Several bills important to Commerce Lexington Inc. advanced in the process this past week. The most notable bills included legislation addressing reforms to K-12 education standards, workers' compensation reforms, modernizations to laws to help the distillery industry, efforts to curb the opioid epidemic through prevention and enforcement changes, and establishing a baseline for transparency, accountability and oversight practices for all Area Development Districts (ADDs).
Legislators return today for day 15 of the 30-day session.
Click here to view a more comprehensive list of the bills Commerce Lexington Inc. is tracking on behalf of our members.
Last Thursday, Governor Matt Bevin invited business leaders to the Executive Mansion for the ceremonial bill signing of HB 1, making Kentucky the 27th Right-to-Work state in the nation. The law allows a worker the choice of whether or not to join a union as a condition of employment. Commerce Lexington Inc. has been a long-time supporter of Right-to-Work legislation because of its ability to increase Kentucky's competitiveness for jobs and economic development opportunities.
Education Reforms Priority for House and Senate
SB 1, championed by Senate Education Chairman Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green), seeks to reform various aspects of Kentucky's education system, bringing it in-line with recently passed education federal law (Every Student Succeeds Act). Key provisions include the establishment of a review process of state standards and accountability systems. Several responsibilities are also transferred from the Kentucky Department of Education to local school districts and flexibility is extended to superintendents for principal hiring. This is the priority bill for the Senate Republican Majority Caucus. It passed the Senate last week and awaits action by the House.
House Education Committee Chairman Bam Carney (R-Campbellsville) also introduced a new charter school bill (HB 520). The bill allows for public charter schools statewide and provides equitable student funding. Local school boards serve as authorizers with a strong appeals process to the Kentucky Board of Education.
Workers' Comp Reform Bill Passes Committee
Legislation (HB 296) to improve the workers' comp system in Kentucky passed the House Economic Development and Workforce Development Committee and awaits a vote on the House floor. The bill seeks to update existing laws to help drive down employers' cost, improve injured workers' access to care, and return the individual to work more quickly. Click here to view the bill highlights.
Key Bill for Distillery Industry Passes Committee
HB 100, sponsored by Rep. Chad McCoy (R-Bardstown), is a top priority for the Kentucky Distillers Association. The bill helps to increase competitiveness for Kentucky's booming distillery industry. The bill modernizes laws to level the playing field for distillers, strengthens the production standards for Kentucky bourbon, and allows for the sale of vintage bottles. The bill passed the House Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regs Committee and awaits a House floor vote this week before heading to the Senate for consideration.
Drug Prevention, Enforcement Bills Advance
Several bills aimed at curbing Kentucky's drug epidemic advanced last week. SB 14 strengthens penalties for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl. The bill passed the Senate and heads to the House for action. HB 333 would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs. The bill also restricts prescriptions for some painkillers to a three-day supply with some exemptions. This bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and now awaits action on the House floor. HB 145 passed out of the House Education Committee and requires public school students be educated about the dangers of prescription pain killers, heroin and other drugs.
ADD Transparency Bill Heads to House for Vote
HB 189, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cesare (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Susan Westrom (D-Lexington), is aimed at establishing 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. The bill passed out of the House State Government Committee and is headed to the full House for a vote this week.
If you have questions about an issue, please contact Andi Johnson, Chief Policy Officer by email or phone at 859-226-1614.