Kentucky U.S. Rep. Andy Barr believes many of the spending bills moving through Congress currently will have a positive impact on business and says he is fighting the legislation that won’t. The Kentucky Congressman also said he believes the Congressional delegation will be able to work with new Governor Matt Bevin on some important issues.
In a recent sit-down interview with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Barr noted Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid in the state and the upcoming bill that will come due in 2017 when the federal government is no longer paying 100 percent of the cost.
The cost of the expansion, Barr said, is a huge unfunded liability for the state that Bevin’s administration will have to deal with thoughtfully.
“One thing Governor Bevin and I agree on for sure is it’s not just about a liability for Kentucky taxpayers, we want what’s best for uninsured Kentuckians. And Medicaid expansion is not what is best for uninsured Kentuckians. We want something better than Medicaid, we don’t believe that access to a waiting line is access to health care,” Barr said (starting at 14:30 in the interview below). “So I think there is an opportunity for partnership at both the federal level and the state level to deliver something better than Kynect, better than Medicaid expansion.”
Other members of Kentucky’s federal delegation have also been talking about partnering with Gov. Bevin on issues. Hear what Congressman Hal Rogers had to say about the future of the SOAR initiative partnership here.
As for federal issues that have a positive impact on Kentucky, Barr noted the transportation bill recently passed by Congress as a big victory for business, stating that the country has not had a long-term solution in many years and the five year deal will be helpful to the economy.
“It will prioritize nationally significant projects which gives us a shot, here in Kentucky, at funding—at least preliminary funding—for a replacement to the Brent Spence Bridge, critical for that I-75 corridor,” Barr said, adding that the bill contains more flexibility for state and local governments to decide where the federal transportation dollars are spent. “It is very important for the competitiveness of our country.”
The Brent Spence Bridge project has been a topic of debate for many years in the state as differences of opinions over the funding for the initiative continue. Many believe that the bridge can’t be built without tolls while others say it is the job of the federal government to fund such a transportation project and argue that tolls would place an unfair burden on the people of northern Kentucky.
Congressman Barr discussed how the new transportation bill could get money to the state from the federal government (at 2:00 in the interview).
Also passed in the transportation funding bill was a piece of legislation introduced by the Kentucky Congressman that has now been signed into law.
Barr’s bill allows communities to contest their designation as “non-rural” and the restrictions that designation brings on lending by community banks and credit unions.
“A constituent of mine, a small community banker from a small community bank in Bath County, Kentucky, approached me and said that the Washington one size fits all rule that prevented his bank from making certain lending decisions because they were classified as ‘non-rural’. Well, this is Bath County, Kentucky, one of the most rural places in the country,” Barr said (at 3:30).
Barr, who has taken the lead on many banking and insurance issues since being elected to Congress, has also seen movement on another bill he introduced that would promote affordable home financing and “discourage the practice of securitizing and selling of mortgages that led to the 2008 financial crisis.”
The bill, the Portfolio Lending and Mortgage Access Act, passed the U.S. House in November and Barr said he is hopeful the bill will continue to move through Congress as he said it is the top regulatory relief priority of the Kentucky Bankers Association. (Hear more about the bill at 5:00 in the interview below).
Barr has also been working to fight the Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to expand the definition of fiduciary investment advice under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a rule to which the Kentucky Chamber has expressed opposition.
“The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule is really one of those one size fits all, 1,000 page rule that would really compromise access to financial advice,” Barr said (starting at 9:00 in the interview). “Employers would not be able to bring in financial advisers to provide basic educational materials to their workers, many investors with small accounts will not be able to access information for their 401(k)s, and middle class incomes will lose access to professional advice.”
Hear more from Congressman Barr, including what he expects from his caucus under new leadership and other federal issues, by watching the full interview below: