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KCC Guardian: Sun is Shining, Despite Lack of Pro-Solar Legislation

It has been an exciting couple of weeks here, starting with the recent unveiling of TWO significant solar projects. The first had its ribbon-cutting a week ago this past Thursday morning in Frankfort. The ribbon-cutting, held by the City of Frankfort and Earth Tools Inc.was for a project at the Juniper Hill Golf Course Pro Shop, where 82 panels were installed to provide 25% of the shop’s power. Former KCC President Andy McDonald was the force behind this project, as described in two articles from the Frankfort State Journal, here and here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second installation, unveiled later that same afternoon, was held at the Catholic Action Center in Lexington. Story here.

The inspiration for the Catholic Action Center project came as a reaction to the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. This is one of the first homeless shelters in the country to be powered by solar, and the first one financed with only private contributions. We wish to thank Synergy Energy for providing a discount on the price of the 100 panels they installed on the center, and was one of the companies who was strongly engaged in our opposition to SB214  last session, along with Solar Energy Solutions and Wilderness Trace Solar during the last legislative session. Catholic Action Center press release on their solar project here. KCC is continuing its campaign to provide more solar-friendly legislation in Kentucky. If you are interested in supporting this work, please contact Lane Boldman at director@kyconservation.org.

 


New Laws, Interim Session

The new laws that were passed during the 2017 legislative session took effect on June 29th of this year (see story at link). We also want to flag the status of the state’s recent weakening of coal ash rules, as described in this story by Erica Peterson, which anticipates a late July implementation. In the meantime, legislators have been convening during the Interim Joint Session, which began during the first week of June and runs through the first week of December.

Highlights of the week: We were pleased with the presentation this week to the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources & Energy from the Jackson Group, a firm located in Madison County. The firm outlined how to address natural stream restoration approaches to erosion of our transportation infrastructure caused by flooding and other hydrological impacts. We found this to be an enlightened presentation that applied good science and stream health as considerations when addressing infrastructure issues.

We were also intrigued this week by the presentation on Autonomous Vehicles to the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation. As vehicles adapt more “smart” technology, this raises a range of questions on statutes, including re-visiting the definition of a car’s “driver,” and issues involving public safety and insurance. Already thirty-three states have considered ninety-six bills involving Autonomous Vehicles. And During the course of this discussion, lawmakers once again raised the issue of gas taxes and the impact that the growing electric vehicle and alternative fuel market may have on revenues. This is an issue that KCC will be watching closely.


More on Electric Vehicles

While we are speaking about electric vehicles, we wish to note that the Energy and Environment Cabinet is accepting proposals regarding the Volkswagen Settlement (link HERE). The Cabinet is currently in the process for developing Kentucky’s mitigation plan. States will be receiving settlement funds that will be designated for NOx reduction through this settlement. KCC and the Louisville-based electric vehicle advocacy group Evolve Kentucky recently met with cabinet officials to learn about recent developments with the settlement and advocate for an “all electric” approach to vehicles that may be purchased through settlement funds. There are also national advocacy groups, such as Plug-In America, that have released reports on the adoption of plug-in vehicles and their advantages. Link to report here. If you are interested in being a part of this dialogue on shaping this settlement for Kentucky, please contact KCC at director@kyconservation.org. You can also contact Evolve Kentucky to learn more about their innovative “Adopt a Charger” program for increasing the availability of electric vehicle charging stations.

To comment directly on the VW plan, you can use the cabinet’s comment form here.


Pollinator Plan

In 2015, the State Nature Preserves Commission’s Biennial report highlighted “Pollinators on the Decline,” which identified how the protection of pollinators would be a priority for the Commission. Now we are pleased to announce the new Pollinator Protection Plan, which was released last month during a “Pollinator Week” kickoff event. Link here. Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles kicked off the week with the unveiling of the pollinator plan, demonstrations on beekeeping, and a display of Kentucky Proud products. KCC has been part of the review team for the Pollinator Protection Plan, and also the soon-to-be-finalized Monarch Protection Plan.

Relating to this, KCC also recently attended one of the “Linking Agriculture for Networking & Development” (LAND) Forums hosted by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), and Kentucky Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Three sessions were held throughout the state, highlighting local agricultural producers. We took the opportunity to spread the word about the new pollinator plan, but we were also intrigued by the innovative ideas that local producers were demonstrating on how to use natural products in innovative ways, such as the mushroom farmer who described how mushrooms were being used to absorb oils and pavement runoff at Bernheim Arboretum.


Wild & Scenic Film Festival

We are excited to announce our second year of hosting Syrcl’s “Wild and Scenic Film Festival,” a traveling festival of rotating short outdoor recreation films. The event will be held on Thursday, August 17th, so mark your calendar! This year, we are taking the festival to Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre. If you have seen this festival before, note that every showing has a different selection of films chosen by the host organization. This year we have selected nearly a dozen exciting adventure films to appeal to all fans of the outdoors. Tickets will be $20 donation ($15 student) and can be purchased one week in advance at the Kentucky Theatre Box Office. HOWEVER we fully expect the event to be a sellout, and strongly recommend you sign up in advance to reserve your tickets through KCC at this link.

