Week 6 Legislative Update - Kentucky Association of Counties

KACo Legislative Review
Week 6
Monday, February 10 – Friday, February 14
Questions, comments, legislator feedback:
[email protected]
We are just two legislative days from the nominal half-way point of the 2014 General
Assembly. Two bills have already been signed by the Governor, and committees are hearing
legislation that originated in the opposite chamber – a somewhat unusually timed overture at
this point in the session. This week’s five-day workload was reinforced by a full-slate of House
Budget Review Subcommittee hearings. Also, the Capitol Rotunda and halls of the Capitol
Annex were busting at the seams with constituents from all corners of the state advocating for
all manner of policies big and small. City officials had a large turnout last Wednesday; County
Day is slated for this Thursday. KACo's top priority issue was filed last week as well. 911: HOUSE BILL 391--PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
Bills sponsor, Representative Martha Jane King-D (Lewisburg), held a press conference
on Wednesday in conjunction with representatives from the three groups who have joined
forces to advocate for E911 funding: counties, cities and PSAPs (public safety answering
points). Along with Rep. King, others who spoke included Shelby County Judge/Executive Rob
Rothenburger; Woodford County Sheriff Wayne Wright; KLC president and Midway Mayor Tom
Bozarth; and Owensboro-Daviess County dispatch director Paul Nave. The press conference
highlighted the goals of the bill:
1) Raises the state wireless fee from its current 70 cents, to one dollar. It has never
been increased since its inception in 1998. The revenue generated is estimated at $17M, which
will help offset a portion of the more than $42M local government general fund dollars currently
supplementing E911 operations, above and beyond disappearing landline fees. 2) Creates a level playing field between prepaid and "post-paid" wireless customers'
fees. Currently, prepaid phone cards pay only 28 cents per card, while post-paid or contract
customers pay 70 cents every month. 3) Clearly states that 911 landline funding may only be spend on 911 emergency
services, similar to language that exists for wireless devices. 3) Creates a Next Generation Fund in anticipation of mandated implementation of the
next phase of 911 delivery. 4) End the cost recovery portion of 911 funding, which was set up to reimburse
providers for some of their E911 equipment costs. 5) Encourage regionalization and consolidation of PSAPs by increasing available grant
funding for consolidated PSAPs from the current $100,000 to $200,000. HB 391 (full version-click here) has been assigned to the House Appropriations and
Revenue committee. If your legislator is listed below, it is important that you contact them as
soon as possible and let them know you support and need this bill to pass out of their committee
as filed. House A&R membership:
Chairman Rick Rand, Vice-chairs Rep. Dwight Butler, Rep. Bob DeWeese and Rep.
Arnold Simpson; Rep. John "Bam" Carney, Rep. Leslie Combs, Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, Rep.
Ron Crimm, Rep. Bob Damron, Rep. Mike Denham, Rep. Myron Dossett, Rep. Kelly Flood,
Rep. Jim Glenn, Rep. Richard Henderson, Rep. Jimmie Lee, Rep. Reginald Meeks, Rep.
Marie Rader, Rep. Jody Richards, Rep. Steven Rudy, Rep. Sal Santoro, Rep. Rita Smart,
Rep. John Will Stacy, Rep. Fitz Steele, Rep. Jimmy Stewart III, Rep. Tommy Turner, Rep.
David Watkins, Rep. Jim Wayne, and Rep. Susan Westrom. We want to take this opportunity to thank Representative King for her willingness to
sponsor this bill. TAX REFORM
This week was relatively short on rhetorical flourish and headline grabbing legislative
action; it was not short on excitement. Funding issues continue to drive this session, and
Governor Beshear has offered a revenue generating tax reform package to plug the structural
holes in the state budget. When the package was introduced in a press conference last week, it
was unclear whether or not an actual legislative proposal would accompany the Governor’s
plan. An empty placeholder bill was introduced, but it included no legislative language. However,
on Tuesday, Kentuckians got to see the guts of tax reform when Lieutenant Governor Jerry
Abramson presented before the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. The proposed
legislation draft was included for the committee to review, but it was not plugged into the
placeholder bill. The Governor indicated in his press conference that the legislation will not be
filed until there is buy-in from members in both parties to move forward with tax reform, meaning
that it is uncertain whether or not one or any of the proposals will be voted on this session. A
possible scenario is that Senate and House members will work backwards from the holes left in
their versions of the budget and fill them with specific proposals whose revenue scores balance
those budgets. It is hard to imagine the legislature raising taxes in this environment without
offsets, but some proposals in the plan are more politically feasible than others. The Governor
did not specifically rule out the prospects of a special session to address tax reform.
As the state continues to struggle with revenue, capital project funding has all but
disappeared. As a result, another revenue measure has percolated to the forefront of this
General Assembly – giving local citizens the right to vote on adopting a sunsetting sales tax of
up to one penny to fund specific projects in their communities. The Kentucky Constitution
currently forbids local governments from enacting such revenue measures, and the LIFT (Local
Investments for Transformation) Coalition is working to change that. The LIFT Coalition is
championed by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer who has spent many hours working the halls
recently talking to legislators and explaining the merits of home rule. As a result, companion
bills were filed this week in both the House (by Rep. Tommy Thompson-D, Daviess) and Senate
(Sen. Paul Hornback-R, Shelby) that would place a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot later
this year giving the legislature the authority to give local governments that option. Hearings will
commence on that issue in the coming weeks. While the constitutional amendment is a
separate bill, we continue to work on a bill outlining enabling legislation, with the hope that it can
be finalized before sine die. The other major revenue measure, expanding casino gaming into Kentucky, remains in
the fold. Most discussion on that front this week stemmed from Senators doubting the viability of
the proposal in that chamber.
In non-legislative news, many in the Kentucky legislature were broadsided when a
federal judge struck down the provision in the Commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage that
refuses to recognize in Kentucky marriages that took place in other states. Social issue tends to
find their way into the legislative discussion every session, and the ruling on Wednesday
prompted supporters and detractors to take the floor in celebration and disgust respectively.
Notwithstanding several abortion-related bills, this session has focused mostly on hard policy
issues and avoided protracted philosophical debates on wedge issues. It remains to be seen
whether this ruling will be the catalyst for fiery floor speeches and legislative proposals that
attempt to assert Kentucky’s sovereignty and insulate from the judiciary.
President’s Day is a legislative holiday, so members will not return to Frankfort until
Tuesday. The condensed week backloads the legislative and social calendar. We look forward
to seeing all of you with your legislators on Thursday as we host the County Officials
Legislative Reception at the Frankfort Convention Center. As mentioned above, the 30-day
halfway point comes Wednesday and is “halfway” in definition only. All of the motion that took
place this week will soon result in some progress, and it will only escalate as we get later into
this month and into early-March.
Other important legislative dates scheduled include: March 3-Last Day for New House Bills to be filed (Day 38)
March 5-Last Day for New Senate Bills to be filed (Day 40)
March 28 and 31-Concurrence Only
April 1-11-Veto days
April 15-SINE DIE (Day 60)