2015 Kentucky legislative session will be short but jam-packed with action – Central KY News

By David Meade Lincoln’s State Representative
Source: Central Kentucky News

FRANKFORT (Feb. 6) — After a three-week recess, we in the General Assembly returned to Frankfort to begin part two of the 2015 Regular Session.

Between now and early March the House and Senate will debate numerous pieces of legislation. Because this is a 30-day session, the pace promises to be fast and furious with more than 200 bills and resolutions being introduced in the House in the first two days of this week.

Several bills of great importance passed out of committee this week. One bill, House Concurrent Resolution 7 sponsored by Rep. Brad Montell of Shelbyville, would direct that an outside independent audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems be conducted, and those findings be reported back to the Public Pension Oversight Board.

A recent story by Bloomberg ranked Kentucky’s pension system the worst in the nation due to its funding gap. It is essential we get a better idea regarding the financial structure of KRS if we hope to find solutions on how to make the system more solvent.

Another bill gaining attention this week is the effort to pass a statewide smoking ban in Kentucky. House Bill 145 was approved by the House Committee on Health and Welfare, which would prohibit smoking in all businesses and places of employment in Kentucky.

Similar bills have been proposed in past sessions and have drawn great debate among supporters and opponents, who believe the decision to institute a smoking ban is better left up to the local level and not by the General Assembly. House Bill 145 is sure to be debated thoroughly when it comes before the full House.

One bill that is expected to come up next week in House Bill 1, which is the local option sales tax proposal. If House Bill 1 becomes law, a Constitutional Amendment would be placed on the ballot before Kentucky voters, which if approved by voters would give local governments the option of placed a local sales tax of no more than one percent to pay for infrastructure projects in their counties and communities.

The local tax would have to be approved by voters, and would expire once the project has been paid off. This proposal should also see great debate in the House in the coming weeks.

Many key bills are still expected to be debated in the coming weeks, including proposals to combat the growing problem of heroin in Kentucky, before both chambers recess for the veto period on March 9th.

In addition to the issues I mentioned, there could be ideas and concerns important to you that need to be addressed between now and the middle of March.

What People Are Saying

  • “Putting the local-tax amendment on the November 2014 statewide ballot is a no-brainer. If local people want to levy local taxes on themselves, they should be able to.”

    Al Cross, Courier-Journal columnist
  • Jeff-Bringardner-headshot-only“This is a way to keep dollars in the area, to come up with a diverse slate of projects that sync up with the long-term plans of the community and get voted on by the people”

    Jeff Bringardner, President, Humana Kentucky
  • BillLamb“If Louisville could adopt a 1% Local Option Tax, it would impose a minimal burden, but would raise over 90 million dollars a year.”

    Bill Lamb, President and General Manager for WDRB and WNYO
  • Bill Samuels Bellarmine Portrait“Local option makes all the sense in the world. Offering citizens the opportunity to vote on investing in their community is how our country ought to operate.”

    Bill Samuels, Chairman, Emeritus Makers Mark
  • …a new way for communities to see the projects they want and need go from the drawing board to reality — and to do it for themselves.

    Jim Host, founder of Host Communications and former State Commerce Secretary
  • LIFT is a tried-and-true tool that allows for more voter involvement in the process.  Voters, not politicians, would help determine big picture, visionary projects that could improve quality of life.

    Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
  • …an idea whose time has come, and could be a crucial economic development tool which will help our local communities build a better future, and the new jobs and businesses we need.

    Hal Goode, President and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Economic Development
  • In our opinion, Kentucky voters should be allowed to vote on the local option sales tax because it could fund public facilities without increasing property taxes.

    Morehead News
  • It will allow communities to plan and pay for improvements to enhance civic and economic life without going hat in hand each budget session to Frankfort.

    Lexington Herald-Leader
  • The beauty of it is that local voters have the say-so as to its enactment, and they have a sense that they are getting what they pay for.

    Princeton Times-Leader