This week, we saw a flurry of activity at the start of “Part II” of the legislative session, including the first full week where KCC-reviewed bills were heard. This short session means that bills will move quickly from here on, so we strongly encourage you to sign up for KCC’s weekly emails during the session, in order to receive your urgent action alerts in a timely manner, or check the KCC Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates.

Legislation to establish Public Benefit Corporations (HB35, a KCC “strong support” bill) was heard this week, and unanimously passed its first reading in the House State Government Committee. A Public Benefit Corporation, or “B-Corp” is a specific type of corporation that allows for a public benefit to be a charter purpose in addition to the corporate goal of maximizing profit for shareholders. The committee heard compelling testimony from one of the first two certified B-Corp businesses already in Kentucky. Indiana and Tennessee have already passed B-Corp legislation, with Ohio expected to follow soon. To learn more about B-Corporations, go to www.bcorporation.net. To learn about which states have become B-Corporation states, go to BenefitCorp.net.

Other KCC “support” bills that moved this week include SB56 (R. Webb), which received a favorable reading in the Senate Transportation Committee and has a companion bill (HB85) in the House. This is a bike safety bill requiring cars to pass at a distance of at least three feet. Also SB78, which prohibits tobacco use on school property, had a successful reading in the Senate Education Committee this week (house companion bill HB247).

As for bills we oppose, one of the more egregious bills heard this week was HB72, which requires a supersedeas bond for appeals of the Circuit Court on planning and zoning decisions by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. This bill will have a detrimental effect on citizens who attempt to challenge environmentally destructive land use proposals in court, and was quickly stopped by the fast action of KCC members in previous years. An amended version of this year’s bill has already had a successful reading in the House Judiciary Committee this week and is expected to continue to move quickly. Please contact House leadership and the House Judiciary Committee to express your strong opposition to this bill.

We also want to highlight SB38, an act which increases the penalties for timber theft, which KCC strongly supports. To learn more about issues related to timber theft, click here.

We continue to flag two bills (HB90, SB11) that change the requirement for storage of nuclear waste and repeal the prohibition on construction of nuclear facilities. Contact the House and Senate committees on Natural Resources & Energy and tell them you strongly oppose these bills.

We also want to draw your attention to HB107 (J. Fischer), which prohibits sanitation districts the authority to charge ratepayers for “indirect” or “imputed” benefits, which could significantly affect green infrastructure projects. This bill has not yet moved, and is currently in the House Local Government Committee. Please call the House Local Government Committee and tell them that you strongly oppose this legislation.

One of the more controversial issues “under the radar” this session has been the consideration of revised administrative regulations on the disposal of coal combustion waste, or coal ash. This issue has been reported on by both KCC and KRC. These proposed rule revisions came to the Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee this week. We appreciate those of you who made calls and contacted committee members, which resulted in the Subcommittee asking the Cabinet to defer the utility coal combustion disposal regulations by one month in order to allow the legislators more time to determine the impact of removing the individual permitting review for utility landfills and ash ponds. So please THANK these subcommittee members. And also ask them to reject the regulations when they next meet unless the Cabinet restores the permitting requirements for utility coal combustion waste landfills and ash ponds. Visit our “Issues” page on our website to learn more about coal ash.

Strong Support:  While we have ranked only a few bills for our strongest support, we do encourage you to contact your legislators on HB35, HCR50, HB194 and SB38.

Bills of Concern: Check our list for several bills to strongly oppose, and make calls on HR28, HB37, HB50, HB72, HB90, HB107, HB165, HB234, SB11.

Upcoming Events include lobby days for land conservation on February 21, and lobby days for clean energy on March 7. Please contact us for more information about these opportunities!