We want to thank our signature festival sponsors: Canoe Kentucky, Wild Birds Unlimited Lexington, West 6th Brewing, J&H Outdoors and Good Foods Co-Op for their support for this year’s festival. We also want to thank in-kind sponsor, the Cumberland Chapter Sierra Club for their assistance in promoting the event.

The evening will once again host a silent auction, held by KCC’s charitable foundation, the Kentucky Conservation Foundation. We wish to thank Michler’s Florist, Weisenberger Mill, Ale-8 and Buffalo Trace Distillery for their generous contributions to the KCF silent auction. If you would like to become a sponsor for the film fest, or contribute to the KCF silent auction, contact us!


Volunteer with KCC!

We have many exciting opportunities for volunteers to contribute to our work! If you can spare a few hours this Summer, please contact us!

 

 

 

 

KCC Guardian: Lawmakers Adjourn, Sine Die

Ending just before midnight this past Thursday, the legislature adjourned, sine die, for the 2017 legislative session. In the end, legislators passed 130 bills, including 22 that were being followed throughout the session by the Kentucky Conservation Committee. Of those 22 bills, there were six signed into law that KCC urged members to support, and eight that we opposed.

On the last day of the session, the Senate ended their work earlier in the evening and the House completed their work with just a few minutes to spare. While there were only a few bills remaining from KCC’s watch list, one of the last bills passed was House Bill 72, the KCC “strong oppose” bill which calls for an appeal bond to be filed for planning and zoning cases. We appreciate the KCC members and supporters who responded to our multiple requests for calls on this bill. Your calls made an impact, slowing this bill down to the end.

We believe this bill is unconstitutional, and places an undue burden on citizen groups who challenge development projects in their neighborhoods. The legislature filed several amendments, including exemptions for churches and exemptions for landfills. In the end, the bill that was passed had removed the exemption for churches and retained the exemption for landfills.

At several points, the House and Senate were unable to reconcile their differences on this legislation. In the end, a free conference committee was appointed to work out differences. The Free Conference Committee report was adopted in the Senate, passing 21-17, and then the bill passed the House 51-39, just a few minutes before the end of the session.

This bill is now being sent to the Governor’s desk. So you do have one last opportunity to make your voice heard.  We strongly urge our members and supporters to contact the Governor and request a veto of this bill.

One of the other more consequential bills to pass this week was HB156, establishing the Coalfields Endowment Fund. Last week we mentioned to you that this bill was amended to combine two separate bills, one which was focused on outdoor recreation for trail development on private land, and a second bill which was focused on funding to improve infrastructure, water, economic development, public health and technological access in the east and west Kentucky coal regions. Improvements will be funded with $7.5 million in state coal severance dollars, and projects will be selected based on their economic development and job creation potential and their ability to be self-sustaining.

The last bills to pass the legislature this week are listed below. These are now on the Governor’s desk.

  • HB72 (Strong Oppose) Planning and Zoning Appeals Bond
  • HB156 (Support) Coalfields Endowment Fund/Recreational Trails Authority
  • HB360 (Support) Expanding the definition of “Agricultural Use”
  • HB376 (Monitor) Reorganization of the Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Summary: Bills that now become law

Most new laws will go into effect in late June. Here is a list of KCC bills which were either signed by the Governor or became law without the Governor’s signature:

  • HB35 (Strong Support) Establishing Public Benefit Corporations
  • HB50 (Strong Oppose) Addressing administrative regulations
  • HJR56 (Strong Support) Directs Division of Water to study private wastewater plants
  • HB119 (Monitor) Addressing waste management providers
  • HB163 (Support) Addressing titles for salvage autos
  • HB234 (Strong Oppose)  Amends requirements for mining permits
  • HB237 (Support) Addressing food and grocery donations
  • HB246 (Oppose) Solid Waste Management
  • HB384 (Strong Oppose) Reducing Mine Safety inspections
  • SB10 (Strong Oppose) Removes PSC authority, deregulating phone service in some exchanges
  • SB11 (Strong Oppose) Repeals the ban on nuclear plants /changes waste requirements
  • SB38 (Strong Support) Addressing penalties for timber theft
  • SB83 (Monitor) Increasing Deer and Elk permits for addressing safety risks
  • SB139 (Monitor) Amending the definition of “Livestock”
  • SB183 (Strong Oppose) Addressing reorganization of the Public Service Commission
  • SB222 (Oppose) Limiting the consecutive terms of a Mayor in consolidated governments (Became law without the Governor’s signature)
  • SB248 (Strong Support) Defining and regulating TENORM/Technologically-enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material from drilling operations.
  • SB249 (Monitor) Reorganization of the Energy and Environment Cabinet

KCC will be sending out a full detailed summary of this legislative session and issue brief to all members in good standing, which you should receive in a few weeks. If you are not currently a member of KCC, you may renew or join here.

KCC Guardian: Last Week to Act

KCC Guardian: Last Week to Act

Now in the home stretch of the session, let’s recap on where we are at: The Governor’s veto period ends on Monday, March 27th, and then there is a recess/work day scheduled on March 28th. Then legislators return on March 29 & 30 for their final two days of the session.

