Week 3 – Regular Session (2017)

Week 3 – Regular Session (2017)

The General Assembly met last week and reached a key milestone for any legislative session – bill filing deadlines in both the Senate and House. Thursday was the deadline for new introductions in the Senate and Friday was the deadline in the House. In total, almost 790 bills were introduced in both chambers.  Approximately 534 bills were introduced in the House, which Speaker Hoover declared a record for a short session, and 253 bills were filed in the Senate. In addition to monitoring the actions on these bills, the KAM team will closely watch for amendments that will impact our members during the second half of this short session.

The Legislature will not meet today, due to the Presidents Day holiday. Tomorrow, they will convene for the 15th legislative day, officially marking the halfway point of this short session.

Remaining Priorities – Last week we reported on the remaining legislative priorities that both chambers and the Governor have said they’d like to accomplish this session.  There was no significant activity on these issues last week.  They include:

  • Medical Liability Reform
  • Charter Schools & Education Reforms
  • Criminal Justice Reforms
  • Postsecondary Education Performance Funding
  • University Board Reorganization Powers

KAM Priorities – As we do in every session, KAM will 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 of which we wanted you to be aware of:

Net Metering – Senator Jared Carpenter introduced SB 214, last week, 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.

Trespassing on Critical Infrastructure – Last week, HB 291, sponsored by Rep. St. Onge was heard in the Small Business and Information Technology Committee.  This bill deals with regulating the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.  The legislation passed favorably, however with an amendment that removed provisions intended to protect critical infrastructure.  KAM has advocated for the protection of critical infrastructure that includes KAM members’ facilities, like chemical plants, for many years. We will continue to work with the sponsor and others to add back in these very important provisions.  KAM remains committed to protecting critical assets from trespassing with a drone, while balancing that against the business needs of many of our members. Stay tuned. Rep. St. Onge introduced a second bill related to drones, HB 540.  This bill regulates the operation of drones in and around airports.

Workers Compensation ReformHB 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. The legislation passed out of the House Economic Development and Workforce Development Committee last week and we anticipate a vote on the House floor in the coming days.  Please contact your state representative and ask that they vote YES on this important measure.

Civil Justice Reform – Several civil justice reform bills of interest to KAM moved during the week. HB 223 (Fischer) to reduce the judgment interest rate from 12% to 6% was favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee and has now received its second reading. HB 281 (Nemes) relating to transparency in Attorney General contracting (TiPAC) was also favorably reported by the Judiciary Committee. Adverse floor amendments have been filed on the bill, which is now posted for full House action on February 23. KAM supports these bills and a legal climate that isn’t punitive on business.

Workforce Development – Several bills of interest to KAM members that seek to increase skill and degree attainment for future workers have been filed:

  • Work Ready Scholarships – HB 205, by Rep. Carney (R-Campbellsville) & HB 264, by Rep. Rand (D-Bedford) are similar bills that have the goal of providing a scholarship to students to make tuition free at KCTCS. The bills differ slightly, but they both seem to be trying to achieve a similar goal to the Governor’s executive order that created this scholarship program in December.
  • 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 did not receive a hearing last week, however through standard procedural motions on the Senate floor, the bill was given two readings.  This will allow the bill to move quickly through the Senate following a hearing in committee.

New Introductions – A few notable bill introductions from last week:

  • Apprenticeship programs – Rep. Al Gentry filed HB 422, which establishes a tax credit for small businesses that have an apprenticeship program.
  • Welding safety – Rep. Jill York introduced HB 444, which establishes requirements for projects requiring structural steel welding.
  • Kentucky Business Investment Program – Rep. Jim DeCesare introduced HB 457, which adds additional industries under “operational and infrastructure activities” to tax incentives under the Kentucky Business Investment Program.

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

We are expecting a heavy week of legislative activity as the leaders in each chamber begin to prioritize and get key bills out of their originating chamber. The current Legislative Calendar and Committee Meeting Schedule can be viewed online, but here are a few dates of interest:

  • February 20 – Legislative Holiday (Presidents’ Day)
  • 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

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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