March Madness continues. Some 789 bills were filed by the House and Senate this session. 155 of them passed in the final week, 119 on Thursday alone. These included some hotly debated issues, like abortion, net metering and tax policy. Thursday was the final day before the 10-day veto break.

Some expected the legislature to revisit the pension issue, but no dice.

In basketball news, ¾ of the NCAA Regional brackets have Kentucky teams in them. We expect that each will move past their first-round opponents this week! Congratulations:

Kentucky

Murray State

Louisville

Northern Kentucky University

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What’s moved?

HB354 (Rudy) | Tax Changes  

This bill did several things including: repeal of the bank franchise tax; elimination of sales tax on charity event admissions; charges sales tax on Netflix and other streaming services. In total, provisions will cost the state general fund $106 million.

HB 21 (Moser) | Family and Youth Services

Allows school districts to accept monetary donations for operation and maintenance of family resources and youth services centers. This bill received strong support throughout its journey, passing out of both chambers unanimously.

HB 22 (Hart) | Boards of Education

Changes a local board vacancy from being appointed by the chief state school officer to being appointed by a majority vote of the local board; Establishes a timeline and procedures of appointment along with procedures for a failure to make appointment by a local board. 

HB 46 (Reed) | Public School National Motto

The legislation requires each public elementary and secondary school to display the national motto in a prominent location in the school.

HB 61 (Moser) | Educational Excellence Scholarships

Allows KEES funds to be used for qualified workforce training programs.

HB 114 (Dossett) | Elections

Amid controversy, the bill adds two retired county clerks to the Board of Elections (to be appointed by the Governor) and removes the Secretary of State as Board chair.

HB 268 (Rudy) | Appropriations

Permits the Governor to be flexible with investments in Kentucky Parks, economic development opportunities and research at higher education institutions.

HB 378 (Meade) | Youth Homelessness

Enables easier credit transferring between schools, allows for a student to receive a copy of their birth certificate, and allows for mental health counseling of students 16+ w/o permission from an adult guardian.

SB 6 (Stivers) | Executive Branch Lobbying

Requires executive branch lobbyists to report who they’re working for, what matters they’re working on, and how much they’re paid. This bill received massive support from both chambers following bribery and kickback cases related to the executive branch.

SB 9 (Castlen) | Heartbeat Bill

Prohibits abortion upon detection of fetal heartbeat, approximately 6 weeks gestation. The bill does provide exceptions for medical emergencies, and in the event of a medical emergency, a physician must provide documentation for rationale.

SB 57 (Higdon) | Felony Expungements

This bill extends the opportunity for expungement from 62 offenses to all Class D felonies. Following a 10 year waiting period, an individual may apply to have an offense cleared from their record. The bill passed the Senate and the House with overwhelming support.

SB 85 (Westerfield) | Ignition Interlock

Bill designed to strengthen the ignition interlock program and Kentucky DUI laws.

SB 100 (Smith) | Net Metering

Alters the practices regarding compensation for utility consumers with solar panels in their homes or businesses. Despite early momentum in mid-February, a House amendment which sought to make consumer-friendly revisions caused the bill to be grounded for a period. Eventually, the amendment was dropped and the bill received final passage.

SB 250 (Adams) | Public Education

JCPS superintendent given more authority including the hiring of principals, plus more contracting power.

What’s stuck?

HB 11 (Moser) | Student Health   

The bill prohibits the use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on public school properties in addition to sites hosting school-related trips or activities. The bill has been amended to allow local school boards to opt-out of the prohibitions within a three-year timeframe. Even with a nearly month-long delay in action from mid-February to mid-March, HB11 is eligible to receive final passage on March 28th, the final day of session.

HB 358 (Tipton) | Pension relief

The House rejected the Senate’s changes to HB 358 on Thursday. The original bill created a mechanism for universities to leave the Kentucky Retirement System. The Senate went further to include a group of seven colleges and quasi-governmental agencies, such as local health departments, mental health nonprofits, and rape crisis centers. The House voted down the proposed additions of the “quasi” agencies. Read more here.

HB 499 (Carney) | Executive Branch Salary

The Senate did not take up the measure to significantly cut the salary of Kentucky’s CIO. Last year the CIO received a raise of $215,000 which Governor Bevin justified as fair considering both private sector pay and money the CIO’s office has saved the state. However, the House sponsored and passed a measure to cut the salary, while the Senate did not bring it to a vote. Should they decide to pass it on Day 30, the legislature would not be able to meet again to override a veto.

What’s dead?

HB 136 (St. Onge) | Medical Marijuana

Bill that would permit physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from certain conditions passed convincingly out of House committee following testimony from chronic pain sufferers Despite strengthened support for the proposed legislation, the bill never received a vote on the House floor.

HB 175 (Koenig) | Sports Wagering

Legislation would legalize sports wagering on college and professional sporting events at select KY locations or through an app. HB175 would also allow online poker to be regulated through the KY Lottery. Despite an estimated $20 million bump in state revenue generated, the bill was never voted on by the House.

HB 205 (Carney) | Scholarship Tax Credits

The measure provided for tax credits in exchange for donations to private school scholarship programs. The bill received two readings on the House floor but was never passed out of committee amid significant protest by teacher groups and education associations.

HB 517 (Santoro) | Gas Tax

The bill creating a tax on gasoline purchases stalled in a House committee last week. The measure called for a 10-cent-per-gallon tax and raised other fees on license plate renewals and electric vehicles. Estimates projected that the taxes would generate nearly $500 million a year in additional revenue entirely dedicated for road/bridge repair and construction.

HB 525 (Upchurch) | Teachers’ Retirement Trustees

The current board has seven KEA controlled seats, with four appointed by the governor. HB525 says five seats would be determined by the governor, six by other educational groups, and two by KEA, as well as adds a CPA. The bill was reported favorably by committee but never received a vote on the House floor following major teacher protests.

Here’s a look at what’s coming up

March 18-26 Veto Days for the Government to review legislation.

March 21 – Should be an official holiday!

(7) University of Louisville vs (10) Minnesota 12:15pm CBS

(14) Northern Kentucky University vs (3) Texas Tech 1:30pm TNT

(12) Murray State University vs (5) Marquette 4:30pm CBS

(2) University of Kentucky vs (15) Abilene Christian 7:10pm CBS

March 28 Final Day of session known as “Sine Die” or to adjourn indefinitely.

Resources 

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Kentucky Legislative Weekly Wrap-Up video

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