This week, several bills on the Governor’s desk were signed into law. These included the following:

  • HB35 (Strong Support) Establishing Public Benefit Corporations
  • HB50 (Strong Oppose) Addressing administrative regulations
  • HB119 (Monitor) Addressing waste management providers
  • HB163 (Support) Addressing titles for salvage autos
  • HB237 (Support) Addressing food and grocery donations
  • HB246 (Oppose) Solid Waste Management
  • HB384 (Strong Oppose) Reducing Mine Safety inspections
  • SB10 (Strong Oppose) Removing PSC authority, deregulating phone service in some exchanges
  • SB38 (Strong Support) Addressing penalties for timber theft
  • SB183 (Strong Oppose) Addressing reorganization of the Public Service Commission

So where do we stand now??

There are still a few bills on the Governor’s desk that have not yet been signed. You may take action today by contacting the Governor’s office on these bills.

HJR56 (Strong Support), directs the Kentucky Division of Water to conduct a study identifying privately owned and operated small wastewater treatment plants in the state, as well as providing certain data relating to the plants. Requires a practical emergency intervention method to respond to plant failures. Ask the Governor to sign this bill.

 HB234 (Strong Oppose), changes the reference in the public notice of intention to mine coal from “mining site” to “permitted area.” Removes the requirement that all areas overlying underground workings of coal mines be permitted rather than only the areas affected by operations and facilities occurring on the surface. Ask the Governor to veto this bill.

SB11 (Strong Oppose), would remove current prohibition on licensing of nuclear power plants until a permanent waste disposal strategy is in place, and instead allow the construction and operation of a nuclear facility where a facility has a “storage” plan for the waste. This means that the radioactive wastes that have a half-life of thousands of years can be stored on site without a permanent disposal strategy in place. Ask the Governor to veto this bill.

SB 222/LM, (Oppose), limits the number of terms an individual can be elected Mayor to two consecutive terms. If the mayor resigns during his/her term, the Governor has the authority to appoint an interim mayor. Requires the Mayor to name a Deputy Mayor. Gives the Governor authority to appoint Metro Council Members in the event a council member no longer can serve during his/her term. Ask the Governor to veto this bill.

SB248 (Strong Support), addresses Technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material (TENORM) bill. Defines TENORM and allows the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to regulate TENORM. Ask the Governor to sign this bill.

SB249  (Monitor), deletes and reorganizes several statutes with regards to the structure and operation of the Energy and Environment Cabinet. Eliminates the Environmental Quality Commission. Tell the Governor you do not support the elimination of the EQC.

 

Remaining in the Legislature

There are bills remaining in the legislature which may still move forward in the last two days of the session. Please make your calls on the following:

HB72 (Strong Oppose), which requires a bond for appeals of Circuit Court decisions for zoning cases before the case is transferred to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. This puts an unfair burden on neighborhood groups who are opposing poor planning and zoning decisions. This bill could simply die at this point, or the differences between the House and Senate would need to be worked out during the final two days of the session, beginning March 29th. So PLEASE continue to spread the word and call 1-800-372-7181 to leave a message for all Senators that this bill is “unfair to neighborhoods, please let this bill die.”

HB156 (Support) Outdoor recreation and tourism development bill. While we have not changed our ranking of this bill, it has now been combined with Senate Bill 215 (Kentucky Coalfields Endowment Fund). We wish to flag for our members that while this outdoor recreation bill broadly promotes  a range of outdoor recreation and trail development activities in eastern Kentucky (something we support),  we have concerns that the driver of the bill is development of ATV trails, and the oversight authority, we believe, needs better connection to existing land and tourism agencies in Kentucky to avoid conflict. We will be watching the evolution of this initiative should the bill be signed into law. This bill has not yet been sent to the Governor’s desk, so if you wish to comment, you may contact House and Senate leadership at 1-800-372-7181 to express your opinion.

HB323 (Support) allows hunting and fishing licenses to active duty members. of the US Armed Forces for same fee as Kentucky residents.

HB360 (Support) is a bill expanding agri-tourism activity.

For the latest status on all bills we are tracking, click here for House bills and here for Senate bills.

KCC Guardian: Twists and Turns, Veto or Law

 

KCC Guardian: Twists and Turns, Veto or Law

This past week brought challenges as lawmakers made their last push to get bills onto the Governor’s desk before the veto period. This meant that this past week has resulted in several twists and turns.

We have been highlighting the KCC “strong oppose” bill, HB246, that would change the way Louisville’s Waste Management District is structured (see story HERE). The bill would allow cities to opt out of the county’s solid waste plan and would set a precedent for other cities who wish to seek special treatment within their counties. This bill is currently on the Governor’s desk, so it is most urgent that you immediately contact the Governor’s office and ask him to “veto House Bill 246.”

As you know from our previous posts, we have been asking you to strongly oppose HB72, a bill that would require that a bond be posted before circuit court appeals in zoning cases (See story HERE). Your calls made a difference on this bill by slowing it down in several stages. This past week, the House voted to reject a Senate substitute and amendment to the bill, which means that the bill now goes back to the Senate.

