On to the Governor’s Desk

We are now in a veto period which will conclude on March 26. The House and Senate convene for one final day on March 28.
These House And Senate Bills are ready to be signed by the Governor: If you wish to make your position known on these bills, contact Governor Bevin at this link.
HB135 (KCC Oppose) Labor Contracts
An anti-labor bill. Requires that labor contracts for public works projects cannot be a condition of granting a public works project to a contractor. This would include public works such as water, sewer, and other structures involved in environmental quality.
HB341 (KCC Strong Oppose) Specialty License Plates
Increases the costs of registering a specialized license plate by $22.00, renweal fees by $6, and the costs of applying for a new type of specialized license plate by $25,000. Adds more guidance for personalized plates. The amount paid to the group that the license plate supports does not change. We believe this would hurt the sales of the “Kentucky Nature Plates” which fund Kentucky Nature Preserves.
HB352 (KCC Oppose) Overweight Vehicles
Creates “extended weight unrefined petroleum products haul road system” of state maintained highways over which quantities of unrefined petroleum products in excess of fifty thousand (50,000) tons were transported by motor vehicles per year. Trucks  may operate up to a maximum gross weight of one hundred twenty thousand (120,000) pounds with a gross weight tolerance of five percent (5%) on th ehaul road system. An amended bill expanded the road fees for these vehicles.
SB100 (KCC Strong Oppose) Solar Legislation
The bill KCC fought hardest on during this session was passed on the last evening before the veto period.  The Senate had voted not to accept the House amended version, which meant that the House had to decide if it would recede, or go to a conference committee.  Your calls and emails helped to counter that pressure to the very last hours on the 14th, but the House did finally vote to recede, and then voted for final passage of the bill (More on this bill below).
SB214 (KCC Oppose) Re-Districting
Changes the jurisdiction and venue for challenging legislative districts from Franklin Circuit Court to a panel of three Circuit Judges, and establishes procedures for selecting the panel and reviewing challenges.
HB199 (KCC Strong Support) Oil and Gas Well Cleanup
Allows underground storage tank funds to be used to address orphan oil and gas wells. Will help with the cleanup of these wells.
HB268 (KCC Support) Support for State Parks, Water
Appropriates about $50 million in bond funds for state parks improvements, and $20 million in bond funds for water infrastructure improvements for fiscal year 2019-2020. Bill was amended through Free Conference Committee.
HB311 (KCC Support) Food Labeling
Provides that a food is deemed mislabeled if a food product that purports to be or is represented as meat or a meat product that contains any cultured animal tissue produced from in vitro animal cell cultures outside of the organism from which it is derived.
HB420 (KCC Support) Radon
Updates requirements for radon gas certifications.
SB28 (KCC Strong Support) Hazardous Waste Notification
Requires the secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet to send a copy of a notice of violation for a hazardous waste site or facility to the county/judge executive of the county or the chief executive officer of the urban-county government within which the site or facility is located. Specifies that notices of violation for hazardous waste sites or facilities are not prohibited from disclosure due to confidentiality.
SB230 (KCC Strong Support) Open Records
An act relating to open records. Although state and local government agencies are not required to accept open records request via email or fax, some still do. This bill would expressly allow the submission of an open records request by email or fax.
HB249 (KCC Monitor) Outdoor Recreation
Amends the Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreation Authority (KMRRA) statute to to add counties to the definition of “target county”, to reauthorize the KMRRA for five years, and addresses several governance and funding issue of the KMRRA.
HB335 (KCC Monitor) Property Transfers
Makes it easier for counties to dispose of properties. Allows counties to transfer property for economic development purposes, trade property for the same or similar type of property, sell property without bids if the property is appraised for $5,000 or less.
SB6 (KCC Monitor) Lobbyist Compensation
Requires disclosure of executive agency lobbyist compensation and prohibits executive agency lobbyist compensation contingent on awarding of a government contract or based on a percentage of a government contract awarded.
SB16 (KCC Monitor) Rare Diseases
Establishes a rare disease advisory task force. Same bill as last year, without the amendments that changed health certificate of need licensing to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Last year’s bill was vetoed by Bevin as an “unnecessary” expansion of state bureaucracy.
SB124 (KCC Monitor) Conservation
Removes the reference to KRS 12.210 (hiring attorneys) relating to the hiring of the executive director of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves. Updates references to the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Farm Service Agency. Extends the time period for a local soil and water conservation district to review a petition to create agricultural district from 60 days to 100 days.
SB256 (KCC Monitor) Public Service Commission
Clean up bill – clarifies that ordinary extensions of existing systems in the usual course of business are exempt from the requirement to obtain a certificate of public and necessity prior to construction. Only requires environmental surcharge hearings upon request of a party. Specifies that the PSC has the authority to collect penalties and fines assessed or due.

