County priority bills filed during fifth week of legislative session
Winter weather adjusts legislative session calendar
Due to inclement weather, the General Assembly canceled all business for Friday, Feb. 4. The last day for new bills to be filed is now March 1 for House bills and March 3 for Senate bills. Click here for the updated 2022 Regular Session calendar.
County priority bills filed to allow counties to levy restaurant taxes, lift some restrictions on occupational license fees
Rep. Tom O’Dell Smith filed two pieces of legislation this week to address inequities in current law that restrict county funding streams. HB 438 will remove the arbitrary restrictions placed on occupational license fees in counties over 30,000 population, allowing countywide collection of payroll taxes and removing the cap on the tax rate. HB 438 would create an equitable system for all 120 counties for the collection of occupational license fees.
HB 449 will allow all counties and cities to levy a restricted use restaurant tax of up to 3% each. Funds from the restaurant tax would be required to be reinvested in the community to promote tourism, recreation and economic development. Under HB 449, 25% of the restaurant taxes collected would be distributed to the tourism commission. The remaining funds would be required to be used by the local government for the capital construction, maintenance or operation of infrastructure that supports tourism, recreation or economic development within the jurisdiction.
Solar power legislation moves forward
HB 392, sponsored by Rep. Branscum, passed out of the House Local Government Committee this week and awaits a vote by the full House. The legislation addresses an emerging energy trend for many of our counties that currently has very limited regulation in Kentucky law, leaving fiscal courts with little legal direction. This bill would ensure primacy of a local government over a number of requirements related to “merchant electric generating facilities”, known commonly as solar power operations. HB 392 plans for dismantling solar facilities once they are no longer in use and allows each county to determine the level of involvement in that process, known as decommissioning.
The bill also includes the requirement for any solar company or developer who wishes to construct a solar power generating facility to secure a bond to cover the decommissioning cost. The county can choose whether or not to be named as a beneficiary of the bond. Another pro-county section of the bill provides that an ordinance, permit or license issued by a local government shall have primacy over the requirements of state law.
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