Where does it stand now? The bill could simply die at this point, or the differences would need to be worked out during the final two days of the session, beginning March 29th. So PLEASE continue to spread the word and call 1-800-372-7181 to leave a message for all Senators that this bill is “unfair to neighborhoods, please let this bill die.”

Another bill that had last-minute twists and turns this week was HB156, a bill to expand outdoor recreation and promote economic development (see story HERE). While KCC has supported this bill for its broad focus on outdoor recreation, and opportunity for more job creation in the eastern Kentucky coalfield region, we nevertheless have had some real reservations with this bill. The primary driver for this legislation has been on development of ATV trails, and we have seen little coordination with existing state agencies and nonprofits that manage tourism and trail development. By combining HB156 with language from SB215, creating an endowment authority, the issues with how this new entity would be managed, and who is represented, become even murkier.

While more economic opportunities could be good, we would like to see more involvement from the local outdoor recreation community, land trust nonprofits, and state agencies such as Fish & Wildlife, Parks and Adventure Tourism who already address trail systems and are familiar with the challenges of good recreational management.

While we have not changed our ranking of this bill (support), we wish to flag these issues for our members and supporters, and will be watching the evolution of this new entity should the bill be signed into law. This bill has not yet been sent to the Governor’s desk, so if you wish to comment, you may contact House and Senate leadership at 1-800-372-7181 to express your opinion.

The Governor’s veto period ends on March 27th, and then there is a recess/work day scheduled on March 28th. Then legislators return on March 29 & 30 for their final two days of the session.


These Bills On the Governor’s Desk:

These bills are now on the Governor’s desk to either veto or sign into law. You may contact the Governor’s office and express your views on these bills.

KCC Strong Support Bills

  • HB35 establishing Public Benefit Corporations
  • HB237 relating to the donation of food and grocery items
  • SB38 increases penalties for timber theft
  • SB248 regulating technologically-enhanced low-level radioactive waste (TENORM)

KCC Support Bills

  • HB163 Relating to motor vehicle titles, making it easier to salvage and recycle

KCC Strong Oppose Bills

  • HB50 amends administrative regulations so that they automatically expire.
  • HB234 Which changes the reference in the public notice of intention to mine coal from “mining site” to “permitted area.”
  • HB384 Which rolls back the number of mine safety inspections. (See article HERE).
  • SB10 removes PSC regulatory authority for some phone exchanges.
  • SB11 repeals the prohibition of licensing nuclear plants (see story HERE).
  • SB183 reorganizes the Public Service Commission.

KCC Oppose Bills

  • SB222 restricting terms for Mayors of consolidated governments and gives the Governor certain interim powers (see story HERE).

Not Yet on the Governor’s Desk: Still time to act

  • HB72 is a KCC “strong oppose” bill limiting appeals on zoning disputes (see story above).
  • HB156 is a KCC “support” bill on an outdoor recreation (see story above).
  • HB323 is a KCC “support” bill to allow hunting and fishing licenses to active duty members. of the US Armed Forces for same fee as Kentucky residents.
  • HB360 is a KCC “support” bill expanding agritourism activity.
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KCC Guardian: Nearing the Home Stretch

KCC Guardian: Nearing the Home Stretch:

Before we get into the bills, we want to take a moment to thank the Kentucky Council of Churches, who welcomed KCC, Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light and others last week for their “Faith in Action” series. Their lobby day last week focused on the promotion of clean energy. Our work focused primarily on the Clean Energy Opportunity Act (HB338) and educating legislators on the continuing importance of clean energy in Kentucky.

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of last week, legislators went into recess, and are scheduled to come back on Tuesday, March 14 for two days of concurrence. Then the Governor will have ten days to veto any bills on his desk. These next couple of weeks are where bills can either move or die quickly, so please check our website often for daily updates.

There are already a few bills that have made it all the way to the Governor’s desk. Please contact Governor Bevin’s office at let them know you support these bills and then please thank the legislators who sponsored these bills:

  • HB35 Public Benefit Corporations (KCC Strong Support). To learn more about B-Corporations, click here.
  • HB163 Relating to motor vehicle titles, which may make it easier to recycle salvage autos. (KCC Support). Please thank Representative Bart Rowland and co-sponsor Jeff Greer for their support for this bill.
  • HB237 Relating to the donation of food and grocery items (KCC Support). Please thank Representative Phil Pratt and his co-sponsors for his work on this bill.

You may call legislators through the legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181.

There is one bill we strongly oppose, which has now made it all the way to the Governor’s desk. Please contact Governor Bevin’s office and let them know that you oppose the Governor signing this bill:

  • SB10 Relating to telecommunications (KCC Strong Oppose) that removes the PSC authority over retail phone service in certain exchanges.

Passed both Houses, in Concurrence:

  • KCC Strong Support: SB38which specifies that a person, regardless of state of mind or whether the person believes to be authorized or not, is liable for three times the stumpage value of the timber and three times the cost of any damages to property when he or she takes the timber of another without legal right. This bill should be on its way to the Governor shortly.