More on SB100, the bill affecting residential solar: 

The vote to recede from the House floor amendment was 50 for, 38 against. The vote for final passage was 55 for, 36 against.
Over a dozen nonprofits, including low income housing groups, faith and advocacy groups, and environmental groups, worked together to support these independent solar installers and job creators as well as residential solar owners. We are disappointed by the result, which will hurt small businesses, depress new clean energy jobs and limit consumer choice. However during the three years we have fought this unnecessary bill, consumers have become acutely aware of the benefits of solar ownership, its affordability and the energy security it provides. Solar IS working for all Kentuckians and will continue to do so despite monopoly utilities attempting to control the market at the expense of consumers.
Our thanks to all who worked so hard to try to turn this bill around. We will continue to work to repair the damage to this important emerging market and to those customers who will be affected.
Thanking those who stood by us is a very important step of this process. PLEASE THANK the following legislators who spoke out to support independent solar installers and residential solar customers: House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, Rep. Angie Hatton, Rep. Chris Harris, Rep. Joe Graviss, Mary Lou Marzian, Rep. Jeffery Donohue, Rep. Cluster Howard, Rep. Derrick Graham, Rep. Josie Raymond, Rep. Cherlynn Stevenson, Rep. Patti Minter, Rep. Joni Jenkins, Rep. Lisa Willner, and Rep. Terri Branham Clark.

Four Session Days Left

This week we start with Day 27 of the 30-day legislative session. There are three session days this week (Tuesday through Thursday) and then we begin the 10-day veto period. The General Assembly then comes back for a final session day on March 28.

Bills now making their way to the Governor’s desk:

  • HB165 (KCC Strong Support) was delivered to the Governor on March 5th. This legislation allows the Cabinet/Air Pollution Control District to collect more air-quality fees across the board, rather than only collecting fees based on emission rates.
  • HB199 (KCC Strong Support) was delivered to the Governor on March 6th. This bill allows underground storage tank funds to be used to address the cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells. This bill was a successful collaboration of the Oil and Gas Workgroup, consisting of industry, cabinet, and environmental advocates.

Thank Representative Gooch, Chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, for filing these bills. You can also contact Governor Bevin and urge him to sign both of these bills.

  • Also, House Resolution 108 (KCC Strong Support) was adopted by voice vote on the House floor last week. The resolution urges Governor Matthew Bevin to declare a state of emergency in Martin County, Kentucky, and to make emergency funds available to resolve the county’s water crisis. Our thanks to Rep. Harris for filing this resolution.

No Movement on Solar Net Metering Bill SB100,
All Due to YOUR Calls

This bill, which would negatively impact residential solar and independent solar installer jobs, did NOT move in the past week. The situation remains that the House must decide whether or not to “recede” from its amendment, House Floor Amendment 1, which attempts to fix significant flaws in the bill.  While all indications anticipated that the House would recede last week, YOUR calls held the line.  With only four session days left, we are asking you to keep the pressure up, enlist friends, and continue your calls.

Please call and email the House and House Leadership and tell them NOT TO RECEDE to the Senate and do not pass  SB100 without House Floor amendment 1 (HFA1) an amendment that is a fair balancing of the interests of the electric utilities, net metering customers, small solar businesses, and non-participating residential ratepayers. If the bill does not include the amendment, then we want the bill to die.

CALL 1-800-372-7181 or Email here. (You can also email using Firstname.LastName@LRC.ky.gov)

For more information on this bill, see our KCC Alert page.


Other Actions for the Week:

Support for State Parks, Water Infrastructure:

  •  HB268 (KCC Support) adds bond funding for several items including water infrastructure AND state parks. Different versions passed the House and Senate and the bill has now gone to a conference committee. Contact leadership in the House and Senate and ask that the bill retain funds to improve Kentucky State Parks and to improve water infrastructure.

Leasing on Federal and State Land:

Government Transparency:

Excess Fees that Impact Nature Preserves, Electric Cars:

  • HB341 (KCC 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 could further discourage the purchase of the “Nature’s Finest” plates which produce significant revenue for Kentucky nature preserves. This bill passed the House and is now in the Senate. Please call members of the Senate and tell then not to raise fees on specialty plates without also raising the charity allocations from these plates (particularly the allocation to the Heritage Land Conservation Fund).
  • HB517 (KCC Strong Oppose) would also have a similar effect as HB341 in raising specialty plate fees without raising charity contributions. In addition this bill 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. This bill has now been given two readings and returned to the House Appropriations & Revenue committee. If you wish to comment on this bill, contact the House A&R Committee.

Link to House Bills Reviewed to Date Here
(with KCC detail analysis)
Link to Senate Bills Reviewed to Date Here
(with KCC detail analysis)
Legislative Message Line: 1-800-372-7181

 

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Citizens Speak Out

This week takes us to day 23 of the 30-day legislative session. The deadline for new bills has now passed, however bills can still be amended or substituted. On March 12th and 13th the Legislature will have two days of bill concurrence, and then we will enter a 10-day veto period. The last day of the session is presently set for March 29th.

This past week was a busy one for KCC.  Aside from our daily lobbying, on Thursday we hosted approximately fifty constituents who came to lobby to support residential solar energy. Our thanks to over a dozen nonprofits who joined us to meet with legislators and campaign against SB 100. We want to thank all of the citizens and groups who came up to tell lawmakers. If you wish to comment on this bill, or comment AGAIN on this bill, please see our action alert page for the latest information.

There are plenty of other bills to comment on as well. See this Courier-Journal article from last week on House Bill 387, (KCC “Oppose” Bill) which would block from disclosure certain records submitted to the state by companies seeking economic development incentives. KCC supports government transparency and urges you to call members of the House today, as they are set to pass this bill at any time.

SB 100 and HB 387 are just a few of approximately 130 bills and resolutions that KCC is tracking. To see our full list of House bills with KCC analysis, click here. You can find our full list of Senate bills with KCC analysis here.


