We have just completed the fifth week of the 2020 General Assembly. The session ends on April 15, 2020.

This past week, KCC and allies have been working to improve the bills that we strongly oppose. Thanks to YOUR CALLS over the past several weeks, several lawmakers in the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee asked for changes to the anti-protest bill HB44 (KCC Strong Oppose). While the bill passed out of committee, a promise was made by the bill sponsor to address many of the bill’s significant flaws as identified by KCC, the ACLU, and our friends at KRC. This week, Rep. Gooch responded by filing House Floor Amendment 1, which addresses many problematic sections of the bill (but not all). The amendment removes some of the vague language about “impeding” and “inhibiting” critical infrastructure. For civil actions, it removes liability for those who knowingly “compensate or remunerate” those who violate the Act and replaces language to those who “knowingly direct or cause a person to engage in mischief that involves tampering with critical infrastructure.” While we currently still strongly oppose the bill, we look forward to seeing a vote on this amendment to have it incorporated into the bill.

  • Actions to Take #1: Contact members of the House [message line 1-800-372-7181] and urge them to support House Floor Amendment 1 to House Bill 44.
  • Actions to Take #2: We also are asking for more calls in support of HB126 which requires the Public Service Commission to consider affordability when setting rates, and HB323 which extends the period for solar net-metered installations. Both of these bills would benefit from having additional co-sponsors, so we urge your to contact your Representative and ask them to co-sponsor these bills. Both bills will be featured this coming week during our “Energy for the People Lobby Daythat is in coordination with several of our clean energy allies. Call the legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181 to express your views on these bills (you can also email your Representative at first name.lastname@lrc.ky.gov).

More improvements: We have also been working to incorporate improvements to House Bill 247 (KCC Strong Oppose) which would allow noncompetitive negotiation under the Kentucky Model Procurement Code for purchase or sale of wholesale electric power or natural gas by a local public agency like municipal utilities. We anticipate that the bill will likely be heard next Thursday during the regular meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee, with the improved language. Until that new language is incorporated, we as you to continue to oppose this bill.

Bills on the Move:

HB236 (KCC Support), which moves Kentucky’s hemp program from research-based to commercial, is now on the Governor’s Desk.

We were also pleased to see this week’s adoption of HR37 (KCC Support), in support of restoration of the Kentucky River. See this story from WEKU.

New Bills This Week:

Among the new bills filed this week is HB365 (KCC Monitor), a lengthy bill which updates pesticide and fertilizer application statutes. We also saw the filing of HB369 (KCC Support) which limits the methods by which a cervid (deer, elk) meat processor or taxidermists can dispose of cervid waste materials, and HB380 (KCC Support) which expands the voluntary environmental remediation (brownfields) tax credit for taxable years on or after January 1, 2020, but before January 1, 2024, and to allow a refundable credit for these taxable years up to $30,000,000.

A Special Tribute: Winnie Hepler

We asked KCC Past President Sarah Lynn Cunningham to share her personal reflections on longline KCC member and environmental activitst Winnie Hepler:

Last week, Winnifred Ann Staebler Hepler (1927-2020)—or Winnie to her many activist friends—died peacefully in her sleep.  She and I met at a public hearing 49 years ago.  Over the years, we joined others to work on lots of projects and campaigns together:

We ran Louisville’s first drop-off recycling center until demand grew beyond what we volunteers could manage, and the county had to take it over and even replicate it in other five locations.  We campaigned successfully against the Red River Gorge Dam, Marble Hill nuclear power plant, a huge garbage-to-steam incinerator and more.   She was 85 when I ran for office; too slow for door-to-door canvassing, she carried her lawn chair to busy US 60, sat and held my yard sign for passersby to see.

She lived a meager lifestyle, so she could donate more to her favorite groups (including KCC).  She championed animal rights and was a vegetarian when it was novel.

Winnie loved most to feed the birds, squirrels and ducks in her neighborhood.  She arrived at the recycling center each weekend with chopped apples, peanuts and bird seed, divided into little bags, which she methodically emptied around the perimeter grounds—under trees, behind rocks and in burrow holes.  Even in the nursing home, she pined most for resuming her rounds.

The planet is better for Winnie’s 92 years on it.  I know I won’t be the only one who’ll strive to live up to her example and carry on the good fights.

Sarah Lynn Cunningham, KCC Immediate Past President