Getting Close:

These bills are not yet through the legislature, but are very close. So calls and emails are very important:

  • KCC Strong Oppose: SB11, which removes the current prohibition on the construction of a nuclear facility. Contact members of the Senate Leadership and House Leadership to oppose this bill.
  • KCC Strong Oppose: HB50 (re-defining expiration of administrative regulations) has passed both houses and is expected to be at the Governor’s desk soon. You can contact members of the Senate Leadership and House Leadership and ask them to not to send this bill to the Governor. And then Please contact Governor Bevin’s office and let them know that you oppose this bill should it arrive on his desk.
  • KCC Strong Oppose: We very much appreciate all your calls on HB72, which requires a bond for appeals of Circuit Court decisions for zoning cases before the case is transferred to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. As of March 13, the bill is being retained but could pass at any time. The bill is poorly drafted, runs afoul of many Kentucky Constitutional provisions, and puts an unfair burden on those with meritorious claims against poor planning and zoning decisions. Contact members of the Senate Leadership, as well as House Leadership and continue to ask them to oppose this bill.
  • KCC Strong Oppose: SB183 (J. Carpenter)  The bill confirms executive order 2016-832, relating to the reorganization of the Public Service Commission. Contact members of the Senate Leadership and ask them to oppose this bill.
  • KCC Strong Oppose: HB246 (J. Miller), has been through the House committee, is currently in Senate State & Local Government committee, and has been reported favorably there. This bill affects solid waste recovery and disposal in Jefferson County. See article here.
  • KCC Strong Oppose: HB234 (J. Gooch) Changes the reference in the public notice of intention to mine coal from “mining site” to “permitted area.” Removes the requirement that all areas overlying underground workings of coal mines be permitted rather than only the areas affected by operations and facilities occurring on the surface. The bill has been through the House Natural Resources committee and has passed the Senate Natural Resources committee by consent. Contact members of the Senate Leadership, as well as House Leadership and continue to ask them to oppose this bill.
  • KCC Strong Oppose: HB384 which reduces the required number of inspections of underground mines for both annual mine inspections and annual full electrical inspections. This bill is on its way out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Contact members of the Senate Leadership and ask them to oppose this bill.
  • KCC Support: HJR56 which directs the Kentucky Division of Water to conduct a study identifying privately owned and operated small wastewater treatment plants is now almost through the Senate Natural Resources committee. Contact your members of the House and Senate, plus Senate Leadership and House Leadership in support of this bill.
  • KCC Support: HB156 promoting outdoor recreation. Contact your members of the House and Senate in support of this bill.
  • KCC Strong Support: SB248: Technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material (TENORM) bill. Defines TENORM and allows the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to regulate TENORM. Contact Senate Leadership, as well as House Leadership  in support of this bill.

Other Legislation of Note:

These bills may not pass this session, however we wish to demonstrate as much support as possible.

 

 

 

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KCC Guardian: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant”


For those who are regular followers of KCC, you know that we, along with a determined group of respected allies, had been engaged in a nearly three-year dialogue with utilities, facilitated by Senator Morgan McGarvey, on how to resolve many real (and perhaps not so real) areas of difference between regulated utilities and independent solar businesses and grow the emerging solar market. At the end of the last session, we left without a bill being introduced, but with a willingness to continue a constructive dialogue.

It was not entirely surprising this session, however, on the last day to introduce new Senate bills, to see the filing of SB214, a utility-backed bill which would have allowed them to impose new fees on net metering customers and to change those fees over time. Independent solar advocates believe that the financial uncertainty created by this bill and other regulatory barriers it creates would actually discourage companies interested in renewables from coming to Kentucky.

Kentucky’s solar workforce now exceeds 1200 workers throughout the state and employment in this sector grew by 20%, even with the current outdated laws and restrictions on the industry. It is for this reason that we had invested so much time in trying to find ways to close the gap between the needs of the regulated utilities and small solar businesses.

Our group of solar business representatives, Ky. Conservation Committee lobbyists, and Tom FitzGerald from Ky. Resources Council, worked around the clock to bring to light the flaws in this legislation, propose ways to repair a bad bill, and alert our members, supporters, and the grassroots community about the threat to home-grown solar (see news articles below). The effort expanded quickly, and many other nonprofits and solar businesses worked in an unprecedented effort to stand up for home-grown solar.

Senator Carpenter delayed the first committee hearing of this bill which had been scheduled for Feb. 22, while solutions were worked on. At the following hearing on March 1, solar employees packed the room to defend their jobs, along with grassroots volunteers and solar customers, and our core team who shepherded the bill alternatives.

The hearing opened with a declaration that the bill would be tabled once again.

“I’m just not comfortable with the language that we had together last night and I want to make sure that I protect both sides of the industry and all the rate-payers in Kentucky,” Senator Carpenter stated. “That’s what this bill really comes down to. And so with a limited amount of time we have it’s going to be hard for it to go anywhere, but I’m still going to continue working on the issue and it may be something we can address during the interim.”