We were able to take a short break this week, on Tuesday evening, when KCC was one of four nonprofits invited to table at the James Taylor/Bonnie Raitt concert at Rupp Arena in Frankfort this past week. Several KCC members stopped by our table during the event, so we thank them for taking the time to visit. You can also come visit us at the upcoming Somerset Green Living Fair on April 6th, and the  Springfield Green Festival on April 26th. We love to get out to different festivals throughout the state, so if you know of an upcoming event where we can table, please contact us.


Bills and Resolutions on the Move This Week:

To comment on any of the bills and resolutions listed below, call the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181(For our full analysis of all bills click here for the House and here for the Senate)

  • Leasing on Federal and State Land: House Concurrent Resolution 4 and House Concurrent Resolution 7 both encourage the addressing of leasehold interests on Federal lands and State lands respectively for the purpose of improving communications infrastructure (cell phone towers). We oppose additional intrusion on State and Federal lands. These resolutions have passed the House and are now in the Senate. Please urge the Senate to oppose.
  • Water Infrastructure:HCR56SCR81 (KCC Strong Support) establish a legislative task force to address oversight of public drinking water systems. Both versions were amended this week with a committee substitute which expands the task force from 17 to 21 members, adding several more water company interests, such as Kentucky American Water to the task force and adding wastewater treatment to the resolutions. Both resolutions have passed their respective chambers and are now in the second chamber.
  • Meanwhile, HB268 (KCC Support) which adds bond funding for water infrastructure AND state parks, passed the House and is presently in the Senate Appropriations & Revenue committee. Please contact the Senate A&R committee and urge passage of this bill.
  •  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. This bill passed the House and is now in the Senate Transportation Committee. Please call members of the Senate Transportation Committee and tell then not to raise fees on specialty plates without also raising the charity allocations from these plates (particularly the allocation to the Heritage Land Conservation Fund).
  • Fuel Tax/ Fees on Electric and Efficient Cars: HB517 (Strong Oppose) This bill will also have a similar effect as HB341 in raising fees without raising charity contributions. This bill also 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. This bill is beginning to move, having its first reading in the House and returned to the House Appropriations & Revenue committee.
  • Litter/Waste: SB236 (Support) requires the creation of a website and mobile app for the reporting of litterers. This bill passed with a vote of 35-1 and is now on its way to the House.

 

Not Yet On the Move: Call!

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Persistence, Resilience

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:

(For our full analysis of all bills click here for the House and here for the Senate)

  • 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: 

(For our full analysis of all bills click here for the House and here for the Senate)

  • 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:HCR56SCR81(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.
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2019 General Assembly – Week One and Done (For Now)

The 2019 General Assembly began and completed its first four days of the legislative session, beginning on January 8th and concluding on January 11th.  This year is a 30-day “short session” so this means that there are only 26 days left. The legislature is now in recess until February 5th.

While the first week was short, KCC has already reviewed several bills filed in the House and Senate that either have environmental impacts, or may have an impact if amendments are filed (those are the bills we have marked to “monitor’). We have posted all bills we have reviewed as of 1/8 and are presently reviewing those that were filed in the later part of the week. We should have those additional bills posted by 1/19, so please check back often on our bill list for updates. We generally review all new bills on Fridays and post updates on Saturday.

During this first week, lawmakers also made changes to the composition of their working committees. Several freshmen have been added to the House Natural Resources Committee and there is new leadership on the Senate Natural Resources Committee as well. Many key environmental bills are typically (but not exclusively) housed in Natural Resources, so we encourage you to reach out to freshmen lawmakers on these committees. Introduce yourselves, and let them know about the environmental issues you care about. If you need assistance in meeting with your Representatives or Senators, please contact us and we are glad to help.


A Busy, but Exciting Weekend of Activities for KCC

This past Friday (Jan. 11), KCC co-hosted a reception for Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, Texas, Mayor of the first city to commit to 100% renewables (which was achieved in 2018). Louisville Metro Council President David James has introduced a resolution for making Louisville a 100% city, and Mayor Ross was able to spend time speaking with  James and Louisville’s Mayor Greg Fischer, along several other city and state leaders about the work that has been happening in Georgetown.

And then, on Saturday (Jan. 12) Mayor Ross joined KCC’s Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit as our keynote presenter. More than 80 KCC members and supporters attended the day-long conference, co-hosted by the University of Louisville Office of Sustainability. In addition to the Mayor’s enlightening presentation on how to get past partisan politics to create a livable and sustainable city,  we had other guests presenting on sustainable cities including Chris Zitelli of the Kentucky chapter of the US Green Building Council and Dr. Lauren Heberle of the University of Louisville who spoke on the environmental justice aspects of city redevelopment and sustainability.

The day also featured conservation updates from the Kentucky Office of Nature Preserves and Kentucky Division of Water. We also had some great presentations on how leaders are addressing biodiversity and habitat resiliency in times of climate change through presentations by David Phemister of The Nature Conservancy Kentucky, Greg Abernathy of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, and Margaret Carreiro from the University of Louisville (Retired) who spoke on how habitats and resiliency can be addressed in cities.

Senator Morgan McGarvey was also on hand to give his perspective on how citizens can be better advocates for their issues, and how legislators can better engage with their constituents. KCC has resources and tips you can use at this link. You can also find the full agenda and handouts from this last weekend’s conference on our Events page, where we will also be uploading all of the available presentations.


