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SPOTLIGHT

Week 12 Legislative Session Update

By the KACo Advocacy Team
Amended legislative calendar this week sees movement on state budget, other items of county interest

Despite the House and Senate convening for only two legislative working days this week – Thursday and Friday – legislators have been busy working on several bills, including the state budget.

Each year at this point in the session, the legislative calendar is amended to provide legislators time to get through what is usually a significant amount of last-minute work before the veto period, which begins Mar. 29. Bills of importance to the majority caucuses in the legislature are completed and sent to the governor so that any potential gubernatorial veto can be overridden when the legislature returns Apr. 12.

Members of the state budget conference committee began their public work Monday, reviewing on camera all the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. They have been working behind closed doors throughout the week, and that is expected to continue through the weekend.

Regular committee meetings were held Tuesday and Wednesday.

Below are some of the bills of county interest that progressed through the process this week.

Budget Updates

HB 6, the executive branch budget, and HB 1, a one-time investments bill, are both in conference committee. Negotiations will continue between the chambers until they produce a final budget to send to the Governor prior to the veto period set to begin Mar. 29.

HB 265, the transportation cabinet budget, is awaiting a committee hearing and passage in the Senate before it can go to conference committee.

HB 264, the judicial branch budget, passed out of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate floor, where it is also likely to go to conference committee. The Senate version added language to require courts to use the video arraignment system that was funded in the FY2022 budget cycle. If the court does not use the video arraignment system, when available, then the Administrative Office of the Courts would be responsible for the costs associated with transporting prisoners to and from arraignments. The Senate version also added funding to expand mental health court by ten more sites - $1.6 million in FY2025 and $1.5 million in FY2026.

HB 8, the annual revenue bill, passed out of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate floor where it is also likely to go to conference committee. The Senate version clarifies current practice that utility pipelines are classified as real property after a court case determined they were tangible personal property. The Senate version also provides statutory increases to law enforcement and fire supplemental payments and adjusts each of these payments annually using the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis personal consumption expenditures price index:

  • Amends the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program (KLEFP) fund supplemental payments in statute from $4,000 a year to $4,527 a year.
  • Amends the Firefighter Foundation Program Fund supplemental payments in statute from $4,000 a year to $4,527 a year.
  • Amends the volunteer fire department aid from $11,000 to $15,000 annually to each qualifying department.

HB 456, sponsored by Rep. Samara Heavrin, adds sheriff’s offices and county police forces to the local government agencies eligible for an exception to overtime compensation. This bill passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday and heads to the Senate.

HB 13, sponsored by Rep. Adam Bowling, extends the popular Kentucky Product Development Initiative (PDI). The bill increases reporting by the Cabinet for Economic Development and sets each county’s limit up to $2 million, with regional projects able to pool their individual county allocations. The bill also addresses the local match requirements to help smaller counties that did not have enough funding to meet the match requirements.

The bill passed the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, & Labor Committee on Thursday and heads to the Senate Floor.

HJR 92, road projects, sponsored by Rep. Jason Petrie, passed the House and has been given a reading in the Senate. It will be heard in Senate committee next week and is widely expected to be sent to the governor by the end of the legislative week next Thursday, Mar. 28. 

SB 283, sponsored by Sen. Jimmy Higdon, would establish a framework for the Department of Corrections to contract with fiscal courts and regional jails to provide correctional services for state inmates, not to exceed 5% over the actual cost. The bill passed out of the House State Government Committee Thursday with a House committee substitute. The substitute protects closed jail counties by placing a restriction on the per diem rate that counties can charge when contracting with another county at the lesser of a per diem rate that does not exceed an increase of 10% from the prior year, or the actual cost of incarceration and care of an inmate within the facility.

HB 53, sponsored by Rep. John Hodgson, replaces the current risk limiting audit process for post-election voting system checks and replaces it with a post-election “Check the Tech” audit, where the Secretary of State randomly selects one ballot scanner and one race on that scanner for an audit to be performed by the county board of elections or its designee. The post-election audit would be recorded and may be streamed. HB 53 calls for reimbursement of each county clerk up to $5,000 for actual expenses incurred in this post-election audit.

The bill is on the Consent Calendar in the Senate and can be passed as soon as Monday, Mar. 25. Consent Calendar bills are voted on as a group of bills and do not have to be individually explained and voted upon by the full Senate.

SJR 175, sponsored by Sen. Damon Thayer, would direct the Public Service Commission to adopt emergency regulations to remove any utility pole attachment-related impediments to the deployment of broadband service and expedite the process of pole attachment requests, including the backlog. It would require the PSC to set up a docket for comments and find resolutions to expedite deployment. The bill has passed the Senate and was passed by the House Friday.

Remaining legislative calendar dates, subject to change:

Mar. 25 – 28:  Final legislative working days before veto period

Mar. 29 – Apr. 9: (a veto day is every day but Sunday)

Apr. 12 and 15: Final two days of 2024 session

 


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