2016 Legislature…Week Nine UpdateKAM
Two-thirds of the 60 legislative days for the 2016 Session have been utilized, with the General Assembly completing Day 41 on Friday. The legislature is still scheduled to adjourn on April 12. The session legislative calendar can be viewed online, but here are a few dates we are watching:
- March 8 – Election Day – For the four open House seats
- March 28 & 29 – Concurrence Days – Used primarily for concurring in bills with amendments from the second chamber
- March 30-April 9 – Veto Recess – The legislature isn’t in session as the Governor reviews bills for possible vetoes
- April 11 & 12 – Final Two Legislative Days (Session is scheduled to adjourn April 12, but can be extended to as late as April 15)
The balance of power in the House is up for grabs on Tuesday, when voters go to the polls in a special election to fill four vacancies in the House. The House is currently controlled by Democrats 50-46, with the four vacancies created by House members taking statewide offices or administration appointments. If Republicans sweep all four special elections they can force a 50-50 tie in the House. If Democrats sweep all four elections they can return to their pre-November balance of power of 54-46, and effectively fend off the recent Republican surge. We will be watching this closely as it has affected and will continue to impact the rest of the session.
The deadline for bill filing in each chamber passed last week with the House and Senate combining to file more than 900 bills, with 150 of those filed just before the deadlines. Now each chamber turns to the task of moving bills out of its chamber. Thus far, only two bills have passed both chambers, so we are expecting the legislative activity to pick up after the elections on Tuesday. We are expecting the House to complete its work on the budget this week before unveiling it the week of March 14. The political dynamics mentioned above could impact all of this.
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, awaits action on the Senate floor. 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 these 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 Speaker was joined by several House Democrats and KCTCS President Jay Box as they introduced this new program that 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 – Senate Bill 132 by Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) and House Bill 309 by Rep. Leslie Combs (D-Pikeville). These bills 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.
Costly 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 committee this week and we would ask that you call your Representative 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
- HB 461 Carbon emission allowances for coal-fired electric generating units (2nd Reading in House)
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)
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 8 – Special Election for four open House seats
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!