Upcoming Events: Solar Lobby Day, Feb. 28

KCC works with conservation constituents on a wide range of issues, and also assists citizens who want to lobby. We are also helping to coordinate or support several different Lobby Days during the session. On February 28th, we will be working with solar advocacy groups for a Solar Lobby Day that is hosted by a network of solar advocates including; Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, Kentucky Conservation Committee, Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, Sierra Club, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Kentucky Solar Energy Society, Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky, Earth Tools, Community Farm Alliance and Solar Kentucky. Register to attend!

Also: Do you have solar on your home or business?? We’d love to profile you to be one of our solar success stories. Please let us know!


Outdoor Recreation “Hill Day” Scheduled for March 4 

Join the Explore Kentucky Initiative at the State Capitol on March 4th and help bring attention to the importance of outdoor recreation in Kentucky! KCC will be assisting with this initiative, so if you or your organization are interested in being a part of Hill Day, please contact us!


Save the Date: Louisville Earth Walk, April 20 

We are once again participating in the Louisville Earth Walk, which returns to Iroquois Park for its third year on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Everyone is invited to join in the celebration as we walk in support of a vision of a city where everyone, in every neighborhood, has safe and clean water, air and soil.

 

The feature event is a 5k walk and fundraiser. Proceeds will be distributed among 12 partner organizations each of which will be on site to provide ideas and inspiration that you can take back to your home, office, group or community! So spread the word and save the date!

 

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VOTE November 6th, Then Join us for Ky Voices November 7th

 

 

These are busy times, as we have been receiving many calls at the office asking for research on the voting records of many in the legislature. While KCC does not presently endorse specific candidates, we have been glad to help our members with information on the voting records of candidates on specific issues we track. It is exciting to see such an involved electorate, and we hope to see all of you at the polls on November 6th. If you don’t know where your polling place is located, you can go to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center page to find your precinct location and sample ballots. You can also view your current voter registration and find candidate filings through the state’s Voter Information Portal. We know that many KCC members are out there working hard for their chosen candidates, and we appreciate all of your effort to express your views at the ballot box.

As soon as we know election results, KCC will be posting the new slate of 2019 legislators on our website. We are looking forward to working with these new faces and committee members.


Kentucky Voices, November 7th, 2018

With all of this hard work that has been taking place, we have scheduled our annual Kentucky Voices Author’s Event to be held the day after elections, Wednesday, November 7th in Frankfort. We hope you will take advantage of this annual event and join us for a relaxing evening of some of Kentucky’s best native authors and filmmakers. The event is FREE for current members in good standing, and if you are not a member, we are asking for a suggested donation to support our work and prepare for the 2019 session. (Better yet, we hope you will consider becoming a member!). We will be serving refreshments at 6:30PM and the event begins at 7PM.  We have a GREAT lineup for the evening, details here. Please join us and come out in support of KCC! You can also donate in advance on Eventbrite.


New Resources

We are excited to share new resources with our members, KCC’s guide to Key Steps for Climate Action, and our new Climate Action web pages. We had been working on these new resources over the summer, and received a request for an advance printing of our climate action guide last month, but will soon be following with a revised and expanded print edition in December to add updated information from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The guide highlights many great examples of work all across the state to address climate impacts and steps you can take. If you would like copies of this guide for your organization, please contact us. We will also be sending out the Key Steps guide to all KCC members who have renewed their membership by the end of December 2018.


What’s Been Happening During the Interim Session

As we reach the end of the Interim Session, meetings have been slowing down, but lawmakers were engaged with plenty of presentations all summer. Just to mention a few highlights, a few weeks ago, the Natural Resources & Energy committee received several presentations in Owensboro, including several from Owensboro Grain, who is producing biodiesel, soy-based industrial products, and demonstrated its on-site co-generation power plant that is designed to power 100% of their “crushing” division’s power needs. Earlier they received detailed presentations on the state’s aging water and wastewater infrastructure, which will be a major concern in upcoming sessions. Back in September, the same committee received updates from Fish & Wildlife on the status of invasive species such as wild pigs and Asian Carp, plus information on the control of contagious diseases in Kentucky wildlife. These are just a sample of topics that were covered over summer, and KCC has been monitoring all that have a conservation impact.

Other highlights include presentations to The Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture who received updates on the Farms to Foodbanks programs and some of the great agricultural work happening at Kentucky State University.

Interim committees are still scheduled to meet up to the week before Christmas. These meetings are a great time to schedule a meeting with legislators on the issues you care about. If you are planning a visit to Frankfort and would like our assistance in setting up a meeting with your favorite legislator, please contact us and we are glad to accommodate.


Recognitions…Thanks for your great work!

The work we all do to protect Kentucky’s natural environment is very hard and most do it with little expectation of reward. However in the past month, we were very pleased to see recognition for very deserving champions: First we’d like to mention is Chris Schimmoeller, who will be this year’s recipient of Kentucky Heartwood’s annual Stu Butler memorial award. Chris has been a longtime friend of KCC and we can’t say enough about her career of caring for Kentucky’s natural environment and her personal grace and integrity. In addition, Kentucky Resources Council’s director Tom Fitzgerald, a constant ally and friend of KCC, was presented the Secretary’s Award for his work to reform oil and gas laws during the Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment. We were also pleased to see an award go to the Kentucky Native Plant Society, a KCC partner group.

