House Bill 413, sponsored by Rep. Russell Webber, suspends taxable wage base and holds the 2020 tax schedule for 2021 and 2022 when it comes to unemployment insurance, as employers face a huge increase in the face of high unemployment rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation also requires all benefits paid due to a declared emergency come from a pooled account and not individual employers reserve accounts.
In an effort to remove barriers to reentry for those exiting the corrections system, House Bill 497 passed the Senate and was concurred with in the House. The bill provides a certificate of employability for individuals following success in programs completed while incarcerated.
Sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, HB 497 tasks the Kentucky Department of Corrections with issuing this certification once programs are complete and also tasks the Department of Transportation with ensuring those leaving incarceration have necessary identification. The bill would also incentivize employers by providing limited liability protections, eliminating a ban on SNAP benefits for those convicted of a felony, and allowing use of Medicaid for necessary treatments if an 1115 waiver is issued. The certification of employability will not be issued to sex offenders, and there are other exclusions in the bill as well.
House Bill 475, sponsored by Rep. Walker Thomas, would bring Kentucky in line with most other states to ensure that our OSHA-related regulations are no more stringent than those set by the Federal government.
Currently, most states rely on federal OSHA programs and therefore follow federal regulations.
Teachers’ Retirement System Changes
House Bill 258, sponsored by Rep. Ed Massey, would create a new tier in the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) for any newly hired teachers in the state that would be partially defined benefit plan like the existing pension plan and part defined contribution plan, more like a 401(k).
The bill serves as a retirement plan as well as social security replacement plan, as teachers in Kentucky do not pay into social security and do not receive the benefit in retirement. The new system would provide a supplemental plan with two percent paid in by both the employee and the state, which is portable to allow an employee to take those benefits with them should they leave the teaching profession, unlike the existing KTRS pension plan.
A stabilization account is also included that can be utilized in the event funding for the plan falls below 90 percent, so the state doesn’t find itself in another deficit situation like the one that currently exists, wherein the state is the only party on the line to pay it back.
House Bill 258 makes no changes to any benefits provided to current or retired teachers.
Board of Education Changes
House Bill 178, sponsored by Rep. Steve Sheldon, seeks to bring balance and stability to the Kentucky Board of Education by requiring board appointments reflect equal gender representation and proportionally reflect the Commonwealth’s political affiliation and minority racial composition.