February 15th was the last day for new Senate bills and Feb. 20th was the last day for new House bills. When the session resumes this Monday the 25th, there will be nine days of regular session remaining, then two days of “concurrence” before we enter a ten-day veto period. Then the Assembly returns for two final days after the veto period (March 28 & 29).
These short legislative sessions require a great deal of stamina and speed to track and act on fast-breaking changes. The net-metering bill (SB100), for example, nearly sailed all the way through both chambers in less than 80 hours until an amendment by Rep. DuPlessis, designed to repair many of the problems in this bill, was filed and accepted by the House. Please thank Representative DuPlessis for his attempts to repair this flawed bill that threatens independent solar. Please also thank others who attempted to add proactive amendments, including Rep. Booker, Rep. Hatton, Rep. Raymond, Rep. Stevenson and Senator Thomas. Please also thank Speaker David Osborne and Minority Leader Rocky Adkins for their support of House Floor Amendment 1. And register for Solar Lobby Day on Feb. 28th.
Actions This Week: The Senate has now refused to accept the amended House version and is asking the House to “recede.” However we oppose the passage of this bill without at least this basic amendment. So please call and email House members and ask them “not to recede from House Floor Amendment 1.” Follow our Alerts page for daily updates on this bill.
I want to take a moment to say something about the team that has been working with KCC over these past few weeks. First, I want to flag the well-grounded support of Randy Strobo of Strobo-Barkley PLLC, who works with KCC on much of our bill analysis and legislative support. KCC’s board works along with Randy and I to review all the bills for you and provide a wide perspective of how these bills might affect lands, wildlife, clean energy, democracy, and government transparency. I also wish to acknowledge some invaluable support help we have received from a coalition of over a dozen clean energy advocate groups to address the net metering bill once again.
A personal comment about persistence and resilience: While these past few weeks have tested the KCC team’s stamina on any given day, it is important work that we are proud to be a part of. After an exhausting marathon this last week, I was able to take a Sunday off to visit my mother who has been dealing with health issues. For those of you who support your aging parents, you understand the ups and downs of any given day. My mother, now through the better part of her eighties, has spent the entire timeframe of this legislative session completing chemo and radiation treatments with amazing resiliency. It has been inspiring to watch her tackle her challenge with grace, and inspires my persistence to make Kentucky a better place through our work with the General Assembly. We hope the information we compile for you each week is useful to you and your family. Please send us feedback!
A Sample of Bills to Oppose This Week:
- Solar Threats: SB100: (Strong Oppose) Ask the House “not to recede” on their amended version of the bill. Do not pass without HFA1.
- Energy Rates: SB255 (Strong Oppose) Allows huge flexibility to utilities to propose annual ratemaking and provides no incentives for utilities to spend wisely.
- Fuel Tax/ Fees on Electric and Efficient Cars: HB517 (Strong Oppose) Adds $175 fee to electric vehicles, and imposes a penalty on vehicles with low gas mileage by requiring an annual fee. While we want to see a fair tax to address all types of vehicles, this approach sends the wrong price incentives. See Insider Louisville article here.
- Land Conservation: HB341 (Strong Oppose) Increases the fees for specialty license plates, including the Kentucky Nature Plates which fund land conservation, however the amount paid to the group that the license plate supports does not change This may further discourage the purchase of the “Nature’s Finest” plates, which produce significant revenue for the Kentucky Nature Preserves.
- Asbestos Claims: HB362, SB204, (Oppose) Makes it more difficult to hold companies liable for damages caused by asbestos.
- Accountability/Transparency: HB387 (Oppose) Excludes trade secrets, such as Information declared confidential by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority pursuant to an administrative regulation.
A Sample of Bills to Support This Week:
- Accountability/Transparency:HB448, HB451, HB464 (Strong Support) Requires that legislative bills be made available to the public for at least 24 hrs. before a vote for final passage. HB434 (Support) Requires contractors or lessors to disclose entities having an interest in their contracts or leases with the state or local government and records subject to the open records act.
- State Parks: HB268 (Support) Appropriates about $50 million in bond funds for state parks imporvements, and $20 million in bond funds for water infrastructure improvements for fiscal year 2019-2020.
- Energy: HB16 (Strong Support) asking for “fair, just and reasonable” electricity rates. HB146 (Support) Allows for third-party installation of solar. HB213 (Strong Support) creates a renewable portfolio standard.
- Transportation: HCR54 (Strong Support) Creates a mileage-based transportation task force.
- Water Infrastructure:HCR56, SCR81(Strong Support) establishes a legislative task force to address oversight of public drinking water systems. HJR71 (Strong Support) creates a task force to fund water infrastructure. HB268 (Support) adds bond funding for water infrastructure. HR108 (Strong Support) Urges the Governor to declare a state of emergency in Martin County over their water crisis.
- Litter/Waste: HB59 (Support) Criminal littering penalties for dropping material such as cut grass on highways. HB183 (Support) Limits waste from single-use plastic. SB28 (Strong Support) requires notification of violations for a hazardous waste site to the County Judge/Executive within certain locations. SB236 (Support) requires the creation of a website and mobile app for the reporting of litterers.
- Land: HB367 (Support) Requires notice to the Ky. Heritage Council prior to transfer or sale of certain properties to consider preservation easements.
- Food:HB311 (Support) addresses labeling of “cultured” (in vitro) meat products.