On The Floor


Photo: LRC Public Information - Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, presents House Bill 352, the state budget.

Legislative Update March 29, 2020

As Kentucky counties and the rest of the world make daily adjustments in response to the pandemic that has changed most of our daily routines, it is no different for the work of the General Assembly.

Following their adjusted calendar, the General Assembly were in session only one day last week in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Thursday's action saw many committees meet but most only considered one bill. Included in a short list of bills passed by both chambers, a COVID-19 relief bill was vetted, passed and sent to the Governor. A summary of that bill is included below.

Executive Branch budget negotiations continued and will be taken up again this week prior to the one scheduled work day on Wednesday, April 1st.

We remain committed to being a resource for you during these uncertain and shifting times. We will not have all the answers, but will work to find them for you. Check our website, www.kaco.org for continuous updates on our COVID-19 County Officials Resource page, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

We continue to be amazed at the creativity, compassion and resiliency you display as you lead your people.

Overriding vetos - we need your help!

We need your help in seeking a veto override on two important bills for county government. Please take a moment to contact your Senators and Representatives and ask for their support in overriding these bills when they come before the House and Senate. That could happen Wednesday, April 1st when they return to Frankfort.

Senate Bill 5 – Special Purpose Governmental Entities (SPGEs)

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Alvarado, would require most Special Purpose Governmental Entities (SPGEs) to seek approval from the county or city that established the SPGE, or that has the largest number of citizens served by the SPGE, if:

  • the SPGE seeks to impose a new property tax or fee, or
  • to increase an existing property tax or fee that would produce more revenue than the tax or fee generated in the prior fiscal year.

The legislation would allow the city or county to approve, disapprove or reduce the tax or fee. Air boards, KRS Chapter 75 fire protection districts and ambulance taxing districts are exempted as well as are certain types of fees. The most common types of SPGEs include extension services, library, ambulance, health and soil conservation.

House Bill 195 – Publications

House Bill 195, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, would help counties in two ways:

  • Require one publication of ordinances instead of the currently required two publications, saving all counties tax dollars. That's never been more critical than during this health crisis.
  • Would allow counties of 80,000 population or more - and cities, school districts, special purpose governmental entities and special districts in those counties - the option to publish the required advertisement on their website or other notice website of their choosing. The posting must be displayed on the homepage of the notice website.

If the affected counties choose to publish online, the bill still requires the county to publish an ad in a newspaper that includes:

  • Subject matter of the posting;
  • Local government contact information including phone number, for inspection of said documents;
  • A mailing and physical address where a copy of the document may be obtained;
  • Web address where the document is available online; and
  • Full URL of the notice website.

Moving Forward

Like all of you, legislators are trying to evaluate the economic impact of the pandemic on state revenues and make adjustments as best they can. With the federal packages that have been passed in the last 8 days, legislators are working through those measures to determine their impact on the budget as well. The goal remains to pass their priority legislation by the end of the day on April 1st in order to preserve veto override options when legislators return April 14-15 to close out the regular session.

 

Summary of SB150 - COVID-19 Relief Bill 

Taxes and Fees

  • Allows Governor or administrative body to waive or suspend licensing fees, renewal fees, application fees and others for occupations and professions required to be licensed in Kentucky and are now closed under the Governor’s executive order
  • Relaxes tax filing and payment deadlines, now matching federal policy
  • Requires adherence to tax payment changes made at federal level and requires same comparable changes for Kentucky payment requirements; no penalties and interest on extensions.
  • A taxing district can suspend or extend deadlines for businesses filing their next net profit or gross receipts returns

Unemployment Insurance

  • Removes seven-day wait
  • Allows employees reduced to part-time to receive partial benefit
  • Broadens definition of eligible workers to include self-employed and others not normally eligible
    Waives statute to allow an alternative base period to determine if an unemployed worker has earned sufficient wages to qualify for benefits
  • Governor would be allowed to delay the date due for employer contributions

Legal Proceedings

  • Public agencies may conduct any meeting by live audio or live video teleconferencing during the state of emergency with public notice on how the public or media can access the meeting
  • Extends to ten days the response period to an open records request
  • A public agency may delay on-site inspection during the state of emergency
  • Allows real-time video conference to be used to comply with testimony, signature or notarization requirements
  • Any deadlines for hearings required to hold or decisions to be made by any local legislative body, board or commission relating to land use, or zoning under KRS 100 are suspended
  • Any deadlines for code enforcement proceedings or hearings in KRS 65.8825-65.8828 are suspended 

Medical

  • Establishes immunity for healthcare providers who render care in good faith during the emergency
  • Allows for temporary ability for physical and occupational therapists to be deemed essential health care providers
  • State boards of medical licensure, emergency services, and nursing allowed to waive or modify some laws