And speaking of the annual Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment: This year’s conference, I have to say, had far more focus on energy than the environment, which I found to be a disappointment. That perspective was also shared by KCC member Kris O’Daniel last week, in her Lexington Herald-Leader Op Ed. The conference covered progress on the Abandoned Mine Land program, the energy and regulatory outlook for 2019, and the growing urgency of dealing with our state’s water and wastewater infrastructure. See this article on this year’s conference.


Upcoming Events

We are very excited to announce that we are receiving support to organize a conference next summer or fall, tentatively called the “Upper Cumberland Watershed Climate and Biodiversity Conference”. We are hoping to bring together a diverse group of interests who want to address Kentucky’s unique biodiversity, and form action plans to support climate resilience in this important watershed. Stand by for more details as we develop this project, and if you are an organization who is interested in participating, we’d like to hear from you!

In the meantime, mark your calendars for KCC’s Annual Legislative Summit, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, January 12th, 2019 in Louisville.


Thank You!

We want to thank several organizations that invited KCC to present at their recent meetings. We were guests at the Kentucky Conference for Environmental Education for a panel on environmental advocacy, and were also invited to present to the Mammoth Cave and Northern Kentucky Groups of the Sierra Club to update them on legislative issues happening around the state. We are glad to come out to your region if you are looking for guest speakers…just contact us!


We’re Moving…but not very far!

As some of you may know, last year we had to move the KCC office on short notice due to our building on East Main (Frankfort) being sold just before the session began. We temporarily re-located to the other side of Main Street this year, but are now planning on a move a block away to Wapping Street, across from Frankfort’s Paul Sawyier Library. We should be in our new office before the 2019 legislative session.

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The Race is On

During the slower months of the Summer, we at KCC spend much of our time trying to bring additional value-added services to our members, to our partner groups and to legislators. This year, all 100 seats in the Kentucky House are up for re-election, as well as half of the Kentucky Senate seats. So we at KCC have taken some time to provide you with links so that you can more easily follow the evolution of both chambers during this election season (List of current House members and their November election challengers can be found HERE. Senate HERE). Where there are candidate websites or incumbent legislative pages available, we have linked to that information. We hope you will find this helpful as you make your way through campaign season.

 

Encourage More Conservation Platforms

As we were reviewing all of these candidate websites, there were some who provided conservation issue platforms, but it was clear to us that conservation issues were NOT a priority for many candidates. So we have taken the liberty to send all  candidates,  (incumbents and challengers alike) a copy of the 2018 KCC Legislative Review and Conservation Brief, along with a suggestion to refer to this information and encourage them to develop a conservation platform if they have not already done so. We hope you will also encourage your candidates of choice to do the same!

KCC historically has not endorsed specific candidates, however we do try to provide general nonpartisan candidate information as a service to our members and to candidates. You may find a voting scorecard of key conservation bills from the 2018 session.

And as long as we are talking about the elections, don’t forget, now is a great time to remind folks to register to vote. Registrations can be added from now till 30 days before elections. (Several states have adopted “automatic” voter registration, with Massachusetts being the most recent, signing their bill on August 9th. Learn more about the Massachusetts legislation here).

 

Conservation Alert: Ohio River Water Quality

The Ohio River Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) is proposing to drop all of their regulation of the Ohio River water quality and give the job back to the individual states. Send your comments by August 20th. All you need to do is email them to: PCS@orsanco.org  and tell them you object to these changes. Suggested comments:

I oppose and object to the proposed changes to the Pollution Control Standards (PCS) and ask that ORSANCO retain the language passed in 2015. If approved, ORSANCO is abandoning its mission and obligation to the people of the Ohio River Basin, but even worse, the water quality and quality of life of people in the Ohio River Basin will continue to suffer.

For more information go to: http://www.orsanco.org/programs/pollution-control-standards/

 

Interim Committees

Elections aside, we are spending the rest of our Summer attending the various Interim Joint Committee meetings and Cabinet meetings  in order to provide you with the best information we can. These past few weeks we have seen detailed presentations dealing with the crumbling infrastructure throughout the state, including the state’s bridges and water infrastructure.

The Transportation Cabinet is reportedly looking at an estimated $700 million over the next six years to address approximately 1,000 bridges in all 120 Kentucky counties (see story HERE). The transportation funding bill was one piece of legislation that did not pass last year, and was on our radar due to the proposal to add flat road usage fees for hybrid and electric cars. You can learn more about the Transportation Cabinet’s plans for bridges on their website called Bridging Kentucky.

As for the state of our state’s drinking and waste water infrastructure, this also has been a significant discussion for the legislature over the interim session. This past week, the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources heard presentations from the Energy and Environment Cabinet and Division of Water, (see story HERE) as well as presentations from Kentucky American Water, who estimates that an $8.2 billion investment is needed in drinking water infrastructure alone.

 

KCC Hosts the Wild & Scenic Film Festival- August 30th!

We’re ready with a fresh lineup of films, so if you have seen this festival before, this is a new lineup! We have an amazing list of films for this event on August 30th in Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre. In addition to 14 amazing films, there will also be door prizes, so come join us for this evening of fun in support of KCC!  In addition, there will be loads of fantastic silent auction items at the Kentucky Conservation Foundation’s Silent Auction which will be held in the lobby during the event. Reserve your tickets NOW at the Kentucky Theatre! To learn more about the films, click here. And a huge thanks to our local sponsors: Solar Energy Solutions, West Sixth Brewery, J&H Lanmark Outfitters, Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington, Republic Bank, Quantrell Subaru and Good Foods Co-Op. Thanks to the Kentucky Sierra Club for their in-kind promotion support.

