Week 4 – Regular Session (2017)

Week 4 – Regular Session (2017)

Although last week was a short work week due to the President’s Day holiday, the General Assembly spent many hours debating and voting on bills in both the House and Senate. Thus far, the House has passed nearly 80 bills and the Senate has passed nearly 50 bills this session. We expect both chambers to finalize action on bills that are still in their originating chamber by the middle of this week. With twelve legislative days remaining, we anticipate long days ahead as both sides work to hear and pass legislation.

KAM Priorities – We focus our legislative efforts on issues that help make Kentucky manufacturing competitive in areas like:

  • Improving workforce development;
  • Making Kentucky’s tax code friendly to manufacturers;
  • Continuing a stable energy & environmental climate; and
  • Addressing overhead issues like tort reform, workers compensation, and health insurance mandates.

Given those priorities, here are few bills being considered by the General Assembly we want you to be aware of:

Net Metering – Senator Jared Carpenter introduced SB 214, related to net-metering. KAM supports updating the Commonwealth’s net-metering law to make it more sustainable and ensure costs are not being unfairly shifted from owners of private net-metering facilities to non-net-metering customers. The bill proposes to allow regulated electric utilities, with the oversight and approval of the Kentucky Public Service Commission, establish a credit rate for customer generators that takes into account fixed and on-demand costs of utilities. The bill will grandfather existing customer-generators and expands the current net-metering cap to 1000 kilowatts. Please contact your state senator at 1-800-372-7181 and ask that they vote YES on SB 214.

Workers Compensation ReformHB 296 passed the House last week and has been sent to the Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor committee where it awaits action in the Senate. HB 296, sponsored by Rep. Koenig (R-Erlanger) is an effort by employers to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of the workers comp system for employers. The main provisions in the bill deal with getting injured employees back to work quicker, clarifying provisions that are in law already that have been eroded by the courts and administrative interpretations, establishing an appropriate duration for medical claims. Please contact your state senator at 1-800-372-7181 and ask that they vote YES on HB 296.

Civil Justice Reform – Several civil justice reform bills of interest to KAM passed the House last week and now reside in the Senate. HB 223, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fischer, to reduce the judgment interest rate from 12% to 6% passed the House by a vote of 66-30. HB 281, sponsored by freshman legislator Jason Nemes, relating to transparency in Attorney General contracting (TiPAC) also passed on the House floor by a vote of 62-32. KAM supports these bills and a legal climate that isn’t punitive on business.

Postsecondary Performance Funding – SB 153, by Senate President Pro-Tem David Givens creates a comprehensive funding model for public universities that takes into account several performance-based factors, like: STEM degrees awarded, improvement in degree attainment for low income students, and degree completion.  The bill passed the Senate floor last week with a vote of 36-1. It is now in the House awaiting action. KAM supports this measure to increase degree attainment especially in areas like STEM that are vital to KY Manufacturers.

Trespassing on Critical Infrastructure – KAM continues to advocate for legislation that protects critical infrastructure that includes our members’ facilities. HB 291, as introduced, included these provisions but they were removed during the committee process. We will continue to work with the General Assembly this session to address our concerns and look for solutions that will protect critical assets from trespassing with a drone.

Other Notable Legislation

HB 184, relating to overweight and overdimensional vehicles sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Miles, is legislation that amends the current law – which allows for overweight trucks carrying metal to or from a manufacturing facility – to apply the same standard to metal commodities, which would include aluminum. The bill passed favorably out of the House Transportation Committee last week and could be heard on the floor for a vote today.

Big Issues Below Radar: Many of the big issues for the session continued to simmer below the radar last week. Legislative leaders and the Governor have promised a bill authorizing charter schools will pass this session, but none of the bills, including the most likely vehicles, HB 103/HB 520, have moved yet this session. SB 4, medical review panels, and SB 18, peer review evidentiary privilege, were two priority bills for the session that were expected to pass the first week, but have yet to surface in the House after passing the Senate during the first week. Judicial redistricting (SB 9) finally moved from committee this past week and with two readings on the floor, is ready for a Senate vote. We will continue to track these high-profile bills in the week ahead.

Infrastructure

KAM is a member of the Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition. The Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition (KIC) was created to educate policy makers on the infrastructure needs in the Commonwealth. On Thursday of last week, TRIP, a transportation research group, released their initial report on the condition of Kentucky roadways. Press events were held in Lexington, Louisville, and Northern Kentucky. In the release, the TRIP Executive Director states, “Without adequate funding, Kentucky’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth and quality of life of the state’s residents.” The release and links to the report can be found HERE.

Keeping You Informed

As in past years, we will continue to communicate with you weekly with bill tracking lists on the KAM Homepage (www.KAM.us.com), 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 resumed our KAM Conversation Conference Calls on Thursdays at 4:00 EST, and invite KAM Members to call and take part in this dialog every Thursday during the 2017 Legislative Session. The information for the call is:

  • Call-in Number:        877-746-4263
  • Participant Code:     0219774#

Looking Ahead

The General Assembly is nearly two-thirds of the way through the 2017 regular session having met on 18 of the 30 legislative days. Though each chamber will be focused on passing out the final bills of interest from their originating chamber, we do expect attention will turn to bills from the other chamber this week. We are not expecting any changes in the legislative calendar at this point in the session, but they have extra calendar days if needed to negotiate over differences in bills between the chambers. The current Legislative Calendar and Committee Meeting Schedule can be viewed online, but here are a few dates of interest:

  • March 14-15 – Concurrence Days (set aside to deal with amendments from second chamber)
  • March 16-28 – Veto Recess
  • March 29-30 – Final two legislative days before Sine Die Adjournment

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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