This week starts on the fifty-second day of the sixty-day legislative session. With only a few more days for action, bills are now beginning to make their way to the Governor’s desk. Of most concern is HB22 (KCC Oppose), delivered to the Governor on March 12th. This bill prohibits the use of drones and evidence gathered by drones except for law enforcement purposes. This would challenge the use of drones for citizen monitoring of environmental hazards. Also delivered to the Governor this week was HB264 (KCC Monitor), a reorganization bill that affects several departments, including the Energy & Environment Cabinet. Similarly, SB129 (KCC Monitor) is another bill that addressing the reorganization of the Energy & Environment Cabinet. An improved committee substitute is what has moved on to the Governor’s desk.
We had a lot of activity this week in Frankfort…KCC has been continuing to help groups of citizens with their legislative visits all session, and last week was no exception as citizens raise their concerns about the funding for land conservation (HB200 KCC Strong Oppose) and solar regulations (HB227 KCC Strong Oppose). You can find special detailed information about both bills, including status and informational handouts on our website, and we hope you make use of these materials this week as time becomes critical on these two bills. Land conservation information here. Anti-residential solar bill information here. This week is a critical one for both bills.
HB227 has now moved to the Senate, after yet another hastily-called, non-televised meeting of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee. (KCC, however, filmed the proceedings themselves, which you can watch on our Facebook page here). The bill quickly moved to the House and after a two-hour debate the bill squeezed through on a 49-45 vote. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Natural Resources Committee. This committee’s next scheduled meeting is this Wednesday at 11AM. We urge you to contact members of the committee and ask them to vote NO on HB227. And then, contact the full Senate and do the same. (See this excellent article by Tom Eblen at the Lexington Herald-Leader on recent developments on this bill). You may call the message line at 1-800-372-7181 to oppose this bill.
Also this week, we had the pleasure of hosting the electric vehicle advocacy group, Evolve Ky, who treated legislators to a screening of their new film of the same name, featuring the electric car culture in Kentucky. Watch for public film screenings at a theatre or community gathering near you soon! We are still watching legislation that would add new fees to electric and hybrid cars, including HB609 (KCC Oppose), a transportation-funding bill which is picking up speed and currently resides in the House A&R Committee. So please call House A&R to oppose flat fees for these vehicles. While we believe that all vehicles should pay their fair share for the maintenance of road infrastructure, there are better ways to address this.
In addition, we were honored to hold a special presentation of the amazing on-woman show from KCC board member Alice Jones, in her portrayal of the Braun Sisters in the show “Sisters of the Mother Forest- The Story of Lucy and Annette Braun.” Our thanks to Alice and to KCC President Sarah Lynn Cunningham for taking precious time out of their busy schedules to put on this presentation in Louisville this past week.
Finally, on a bright note, we were pleased to see the honoring of the 50th Anniversary of the historic hike to save the Red River Gorge on the floor of the Senate this week with the reading of SR157 (KCC Support). Citizens including family & friends of the Kentucky Afield Radio Show (which featured the anniversary) and citizens who were connected to the fight were honored on the Senate floor. KCC’s origins are tied to this important story of citizen activism to stop the flooding of one of Kentucky’s greatest natural treasurers, as many of our partner groups were directly involved in this fight that lasted for decades. Stories like these, where small groups of citizens band together and grow their advocacy over a span of years to protect what makes Kentucky great, is a reminder that no challenge is impossible, and democracy matters.