Week 5 – Regular Session (2017)

Week 5 – Regular Session (2017)

Friday marked the 23rd day of this short, 30-day session of the Kentucky General Assembly. With seven days remaining, the Legislature is reaching a critical point as they work to finalize bills that will pass before adjournment. Last week, many of the remaining priority issues started moving through the process. We expect a busy week ahead although the General Assembly will only be meeting for three days, and will use Thursday and Friday as “working/recess” days. This is somewhat of an unusual move, but will allow leaders to work behind the scenes to negotiate key pieces of legislation. Big issues that moved last week include:

  • Medical Review PanelsSB 4 would create panels to review medical malpractice insurance claims before they progress into lawsuits. This change to the civil justice system was originally planned to be part of the package of bills passed the first week of the session back in January. However, several House members objected to the bill and after significant negotiations an amendment was agreed upon this week and the bill passed the House and the amendment was agreed to by the Senate.
  • Charter Schools HB 520 would authorize charter schools in Kentucky. This has been an issue percolating below the surface for much of the session and finally emerged last week. The bill passed out of the House Education Committee and off the House floor by a vote of 56-39 after significant and contentious debate.
  • Public Pension ReformsSB 2 was delivered to the Governor last week. The bill will make several changes to Kentucky’s public pension systems including how they handle contracts, appoint members to their boards, interact with consultants, and compensate their employees.
  • Judicial RedistrictingSB 9 a plan to reallocate the judicial districts across the state passed the Senate and now awaits action in the House.

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 several bills being considered by the General Assembly we want you to be aware of:

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, and establishing an appropriate duration for medical claims. The bill will be heard in the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor committee TODAY. Please call 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 have moved through the legislative process. HB 223, sponsored by Rep. Joe Fischer, to reduce the judgment interest rate from 12% to 6%, has passed the House and Senate and should be on the Governor’s Desk this week. HB 281, sponsored by Rep. Jason Nemes, relates to transparency in Attorney General contracting (TiPAC) and is awaiting consideration by the Senate Judiciary committee. KAM supports these bills and a legal climate that isn’t punitive on business.

Nuclear Energy – Senator Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) introduced SB 11, legislation that we’ve seen in various forms for the past decade related to nuclear energy and lifting the moratorium on the construction of new facilities. SB 11 has passed the Senate and awaits action in the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment committee. KAM supports this effort. Please call your state representative at 1-800-372-7181 and ask that they vote YES on SB 11.

Other Notable Legislation
HB 184, 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 the House last week by a vote of 64-27. It awaits action in the Senate Transportation Committee.

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
TThe General Assembly has met on 23 of the 30 legislative days reserved for the 2017 Regular Session. After this week, when legislators return they will do so on Tuesday & Wednesday, March 14 & 15, for the stated purpose of concurring in amendments on bills picked up in the second chamber. It is always a question each session as to whether the House & Senate will stick to the concurrence rules or will pass more bills. The current Legislative Calendar and Committee Meeting Schedule can be viewed online, but here are a few dates of interest:

  • March 8-9 – Recess/Work Days
  • 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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