Five Things You Need to Know – Regular Session (2018)KAM
- Session Is In – The General Assembly convened for the 2018 legislative session on Tuesday of last week. This is considered a “long” or sixty-day session where legislators will be faced with passing a two-year state budget and Road Fund.
- Hoover Is Still Speaker – Last week brought some unexpected activity in the House as Speaker Jeff Hoover announced that he has chosen not to resign as Speaker of the House, although will step aside while investigations into sexual harassment allegations are completed. Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne will continue to lead the House during this period. New rules were adopted allowing for a process by which legislators can file formal complaints seeking to discipline members of the House. The rule established a six-member bipartisan committee to investigate the matter and then report back to the full House. The new provision was almost immediately invoked over the Hoover allegations. The six-member committee was named and held their first meeting on Friday. The general sense from legislators is the need for these proceedings to be completed so that the House can begin to fully focus on issues facing the Commonwealth. Republicans maintain the majority in the House, 62-36 with two vacancies.
- Two Big Issues – Two issues are likely to define this session Pension Reform & Budget.
The challenges seem to be many, as both the House and Senate have said that passing reforms to the public pension system is a priority. Dating back to the end of the 2017 session, the administration and legislature worked to develop a proposal that could be passed in a special session during the interim. However, the special session never materialized and now policy makers are faced with pension reform during a budget session. KAM has been and will continue to closely monitor pension reform efforts and their impacts. Kentucky is enjoying tremendous success in attracting new jobs and investment, but the pension crisis and the state’s unfunded liabilities create uncertainty for job-creators and employees. The state needs to continue to invest in education, workforce training, and core government services such as transportation infrastructure. Those investments are in jeopardy without some level of reforms to the system. It is likely that the pension reform bill or bills could be introduced this week. KAM leadership will closely review and keep our members updated as this important issue is considered by our policymakers.
Governor Bevin will give his budget address on January 16th. That evening and the following days will provide a clearer picture as to priorities for the administration and legislature. Unfortunately it’s anticipated that tough decisions will need to be made as very little new revenue is expected and an additional $800 million to $1 billion will be needed to shore up the pension funds. The level of cuts to state government budgets will depend on whether pension reform is passed. Regardless though we expect that difficult decisions are ahead without an infusion of new revenue.
- Senate Leadership Changes – The Senate welcomed a new Senate President Pro-Tem Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) and a new Senate Majority Whip Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) to their leadership team this week. Both have been supportive of KAM priorities in the past and we congratulate them on their new posts. Otherwise, the Senate provided little to talk about other than the introduction of legislation with the intent of moving bills this week. The Senate is controlled by Republicans by a margin of 27-11.
- Bills – Last week over 200 bills were introduced, many of which were prefiled during the Interim. We expect committee activity to begin this week with bills being considered in the House and Senate, as well as many more bill introductions. Below are a few items of interest to KAM members:
Tax reform is often discussed as a way to address revenue needs in the Commonwealth.The Governor and leaders in the House and Senate are all on record as supporting tax reform and recognizing the need, however there have been no serious discussions on the issue.Tax reform could very well be discussed in the 2018 session. It’s not clear whether the Legislature will have the time or capacity to seriously consider and pass a package this session, but KAM is already working to be a resource in these discussions and represent the interests of manufacturers with a goal of protecting and growing the competitive advantages Kentucky has over surrounding states. Stay tuned!
Last session, workers compensation reforms were a priority for KAM. The legislation passed the House and ultimately died in the Senate after a late push of opposition from the Fraternal Order of Police. Stakeholders have been meeting through the Interim to work on a bill for this session. The bill was not introduced last week although we expect it will be filed soon. We do anticipate that the bill will address the Webster/Parker Supreme Court decision from this summer, which introduces significant new costs to the W/C system and needs to be fixed during this session. KAM will keep our members updated on these important reforms throughout this session.
Workforce Participation / General Business
The following bills were introduced this week:
- SB 2 – Sen. Ralph Alvarado introduced constitutional amendment legislation allowing for the limitation on damages.
- SB 17 – Sen. Reginald Thomas filed legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage. In the current environment, it’s unlikely that any bill to increase minimum wage will be acted on.
- HB 10 – Rep. Kenny Imes introduced constitutional amendment legislation to allow the General Assembly to approve or disapprove administrative regulations. Currently, the legislature does not have the authority to do so. This appears to be a companion to a bill Rep. Imes passed last session establishing a seven-year sunset period on administrative regulations. The bill will be heard in committee today.
- HB 50 – Rep. Jason Nemes filed legislation that requires state agencies to conduct a review of all occupational licensing regulations every five years. It also establishes a procedure to petition an agency to repeal or modify an occupational licensing regulation.
- HB 67 – Rep. Scott Wells filed legislation that makes changes to unemployment insurance provisions for employers with seasonal workers. The bill exempts a seasonal employee from the waiting week and from reemployment requirements. The bill also provides that employers may be assessed an additional charge for the payment of the waiting week.
- HB 100 – Rep. Lynn Bechler introduced legislation to shorten the timeframes for achieving journeyman and master level for building industry professionals. The bill is posted to be heard in the House Licensing and Occupations Committee.
KAM is a member of the Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition (KIC) and will be working with this group to address funding concerns across all areas and modes of the transportation system in Kentucky. Other members of the KIC include local governments, highway industry associations, transit companies and associations, chambers of commerce, economic development entities, rail, waterways, and aviation groups and many others. KIC’s goal is to restore sufficient funding to the Road Fund in order to address a nearly billion-dollar backlog in paving and maintenance needs, including deficient bridges. Additionally, KIC will look to establish a multi-modal transportation fund. We all know how important a sufficient transportation infrastructure system is to economic development and our members’ needs.
- HB 22 – Rep. Diane St. Onge filed legislation regulating the operation of drones. KAM has worked on efforts to protect critical infrastructure as part of drone regulation and will continue to focus on these efforts.
- HB 24 – Rep. Jeff Donohue sponsored legislation to require two-person crews on trains or light engines used in connection with the movement of freight.
- HB 45 – Rep. Sal Santoro, Chair of the House Budget Review Sub-Committee on Transportation, has introduced legislation to establish an annual fee for electric, plug in hybrids and hybrid vehicles. The new annual fees are proposed at $50 for hybrid vehicles model year 2019 and after, $100 for hybrid plug in vehicles and $150 for pure electric vehicles.
- HCR 18 – Rep. Adam Koenig introduced this resolution that creates the Mileage Based Transportation Funding Task Force to develop and study the implementation of a mileage-based transportation funding mechanism.
Keeping You Informed
As in past years, we will continue to communicate with you weekly with bill tracking lists on the KAM Homepage (Bill Tracking), 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 resumed our KAM Conversation Conference Calls last Thursday, and invite KAM Members to call and take part in this dialog every Thursday during the 2018 Legislative Session. The information for the call is:
- Call-in Number: 877-746-4263
- Participant Code: 0219774#
Calendar & Key Dates
You can access the session calendar HERE and the committee meeting schedule 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.
- January 15 – Legislative Holiday (MLK Day)
- January 16 – Governor’s Budget Address
- February 16 – Last day for Bill Requests
- February 19 – Legislative Holiday (Presidents’ Day)
- February 26 – Last day for new House Bills
- February 28 – Last day for new Senate Bills
- March 27-28 – Concurrence Days
- March 29-April 9 – Veto Recess
- April 13 – Sine Die
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