And I guarantee, we at KCC will continue working on this issue as well.

PLEASE ACT: We want to strongly urge you to call Senator Jared Carpenter, members of the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee, and thank them for listening to constituents and not move forward with a flawed bill. And then call Senate Leadership, and tell them you want to see real collaboration with independent solar businesses on real solutions to grow the solar jobs market in Kentucky. We also urge you to thank Senator Morgan McGarvey, who began the work to bring independent solar companies and regulated utilities together. Legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181.

There were many, many supporters who made calls and special efforts to this work. But I do want to take a minute to express my very personal thanks to my working partners in this effort: Randy Strobo, Andy McDonald, Tom FitzGerald, Steve Wilkins, Matt Partymiller, Josh Bills and Robert Chatham.— Lane Boldman, KCC Exec. Director.


Articles on SB214:


Other Actions This Week:

Time is now running short on the legislative calendar. Recess days begin on March 9 and then the legislature returns for concurrence on March 14 & 15. So please make your calls soon on the following bills to express your support or opposition. Legislative message line: 1-800-372-7181.

KCC Strong Oppose: HB72 requires a bond for appeals of Circuit Court decisions for zoning cases before the case is transferred to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The House version has an exemption for churches. The version passed out of the Senate State and Local Committee has an exemption for landfills. The bill, in both versions, is poorly drafted, runs afoul of many Kentucky Constitutional provisions, and puts an unfair burden on those with meritorious claims against poor planning and zoning decisions. Contact members of the Senate State and Local Government committee and Senate Leadership, as well as House Leadership and ask them to oppose this bill.

KCC Strong Oppose: HB246 (J. Miller), currently in Senate State & Local Government committee,  and affects solid waste recovery and disposal in Jefferson County.

KCC Strong Oppose: HR234 (J. Gooch) Changes the reference in the public notice of intention to mine coal from “mining site” to “permitted area.” Removes the requirement that all areas overlying underground workings of coal mines be permitted rather than only the areas affected by operations and facilities occurring on the surface. Currently in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee.

KCC Strong Oppose: SB183 (J. Carpenter) , currently in the House State Government committee. The bill confirms executive order 2016-832, relating to the reorganization of the Public Service Commission.

KCC Support: HJR56 which directs the Kentucky Division of Water to conduct a study identifying privately owned and operated small wastewater treatment plants. Contact the  Senate Natural Resources committee.

KCC Strong Support: SB38which specifies that a person, regardless of state of mind or whether the person believes to be authorized or not, is liable for three times the stumpage value of the timber and three times the cost of any damages to property when he or she takes the timber of another without legal right. Timber theft legislation has been proposed for the past several years. Contact your local representatives and urge them to support this bill.

KCC Strong Support: HB35Public Benefit Corporations. Please Senate Leadership, as well as House Leadership  in support of this bill.

KCC Strong Support: HB340Land Conservation Tax Credit. Contact your local representatives and urge them to co-sponsor this bill. Then contact members of the House Appropriations & Revenue committee and express your support.

KCC Strong Support: HB338: A Clean Energy and Economic Development bill. Contact your local representatives and urge them to co-sponsor this bill. Then contact the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee and tell them you support goals for energy efficiency and diversifying energy resources.

KCC Strong Support: SB248: Technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material (TENORM) bill. Defines TENORM and allows the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to regulate TENORM. Currently in the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee.

 

The KCC Guardian: Fast and Furious

Moving Fast (and you should be furious)

SB214: (Net Metering/Strong Oppose) You received an alert on this during our last issue of The KCC Guardian and members respondednow you must do even more! Senators received a wave of calls last week opposing this bad bill, which has now prompted utilities to send alerts to their customers in support of the bill. So this week we need members to spread the word and reach out to additional supporters of home-grown solar power and strongly oppose SB214. We ask for people to immediately call or email members of the Senate Leadership, and members of the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee and ask them to reject this bill. Please make your calls and send your emails before the Committee meets this Wednesday, March 1 or call the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 starting Monday morning. Watch for an additional dedicated alert from KCC with more details on this bill tomorrow. If you have any questions on this bill, call KCC’s 24-hour hotline on this bill at 502-209-9659 and we will be glad to answer any and all questions.

Other Bills Moving Quickly:

HB35 Establishing Public Benefit Corporations, a KCC “strong support” bill, has now passed the House and is now in the Senate Agriculture Committee. Please contact members of this committee and express your support for this bill. To learn more about Public Benefit Corps, go to this link.

HB72, a KCC “strong oppose” bill, relating to planning & zoning, could have a detrimental impact on the ability of citizens to challenge environmentally destructive land uses by requiring a bond for appeals. This bill has now passed the House and is currently in the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee. Please contact the committee and ask members to reject this bill.

Another bill that has momentum is HB156, a KCC “support” bill to promote outdoor recreation. While the driver of this bill is the desire to develop an ATV trail, and we believe there are elements that are redundant to existing adventure tourism authorities, the bill is focused broadly on outdoor recreation as a whole. The bill presently has twenty co-sponsors and is anticipated to pass out of the House shortly. So please contact your legislator in the Senate and express your support for this bill.

