After squabbles over the state’s next two-year budget continued over the weekend, legislative leaders have agreed to move the last legislative day of the 2016 session to Friday, April 15.
The bump in the date gives the budget conference committee a few more days to work on an agreement in order to get it printed and delivered to every legislator before they vote on the full legislation in both the House and the Senate.
Disagreements continue to focus on funding for the state’s woefully underfunded pension systems and what type of cut, if any, the state’s colleges and universities will receive in the next two years. Other stumbling blocks include performance-based funding conditions for higher education and funding for the House’s Work Ready Scholarship program, which would give scholarships to community and technical colleges.
Once an agreement is reached, it will have to go through both legislative chambers in the twelve hours allotted for the final day as they will convene at noon Friday and are not permitted to go past midnight.
However, because of the decision to work through the veto period, the governor will now have the ability to veto parts of the budget without the possibility of legislative override. So what the legislature passes could see changes that cannot be reversed once it reaches Gov. Matt Bevin.
If they do not reach an agreement and fail to vote out a budget on Friday, they will be called back for a special session at some point to craft a budget—an exercise that costs taxpayers $60,000 per day.
Transparency and Oversight for Area Development Districts
Meanwhile, the budget isn’t the only item left in front of the General Assembly on Friday.
The Senate recently indicated their intention to pass legislation that seeks to bring transparency and oversight to the state’s area development districts along with some other transparency legislation on the final day of session, which the Kentucky Chamber supported in a letter to legislators.
“To prevent this transparency bill and several other transparency bills previously passed by the Senate from dying, we intend to act early on the final legislative day by sending legislation to the House which includes Rep. Westrom’s House Bill 438,” Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer stated last week.
Essential Pension System Changes
Another transparency bill passed by the Senate awaiting final action which has the strong support of the Kentucky Chamber is Senate Bill 2, a key pension bill which would bring much needed changes to the state’s ailing retirement systems. The Kentucky Chamber has run radio ads in support of that legislation and sent out action alerts to urge the passage of what the business community sees as the most essential pension bill of the 2016 session.
Chamber-Backed Workers’ Comp Resolution
Chamber-backed Workers’ Compensation Task Force measure, House Concurrent Resolution 185, also awaits final action in the Senate on the final day. The resolution, co-sponsored by Chairman Rick Nelson (D) Middlesboro, and Rep. Adam Koenig (R) Erlanger, would establish a task force made up of equal parts labor and business to look at the workers’ compensation system.
The Kentucky Chamber has worked alongside the Kentucky League of Cities, the AFL-CIO and others to craft the legislation to examine the workers’ compensation system and make recommendations to the General Assembly. The Chamber recently sent a letter urging passage of the measure before legislators leave Frankfort.
Vetoes and Loose Ends
Legislators will also have to decide whether or not they want to override vetoes issued by Gov. Matt Bevin in the last few weeks. Bevin recently issued vetoes on the state’s biennial revenue bill as well as parts of the judicial branch budget (get more details from cn|2 Pure Politics here).
Bevin also vetoed three bills over the weekend brought by the Republican Senate, and legislators will have to decide whether or not to override those vetoes or let them stand.
There are other loose ends that have to be tied up in the final hours and committee meetings happening on the last day to send bills to the floor in a last minute push.
Stay Up to Date
The Bottom Line will be monitoring all the legislative action Friday and will post updates here on the news site.
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