Opening Days…Long Nights Ahead
Having made it through the opening week of the 2018 General Assembly, KCC’s legislative agents and board have spent some long days and nights reviewing the first offerings of 2018 legislation. You can find our initial list of screened bills from the House and Senate, plus additional information about the session on the KCC website.
The session will be picking up speed between now and when the work is finished on April 13th. In the meantime, here is what is in store: Since this is an even-numbered year, the main focus for lawmakers will be on passing a budget to run state government. Governor Bevin is anticipated on delivering his proposal on Jan. 16th. And then that is when it will be handed off to the House.
Lawmakers will have their hands full. The Governor has already stated that state retirement systems and the tax code are areas he would like to address during this session. When paired with other budget challenges, this presents a sizable chunk of work, even with a 60 day “long” session. The budget process is anticipated to run through the end of March.
So where does this leave the work that impacts conservation initiatives, the environment, and the health and safety of Kentucky’s citizens in the priorities? We shall see as this session evolves. However KCC’s legislative agents will be making sure these issues remain on lawmaker’s radar.
Issues we anticipate this session include the re-emergence of anti-independent solar legislation, and a continuation of cuts to important state departments that are in charge of protecting and enhancing our land, air and water. As we have been reviewing this year’s bills, you will see that KCC’s review team has added more reviews on legislation that affects our fundamental democracy, in addition to our primary bills affecting natural resources.
With this in mind, we hope you can join us for the KCC Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit on Saturday, January 20th at Bellarmine University. I am very excited about the lineup this year, starting with a Keynote from U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth, who will speak on the nexus between federal and state legislatures. We also have a power-lineup of speakers in specialized areas, including:
- A review of current state legislation, featuring KCC Legislative Agent Randy Strobo and KRC’s Tom FitzGerald
- A review of what to expect in the Budget, featuring Ashley Spalding tom the Ky. Center for Economic Policy
- Defending local democracies, featuring visiting political communications expert Kim Haddow and Jared Make of “A Better Balance.” working for open democracy.
- Kentucky’s Distributed Energy Future, featuring representatives from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet
- Conserve Kentucky: The Current State of Land and Biodiversity Initiatives featuring KNLT’s Hugh Archer and Don Dott
- And as always, there will be detailed packet information on a range of current and emerging issues, including how to strengthen your citizen lobbying skills.
- We are also working of a few extra “surprises” in the agenda, so hope you can come!
Register Here! The event is FREE to students, and others are asked to donate a small fee to cover lunch.
And Finally, some important recognitions as we close out the week. We would like to take a moment to single out two resolutions that were filed this week. The first was HR36, which is a recognition honoring the top five energy efficient school districts in 2017. For many years now, the Kentucky Schools Board has done an amazing job in saving energy costs. ACT: Please thank Representative Jim Gooch, who sponsored this resolution. It is important that the value of these programs get the attention they deserve. And while you are thanking Representative Gooch, you might mention that the next step is to make it easier to add solar to these schools.
The second resolution we want to highlight (and to end our post for the week), is HR25. This resolution called for an adjournment of the House “in honor and loving memory of Judge Richard J. FitzGerald.” Judge FitzGerald devoted his entire career to advocating for the welfare of Kentucky’s abused and neglected children, and carried tremendous respect in and around Louisville and throughout the state. We wish to pay our respects to his lifetime of accomplishments and send our regards to his family.