Felony expungement, prevailing wage and omnibus alcohol bills pass floor votes

Wrapping up the first full week of the 2016 legislative session, the General Assembly began passing Kentucky Chamber supported legislation out of the House and Senate.

Felony Expungement passes the House

The state House passed House Bill 40 Friday to allow individuals charged with a single, certain, non-violent Class D Felony to have their record expunged after time is served and a waiting period has passed.

The felony expungement legislation has been supported by the Kentucky Chamber and passed a House committee earlier in the week after testimony from Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson.

On the floor of the House Friday, legislators debated the issue for an hour. Many members expressed the need for the legislation because of workforce pressures currently facing the state and the need to give Kentuckians a second chance.

The final vote on House Bill 40 was 80-11. The bill now moves to the state Senate.

Repealing Prevailing Wage passes in Senate

Senate Bill 9, legislation that would eliminate the government defined hourly wage in construction contracts known as prevailing wage on all educational buildings and facilities, passed the Senate Thursday with a 26-11 vote. The bill passed the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday.

The Kentucky Chamber has been supportive of legislation that seriously examines the state’s prevailing wage laws, which must be made more representative of local wages by utilizing more effective methods of data collection than the current hearings process.

By once again allowing an exemption for these projects, greater investments would be made in technology, improved facilities and in the classroom.

Senate Bill 9 now moves to the House.

Alcohol Sales and Tourism passes in Senate

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 11, an omnibus alcohol bill looking to boost the state’s economic development and tourism, Thursday with a 29-8 vote. The Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee voted Tuesday to pass the bill Tuesday.

The bill makes a number of changes to laws impacting breweries, distilleries, and wineries in Kentucky including:

  • Increases the number of gallons a winery can produce from 50,000 to 100,000 per year.
  • Increases the number of barrels produced at a microbrewery in one year from 25,000 to 50,000.
  • Allows a winery to produce up to 1,000 gallons of brandy per year.
  • Allows local option election for the sale of alcoholic beverages at a distillery in a dry or moist county.
  • Allows for a limited sale precinct election for the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday at a small farm winery located in a wet or moist territory.
  • Increases the number of liters that can be sold at a distillery to someone of legal age from 3 to 9 per day.
  • Allows the sale of malt beverages produced at microbreweries at fairs and festivals in wet territories.
  • Allows the sale of distilled spirits by the drink at retail at distilleries in wet territories or in territories where limited sales have been authorized for distilleries.
  • Allows a distillery to provide no more than 1.75 ounces of samples per visitor per day.
  • Creates a special temporary alcoholic beverage auction license to enable charitable organizations to sell alcoholic beverages by auction or raffle.
  • Allows a license for by the drink sales at bed and breakfast facilities and distilleries.
  • Authorizes by the drink sales while riding a quadricycle.
  • Outlaws the possession and sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol.

Kentucky Chamber Board member Kevin Smith of Beam-Suntory testified in favor of the bill during the committee meeting Tuesday stating that the legislation would help grow the economy, create jobs and more by allowing visitors to the state to have a “Napa-like” experience with the state’s growing bourbon industry.

Kentucky’s distilling industry has a significant impact on the state’s economy, producing 95 percent of the world’s bourbon and contributing over $3 billion in gross state product while generating $166 million a year in tax revenue. The Kentucky Chamber strongly supports initiatives to protect and grow the iconic industry. For Kentucky to maintain its dominance in the distilling industry and attract new distilleries, SB 11 would update the tourism and hospitality statues written before the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® was created to take advantage of the booming bourbon tourism industry.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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