It has been a busy summer for KCC so far, even before the legislature called for their special session. Kentucky lawmakers kicked off this special session today to address the state’s pension system, following a proclamation by Governor Bevin. Representatives proposed three pension bills that received a first reading. The House reconvenes at noon on Saturday.
Meanwhile, KCC has been spending the summer attending the Interim Joint Committee meetings for Natural Resources & Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, and many others. Along with this, we have also been monitoring the activities of some special committees.
One we are particularly interested in is the Mileage Based Transportation Funding Task Force, which is expected to have its first meeting in August. For those who have been following KCC priority bills, you will know that we have been alerting our members to the state’s attempts to add surcharges to electric and alternative fuel vehicles. While we support a fair system for maintaining the state’s transportation infrastructure, the previous legislative proposals, we believe, would depress the growing market for electric cars and create the wrong incentives for cleaner transportation. KCC has been sharing information to this committee’s members on the different pilot programs happening in other states to address fees for alternative-fuel vehicles.
We will continue to share information with lawmakers on this important topic. If you would like to learn more about options for transportation funding, we would like to share with you some policy resources:
- The Regulatory Assistance Project webinar: “Funding Transportation in an Electrified World”
- Plug In America’s website on EV Road Usage Fees
- Sierra Club’s “Model State & Local Policies to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption Toolkit”
Another special committee our members may want to note is the Public Water and Wastewater System Infrastructure Task Force. This task force will be evaluating a policy options affecting public drinking water systems, the enforcement authority and oversight agencies to improve the sustainability and capacity of community water and wastewater infrastructure, and identify state funding options. Many counties in Kentucky are suffering from a backlog of maintenance and management issues in water and wastewater infrastructure, most notably in Martin County, Kentucky, as highlighted in this Washington Post article. We will be watching the progress of this special committee over the summer.
We had the opportunity to join state agencies at Shakertown last month to go over the latest news on pollinators and efforts to promote the health and well-being of monarch butterflies. At the end of the day, many took a tour of the solar array at the E.W. Brown power plant. Many solar facilities are taking a hard look at how they can use the space along their solar farms to promote pollinator habitat. You can find the most recent copy of the state’s pollinator plan at this link. And you can find the latest version of Fish & Wildlife’s Monarch plan at this link.
Wild and Scenic Film Festival, August 22, 2019
We hope you are planning to join us on August 22 at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington for this year’s presentation of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival! If you have attended other presentations of this touring event, note that this is a whole different lineup of exciting films (See details here)! There will be fourteen short outdoor recreation and nature films for one low price ($20 donation), and your funds will support the Kentucky Conservation Committee. There will also be a silent auction hosted by our affiliate, the Kentucky Conservation Foundation. So we encourage you to join us for a cool evening to beat the summer heat. In addition to the films and silent auction, there will also be door prizes and giveaways. Tickets on sale now at the Kentucky Theatre website, so we hope you can join us!
A big thanks to Solar Energy Solutions, who is the feature underwriter for this year’s films. We also wish to thank the following film event sponsors: J&H Outdoors, Republic Bank,West 6thBrewery, Greens Toyota of Lexington, Wild Birds Unlimited, Lexingtonand Good Foods Co-Op. We also thank the Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter for providing in-kind publicity. We hope you will support these local businesses and nonprofits.
Climate and Biodiversity Conference
(Request for Session Proposals, Deadline July 31)
In October, KCC and several other organizations are offering a public conference to discuss climate change impacts on some of the state’s most sensitive lands and waters. KCC is excited to join in with four other great organizations to host the Upper Cumberland Watershed Climate and Biodiversity Conferenceat Cumberland Falls State Park, scheduled for October 10-11, 2019. We are currently accepting additional proposals for conference sessions from nonprofits, state and community agencies. See details on the conferenceand request for session proposals here.
The event is hosted by Kentucky Conservation Committee, Kentucky Heartwood, LiKen Knowledge Exchange, the Center for Biological Diversity and Dogwood Alliance. The goal is to provide opportunities to the public, in partnership with local communities, to better understand the climate impacts on this sensitive region and how to work together to improve its resiliency. This conference will be offered free to the public and we ask for your help to encourage as much local community participation as possible. Registration link and info about session RFP here.
We hope this important conference will be timely as you, and our state’s unique lands and waters, try to manage the consequences of this summer’s extreme heat.
Summer is a GREAT time to meet with your representatives! If you are interested in working with KCC to schedule a meeting with your lawmakers on the sustainability issues that are important to you, contact us!