We also expect to have a preview of Ben Evan’s film “EVOLVE: Driving a Clean Future in Coal Country” during our event on August 30th. (You will also be able to see a full screening of their film at the Kentucky for Drive Electric week on September 6th).

Information about both film events can be found at the Kentucky Theatre website: http://www.kentuckytheater.com

 

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A Busy (but fun!) Summer of Activities

You would think that after the end of a long legislative session, we would be taking a break, but it has been a very busy summer here at the Kentucky Conservation Committee. We are presently continuing our work on several initiatives from the legislative session, such as our work do defend land conservation funding, support for electric cars, pollinator programs, clean energy and more. In addition, we have been trying to get out and about across the state to meet with groups and citizens in a wide range of legislative districts.

We started the summer by attending a screening of the new film, The Human Element, which was shown in both Louisville and Lexington. KCC is helping to coordinate additional screenings of this film over the rest of the Summer and Fall throughout the state. If you have a facility that is interested in showing the film, please contact us.

We’ve also been taking the time to explore other initiatives happening around the state and beyond starting with Kentucky’s Pollinator Program, where State Apiarist Tammy Horn hosted a day at one of the University of Kentucky’s research farms. UK interns showed us an array of research gardens with test plots of milkweed and native plants designed to inform best practices for monarch waystations and effective habitat restoration. We finished the day at Columbia Gas, where they have been experimenting with ways to transform utility corridors to promote more monarch-friendly habitat.

We also took the opportunity to check out the innovative programs happening at Mt. Folly Farm in Winchester, where Laura Freeman (formerly known for Laura’s Lean Beef products) has developed a wonderful suite of locally-based agricultural initiatives, out at her historic 1790s log house and organic farm. The compound features heirloom crops and heritage corn, plus her newly-planted CBD hemp plantation, used for Laura’s  CBD oil and hemp chocolate products. Her farm is being designed to become a “carbon sink,” and the farming complex is open for birding and biking on Saturdays. See story about Laura’s work here.

We also traveled to Nolin Rural Electric Co-Operative in Elizabethtown, which has become America’s first PEER-certified electric co-operative. PEER is a standard from the US Green Building Council that stands for Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal. Nolin achieved its PEER “Gold” status by launching an emergency response plan for reliable service, by continually monitoring power quality on each service point on its 3,000-mile system, and by establishing enhanced tracking to determine root causes of any equipment failure and to identify problems. To learn more about PEER, go to: http://peer.gbci.org

Finally, we had the pleasure of attending the U.S. Climate Action Network Annual Conference, where KCC has been a member group for several years. The annual conference is where hundreds of organizations, with a particular emphasis on small and frontline groups, help to set climate priorities across the nation. KCC is presently compiling some of the best examples of local climate work in here in Kentucky for a project we will be releasing later this year. So watch for that soon!

So what is in store for the rest of the summer??

You can plan on seeing us once again out at the Kentucky Heartwood Music Festival on Saturday, July 28th in scenic Millville, Kentucky for starters. The event runs from 3-10PM rain or shine, so come on out!!

KCC’s Foundation is also one of the charities registered for the Birdies for the Bluegrass event, which is a PGA tour event to support charities throughout the region. So please ask your golfing friends (and others) to check out our foundation’s charity page for the event, and make a pledge per birdie! We appreciate if you can spread the word!

And because our work is at its most successful when we grow our strategic partnerships, we want to draw your attention to the upcoming  Justice First tour, which focuses on building solidarity in the South by combining environmental justice, climate justice, economic justice and racial justice. The tour will be in Louisville on August 3rd, 2018. The tour will be visiting the Joshua Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 426 South 15thStreet, from 6-8pm.

Finally, we plan on ending the season with our presentation of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Lexington, to be held on Thursday, August 30th at the Kentucky Theatre. If you have attended one of these festivals in the past, you know they are jam-packed with wonderful outdoor films, with each screening featuring a new mix of films custom-selected by the sponsoring organization. We’ve selected 14 short films that include a wide variety of hiking, birding and travel adventure films as a fundraiser for KCC. We want to thank our major sponsors for the event, which include: Solar Energy Solutions, West Sixth Brewery, J&H Lanmark Outfitters, Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington, Republic Bank, Quantrell Subaru and Good Foods Co-Op. Thanks to the Kentucky Sierra Club for their in-kind promotion support. We are presently helping to collect silent auction items for the Kentucky Conservation Foundation’s Silent Auction, which will run simultaneously with KCC’s film fest, so if you are interested in contributing items, please contact us.

 

 

Finally, some “Thank You’s” And Actions

We wish to thank Senator McGarvey and Representative Donohue for their recent editorial on how some utilities are rolling back energy efficiency programs. See story here. If you are an LG&E-KU customer and would like to submit your own thoughts to the Public Service Commission on these rollbacks, please send email to psc.info@ky.gov no later than July 23rd, note “Case No. 2017-00441” in your subject line, and include your name and USPS mailing address in the body of your note.

