Commerce Lexington Inc. Blog
Elizabeth Bishop will be working under Commerce Lexington Inc. Chief Policy Officer and Director of Regional Engagement Andi Johnson and the Director of Leadership Development Amy Carrington. She will be completing her final semester of her Master’s Program in Public Policy at the University of Kentucky. With a background and degree in Community Leadership Development and knowledge in Public Policy with a focus in Information Communication Technology she plans to experience the legislative process from the Chambers point of view. Throughout her time here, gaining knowledge and insight about facilitating policy on issues in the city she calls home, will be a valuable experience for both her career and state. We look forward to providing her with the foundation for facilitating and managing many responsibilities to nurture her development.
From taxes and regulation to health care and education to energy and environmental issues, government impacts all aspects of economic development. Businesses leaders are often too busy attracting investments, creating jobs and running operations to focus large amounts of time on monitoring legislation and regulations, analyzing their effect and advocating for their passage, defeat or modification. That’s why – whether at City Hall, the State Capitol, or in Washington – Commerce Lexington Inc. is proud to work on your behalf as an effective public policy voice.
Throughout the year, Commerce Lexington’s Public Policy Council researches, analyzes and discusses important policy issues from the perspective of how it may affect the Central Kentucky business community, then recommends advocacy position statements. The group is comprised of more than 45 volunteer leaders and represents a cross section of Commerce Lexington’s 1,700 member organizations. Commerce Lexington’s Executive Board reviews and approves the Policy Statements recommended by the Public Policy Council.
Please take a few minutes to review the 2018 Legislative Focus to learn about issues we will be tracking on behalf of the business community at the local, state and federal levels this year.
In January, state lawmakers return to Frankfort for a 60-day legislative session. The “long session” occurs in even-numbered years. The primary focus will be on reforms to the state’s financially troubled public pension systems, and the crafting of the next $20 billion two-year state budget and road plan. Tax reform is also expected to be discussed. Without pension or tax reform, the Governor and General Assembly members may have to make significant cuts to state government to balance the state’s budget as is required.
Other priority issues include: workers compensation system reforms, medical liability reforms to improve the healthcare economy and essential skills legislation aimed at focusing schools on soft skills development. Commerce Lexington will be hosting its Annual Evening in the Bluegrass on February 22 at Berry Hill Mansion from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. The reception offers members with the opportunity to engage with legislators and administration officials.
At the local level, Commerce Lexington will continue to monitor regulatory, environmental and other economic development issues. The chamber continues to be focused on local and state policy efforts to improve the education and workforce development systems. This includes the partnership with the Business and Education Network (BEN) and work to identify current and future workforce needs and develop a plan to meet those needs through collaborative community partnerships such as the Fayette County Public Schools Career Academies.
In July, Commerce Lexington will take a delegation of regional business and community leaders to Washington, D.C., for a two-day Fly-In. The visit will include meetings with members of the Kentucky Congressional Delegation and their staffs to discuss the impact of federal policies on local businesses.
Commerce Lexington will also host the Public Policy Luncheon series presented by Kentucky American Water. The purpose of the events is to educate members about key policy issues and offer opportunities for members to engage with key policy leaders.
HOW TO CONTACT LEGISLATORS:
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
If you have questions, need assistance with a policy issue, or would like to get involved with advocacy efforts, contact Andi Johnson, Chief Policy Officer and Director of Regional Engagement, at email@example.com or (859) 226-1614.
Commerce Lexington Inc. joined the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and other local chambers in signing a support letter to both U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Senator Rand Paul urging the passage of federal tax reform to help our job creators.
VIEW THE LETTERS HERE:
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell Letter
U.S. Senator Rand Paul Letter
Commerce Lexington Inc. has a long-standing position of supporting tax reform to improve Kentucky’s competitiveness, including lower corporate tax rates. We were pleased to see Congressman Andy Barr and the U.S. House of Representatives pass federal tax reform and encourage the Senate to continue to move forward with this critical issue.
In expectation of progress being made, the Kentucky business community believes that:
On April 17, Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTCS) officially dedicated the new Advanced Manufacturing Center in Georgetown, KY. Several local and state officials, and business and community leaders, from the Central Kentucky region were on-hand for the event.
The Advanced Manufacturing Center includes space for traditional classes and some meeting space, but a unique component of the facility is the flexible high-bay area equipped with modern manufacturing equipment such as computers, robotics and other electronics intended to help students become comfortable in manufacturing settings. Viewed as a game changer for workforce development, it has the capacity to train more than 1,000 students for jobs related to the advanced manufacturing field including technicians, industrial maintenance, electronics, industrial electricity, robotics, mechanical drives, fluid power, machining and welding.
Commerce Lexington Inc. joined in support of Toyota and BCTC in advocating for the facility during the 2014 legislative session. The facility received $24 million in state bond funding in the FY14-16 budget.
