The 2019 Kentucky General Assembly ended late in the evening on Thursday, March 28th, where they adjourned, Sine Die. Bills passed that evening have been sent to the Governor’s desk, where he has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to veto, sign, or let legislation become law without a signature.
So where did we end up? KCC will be sending all of its current members our full legislative review publication that will include details on what passed, what didn’t, and what is expected to emerge again in a later session. If you are not yet a member of KCC, you can join now and we will send you the review, which should be ready in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, here are a few highlights of bills we had been tracking:
- HB11 (KCC Strong Support) Smoke-Free Schools: This legislation was passed late in the session, delivered to the Governor on 3/28 but not yet signed. This bill prohibits the use of tobacco, alternative tobacco, and vaping products by students, school personnel, and visitors in schools, school vehicles, properties, and activities by the 2020-2021 school year. The bill passed with amendments which limit the prohibition to apply when students are present, and a provision was added to allow local boards of education to opt out within three years of the effective date.
- HB268 (KCC Support) Amendments to the 2018-2020 Biennial Budget
This bill was passed just prior to the veto period, and Governor Bevin line-item vetoed some sections regarding matching dollar funding, but the veto was overridden by the legislature. What the bill does include, however, is a total of $50,232,500 in bond funds for State Parks (an increase of $2,121,000) that will go towards much needed improvements. The bill also includes additional funds that will go towards wastewater treatment improvements at Natural Bridge State Park, as well as renovation of lodge facilities.
- HB135 (KCC Oppose) An Act Relating to Contracting of Public Works Projects
This is an anti-labor bill. Requiring labor contracts for public works projects cannot be a condition of granting a public works project to a contractor. This would include public works such as water, sewer, and other structures involved in environmental quality. An amended version set forth that public agencies awarding contracts “shall not require or prohibit bidders to adhere to agreements with a labor organization” relating to public works projects. The bill was signed by the Governor on 3/21.
- HB165 (Strong Support) An Act Relating to Fees for Air Quality
Allows the Energy and Environment Cabinet or the APCD to establish an air quality fee structure that may include a permit or registration fee in addition to the collection of a per-ton emissions-based assessment. This allows the Cabinet/APCD to collect more fees across the board, rather than only collecting fees based on emission rates. The bill was signed by the Governor on 3/15.
- HB199 (KCC Strong Support) An Act Relating to Oil and Gas
Allows underground storage tank funds to be used to address orphan oil and gas wells. Increases the fees associated with drilling wells, and provides more authority for the Cabinet to address oil and gas orphan wells. Signed by the Governor on 3/18.
- HB311 (Support) Food labeling bill.
Provides that a food is deemed mislabeled if a food product that purports to be or is represented as meat or a meat product that contains any cultured animal tissue produced from in vitro animal cell cultures. Signed by Governor on 3/21.
- HB341 (Strong Oppose) An Act Relating to Special License Plates.
Increases the costs of registering a specialized license plate fees, but the amount paid to the group that the license plate supports does not change. We believe this would hurt the sales of the “Kentucky Nature Plates” which fund Kentucky Nature Preserves. This bill was signed by the Governor on 3/26.
- HB352 (KCC Oppose)An Act Relating to Motor Carriers
Creates “extended weight unrefined petroleum products haul road system” of state maintained highways over which quantities of unrefined petroleum products in excess of fifty thousand (50,000) tons were transported by motor vehicles per year. Trucks configured using an axle system approved by the Transportation Cabinet may operate up to a maximum gross weight of one hundred twenty thousand (120,000) pounds with a gross weight tolerance of five percent (5%) on the haul road system. Signed by the Governor on 3/26.
- HB420 (KCC Support)Updates requirements for radon gas certifications.Signed by the Governor on 3/26
- SB28 (KCC Strong Support) An Act Relating to Notification of Environmental Incidents Requires additional notice of violation for a hazardous waste site or facility to be sent to the county/judge executive of the county or the chief executive officer of the urban-county government within which the site or facility is located. Signed by the Governor on 3/25.
- SB100 (Strong Oppose) An Act Relating to Net Metering. Followers of KCC are aware we spent more time on this bill than any other during this session. After a tremendous effort by KCC and over a dozen allied public interest groups, as well as efforts from independent solar installers, SB 100 passed in the final hours of the last day before the veto period when the House receded to the Senate bill, which increases an eligible electric generating facility’s rated capacity form 30 kW to 45 kW and clarifies grandfathering language to allow any eligible electric generating facility in service prior to any initial order by the PSC changing net metering rates to maintain the 1:1 ratio for 25 years. The bill allows the Public Service Commission to change the rate for electricity generated by an eligible customer-generator that is fed back to the electric grid, but only allows the PSC to consider the costs of feeding back that electricity (the House version that did not pass had also asked for “benefits” to expressly be considered as well). The bill will subject customer generators to multiple rate cases with each utility anytime utilities attempt to change the net metering rate. The bill also changes net metering credits to “dollar value” potentially subjecting customer generators to income taxes to electricity sent to the grid, and potentially subjecting customer generators to FERC oversight. The bill changes the 1% soft cap on cumulative generating capacity to a 1% hard cap, meaning utilities that reach a cumulative generating capacity of 1% no longer have to offer net metering at all. The bills contains no phase out language (bill takes effect Jan 1, 2020), and no leasing language. This bill was signed by the Governor on 3/26. We wish to thank all our members and supporters for their calls and emails and for helping us to delay these changes to net metering laws for the past two years.
- SB230 (KCC Strong Support)An act relating to open records. Although state and local government agencies are not required to accept open records request via email or fax, some still do. This bill would expressly allow the submission of an open records request by email or fax. Signed by the Governor on 3/25.
Thanks to YOU for Your Continued Support
Now that we have concluded with the “short session,” we wish to thank our members and supporters for their tremendous response. The short sessions are, as you might assume, highly compressed, and situations change very quickly. KCC volunteers and staff are often working exceptionally long hours, constantly updating information from December to April in order to support important legislative impacts to the conservation goals of our partner organizations.
In a compressed session such as this, our usual family routines are often set aside till the session concludes. But the teamwork of an army of volunteers and allied groups provided the support necessary when schedules became particularly challenging. During this session, both of our lobbyists dealt with the sudden loss of a parent. We want to thank the KCC Board and partner groups for their additional support during that time and acknowledge the lives of Robert Strobo and Donna Boldman who provided the grounding and inspiration for their children to fight for the needs of everyday people.
We hope you get a chance to enjoy the Spring weather and come out to support KCC and their allies at several upcoming events.
- April 5: Ky. Waterways Alliance Wild & Scenic Film Festival (KCC on site)
- April 6: Somerset Green Living Fair (KCC on site)
- April 6: Solarize Solar Workshop, Lexington
- April 6-7: Wilderness First Aid Training
- April 13: Reforest the Bluegrass
- April 20: Louisville Earth Walk (KCC on site)
- April 26: Springfield Green Festival (KCC on site)
- April 28: Earth Day at the Louisville Zoo (KCC on site)
- April 28: “Solar on the Rise” Solar Energy Celebration (KCC on site)