KCC “Strong Oppose” bills of note for this week:

One of the late-filed bills that we strongly oppose is HB384 which reduces the required number of inspections of underground mines for both annual mine inspections and annual full electrical inspections. This bill is currently in the House Veterans, Military Affairs & Public Protection committee. Please call the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 to strongly oppose this bill.

We also want to highlight another “strong oppose” bill, HB246, addressing solid waste. This bill prohibits Louisville Metro or the District from charging a fee that is based on the make-up of the solid waste stream of that city, so long as the waste stream complies with state and federal law. You may learn more about this bill in this Courier-Journal article.

KCC “Strong Support” bills of note for this week:

One bill filed within the past week to bring to your attention is SB248 (KCC strong support). This bill is a consensus product from the legislature’s Oil and Gas Workgroup, addressing technologically-enhanced naturally-occurring radioactive material (TENORM). It defines TENORM for clarity and allows the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to regulate TENORM. This bill is already moving quickly through the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee and is expected to pass quickly. This bill was written in reaction to the dumping of low-level radioactive waste in landfills in Kentucky.

Advancing our Land Conservation Agenda:

We want to thank those of you who came out to KCC’s Land Conservation Lobby Day this past Wednesday. We were able to receive feedback from several legislators who said they would be willing to co-sponsor Representative Kay’s HB340, (KCC strong support) supporting tax credits for land conservation. If you were unable to attend the lobby day this week but still wish to help, we encourage you to call or email members of the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee and tell them you support tax credits for land conservation, and to please hear this bill in committee.

 

See our full list of bills and our rankings:

Link to House bills and KCC positions HERE

Link to Senate bills and KCC positions HERE

 

Finally, A special note about how we work:

I want to take a special moment to thank the KCC Board of Directors, an essential component of the KCC team who works alongside our legislative agent Randy Strobo and myself to support this important work. Last month we elected three new members of the board, Don Dott, Benjamin Knoll, and Gerry James. I also wish to acknowledge our board members who have termed off, including Wade Helm and Robert Kingsolver, and thank them for their service.

One of the many things which makes the Kentucky Conservation Committee unique is the incredible depth and range of knowledge that is held within our board. Each week, our entire board/staff team actively reviews each piece of legislation, and contributes their experience and knowledge about each issue as part of a rich conversation. This allows us to give you the strongest assessment possible of each piece of legislation and its implications.

-Lane Boldman, KCC Executive Director

 

 

KCC Guardian: New Bills Reach a Deadline

We are now roughly halfway through the session, and the deadline for new House and Senate bills has now passed. We have reviewed many of the new bills filed last week, but look for another update mid-week to address some of the late bills filed on Friday. We also strongly encourage you to sign up for KCC’s weekly emails during the session, in order to receive your urgent action alerts in a timely manner, or check the KCC Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates.

KCC “Strong Support” bills and resolutions introduced this week include HJR56 which directs the Division of Water to conduct a study of private and small wastewater treatment plants. Also we were very pleased to see the re-filing of HB338 by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, commonly known as the “Clean Energy Opportunity Act,” which requires retail electric suppliers to use increasing amounts of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and requires the Public Service Commission to develop tariff guidelines for purchase of renewable power. That bill has been sent to the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee, so please contact committee members and let them know you support targets for clean energy and efficiency.

We were also pleased to see HB340, by Rep. James Kay, that establishes a qualified conservation contribution income tax credit for the donation of property or an interest in property for conservation purposes. We will be promoting this bill during our lobby day this Tuesday (Feb. 21) so if you are interested in joining us, call our office at 502-209-9659 for details. You may also contact members of the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee and tell them you strongly support tax credits for land conservation.

And a Senate bill we strongly support is SB157, which authorizes the Public Service Commission to remove all governing persons of a water district for specified causes and authorizes the Public Service Commission and the Division of Water to manage the water district or have the commission redraw the geographical area of the water district.

There are several KCC “Strong Oppose” bills introduced this week to highlight, including HB317, a bill we have seen in the previous sessions, that would establish a registration fee of $100 for plug-in vehicles. While we understand the concern that plug-in vehicles are not supporting road funds because they are not paying a gas tax, we believe this proposal is premature and would slow down a market that is still emerging.

HB384 is another bill we strongly oppose, as it would reduce the number of underground mine inspections, including a reduction of full electrical mine inspections. These inspections would be reduced to half of their previous number.

Finally, we are hugely disappointed to see SB214, an act relating to Net Metering, filed this week. Net metering is a good, simple policy that supports solar energy, a great and growing source of economic development across the USA and great opportunity for Kentucky. However we believe SB214 as written severely undermines net metering, solar energy, and its potential for job creation.

