Kentucky Association of Counties

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The Kentucky Association of Counties

Fourth week of the 2021 legislative session sees flurry of activity

By Gracie Lagadinos, Government Affairs Associate
Kentucky freezing over did not affect the General Assembly rolling through action this week.

2021 General Assembly
Regular Session Legislative Update
Week 4, Part II (Legislative Days 12-14)
Feb. 9-11, 2021

With a wide variety of topics and priorities being addressed this session, both the House and the Senate extended their deadlines to file bills to Tuesday, Feb. 16. Click here to see an updated session calendar. 

Stay informed by following us on Twitter @KACo, Facebook @KACo, and on our website.

ACTION NEEDED - Transportation Funding

For several years, increased funding to improve Kentucky’s infrastructure has been the top priority for KACo and a huge coalition of public and private partners, with no progress in the General Assembly. 

As Kentucky’s transportation infrastructure continues to fall behind other states, this issue has continually been put on the back burner. Counties cannot afford to wait any longer. Tuesday, Feb. 16, is the last day in this session for bills to be filed, and we don’t have a good indication the gas tax bill will be one of them. Without action on this issue in 2021, the legislature will have, for the fourth consecutive year, chosen not to take action on this important issue.

Contact your legislators today, and demand that they file the bill to increase the gas tax, which funds county roads and bridges. If you have their cell phone numbers, call those. It’s also important to leave them a “green slip” message on the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. Read a copy of this urgent legislative action alert here

COVID-19 Liability Protection-SB 5 (support)

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee passed SB 5 with some changes. The new language narrows the liability protection for claims related only to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will be heard on the Senate floor next week. Click here to read the full committee substitute.

Historical Horse Racing-SB 120 (support)

SB 120, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel (R- Boone), would allow historical horse racing operations to continue in the Commonwealth. 

“Historical horse racing has allowed Kentucky’s horse industry to expand and flourish at a time when other states have struggled,” Schickel said on the Senate floor. “Senate Bill 120 is a bill that will support real jobs and real families.”

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 22-15. Thursday evening, after three hours of debate, the bill passed the House 55-38. Gov. Andy Beshear has indicated he will sign the bill into law. 

Felony Threshold Bill-HB 126 (oppose)

HB126, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Ed Massey (R- Boone), amends numerous KRS sections to increase the felony threshold for theft and fraud offenses to $1,000. 

It creates a Class B misdemeanor level for theft and fraud offenses and amends the Class A misdemeanor level to be $500 or more but less than $1,000. It also enhances the penalty for three convictions of a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony if the convictions occur within a five-year period and allows offenses that occur within 90 days to be aggregated into one offense.

KACo opposes HB126 because it creates more misdemeanor offenses, and counties are financially responsible for all misdemeanor costs. We are grateful to Chairman Massey for the open line of communication he always has, allowing us to express our concerns over the bill. He has pledged to work with counties during the interim to address the financial burden counties bear with jail costs. 

HB126 passed in the House Wednesday by a vote of 63-24. The bill heads to the Senate. 

Highlights of new legislation filed this week

HB 428, sponsored by Rep. Tom O’Dell Smith (R-Corbin), would allow more counties to collect occupational tax countywide until reaching 100,000 population, at which time city occupational license would be credited against the county’s occupational tax. Currently that threshold is 30,000. 

HB 451, sponsored by Rep. Sal Santoro (R-Boone), would establish transportation improvement districts, organized by counties, either alone or with two other contiguous counties. Such districts could issue revenue bonds or levy an assessment to purchase, construct, maintain, repair, sell, exchange, police, operate or lease projects.  

Click here for a full list of bills on which KACo has taken a position. 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 help move counties forward!  

Kentucky Association of Counties
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