OTHER LEGISLATION

Voter ID
SB2, (R. Mills) known as the Voter ID Bill

Final House language that was retained:

Retain original provisions of the bill with the following changes: amend to permit an otherwise qualified voter to cast a ballot on the day of any primary or an election, if the voter is personally recognized by the election officer and the election officer executes an affirmation attesting to personally knowing the voter; require the election officer affirmation to be processed in the same manner as an oath of voter; allow a voter to claim an impediment to providing proof of identification by affirming a lack of obtaining a birth certificate or other documents needed to show proof of identification, not on the basis of the inability to afford documents; allow a voter to claim any reasonable impediment that prevents a voter from procuring proof of identification; amend to delete provisional voting for state elections and to limit provisional voting to only federal elections with federal candidates; add and amend Section 33, KRS 117.035, to allow for the county board of elections to rule on questions regarding proof of identification; amend various sections to conform; make technical corrections.
Free Conference Committee Changes included in the final version:

Delete the provision that an impediment to procuring proof of identification may include any other reasonable impediment with an explanation of the impediment; term "personally known" means an election officer knows the voter's name and that the voter is a resident of the community; delete the provision that "proof of identification" may include a document issued by any other state that contains the name and photograph of the individual.


CERS Separation
HB484, (R. Webber) the CERS separation bill, passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee Wednesday.


BILLS STILL MOVING



Indemnification of Prosecutors
SB64, (R. Girdler) provides that a prosecutor shall be indemnified by the Finance Cabinet for financial loss after being sued for an act or omission in the course of official duties.

STATUS: Voted favorably out of Senate Judiciary Committee; Awaits Senate floor vote.

DUI Search Warrant
SB74, (W. Westerfield) removes the restriction that a judge can only issue a search warrant for a blood or urine test when a defendant has been charged with driving under the influence and a person has been killed or suffered physical injury.

STATUS: Voted favorably out of Senate Judiciary Committee; Awaits Senate floor vote.

Deputy Jailers
HB299, (K.Banta) allows jailers to appoint deputy jailers who are nonresidents of Kentucky.

STATUS: awaits Senate floor vote.

Transfer of Jail Prisoners
HB361, (D. Frazier) would require an agreement between an originating and receiving jail before a judge can order the transfer of a prisoner, requires a Circuit Judge to review his or her transfer order every 60 days and provide for the transfer of state prisoners from jails at or over 150 percent capacity.

STATUS: awaits Senate floor vote.

Regulatory Licensing Fees
HB426, (P. Pratt) would allow any county or city other than a consolidated local government or an urban-county government, to impose a regulatory licensing fee on alcohol.

STATUS: awaits Senate Licensing & Occupations committee hearing.

Interlocal Agreements:
HB570, (M. Meredith) would update and streamline the interlocal agreement process between government agencies.

STATUS: awaits Senate floor vote.

Budgets

The House and the Senate are still meeting to discuss the budget bills.

-HB 351, the accompanying revenue measure to the Executive Branch budget;
-HB 352, Executive Branch biennial budget;
-HB 353, the Transportation Cabinet biennial road plan and budget;
-HB 354, Biennial Highway Construction Plan;
-HB 355, Legislative Branch biennial budget;

Below are details on the Executive Branch budget and its accompanying revenue bill.
Changes in the Senate budget include:

  • County Costs (out of Finance Cabinet budget) earmark for Sheriff courthouse expenses was reduced from the $10 amount in the House budget to $9 in the Senate budget (same as was proposed by the Governor)
  • Local and District Health Department Retirement Costs contribution from the Executive Budget was reduced significantly by the Senate. The Governor's proposal was increased by the House (From $41.9 million each year to $48.6 million each year). The Senate proposal reduces the appropriation to $25.4 million each year.
  • Coal Severance funds are still distributed to coal-producing counties, but the Senate does withhold an additional $2 million to fund mine inspectors.

Changes in the Senate revenue bill include:

  • No language for Constitutional Amendment HB475, which would have allowed the General Assembly to address local tax reform options. This bill was defeated in the House and will not be re-addressed this Session.
  • PVA fees an additional fee bracket for fees of $100,000 in a city having an assessment subject to city tax or $6 billion or more
  • PVA fees an additional bracket paid by a fiscal court of $400,000, if the assessed value of property subject to county tax is $15 billion or more
  • Police officers and firefighters annual stipend will be increased based on the previous two calendar years CPI-U index
  • Coal Severance Export Refund Process- establishes a refund process effective Aug. 1, 2020, for coal severance tax if the tax is paid on coal exported outside of North America using an export terminal in Canada or Mexico. This clause sunsets on July 1, 2030.
  • Language encouraging solar-generated electricity in city and county buildings
  • Removes language that a city and county may publish online rather than in the local newspaper.

 

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