What You Need To Know, March 12, 2018 – Regular Session (2018)


What You Need To Know, March 12, 2018 – Regular Session (2018)

Timing is everything.
Today marks the 47th legislative day of this 60-day budget session. With thirteen working days left, a tremendous amount of work remains: the legislature is working its way through the budget process as the Senate is currently considering the document and making their proposed changes; pension reform remains a mystery as there was a glitch on Friday that sent the bill back to the Senate committee; and some legislative leaders continue to say they will consider tax reform this session, even with only 13 days remaining.

Nearly 1000 bills were filed this session, and so far only 25 or so have become law or are in the final steps of the legislative process. Approximately 170 bills have passed one chamber. The next few weeks promise to be hectic with long days ahead as legislators and interest groups push to move legislation across the finish line. These numbers are also indicative of just how few bills as a percentage of those filed are likely to pass this session.

Budget and Tax Reform
The Senate continues to consider the biennial budget, HB 200, as passed by the House. There are interesting dynamics in play, as the House restored many of the educations cuts imposed by the Governor but was only able to do so by passing a revenue-raising bill, HB 366. That bill increased the cigarette tax, established an opioid tax, and used funds from the state employee health insurance trust fund, raising concerns over increases in health insurance premiums for state employees over the next two years. Senate leaders have expressed concerns about increasing any tax outside of comprehensive tax reform. It remains to be seen if they will ultimately agree to the revenue-raising measures or consider a document that looks closer to what Governor Bevin proposed. The House Appropriations and Revenue Committee chair and other leaders continue to express interest and their intent to address comprehensive tax reform this session. KAM remains engaged and will keep you updated on budget negotiations and any movement related to tax reform.

Pension Reform
An issue that was highlighted as a priority for this session by the Governor and leaders of both chambers at the beginning of this session hit a speed bump on Friday as the Senate recommitted the bill to committee rather than take a floor vote and send the measure on to the House. Ultimately, some senators were not comfortable yet with the provisions of SB 1, and we expect that additional changes will be made in the legislative committee before a floor vote occurs. SB 66 is somewhat of a companion bill, as it provides for a phase-in period for local governments to meet their increased contributions rates. This bill passed the Senate committee and likely won’t be called for a vote on the Senate floor until there’s further action on SB 1. KAM supports action this session to address Kentucky’s ailing public pension system.

Unemployment Insurance Reform
The House passed HB 252 last week, and it now resides in the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee awaiting consideration. The bill passed the House by a vote of 78-13, although with a floor amendment to remove critical changes to the benefit structure. The bill no longer includes provisions that tie the weekly benefit to the state unemployment rate, and it no longer contains language that relates the benefit amount to the surrounding states. 

Transportation Infrastructure Reform
HB 609, is Rep. Santoro’s legislation incorporating recommendations from the House Working Group on Transportation. The bill is in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. The Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition (KIC), of which KAM is a member, is seeking support from both House and Senate members so that Kentucky’s aging transportation infrastructure will not only be maintained but also improved to support Kentucky’s economic development and manufacturing efforts. The bill will increase the road fund to address the maintenance and paving backlog as well as address structurally deficient bridges.

Bills of Interest
KAM supports the following bills. We encourage you to contact your state legislators and ask that they support these significant measures.

  • HR 49, sponsored by Rep. Jill York, is a resolution supported by the KY Chemical Industry Council that urges Congress to support federal legislation in the advancement of the Appalachian Storage Hub, which is a proposed major project in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. It will facilitate robust infrastructure for natural gas and related substances that are important to the chemical industry and general manufacturing in Kentucky. This resolution will be considered today in the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs committee.
  • SB 82, sponsored by Senator Mike Wilson, is legislation to preempt localities from regulating auxiliary containers, like plastic bags, cups, and to-go containers. Over 200 cities across the country have passed fees, taxes, or city specific manufacturing requirements, creating a patchwork of regulation that harms companies who manufacture these products, retailers who sell them, and consumers who buy them. There should be uniform regulation at the state level, which SB 82 establishes.
  • SB 160, legislation sponsored by Senator Rick Girdler, modernizes the statute which prohibits “grossly excessive” price increases by sellers of goods and services during a state of emergency declared by the Governor.  The bill has passed the Senate and is awaiting consideration in the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee.
  • HB 2, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, is comprehensive reform to the state’s workers’ compensation laws. The bill has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.
  • HB 227, sponsored by Rep. Jim Gooch, is the net metering legislation that will address inequities in how renewable energy users receive credit for excess energy that they produce. Currently, all other users subsidize users of renewable energy, like those with solar panels.
  • HB 324, sponsored by Rep. Diane St. Onge, is legislation that will protect critical infrastructure in the state, like our chemical plants, from the unregulated use of drones around these significant infrastructure assets. The bill awaits action in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • HB 370 is legislation sponsored by Rep. Robby Mills to update the state’s brownfields statute to make the program more accessible and easier for property cleanup. This bill is a product of compromise between KAM, the administration, and environmental interests.  HB 370 passed the House unanimously and was referred to the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

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 have resumed our KAM Conversation Conference Calls on Thursdays, 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:

  • March 27-28 – Concurrence Days
  • March 29-April 9 – Veto Recess
  • April 13 – 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! You can also purchase a Kentucky General Assembly Blue Book from KAM, or purchase the companion KAM Blue Book App for Apple and Android products from their respective app stores.

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