Messer Construction broke ground on the 78,000-square-foot center in spring 2015 and worked on a rapid schedule to ensure it would be open for January classes. The facility was designed by Omni Architects. The facility is located in the Lanes Run Business Park near Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky in Scott County.
By Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis
(Published April 13, 2017)
In December, with bipartisan support, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, a major piece of legislation designed to re-energize medical research within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the world’s premier biomedical research government agency. But the recently released so called “skinny” budget within the America First budget blueprint, which includes a roughly $6 billion cut to the NIH, would profoundly curtail discovery and innovation across the U.S.
Members of the House and Senate from both parties have voiced their doubts about such cuts in federal funding for research and discovery, and the budget in its current form is by no means what will eventually pass. However, as UK is the flagship land-grant research institute of our state, we would be remiss if we did not portray to our citizenry, both within and external to the institution, why research matters and what is at stake. This week we outline the importance of federal funding for research at UK, with an emphasis on the realities of how these proposed cuts in research funding would influence not just UK, but the Commonwealth and nation at large. Read more here
The University of Kentucky (UK) was awarded a prestigious $11.2 million biomedical research grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to study the link between cancer and obesity. The grant will fund UK's Center for Cancer and Metabolism over the next five years, and exemplifies the critical role UK plays as a change agent and economic development engine for Kentucky.
Kentucky has disproportionately high incidences of both cancer and metabolic disorders. The state leads the nation in cancer deaths and is in the top 10 for highest obesity rates in the country. NIH funding supports the lion’s share of research at UK, and has a large impact on the state.
According to the “United for Medical Research” report, NIH awarded $163.6 million in grants and contracts in FY2016 that directly supported 2,886 jobs and $431.6 million in economic activity in Kentucky. For every $1 million in NIH awards, 12.95 jobs are created. Read more about the announcement from UK Healthcare.
U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-6) was the featured speaker at Commerce Lexington's first Public Policy Luncheon of the 2017 series presented by Kentucky American Water on Wednesday, April 12 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. During his remarks, Congressman Barr discussed Syria, financial policies, health care and tax reform and many other issues with more than 250 business and community leaders.
Congressman Barr has been representing Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District since January 2013. He is currently a member of the Committee on Financial Services, and is the Chairman of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee.
Top Priorities are Public Safety, Jobs & Quality of Life
Last week, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray delivered his 7th budget address to city officials and community leaders. After years of growth, Mayor Gray predicted a stabilizing in revenues for this year and next. The Mayor also outlined his priorities for the city's $358 million General Fund budget placing emphasis on public safety, job creation and quality of life. The highlights included:
To read the Mayor's budget address, go here.
The 2017 30-day Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly was historic from both a political and policy perspective. For the first time, Republicans held the Governor’s office, a super-majority in the State Senate, and a new super-majority in the State House of Representatives. During the first week in January, legislative leaders wasted no time passing transformative bills to make Kentucky a Right-to-Work state and to repeal prevailing wage laws. This early, unprecedented legislative action set a bold tone and emphasized the legislature’s focus on improving Kentucky’s competitiveness for jobs.
Other major policy changes that became law included: statewide telecommunication de-regulation, reforms to K-12 education standards, public charter school authorization, medical review panels, lifting of the nuclear energy ban, more transparency measures for state pension systems and the adoption of performance-based funding metrics for state funding for public universities.
State lawmakers also authorized $15 million in state bond funding to help recruit a mystery economic development project that is anticipated to bring $1.3 billion in investment and 500 permanent, high wage jobs to eastern Kentucky.
In a display of legislative independence, House and Senate members voted to override all four of the Governor’s vetoes that occurred during the veto recess period. These were related to executive branch budget appropriations ($19 million from the Volkswagen settlement), court-ordered out-patient mental health care, naming roads and regulating drone activity near airports. However, time ran out on workers' compensation system reforms (HB 296) and essential skills/drug prevention curriculum in schools (HB 454). Both issues are expected to return as top priority bills during the 2018 session.
After the General Assembly adorned on March 30, the Governor issued two final veto messages. He vetoed SB 219 creating a state professional licensing board for recreational therapists citing budget concerns. He also line-item vetoed a section of HB 13 related to the Bowling Green Veterans Center. However, this veto did not impact the project, only the language prioritizing bond payments to the center over another project.
Governor Bevin plans to reconvene the General Assembly later in 2017 for a Special Session to deal with tax and pension reforms. Legislators will return in January 2018 for a 60-day Regular Session focused on approving a state budget and allotting road fund dollars.
Go here to view all the bills that will become law that Commerce Lexington Inc. tracked on behalf of our members this session.
The 2017 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly has been rated by long-time Frankfort observers as extremely productive for economic development and business interests. Here is a look at some of the legislative highlights. These are issues that have passed both the House and Senate, and advanced to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s desk, unless otherwise noted.
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.
News and notes about Commerce Lexington Inc., Lexington KY, and the Bluegrass Region, including key policy issues that impact business.