VIEW THE LATEST BILL TRACKER DOCUMENT HERE
Right-to-Work: HB 1 prohibits requiring a worker to join a union, or pay union dues, as a condition of employment. This has been a priority issue for Commerce Lexington's Economic Development team to improve Lexington’s competitiveness for jobs. Many CEO's consider Right-to-Work an important determinant when considering where to locate their business. Studies have shown that RTW states are adding jobs at double the rate of non-RTW states. Kentucky joins many our competitor states in becoming the 27th RTW state in the nation.
Paycheck Protection: Viewed as a companion bill to HB 1, SB 6 prevents a worker from being enrolled in a labor union or having money withheld from their paycheck unless the worker provides written permission.
Repeal of Prevailing Wage: HB 3 repeals state law requiring employers to pay prevailing wage for public projects. This allows state and local governments and public schools to build projects at the same cost as those in the private sector, ultimately saving governments and taxpayers millions of dollars.
Bourbon Industry: HB 100 is a top priority for the Kentucky Distillers Association. The bill helps to increase competitiveness for Kentucky's booming distillery industry by leveling the playing field for distillers, strengthening the production standards for Kentucky bourbon, and allowing for the sale of vintage bottles.
Telecomm Modernization: SB 10 seeks to apply past regulatory modernization to Kentucky's out-of-date telecommunication laws statewide. The 2015 law only applied to exchanges with 15,000 or more households. The reforms will enable telecommunication companies to investment more in new technologies.
Voluntary Travel ID: HB 410 allows for voluntary travel-friendly ID for domestic air travel to comply with federal Homeland Security laws. Acceptable forms of ID include: passports, volunteer travel ID and supplemental forms of ID to accompany a driver's license. The deadline for Kentucky to comply with federal laws is June 2017 for military bases and January 2018 for domestic air travel. The passage of this bill makes it likely Kentucky will get an extension for implementation.
Judgement Interest Rate: HB 223 lowers the interest rate compounded on a judgement from 12% to 6%.
ADD Transparency: HB 189, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cesare (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington), establishes clear and consistent standards for transparency, accountability, and oversight practices for all Area Development Districts to ensure state and federal funds are being used correctly and efficiently for important programs including workforce development.
Criminal Justice Re-Entry Reforms: SB 120 makes changes to the criminal justice system to improve offender re-entry and lower recidivism rates, including lifting the prohibition on convicted felons applying for a professional license. At the time of print, the bill awaited concurrence in the Senate before going to the Governor.
Performance-Based Funding: SB 153 outlines how the state's base funding for public universities and KCTCS will be allocated based on a performance-based funding formula. The goal is to increase the percentage of postsecondary degrees or certificates. Criteria include student outcomes, student credit hours, and campus operations. The bill is the result of a Council on Postsecondary Education work group that included the university presidents.
Education Reforms: SB 1 reforms various aspects of Kentucky’s system related to state standards and accountability systems, and provides local districts with more flexibility. The bill received support from numerous education groups as it overwhelmingly passed both chambers.
Nuclear Energy: SB 11 lifts the ban on nuclear energy in Kentucky, providing for more opportunities for economic development and job creation.
Charter Schools: HB 520 details how these schools would be authorized, governed, and held accountable for student performance. The final bill allows for local school boards to be primary authorizers with an appeals process to the Kentucky Department of Education. The Mayors in Louisville and Lexington would have the option to opt-in as authorizers. HB 471 dealt with funding for charter schools. State pupil dollars would follow the student to a charter school.
Pension Transparency: SB 2 requires more transparency and accountability for the state pension systems.
The General Assembly is in the veto recess period with two final legislative days scheduled on March 29-30. Some issues that remained on the table included workers’ compensation reform and essential “soft” skills curriculum for secondary students. The Governor has said he plans to call legislators back for a special session later in 2017 to deal with tax and pension reforms.
If you have questions about an issue, contact Andi Johnson, Chief Policy Officer, at ajohnson@CommerceLexington.com or (859) 226-1614.