We are now roughly halfway through the session, and the deadline for new House and Senate bills has now passed. We have reviewed many of the new bills filed last week, but look for another update mid-week to address some of the late bills filed on Friday. We also 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.
KCC “Strong Support” bills and resolutions introduced this week include HJR56 which directs the Division of Water to conduct a study of private and small wastewater treatment plants. Also we were very pleased to see the re-filing of HB338 by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, commonly known as the “Clean Energy Opportunity Act,” which requires retail electric suppliers to use increasing amounts of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and requires the Public Service Commission to develop tariff guidelines for purchase of renewable power. That bill has been sent to the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee, so please contact committee members and let them know you support targets for clean energy and efficiency.
We were also pleased to see HB340, by Rep. James Kay, that establishes a qualified conservation contribution income tax credit for the donation of property or an interest in property for conservation purposes. We will be promoting this bill during our lobby day this Tuesday (Feb. 21) so if you are interested in joining us, call our office at 502-209-9659 for details. You may also contact members of the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee and tell them you strongly support tax credits for land conservation.
And a Senate bill we strongly support is SB157, which authorizes the Public Service Commission to remove all governing persons of a water district for specified causes and authorizes the Public Service Commission and the Division of Water to manage the water district or have the commission redraw the geographical area of the water district.
There are several KCC “Strong Oppose” bills introduced this week to highlight, including HB317, a bill we have seen in the previous sessions, that would establish a registration fee of $100 for plug-in vehicles. While we understand the concern that plug-in vehicles are not supporting road funds because they are not paying a gas tax, we believe this proposal is premature and would slow down a market that is still emerging.
HB384 is another bill we strongly oppose, as it would reduce the number of underground mine inspections, including a reduction of full electrical mine inspections. These inspections would be reduced to half of their previous number.
Finally, we are hugely disappointed to see SB214, an act relating to Net Metering, filed this week. Net metering is a good, simple policy that supports solar energy, a great and growing source of economic development across the USA and great opportunity for Kentucky. However we believe SB214 as written severely undermines net metering, solar energy, and its potential for job creation.
Our members and supporters may be aware that KCC, working with solar business representatives plus our allies at KRC, have spent well over two years educating electricity suppliers on proposals to raise the cap on net metering from 30kw to 1000 kw, as well as advancing several other issues to support expansion of the solar market. The bill filed this week, unfortunately, does not reflect that work. While SB214 does address the net metering cap, it would strongly discourage investments in solar energy by anyone but electric utilities, doing harm to the many independent solar businesses working in Kentucky. It allows utilities to impose new charges on net metering customers based on costs determined by the utilities, and disregards the many widely recognized benefits that rooftop solar has for customers, the utilities, and the general public, and create uncertainty about net metering rates and customer charges. The bill currently resides in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee. We urge you to contact these committee members and Senate leadership, and urge them to reject this bill as it unfairly restricts Kentuckian’s ability to produce their own energy.
Bills posted but not yet rated by KCC: Over the weekend several final bills posted, and we will be posting our ranking for these in the next few days. Bills of note include new proposed regulations on natural gas drilling waste (SB248), electric generating units (HB438) and several involving the Public Service Commission.
Bills on the move: Bills which have made significant progress are HB35 (Strong Support) on Public Benefit Corporations which has passed the House and is now in Senate Agriculture. SB38 Timber Theft Bill (Strong Support) has passed the Senate and is now in the House. SB56 (Support) Safe Bike Passing legislation, has passed the Senate and is now in the House Transportation Committee, however has passed with an amendment which weakens the bill. HB72 (Strong Oppose) has passed the House and is now in Senate Judiciary. Please contact the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose this bill.