 309 by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville) received final passage this week and is headed to the Governor’s Desk. The bill creates a framework for how state and local governments can partner with private industry for infrastructure projects. KAM is very supportive of P3s, and we thank Rep. Leslie Combs and Sen. Max Wise for their support for this innovative way of financing the infrastructure the state needs.
  • The legislature doesn’t negatively impact the regulatory environment or pricing of 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 that 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)
    • HB 461 Carbon emission allowances for coal-fired electric generating units (Recommitted)

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.

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 28 and 29 – Concurrence Only

March 30-April 9 – Veto Recess

April 12 – Sine Die

Meet the KAM Governmental Affairs Team here.

Your One-Stop Source For KAM Information: www.KAM.us.com

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!

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