Legislative Update- February 25, 2015

capitolHouse Heroin Bill Heard in Senate Committee-No Vote Taken

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard for discussion only testimony on House Bill 213, sponsored by Rep. John Tilley, which includes provisions for a tiered level of penalties for heroin traffickers and local options for a program to cut down on the spread of disease.

Tilley testified his legislation has more in common with the Senate’s heroin legislation, Senate Bill 5, than it does differences. One big difference between the bills is the addition of a needle exchange, which caused disagreement between lawmakers during the 2014 session.

Rep. Tilley testified he feels the needle exchanges need to be a part of any solution “because they work.” Chairman Senator Whitney Westerfield said he’s preparing a committee substitute to HB 213 and may call a special meeting to approve that version the bill this week. If a committee substitute is attached to HB 213 the legislation will need action in the House before a conference committee can be appointed.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

Chamber-supported pension measures clear Senate committee

The Senate State Government Committee passed two Chamber supported pension measures sponsored by Rep. Yonts.  House Bill 62 will ensure that any entity wanting to withdraw from the Kentucky Retirement System repays its unfunded liability. We cannot allow independent organizations – many of which lobbied to be included in the retirement system – to escape their liability, leaving remaining retirees and taxpayers on the hook.

House Bill 47 will add the Legislators’ Retirement Plan, the Judicial Retirement Plan and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System to the Public Pension Oversight Board’s review responsibilities.  We agree that every public pension system needs additional oversight.

These two important pension bills now head to the Senate floor.

Senate Health and Welfare takes up Cap the Copay and Child Care Center legislation

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee heard discussion only testimony Wednesday on Senate Bill 31, often referred to as “Cap the Copay,” sponsored by Sen. Tom Buford. SB 31 would mandate that health benefit plans cap the amount of copays on prescription drugs to no more than $100 for a 30-day supply and no more than $200 for a tiered formulary per month. The House has companion legislation, House Bill 146, which awaits a hearing in the House Banking and Insurance Committee.

SB72, sponsored by Sen. David Givens, would require licensed child-care centers that provide instructional and educational programs for preschool-aged children and that operate for a maximum of 20 hours per week and which a child attends for no more than 15 hours per week, be exempted from licensure requirements.

While this bill would allow certain child-care centers to be exempted from licensure requirements, they would be required to perform background checks and TB screenings on all employees.

The legislation passed the Senate Health and Welfare committee and now heads to the Senate floor for action.

Senate votes on two Chamber supported measures

Senate Concurrent Resolution 103, a Kentucky Chamber-supported concurrent resolution directing the Legislative Research Commission to establish the Kentucky Workforce Oversight Task Force, passed the Senate 37-0 and now awaits action in the House. The task force will study and develop recommendations concerning the benefits, investments, and funding of workforce education which is estimated at approximately $900 million a year.  This task force must submit a report to the Legislative Research Commission by December 11, 2015.

According to The Georgetown University Center on Education, there will be 55 million job openings in the economy through 2020.  24 million openings will be from newly created jobs and 31 million openings will be due to baby boom retirements.  It is estimated that the United States will fall short in filling those positions by 5 million.

The Kentucky Chamber believes that workforce training is critical to the future economy of our state and is conducting a review of workforce policies and programs now in place.  The report will be finalized in just a few weeks and the Senate’s attempt to conduct an organized and deliberate review of the system is encouraging.

Senate Bill 110, sponsored by Max Wise, also passed out of the Senate with unanimous support today.  The legislation would permit high school seniors in the 2015/2016 school year and high school juniors and seniors in the 2016/2017 school year to use their KEES awards to pay for dual credit courses.

Kentucky Oil and Gas Modernization Act Bills move forward in chambers

On Wednesday, the state House passed the Kentucky Oil and Gas Modernization Act, legislation which is the result of six months of negotiations with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky Oil and Gas Association, the Energy & Environment Cabinet and other industry leaders. House Bill 386 passed with a 96-0 vote.

HB 386 makes the first significant reforms to Kentucky’s regulation of the oil and gas industry in approximately 20 years.

Earlier in the day, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy passed two bills that will help to establish a broad energy portfolio in the Commonwealth and foster Kentucky’s energy independence.

The first measure passed was Senate Bill 90, which lifts ban on nuclear power plants and requite that nuclear power facilities have a plan for the storage of nuclear waste.

The committee also passed the Kentucky Oil and Gas Modernization Act (SB 186), just one day after the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment unanimously passed the companion legislation (HB 386).

SB 90 and SB 186 now head to the Senate floor for a vote.  Please let your legislator know your support of these bills by calling 1-800-372-7181.

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