Last week, Commerce Lexington hosted a policy briefing in Frankfort to provide members engaged with public policy efforts an opportunity to learn more about some of key issues from top-level policy leaders. Speakers included: Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, State Budget Director John Chilton, Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely, Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt and Andy Hightower, chief of staff for Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. Members of the Fayette County legislative delegation also attended and interacted with attendees.
ACTION ALERT FOR P3 LEGISLATION:
Public-private partnership (P3) legislation (HB 309 | SB 132) has passed the House but continues to await action in the Senate. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has asked members of the business community to contact their Senators and urge support for P3.
This legislation would create a clear and transparent framework under Kentucky's procurement code to allow state and local governments to use a P3 to provide services, facilities and transportation infrastructure to the public. It also includes reasonable oversight measures to safeguard taxpayer dollars at the local and state level. The legislation is supported by the Kentucky League of Cities, Kentucky Association of Counties and many business organizations.
- P3 provides an important tool for our state and local governments.
- P3 could mean more private sector jobs with fewer tax dollars expended for critical projects.
- Commerce Lexington is supporting this legislation to create more business opportunities and to help local governments operating on limited budgets to do more with less.
- All of Kentucky's surrounding states have authorized the use of P3.
Senator Alice Kerr
Senator Reggie Thomas
Senator Ralph Alvarado
Senator Tom Buford
Senator Jared Carpenter
SB 151, which seeks to clarify current state law related to employer offsets for temporary total disability benefits for light duty work, passed out of the Senate last week. It now awaits consideration by the House. This bill would allow payments of workers' compensation benefits to be offset by wages to an employee by an employer for light duty work performed during a period of temporary total disability. This legislation encourages workers to return to work after an injury and removes overly burdensome worker compensation costs to employers.
K-12 Education Reform
The priority education bill of the Senate Republican Majority Caucus also passed out of the chamber last week. SB 1 is a multi-layered bill that could change many aspects of Kentucky's K-12 education system. Building on 2009 education reforms, SB 1 proposes changes to academic standards, state assessments and school accountability measures to strengthen local control and improve student readiness for college and the workforce. The bill passed mainly along party lines in the Senate and heads to the House for consideration.
Bill to Increase Transparency Over ADD's
Last Friday, Rep. Susan Westrom filed legislation (HB 438) to create more accountability and transparency over Area Development Districts. Westrom has been a champion for this issue since the release of a 2014 State Auditor's Examination of the Bluegrass Area Development District revealed serious fiscal integrity issues.
Higher Education Projects
In the House, lawmakers approved a bill that would allow state colleges and universities to move forward with capital building projects even if the projects aren't included in the state budget. Under HB 265, the projects could still progress if funded by restricted, agency, federal or private money and approved by both the school's governing board and the Council on Postsecondary Education. The bill passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.
Preview: The Week Ahead
In the week ahead, Senate President Robert Stivers is expected to bring forth his version of legislation related to felony expungement for some Class D felonies. Back in January, Commerce Lexington joined Governor Bevin, a bi-partisan group of legislators and other business leaders in support of a process to allow individuals with one, non-violent Class D felony to have their records expunged after a period of time. The Senate bill is expected to be different than HB 40 which has passed the House.
HB 441, sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, is important measure for the Lexington Convention Center renovation and expansion project. It provides legislative authorization to LFUCG to increase the transient room tax an additional 2.5 cents to help with local funding for the project. The bill is expected to be heard in the House Economic Development Committee this week.
Click to view a full listing of the legislation Commerce Lexington is tracking this session.
If you have questions about a particular bill or issue, contact Andi Johnson, Commerce Lexington's Vice President of Public Policy.