With the change in the balance of power (where both chambers, and the executive branch, are all held by a single party), we anticipate this will be a fast moving session.
New Leadership: For the first time since 1921, Republicans hold the majority in the Kentucky House, which means the house committee chairs will now be Republicans rather than Democrats. In addition, the house republican leadership made a few structural changes to the house committees, eliminating the Labor and Industry Committee and adding the new Small Business and Information Technology Committee. The Natural Resources and the Environment Committee has now become the Natural Resources and Energy Committee (to be chaired by former Democrat turned Republican Jim Gooch) and the Tourism Development and Energy Committee has now become the Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee.
Additional information about the 2017 legislative session HERE.
Additional information about the legislature HERE.
New Regulatory Proposals: On the regulatory front, newly proposed coal ash regulations are also pending before the Kentucky’s Energy & Environment Cabinet (EEC). The EEC is pushing regulations that would limit state and public oversight of coal ash disposal. According to Tom FitzGerald and our friends at the Kentucky Resources Council, the proposal would exempt coal wastes from special waste regulations, make it easier for utility companies to build landfills without public notice or agency review, and is “the most reckless regulatory program I have seen proposed in my 36 years of practicing environmental law.” Utilities like the proposal because they claim it will streamline the process to dump coal ash. Opponents argue that this proposal also does meet the requirements of the federal Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WINN) Act, which would allow the EPA to either put into place a federal coal ash waste permitting system for Kentucky, or have the authority to directly enforce the coal ash requirements if the EPA finds the proposal deficient. Written comments on the proposed coal ash regulations were received from the public from October 11 until November 30. A public hearing was held on November 22. The Cabinet is in the process of responding to comments and making changes (if any) in response to those comments before the rule is finalized.
Legislative Priorities: We anticipate that the legislative agenda will be full of issues affecting labor such as Right to Work and issues affecting education such as charter schools. However that does not mean that conservation issues will be cast aside. You will find many pre-filed bills that KCC has already reviewed or are in the process of being reviewed, posted on our website. Link HERE.
With the new session, we have some new announcements for KCC as well: We are starting the year with a new office. We wish to thank the owners of the PlanGraphics building, which had been our home on East Main Street in Frankfort for the past two years. You will now find us just a few blocks down the road, where we are now located at 415 West Main Street, just in time for the session.
You will also see that KCC has been refreshing our website, in order to provide more of the essential information you need on conservation issues. The site is still a “work in progress” but we hope you will find it helpful and informative. Updates are continuing, so please check back often. We have expanded our information in many areas, including information on how to be an effective Citizen Lobbyist. KCC is glad to come out to meetings and civic groups to help train citizens to become engaged advocates, so please contact us.
Finally, we urge you to register now for the KCC Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit, which will be held again at Bellarmine University on January 21st. This is the place to get the latest details on the session, as well as key information on conservation issues that will be in play during 2017. We are very excited to have Judge Phillip Shepherd as our special keynote, and we have many other special guests on the agenda (with more to come) so register now at this link.