 

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Spring is Here…Time to Learn and Reflect

The Importance of Biodiversity: Those of us at KCC have been spending the past few weeks getting out in the public at spring events,  reflecting on the session, and finding new ways to add value to our connection with our constituents. Last month we had the pleasure of attending several public events, including the Kentucky Green Living Fair in Somerset, the Green Festival in Springfield, and other opportunities where we could make our way across the state. We met with native plant nurseries, beekeepers, solar companies and others who represent the issues we support. One of the vendors I encountered, Salamander Springs, was selling heirloom corn and I was fascinated with the story behind it…because it reminded me why protecting Kentucky’s unique biodiversity is not just about protecting a species, but also about preserving a culture and a way of life. These seeds were cultivated from a strain dating back to the 1800’s, improved by farmer Daymon Morgan. I may have met Daymon at one time or another, as he was very active in conservation circles before he passed a few years ago.

But what I do remember was the Leslie County hollow in which he lived. This was diverse hollow, once rich with clear streams and native plants. I visited this hollow on a regular basis for many many years, hiking the roads, studying the streams and observing over time the impacts created by a massive mountaintop mine operation as it slowly devoured tracts within the hollow over the course of a decade. I often hear the criticism that conservationists are simply folks resistant to change. However in witnessing the change within this hollow, I believe what we are resistant to is losing are the things that contribute to the richness of our very lives. So this spring I am taking some time to be thankful for that richness, plant me some rows of Kentucky Rainbow corn, and reflect on what makes our mission so important.

Climate Change: A few weeks ago we were privileged to co-sponsor, with our partners at Strobo-Barkley, a visit from Carroll Muffett , President of the Center for International Environmental Law and former Kentucky native. Carroll gave a wonderful presentation in Louisville about CIEL’s work on exposing the full history of how fossil fuel companies have masked their research on climate change. If you were not able to join us, you can watch the discussion here. If you would like to read more about the project, exposing internal fossil fuel documents on the climate crisis, click here.

New Tools, New Legislative Summary: KCC focuses primarily on legislative work, and we do not promote specific candidates for office. However we do try to provide our constituents with tools to promote an informed and educated base. So this month, we have included bipartisan information to our list of legislators in the House and Senate, adding where there are currently challengers in those districts. We also have been asked on how legislators voted on specific bills this session, so we are offering you a sneak preview of a bill scorecard from the 2018 session. We have listed all of the bills and resolutions  we ranked as either a “strong support” or “strong oppose” this session, plus a few more, and also indicated how each lawmaker voted. In situations where a vote did not take place, we at least listed the sponsors and co-sponsors.  We hope you will find these new tools helpful.

We are also excited to let you know that our 2018 Legislative Review and Conservation Brief is at the printer now…and will be mailed to current members in good standing in the next week or two. In the meantime, you are welcome to view the digital version below. If you are not yet a member of KCC and would like to receive a print copy, please email us. You are also invited to become a member.

Upcoming Events:

KCC will be at two events this Saturday, May 12: the Bluegrass Birding Festival at McConnell Springs in Lexington from 9-4, and we have also been invited as a special guest speaker at the Evolve Lexington electric vehicle group, who will be meeting on Saturday at the Lexington Main Library from 2-4, 140 East Main Street. We hope to see you at one of these events!

Fundraisers: Help Us Spread The Word! KCC’s charitable foundation, the Kentucky Conservation Foundation, will be participating this month for Kentucky Gives Day, May 22nd. We would very much appreciate if you could help us by spreading the word and invite your friends to support this fundraiser. KCF is the fiscal sponsor for KCC’s educational work. To learn more about Kentucky Gives day, click here.

Our Foundation will also be participating in Birdies for the Bluegrass, a charitable golf tournament held in July. Beginning in June, donors can go online to www.birdiesforthebluegrass.com and pledge to give an amount to your organization for every birdie a professional golfer makes in the tournament. We hope you will help us spread the word in support of our environmental education work through the Kentucky Conservation Foundation.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival: Mark Your Calendars! KCC will once again be hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, slated for the evening of Thursday, August 30th at the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington. Watch this space for details, and if you are interested in being a sponsor for this year’s festival please email us!

 

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Session Adjourned…the Work Continues

While we await the final signatures from the Governor, I would like to take some time to thank all of our members and supporters, as well as our KCC Partner Groups and Affiliates, for their support this session. We also want to thank our legislative affiliates at Strobo Barkley.

There are several bills still that have now been signed into law, and some still on the Governor’s desk. While we were pleased to see the anti-solar bill HB227 stopped, we were equally disappointed to see that the $5 million in funding (over two years) for the Heritage Land Conservation Fund was swept into the general fund, despite everyone’s best efforts. So we encourage you to find other ways to support your local nature preserves for now by offering to provide volunteer assistance for trail maintenance and please continue to purchase the Nature Plates, as they still need what revenue they do still receive.

To see the latest updates, go to our website for our fully-updated status of House and Senate bills. Members in good standing will also be receiving our full legislative summary booklet once the Governor completes his signatures. So if you are not currently a member and wish to receive the legislative summary, you can join here.

Latest House Bill Status Here

Latest Senate Bill Status Here

 

Upcoming Events:
Louisville Earth Walk, Saturday, April 21

And then we hope you will join us in Louisville this Saturday, April 21, for the Louisville Earth Walk! Registration information HERE . Proceeds will benefit KCC’s Foundation and many other great organizations.


