By Josh James
Kentucky voters in local communities would have the option to pay for specific projects with a temporary one percent sales tax increase under legislation passed by the House Thursday.
The local option sales tax, championed by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, requires that Kentucky voters approve a constitutional amendment. Advocates, including House Speaker Greg Stumbo, argued the bill put more control in the hands of citizens.
“As the pool of money becomes more and more difficult to spread out in small rural communities in Kentucky, more and more they’re going to have to look to fund water projects, community centers, things we’ve been able to… help them with,” the speaker told the chamber.
Rep. Jim Wayne countered that local option disproportionately affects low-income Kentuckians.
“I certainly commend those who are pushing this idea because they really want to help their communities, but this is not the right proposal. It’s a regressive tax on top of a very regressive tax system in our state,” the Louisville Democrat said.
The measure cleared the chamber 62 to 35 and now moves to the Senate.
In addition, House members debated and ultimately lent their unanimous support to House Bill 8, which makes civil protective orders available to dating couples and streamlines the process for other victims of domestic violence. Under the bill, victims could invoke a single interpersonal protector order that inform the offender that any further violation could lead to arrest.
While the measure has been unsuccessful in previous years, bipartisan support has grown up around the issue during this short 30-day session.
Another perennial piece of legislation once again passed by the chamber was House Bill 70, a constitutional amendment granting non-violent felons the right to vote. An estimated 186,000 Kentuckians could be impacted were the amendment to become law.