Legislative session enters final weeks
County audit bill discussed in committee
HB 588, sponsored by Rep. John Blanton, was heard for discussion only this week in the House Local Government Committee. The bill seeks to save taxpayer dollars on audits for county offices. In working with the state Auditor of Public Accounts on the issue, negotiations have resulted in the legislative proposal of an Outlier Audit Assistance Program for audits dating back to audits billed in FY19-20 and after.
KACo Executive Director/CEO Jim Henderson joined Rep. John Blanton and State Auditor Mike Harmon in Wednesday’s House Local Government Committee meeting to testify on the bill. Legislators on the committee were briefed on the need for these funds to be included in the state budget for two years while collaborative work would continue on a more permanent solution for both counties and the Auditor’s office.
Budget, state tax reform talks continue, close to completion
The budget and tax reform bills have been worked on behind the scenes all week and will continue again today. There are several items for counties in either one or both chambers’ state budgets, including:
- $4 increase in the county jail per diem
- Increase in the court security officer reimbursement rate from $9 to $15 per hour
- Funding for County Clerks e-recording and election equipment
- Increased funding for County Attorneys and Commonwealth’s Attorneys offices
- Increased funding for the State Medical Examiner which will help coroner offices
- Additional American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for water and broadband infrastructure
The Transportation Cabinet Budget and Judicial Branch Budget still remain in the Senate awaiting a committee hearing.
Bills on elections cleanup, online portal for recorded documents both pass
HB 564, sponsored by Rep. Josh Branscum, will clean up the time gap between the closing of absentee ballot application portals and the beginning of early voting that runs the Thursday-Saturday before election day. It also sets the hours of early voting for those days. The bill has been passed by the House, amended in the Senate and awaits an expected final vote on the Senate amendments in the House. Funding for this work is included in the budget talks. We are hopeful it will remain in the finalized version that will come out next week.
SB 135, sponsored by Sen. Jason Howell, addresses the long-standing work of clerks’ offices to digitize recorded deeds, mortgages and liens for online searches, greatly reducing the need to visit the office for those documents. Deadlines are in place for the uploading of historic documents going back thirty and sixty years, respectively. Funding for this work is included in the budget talks. We are hopeful it will remain in the finalized version that will come out next week. SB 135 was signed into law by the Governor this week.
Constable bill on peace officer powers, training, closer to becoming law
HB 239, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, include the following provisions:
- Prohibits any constable or deputy constable who is taking office for the first time after January 1, 2023, who was not a constable or deputy constable in the preceding four (4) year term of office, from exercising general police powers unless previously certified and maintains their certification.
- After January 1, 2023, constables elected for the first time or deputies appointed must be certified and maintain that certification in order to be granted peace officer powers.
- Requires a monthly report to the fiscal court on the number of each kind of civil processes and orders received, the total number of each returned executed, returned unexecuted, and not returned and not executed, as well as the fees collected.
The bill has passed the House and was passed by a Senate committee this week, and awaits a floor vote in the Senate.
Legislative calendar dates to note
- Tuesday-Wednesday, March 29-30: last two legislative days before veto period
- 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