Lawmakers pass 100+ bills in last two days before veto period begins
The two days before the veto period began Thursday were long and drawn out. Lawmakers met into the late hours both Tuesday and Wednesday this week as they quickly tried to pass legislation that Governor Beshear may veto.
The General Assembly will gavel back in on April 13 and 14. Any bills passed those last two days will not allow any time remaining for legislators to override any vetoes. We will deliver a comprehensive session report after the final day.
All three branch budget bills saw final passage this week and were delivered to the governor.
Executive Branch Budget
The Executive Branch Budget, HB 1, included big wins for counties including increased funding for county audits, jails, court security officers, county clerks, and more. For a comprehensive analysis of the bill, click here.
Judicial Branch Budget
Transportation Cabinet Budget
The Transportation Cabinet Budget, HB 241, included matching funds for federal infrastructure bill programs including mega projects and electric vehicle charging stations. The bill also included funding for general aviation airports and County Road Aid. To read more, click here.
Tax reform bill shifts tax code from reliance on income taxes
HB 8, sponsored by Rep. Jason Petrie, is the Republican majority’s plan for the next phase in state tax reform. The bill seeks to move Kentucky away from such a substantial reliance on the income tax over time and expand the sales tax to additional services. The 200-plus page bill addresses a variety of other tax policy issues including peer-to-peer car sharing, transient room tax, electric vehicles, and prefabricated homes. To read more, click here.
Office of Broadband Development established under the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority
HB 315, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Reed, establishes an Office of Broadband Development under the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. The office will be the central broadband planning and coordinating entity for the state and will administer the Broadband Deployment Fund and newly established Rural Infrastructure Improvement Fund. The Executive Branch Budget, HB1, included $1.1 million in each fiscal year to establish the office.
The bill also makes changes to the Broadband Deployment Fund:
- Changes the definition of unserved areas from 10/1 mbps to 25/3 mbps and underserved areas from 25/3 mbps to 100/20 mbps
- Explicitly states the funds can be used to supplement federal awards
- Creates a prioritization for funding projects with no service first, followed by unserved areas and lastly underserved areas
- Adjusts the level of funding available for less dense areas:
- Projects that average 0 to 5 locations per route mile may be eligible for reimbursement of up to 70 percent of the cost of the project
- Projects that average 5 to 10 locations per route mile may be eligible for reimbursement of up to 60 percent of the cost of the project
- Projects that average 11 locations or more per route mile may be eligible for reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost of the project
- Creates a timeline for applicants to receive a response on their application. The Office must issue within 60days of receipt of an application for grant funds, except in the case of a challenged application, a written acknowledgement of acceptance, denial and any reasons for denial of the application, or a request for additional information to process the application listing the specific information required.
HB 315 also establishes a Rural Infrastructure Improvement Fund for the purpose of expediting and facilitating the deployment of broadband service in unserved areas by reimbursing a portion of eligible pole replacement costs incurred by eligible applicants. The bill appropriates $20 million in FY23 from the state’s portion of the American Rescue Fund Act to the new fund. Awards under the program will be the lesser of $5,000 for each pole replaced or 50 percent of the total amount incurred or paid for eligible pole replacement costs.
The bill simplifies the process for electric cooperatives to provide broadband service by no longer requiring a certificate of public convenience and necessity in order to provide broadband. It will require an economic feasibility study to be conducted and creates protections for citizens by prohibiting an electric cooperative from requiring their customers to purchase broadband as a condition of receiving electric service.
Bill addressing jail fees charged to prisoners passes
HB 590, sponsored by Rep. Michael Meredith, reinstates the ability of counties to assess a per diem amount to inmates for their housing while in the county jail.
- A Supreme Court decision last fall stopped the imposition and collection of the fee, causing counties valuable revenue for operations.
- This bill requires the fee to be paid out of the prisoner’s initial canteen account deposit and up to 50 percent of any subsequent deposit shall be used to pay the inmate’s per diem.
- If the prisoner is not convicted, they owe nothing more and will be reimbursed for any expenses already paid.
Kentucky Product Development Initiative established
HB 745, sponsored by Rep. Adam Bowling, establishes the Kentucky Product Development Initiative to support economic development and job growth across the Commonwealth.
The Executive Branch Budget, HB 1, appropriated $100 million in FY23 to support approved development projects under the Kentucky Product Development Initiative which will be allocated by county based on population, with Jefferson County’s share discounted by 50 percent.
The allocation by county shall serve as a funding cap for all projects within that county, and no county’s share shall be reallocated unless by express authority of the General Assembly.
Library board bill passes
SB 167, sponsored by Sen. Phillip Wheeler, addresses issues regarding library district board appointments.
Current law requires judge/executives, with fiscal court approval, to choose appointees from a list sent by the State Department for Libraries and Archives (DLA) with no input from the fiscal court. This legislation provides county judge/executives with the option to either continue to choose an appointee from the DLA list, or request two more names from DLA. If the judge/executive does not select two of those names, then the judge/ executive can choose to appoint members with the approval of the fiscal court when filling vacancies or creating a new district. Current library board members will continue to serve their terms, with the new process kicking in as those terms expire. The new process does not prevent fiscal courts from re-appointing current board members for another term.
SB 167 requires approval of both the library board and the fiscal court for expenditures for leasing or capital construction projects with a total cost of $1 million or more, providing more oversight of tax dollars by elected officials.
Legislative calendar dates
- Thursday, March 31-Tuesday April 12: Veto Days (all days except Sundays)
- Wednesday, April 13 and Thursday, April 14: final two days of the 2022 Session