Kentucky Association of Counties

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The Kentucky Association of Counties

2021 Session Update - Week 5

By Gracie Lagadinos, Government Affairs Associate
As we approached the halfway mark of the 30-day legislative session this week, the pace of legislation is moving rapidly. Many bills filed this week have already had committee hearings, and some even have been voted on within their originating chamber.

Week 5, Part II (Legislative Days 15-19 ) Feb. 21-26

While the bill filing deadline Tuesday guaranteed no additional bills would be filed, there is still the possibility a committee substitute or a floor amendment can significantly alter a bill. Stay informed by following us on Twitter @KACo, Facebook and on our website.

This week, legislative leaders also made some slight changes to the legislative calendar. Click here for an updated session calendar. 

URGENT ACTION NEEDED - Transportation Funding

Rep. Sal Santoro filed House Bill 561, which increases the gas tax, adds fees for electric vehicles and modifies the state’s road funding formulas. The bill will result in an estimated $44.4 million boost to county road aid, or an increase of 34 percent. Click here to view a summary provided by the Kentucky Infrastructure Coalition on the state’s transportation funding needs. Increased transportation funding is the No. 1 legislative priority for counties for the 2021 session. Click here to see an estimate of each county’s additional revenues under HB 561. 

House Bill 561:

  • Sets the gas tax at an initial base rate of $0.346/gallon (currently at $0.246/gallon) and adjusts the rate annually.
  • Establishes a $150 annual highway user fee for electric vehicles.
  • Establishes an annual highway preservation fee for vehicles with a fuel efficiency rating above 30 miles per gallon ($35 for vehicles with a rating between 30-39 miles per gallon and $40 for vehicles with a rating above 40 miles per gallon).
  • Increases various fees collected by county clerks (vehicle registration fees, special license plate fees and state traffic school)

Call your legislator TODAY, and ask them to support House Bill 561 and encourage them to sign on as a co-sponsor.

If you have cell phone numbers, use those. If not, use the hotline number 1-800-372-7181 to leave a message.

COVID-19 Liability Protection-SB 5 (support)

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers (R- Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe), provides COVID-19 liability protection to the state, local governments, private persons, volunteers, professional engineers and architects, and persons providing essential services during an emergency. This legislation is critical to prevent local governments from facing frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits. Click here to read more about SB5. 

Budget Updates

Discussions on the state budget between the House and Senate continue behind closed doors, so it’s important to continue your communications with legislators on holding the line at current funding levels for the state services counties perform every day.

Highlights of New Legislation this week

HB 513, sponsored by House Local Government Chairman Michael Meredith (R-  Edmonson, Warren (part)), includes language to clarify fees for property tax collections by sheriffs, in conjunction with the state auditor’s office. It requires that any local government placing any special tax, license, or other charge on a property tax bill shall negotiate a collection fee of up to 4.25 percent for any sheriff collecting this fee, tax or license.

HB 566, sponsored by House Local Government Chairman Michael Meredith (R-  Edmonson, Warren (part)), extends the deadline of the requirement of fiscal courts to initiate reapportionment proceedings from 2021 to 2022 due to late certification of 2020 U.S. Census numbers. 

HB 574, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Decker, is an omnibus election bill incorporating some of the COVID-19 related changes ushered in by Gov. Andy Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams during last year’s elections.

  • Early voting means polls would be open the Thursday to Saturday before Election Day for anyone to vote.
  • It does not require counties to have more than one location.
  • It would allow voting centers for any voter to cast a ballot, regardless of where he or she lives.
  • It does not provide for universal mail-in ballots but does continue the web portal for applying for absentee ballots.

SB 4, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers (R- Clay, Knox, Lee, Owsley, Whitley, Wolfe), creates new sections of KRS Chapter 455 governing warrants authorizing entry without notice. 

  • It creates procedures and requirements for the issuance of both search warrants and arrest warrants authorizing entry without notice. 
  • It requires judges to review applications for warrants authorizing entry without notice carefully and impartially. 
  • It requires that service of warrants authorizing entry without notice to be executed by members of a SWAT team, a special response team, or another established team or unit trained and tasked with resolving high-risk situations and incidents that have received appropriate training in these actions.
  • It requires that the law enforcement officers executing the warrant be equipped with body-worn cameras and shall record the entirety of the execution of the warrant.
  • States an officer's false statement in an application for a warrant authorizing entry without notice constitutes perjury in the first degree, which is a Class D felony. 

SB 211, sponsored by Senator Danny Carroll (R- Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall, McCracken), primarily increases the punishment for crimes committed during the course of a riot.

  • Increased incarceration time and fines resulting from when they occur during the course of a riot.
  • Provides that an individual losing all of their public assistance benefits due to a conviction of an offense detailed above and if they can provide proof of marriage, they will lose only half of those benefits. If the individual can establish that they provide support to one or more dependent children, they will lose 25 percent of those benefits.
  • States if a person is charged with a violation, he or she shall not be released until 48 hours have passed since the time of arrest and the person appears before a judge
  • States a violent offender convicted of assault in the second or third-degree during the course of a riot shall not be released on probation or parole until he or she has served at least 85 percent of the sentence imposed.
  • Clarifies that individuals may recover the full amount of damage to property from local governments if proven the local government could have prevented the damage. 
  • States Kentucky and its political subdivisions (local governments) waive the sovereign immunity as a defense against property damage.

Click here for a full list of bills on which KACo has taken a position. Ask your legislators to support bills that will help counties and oppose bills that will not. 

As always, please email shellie.hampton@kaco.org or gracie.lagadinos@kaco.org with any questions or feedback from legislators. We appreciate everything you do to lead counties to a successful session. 

 

Kentucky Association of Counties
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