“Even before the 2019 session of the General Assembly began, legislative leaders predicted that lawmakers would set a slow and deliberate pace. This did prove to be the case as fewer bills were passed than in other years, and many top-priority items were left on the table,” wrote Dave Addison, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, in Results for Business, the state Chamber’s report on the 2019 Kentucky General Assembly. “Priorities of the business community’s agenda addressed by the legislature included reinstating the state’s arbitration statute, passing tribunal reform, strengthening Kentucky’s DUI laws, passing net metering energy legislation, enacting tobacco-free schools and making small changes to the state’s legal liability climate and justice system.”
The Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce followed up with our local legislators on their assessments of the session, what they were happy to see happen or not happen, their biggest surprises, etc.
“I was very happy to see the passage of SB 1, the School Safety Bill,” said Sen. C.B. Embry Jr., representing Senate District 6, which includes Hopkins, in addition to Butler, Muhlenberg and Ohio counties. “We must make every effort to make our schools safe for our students, teachers and administrators.”
Sen. Embry was one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 1, which sought to boost safety, training and suicide prevention; promote assignments of school resource officers and hiring of counselors, and facilitate collaboration with law enforcement. Gov. Matt Bevin on March 11 signed SB 1 into state law.
Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, representing House District 15, which includes part of Hopkins County, in addition to Muhlenberg County, said of SB 1, “One of our greatest areas of accomplishment was the School Safety & Resiliency Act after almost a year of input from various stakeholders in the school system and communities following the Marshall County High School shooting. We didn't want to react in a knee-jerk fashion but wanted to carefully evaluate the situation and do what is prudent and right to protect our most precious resource, our children. The Act tries to find a balance between securing the facilities while trying to identify and provide counseling and supports for those students who might become a perpetrator.”
Rep. Prunty also commented on some of the more business-oriented developments from the session:
Recognizing that college isn't for everyone, in the area of workforce development moving forward, we will allow young people graduating from high school the ability to apply their KEES monies towards a qualifying apprenticeship or qualified workforce training program.
In the area of tax reform we corrected the misapplication of the taxing of non-profits on their admission and fundraising sales, once again making them tax exempt as well as fixed the unintended consequences from the 2018 tax reform package. Those changes include doing away with the bank franchise tax and putting in place the taxing of banks like any other business. They were being taxed double and large out-of-state banks were buying out community owned Kentucky banks, moving their assets out of state. This change will help our local independent banks remain alive and independent.
I was surprised and disappointed at the veto of HB 358, a bill that would have extended the ability of our regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies, such as our local health departments, domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers, to get a plan in place to decide if they want to remain in the state employee retirement system or develop a plan to leave while giving the employees the option to remain if they so choose. The veto is going to require a Special Session if we are going to prevent several of these agencies to avoid bankruptcy.
The Kentucky Chamber’s Results for Businesswrapup of the General Assembly is available for download (as are its Democraticand Republicanvoter's guides for the May 21 gubernatorial primary elections).
The state Chamber selected Rep. Jim Gooch Jr., representing House District 12, which includes part of Hopkins County, in addition to McLean and Webster counties and part of Daviess County, as one of its 13 legislator MVPs of the session: “Rep. Jim Gooch carried Senate Bill 100, legislation to update private net metering laws to ensure costs remain fair for all energy consumers, on the House floor and championed the issue for many years.”
As part of our commitment to leadership in governmental development, we always appreciate your input on any issues that are of consequence to you, your business, your employees or customers, our community, etc. Please reach out to us 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Central weekdays at (270) 821-3435 or 15 East Center Street in Madisonville—or any time at https://www.hopkinscochamber.com/contact.html.