Our members and supporters may be aware that KCC, working with solar business representatives plus our allies at KRC, have spent well over two years educating electricity suppliers on proposals to raise the cap on net metering from 30kw to 1000 kw, as well as advancing several other issues to support expansion of the solar market. The bill filed this week, unfortunately, does not reflect that work. While SB214 does address the net metering cap, it would strongly discourage investments in solar energy by anyone but electric utilities, doing harm to the many independent solar businesses working in Kentucky. It allows utilities to impose new charges on net metering customers based on costs determined by the utilities, and disregards the many widely recognized benefits that rooftop solar has for customers, the utilities, and the general public, and create uncertainty about net metering rates and customer charges. The bill currently resides in the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee. We urge you to contact these committee members and Senate leadership, and urge them to reject this bill as it unfairly restricts Kentuckian’s ability to produce their own energy.

Bills posted but not yet rated by KCC: Over the weekend several final bills posted, and we will be posting our ranking for these in the next few days. Bills of note include new proposed regulations on natural gas drilling waste (SB248), electric generating units (HB438) and several involving the Public Service Commission.

Bills on the move: Bills which have made significant progress are HB35 (Strong Support) on Public Benefit Corporations which has passed the House and is now in Senate Agriculture.   SB38 Timber Theft Bill (Strong Support) has passed the Senate and is now in the House. SB56 (Support) Safe Bike Passing legislation, has passed the Senate and is now in the House Transportation Committee, however has passed with an amendment which weakens the bill. HB72 (Strong Oppose) has passed the House and is now in Senate Judiciary. Please contact the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose this bill.

Link to House bills and KCC positions HERE
Link to Senate bills and KCC positions HERE

KCC Guardian: Topics and Actions for the Week

This week, we saw a flurry of activity at the start of “Part II” of the legislative session, including the first full week where KCC-reviewed bills were heard. This short session means that bills will move quickly from here on, so we strongly encourage you to sign up for KCC’s weekly emails during the session, in order to receive your urgent action alerts in a timely manner, or check the KCC Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest updates.

Legislation to establish Public Benefit Corporations (HB35, a KCC “strong support” bill) was heard this week, and unanimously passed its first reading in the House State Government Committee. A Public Benefit Corporation, or “B-Corp” is a specific type of corporation that allows for a public benefit to be a charter purpose in addition to the corporate goal of maximizing profit for shareholders. The committee heard compelling testimony from one of the first two certified B-Corp businesses already in Kentucky. Indiana and Tennessee have already passed B-Corp legislation, with Ohio expected to follow soon. To learn more about B-Corporations, go to www.bcorporation.net. To learn about which states have become B-Corporation states, go to BenefitCorp.net.

Other KCC “support” bills that moved this week include SB56 (R. Webb), which received a favorable reading in the Senate Transportation Committee and has a companion bill (HB85) in the House. This is a bike safety bill requiring cars to pass at a distance of at least three feet. Also SB78, which prohibits tobacco use on school property, had a successful reading in the Senate Education Committee this week (house companion bill HB247).

As for bills we oppose, one of the more egregious bills heard this week was HB72, which requires a supersedeas bond for appeals of the Circuit Court on planning and zoning decisions by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. This bill will have a detrimental effect on citizens who attempt to challenge environmentally destructive land use proposals in court, and was quickly stopped by the fast action of KCC members in previous years. An amended version of this year’s bill has already had a successful reading in the House Judiciary Committee this week and is expected to continue to move quickly. Please contact House leadership and the House Judiciary Committee to express your strong opposition to this bill.

We also want to highlight SB38, an act which increases the penalties for timber theft, which KCC strongly supports. To learn more about issues related to timber theft, click here.

We continue to flag two bills (HB90, SB11) that change the requirement for storage of nuclear waste and repeal the prohibition on construction of nuclear facilities. Contact the House and Senate committees on Natural Resources & Energy and tell them you strongly oppose these bills.

We also want to draw your attention to HB107 (J. Fischer), which prohibits sanitation districts the authority to charge ratepayers for “indirect” or “imputed” benefits, which could significantly affect green infrastructure projects. This bill has not yet moved, and is currently in the House Local Government Committee. Please call the House Local Government Committee and tell them that you strongly oppose this legislation.

One of the more controversial issues “under the radar” this session has been the consideration of revised administrative regulations on the disposal of coal combustion waste, or coal ash. This issue has been reported on by both KCC and KRC. These proposed rule revisions came to the Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee this week. We appreciate those of you who made calls and contacted committee members, which resulted in the Subcommittee asking the Cabinet to defer the utility coal combustion disposal regulations by one month in order to allow the legislators more time to determine the impact of removing the individual permitting review for utility landfills and ash ponds. So please THANK these subcommittee members. And also ask them to reject the regulations when they next meet unless the Cabinet restores the permitting requirements for utility coal combustion waste landfills and ash ponds. Visit our “Issues” page on our website to learn more about coal ash.

Strong Support:  While we have ranked only a few bills for our strongest support, we do encourage you to contact your legislators on HB35, HCR50, HB194 and SB38.

Bills of Concern: Check our list for several bills to strongly oppose, and make calls on HR28, HB37, HB50, HB72, HB90, HB107, HB165, HB234, SB11.

Upcoming Events include lobby days for land conservation on February 21, and lobby days for clean energy on March 7. Please contact us for more information about these opportunities!