As we start this week with a shutdown of the Federal Government, this emphasizes the duty and the opportunity to engage more directly with our State and Local Governments. So while the Federal “door” is temporarily closed, we are asking for folks to take some time this week to focus on the very important activities going on in the State Legislature.

Last week Governor Bevin released his Executive Budget, his vision for the Commonwealth, where over 70 programs have been proposed to be eliminated, including the Environmental Education Council, the State Tree Nursery program, and the Mesonet program which provides climate data in Kentucky.

And within the Governor’s budget is yet another attempt to “sweep” funding from the Heritage Land Conservation Fund. For those who have followed KCC’s activities, you will know that your efforts to fight these funding sweeps were partially successful during the last budget cycle. KCC and allies were able to cut the “sweep” in half, reducing it from $10 million over two years to $5 million. While we were unable to stop the entire sweep in the previous cycle, this restoration of $5 million dollars allowed the agency to complete important projects that were in the works.

This cycle, the Governor’s budget proposal is attempting to go after the $5 million we were able to protect. Now it is up to the House to take Bevin’s vision and turn into policy. KCC and allies are planning on challenging this sweep once again.

In addition to the budget activity, we saw several new significant bills filed this week, including bills to roll back local authority to regulate disposable containers (SB82)/KCC Strong Oppose. On the positive side, we also saw a re-filing of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act (HB196)/KCC Strong Support. Please check our “Alert List” on actions to take this week.

And while this has all been going on, we note that legislators are preparing for the next round of elections. Special elections are scheduled for February in House Districts 49 and 89. The special election to fill the vacancy in House District 49 will be held Feb. 20, 2018, while the special election for the seat expected to be vacant in House District 89 will be on Feb. 27, 2018. Write-in deadlines are still open. For details on elections, please visit the page of the Kentucky Secretary of State.

Finally, this past Saturday, KCC held its Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit, co-sponsored by Bellarmine University. Over 75 participants received a FULL day of informative seminars on legislative trends, a detailed review of current bills, summary of the budget, presentations on the state of Land Conservation and Energy, and an update on state connections to Federal legislation with Congressman John Yarmuth, who found a way to tele-connect with the KCC audience after unexpectedly being held in Washington DC due to the government shutdown the night before.

We want to thank all of the tremendous presenters, including Congressman Yarmuth, Randy Strobo, Tom Fitzgerald, Ashley Spalding, Kim Haddow, Dilini Lankachandra, Rick Bender, Karen Wilson, Kenya Stump, Hugh Archer and Don Dott. If you were unable to join us for the event, you can find all of the highly informative presentations and background materials from the Summit here!

One Last Note for this week: We anticipate this week will be the filing of legislation that will once again attack net metering laws. Watch for a dedicated action alert on this bill once it is filed. In the meantime, if you are interested in helping to lobby on these or any other issues, we are planning a series of lobby days, so please contact us!