Legislative panel discusses upcoming 2021 session
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted nearly every part of our daily lives, and attending in-person conferences is no exception. Nevertheless, the Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association (KCJEA) and Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association (KMCA) provided local officials with educational material, great speakers and interactive discussion this week during their annual joint conference.
Held virtually this year, the conference featured county advocacy leaders sharing local issues and priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session with members.
Panelists included KCJEA Executive Director Vince Lang, KMCA Executive Director JC Young, Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts Executive Director Tony Wilder and KACo Legislative Director Shellie Hampton.
They discussed the need for increased infrastructure funding. JC Young shared that a recent survey of KMCA members concluded 86 percent favor an increased gas tax and agreed to contact their legislators in support of such legislation.
“ADDs are going to be a partner on transportation enhancement efforts,” Wilder added.
Panelists urged their members to immediately begin reaching out to their legislators to stress the dire importance of increased infrastructure funding. “Legislators are going to expect local governments to show their support,” Lang said.
“Mostly everything during the 2021 Session is going to be COVID-19 related,” Hampton said. “Pick a topic: education, telehealth, local government, criminal justice, anything else, and COVID-19 has affected it somehow.”
One such topic the pandemic has shed light on is the need for broadband accessibility and affordability across Kentucky. Local revenue options and more CARES Act funding flexibility are also critical for counties to maintain or increase their fiscal health.
During the 2020 Session, the General Assembly passed a one-year budget amid the unprecedented public health and economic crisis of COVID-19 in hopes of obtaining a more accurate assessment of a post-COVID-19 budget outlook for FY22.
Hampton discussed the importance of maintaining current funding and advocating for increased revenue for counties.