Fossil Fuels, Corporations and Liability for Climate Change,
Thursday, April 26

The Kentucky Conservation Committee presents “A Crack in the Shell: Fossil Fuels, Corporations, and Liability for Climate Change.” on April 26 from 7pm-8:30pm at the Thomas Jefferson Church in Louisville. Join Us for an Evening with Kentucky’s Own Carroll Muffett, President, Center for International Environmental Law, Moderated by: Katie Bulinski, Associate Professor, Bellarmine University School of Environmental Studies.  Sponsored by Kentucky Conservation Committee, Kentucky Resources Council, Bellarmine School of Environmental Studies, Kentucky Solar Energy Society “KySES”, Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church/Louisville, KY, Louisville Climate Action Network and Strobo Barkley PLLC. Address of Thomas Jefferson Church is 4936 Brownsboro Rd, Louisville, Ky. The event is free and open to the public.

 

The Work Continues

During the interim session, KCC expects to be engaging members in ongoing projects. The session has left us ongoing work to do in several areas:

  • Continuing our work to expand access to solar energy. We will be continuing this work through our partnership with the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance and the new allies we have engaged through the session.
  • Supporting funding for land conservation and related issues through the Conserve Kentucky initiative.
  • The dialogue on green transportation will continue. Since the transportation funding bill did not pass, the question of how we fund our roads as we grow the market for more efficient cars is a debate which will continue during the interim session.
  • We will also be spending the off-session period supporting the state’s pollinator plan and related issues.
  • Finally, KCC is currently working with allies on a revised Climate Action Plan for Kentucky.

If you are interested in working with us on any of these projects, please contact us at 502-209-9659.

 

Honoring Oscar Geralds, Jr.

“Oscar firmly believed that humans were the stewards of God’s creation and spent most of his adult life advocating to make this so.”

KCC regrets to inform their members that one of our great heroes, Oscar Geralds, Jr., passed on Sunday, April 15th, the day after the legislative session concluded.

I have never known a man with more integrity and honor, and I will miss his friendship and his unwavering defense of the Creation we all share. The earth is lucky to have had this humble lawyer in its court. This legislative session, Senator Julian Carroll passed a resolution on the 50th anniversary of the protest hike that brought national attention to the campaign to save the Red River Gorge, where Oscar’s contributions on the issues impacting the Gorge were instrumental toward its protection.

When I moved to Kentucky, I had  begun my adventure into environmental advocacy through the local Sierra Club, where I first met Oscar Geralds (learn more about Oscar’s early history in the Sierra Club and his role in helping to save the Red River Gorge here). Oscar opened up his office, and his home, to myself and many other members on a regular basis. Many may not be aware that the Sierra Club in Kentucky literally ran out of Oscar’s downtown Lexington law office for many, many years, where we held newsletter committee meetings, conservation meetings, and the occasional happy hour. (It was often said that ‘it wasn’t a Sierra Club event without red wine’). When Oscar closed the law firm about a decade ago, he continued to open his house to members and friends regularly…whenever anyone in our crew was having a particularly good or bad week, a call would go out for ‘happy hour’ and we all would arrive at Oscar’s place.

My first years in his company were largely spent hiking and backpacking with him. Having served in the Army, he had the stamina to out-hike people far younger than himself, with a slow, steady pace, and could usually outlast most of us young’uns by the end of a full hiking day. He continued to hike well into his 60’s and 70’s, where I watched in amazement to see him boulder-scramble with his walking stick up the steep climbs in parts of the Gray’s Arch loop. I once watched him trip on a root at the beginning of the Koomer Ridge hike where he did a full head-over heels somersault, but dusted himself off and continued to complete leading his group on a 7-mile loop. Two days later, we found that he had broken a rib in the fall. My favorite hike with Oscar was his annual pre-thanksgiving hike at Natural Bridge, hiking up to Natural Bridge and then down via the Sand Gap perimeter trail….a long, somewhat unremarkable 9-mile walk, but a great way to spend an entire day on the trail.  Oscar had the hike timed precisely in his notebook, and would adjust and record his timing each year. As the years passed, it became more difficult for him to reach the end of the long trail before dark, but he was always able to finish.

I spent many great adventures backpacking with Oscar as well. He knew all of the best ‘hidden’ places in the Red River Gorge, and would always take his trusty old-school A-frame style Eureka 7 lb.  tent and canvas frame pack as his gear of choice.

About a decade ago, the State Nature Preserves Commission arranged to dedicate the trail at Pilot Knob in his name. His remarks to us were somewhere along the lines of asking why we picked such a damn steep trail. To no one’s real surprise though, he decided to hike the 2.5 mile ‘very strenuous’ ascending trail to the overlook that day, to the spot where Daniel Boone first laid eyes upon the Bluegrass Region.

In later years, Oscar and his wife Frankie continued their activities by opening their home volunteers in the Sierra Club’s Inspiring Connections Outdoors program, which brings underprivileged youth to the outdoors. Oscar was involved in far too many other activities and accomplishments to mention, but these are the ones I will remember the most.

Oscar was my inspiration and mentor for defending our natural environment. I only hope that through my role with KCC, that I can accomplish a fraction of the great works that he accomplished in his 88 years on this planet. I will miss him dearly.

-Lane Boldman, KCC Executive Director

Services will be held 1 pm Thurs, April 19 at Calvary Baptist Church, 150 E. High Street, Lexington, KY Visitation will be 10 am–12:30 pm Thursday at the church. More information here.