Back to Work
The General Assembly returned to work this week to complete the remaining 26 days of the 2015 Regular Session. Bill filing has been extremely heavy with legislators nearly doubling the number of bills filed in just four days. We expect that to continue heading towards the bill filing deadlines of February 13 in the Senate and February 17 in the House.
House and Senate actions for the week included activity on several high profile issues. In the Senate, the Republicans filed and passed out of the Senate their second set of priorities for this session, including: Senate Bills 6 (Medical Review Panels), 8 (Charter Schools), 9 (Prevailing Wage), and 10 (Hospital Stroke Certification). In the House, Democrats began to move their legislative priorities, including HB 145 (Smoking Ban) and HB 2 (Minimum Wage). Other measures, like legislation to address heroin abuse, were just below the surface and expected to move next week.
Top Issues of Importance to KAM Members:
KAM is opposing Senate Bill 31 and House Bill 146, legislation that would mandate that health insurers cap the amount of copayments and coinsurance consumers pay for prescription medication. By capping pharmacy cost-sharing arrangements, these bills will force all insureds to subsidize these additional costs, which in turn would cause monthly premiums to increase. Combating mandates that negatively impact our members is a top priority for KAM.
KAM is closely watching two workers compensation bills that were filed this week, Senate Bill 95 and House Bill 294. If passed, these bills would likely increase attorneys fees and in turn increase workers comp premiums. KAM would prefer to see our member’s working capital spent employing Kentuckians rather than paying for increased attorney’s fees.
Road Fund Stabilization
Senate Bill 29, sponsored by Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Oldham), is legislation that raises the floor of the gas tax to a level that will maintain the gas tax at its current level. The bill received a full review before the Senate Transportation Committee this week, with business leaders and local government officials testifying in favor of the bill and why it is necessary. KAM supports Senate Bill 29 and recognizes the catastrophic impact on our transportation system if the legislature fails to act.
The Kentucky General Assembly will consider legislation this session related to pipelines. Our interest is to ensure that Kentucky plays a role in a new and emerging energy economy that will include moving natural gas and other fuels around the nation to preserve our low-cost advantage and ensure ongoing reliability of the grid and industrial production. Thus KAM is concerned about legislation like HB 272 that would create a pipeline assessment, which amounts to a tax on millions of Kentuckians and a barrier to development.
Keeping You Informed:
As in past years, we will continue to communicate with you weekly with bill tracking lists (click HERE to download current bill list), summaries of legislative actions and dynamics, and specific bills of interest. We will also, of course, contact you immediately as issues of particular interest or concern arise. We will also resume our KAM Conversation Conference Calls on February 2, 2015, at 1:00 EST, and invite KAM Members to call and take part in this dialog every other Monday during the 2015 Legislative Session.
Calendar & Key Dates:
You can access the session calendar HERE. Please keep in mind that this calendar can change if the legislature decides to shift days. We will let you know if that happens; however they must adjourn by March 30, according to the Constitution. Below are specific dates of interest.
- February 13 - Last day for new Senate bills
- February 16 - Presidents' Day (Legislative Holiday, No Session)
- February 17 - Last day for new House bills
- March 6 and 9 - Concurrence
- March 10-20 - Veto Recess
- March 23-24 - Veto Override Days
- March 24 - Sine Die Adjournment
Meet the KAM Governmental Affairs Team here.
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2015 Session...Getting Organized
The 2015 General Assembly session got underway last week with the organizational session. During the first four legislative days, the House and Senate elected leadership; appointed Chairs and members to more than two dozen committees; filed nearly 200 bills; and in the Senate, passed four of their top five legislative initiatives. As quickly as it started, it has stopped, as the General Assembly is in recess until February 3.
Top Issues of Importance to KAM Members:
The House Majority and Minority caucuses each met on Tuesday and elected their Leaders for the 2015-16 sessions. In the Senate, the Republican and Democrat caucuses elected their leadership teams prior to the session. You can view the Senate Leaders HERE.You can access our post on the leadership elections HERE.
Committee Chairs and Assignments
The House and Senate released their committee rosters this week. We have listed the changes in committee chairmanships in this post and at these links, you can access the House and Senate committee rosters.
Right to Work
Senate Bill 1, legislation that would make Kentucky a right-to-work state, was filed by Senate President Robert Stivers this week. Given the fact that the bill garnered the honor of being called Senate Bill 1 or the Senate’s top priority, it is no surprise that the bill not only passed out of committee this week, but it also passed out of the Senate 24-12 this week and awaits action in the House.
Senate Bill 2, filed by Sen. Joe Bowen, would give more legislative oversight of administrative regulations.The impetus behind the bill being supported by the Senate Republicans is to give the legislative branch the ability to approve or disapprove administrative regulations. The bill passed the Senate this week 24-11.
State of the Commonwealth
Mixed in with all of the legislative action this week, Governor Beshear gave his eighth and final State of the Commonwealth address. The theme of the speech was how Kentucky has improved under his two terms in areas from health care to education. He did lay out a few priorities that he hopes to accomplish in his final year in office and those of interest to KAM were:
- Enabling public-private partnerships;
- Expansion of KY FAME; and
- Implementation of the recommendations of the Dual Credit Task Force.