What You Need To Know, Week Six – Regular Session (2018)KAM
Last week marked a milestone, as the Legislature officially passed the halfway point of the 2018 session. With less than thirty days remaining, the work continues. We’ve seen activity pick up in the past few weeks, and you can expect even more of that in the coming days. Here’s where we are:
Thus far, there is no legislation on the much-discussed pension reform issue. Press reports last week indicated that the bill could be filed this week. Senate President Robert Stivers has publicly stated that the reform measures will not move the pension system’s public employees towards a 401(K)-style retirement plan, but instead offer options such as a “hybrid cash-balance plan.” We will continue to monitor and support pension reform efforts on behalf of KAM members.
The House of Representatives continues their process for considering the Governor’s proposed budget document. They have spent the better part of the last three weeks reviewing the proposal and will persevere this week, with a vote on HB 200 coming as early as late next week. Of particular interest to KAM is the inclusion of a $100 million bond pool for workforce investment capital grants. The bond pool is in addition to the $100 million grant program implemented during the last budget cycle. KAM continues to advocate that the Legislature maintain these bond funds.
Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill Introduced – ACTION NEEDED
Last week, Rep. Adam Koenig introduced legislation to reform Kentucky’s Workers’ Compensation statutes. Last year, Rep. Koenig had a similar bill that did not reach final passage. HB 2 was filed on Monday of last week and passed the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment committee on Thursday. We expect HB 2 to be called for a vote on the House floor on Tuesday afternoon.
HB 2 does the following:
- Requires implementation of evidence-based medical treatment guidelines and a pharmaceutical formulary to ensure appropriate use of opioids during treatment.
- Reduces medical benefits to 15 years from the date of injury, with the exception of permanent injuries that require lifetime coverage or if the employee files an application to extend their benefits.
- Sets parameters on the frequency of urine drug screens.
- Allows carrier/employer to forego utilization review to allow faster access to treatment.
- Addresses the Parker vs. Webster Co. Coal court ruling.
- Clarifies that the reopening of an order must be initiated within four years, not indefinitely.
- Creates a five-year statute of repose for cumulative trauma consistent with black lung and HIV exposure.
- Offers subrogation reforms.
- Addresses the Vision Mining court ruling.
- Increases attorney fees to $18,000 and restructures the payment tiers.
- Increases the state average weekly wage for injured workers.
- Flips the burden of proof on voluntary intoxication.
- Amends TTD (Temporary Total Disability) provisions related to professional athletic teams and provides for specific offsets.
Please contact your State Representative at 1-800-372-7181 and ask that they VOTE YES on HB 2.
KAM Priority Bills are Moving
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 227 could be called for a vote on the House floor this week. KAM supports HB 227, and we encourage you to contact your State Representative and ask that they VOTE YES on HB 227.
HB 324, sponsored by Rep. Diane St. Onge, seeks to regulate drone usage around “key infrastructure assets,” which include among other things, chemical plants, and petroleum refineries. HB 324 will increase the penalty for physical trespass on critical infrastructure assets and extend the protection against drones flying over the facilities. HB 324 is a KAM and CIC priority bill to make sure the Commonwealth’s key infrastructure assets receive adequate protection. HB 324 will be heard for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Please contact your State Representative and ask that they VOTE YES on HB 324.
HB 370, sponsored by Rep. Robby Mills, updates the state’s brownfields statute to make the program more accessible and more simple for property cleanup. This bill is a product of compromise between KAM, the administration, and environmental interests. It will be heard for a vote in the House Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. Please contact your State Representative and ask that they VOTE YES on HB 370.
SB 160, 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. SB 160 amends the 14-year-old statute to better align with pricing laws that have proven to be effective in other states. The bill retains provisions to strictly prohibit and penalize grossly excessive price increases during a declared emergency while adding language to recognize the usual and customary functioning of free enterprise and competitive markets. SB 160 was referred to the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee. KAM supports SB 160 and will update you as the bill progresses.
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.
- February 19 – Legislative Holiday (Presidents’ Day)
- February 27 – Last day for new House Bills
- March 1 – Last day for new Senate Bills
- 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!