General Assembly Week Nine: A Critical Time

This past week, we reached the deadlines for filing new House and Senate bills, which resulted in a burst of last-minute of filing activity. We are now with about six weeks left in the session, and only three weeks left till we reach the veto period. But there is still enough time for new filings to move.

During this time, we can also expect to see some consolidation of bills, which means that every bill substitution needs to be watched closely. To date, KCC has now reviewed over 800 House 500 Senate bills and resolutions. Of those reviewed, we have listed about 95 House and 33 Senate bills and resolutions with a conservation impact.


Activity for the Week:

The primary house budget bill (HB200) (KCC Strong Oppose) moved with a bill substitute this past week, and while we were glad to see the restoration of some funds, such as funding for the Mesonet program of the Kentucky Climate Center), we were very disappointed to see that the $5 million in “sweeps” from the Heritage Land Conservation Fund, Kentucky’s only funding for land conservation, remained in the substitute. The bill was voted on and approved immediately after the substitute was revealed. Now the fight moves on to the Senate. See our alert page for actions to take on this bill.

Another bill that moved this week was HB22 (KCC Oppose) a bill that prohibits the use of drones and evidence gathered by drones except for law enforcement purposes. This would challenge citizen monitoring of environmental hazards. That bill is now making its way to the Senate.

The bike safety bill HB33 (KCC Support) was heard in the Senate Transportation committee where lawmakers continued to raise questions on balancing the consideration between bikes and cars on our roadways. See this article from “Bike Walk North Carolina” on bike safety benefits.


Expect the Anti-Net Metering bill to move:

We expect HB227 (Anti-solar net metering bill, KCC Strong Oppose) to move this week where we expect to see new committee substitute. The bill presently resides in the House Natural Resources committee but is expected to move to the full House shortly. See this article on how citizens in Eastern Kentucky are asking for more solar jobs, and please see our alert page for actions to take on this bill.


Notable new bills this week:

For new bills, we saw the filing of HB609 (KCC Oppose), a comprehensive transportation funding bill that includes language from the previously filed HB45 that establishes a flat fee for electric, plug-in electric, and hybrid vehicles. While we agree alternatives to the gas tax must be explored to raise revenue for road infrastructure, we disagree with the flat fee approach and find the charges to be arbitrary. Though the bill was only filed last week, it already has fourteen sponsors, so please see our alert page for actions to take.

We also want to draw your attention to HB515, which provides alternative concurrent venue and jurisdiction when appealing the decisions of state agencies and the changing of venue from Franklin Circuit Court to the Circuit Courts of the counties in which events underlying the enforcement actions occurred.


Thanks for your support! Come Join us for a special evening on March 16!

We appreciate ALL of the kinds words and support from KCC members and friends since the session started. The early and persistent activity around two key pieces of legislation (land conservation and solar) have certainly challenged our capacity since the beginning of the session, and we appreciate your donations and support. We hope you will consider joining us at 7pm for a very special performance of “Sisters of the Mother Forest” (the story of Lucy and Annette Braun) on March 16th, 7pm in Louisville. The presentation will be to benefit the Kentucky Conservation Committee. Our thanks to KCC board member and play author Alice Jones for offering this special performance. Reserve your seats here (and you can also donate to support our work).




Week Eight: Time to Focus

With time running out for bill requests (last day for the House is Feb. 27, last day for the Senate is March 1), we have seen a flurry of new bills filed. You can find the latest updates on House and Senate bills of interest on KCC’s website.

However, the time to act is becoming critical for two main bills we have been intensely focused on: HB227 (Anti-net metering bill, KCC Strong Oppose) and HB200 (budget bill with $5 million in funding “sweeps” for land conservation, KCC Strong Oppose).

There have now been 29 total amendments filed to HB227. However we have been telling people that with even the best of amendments, this bill is still a fundamentally flawed,  unnecessary piece of legislation that will adversely affect independent solar installers and future residential solar customers, and must be defeated. Many in the public, and many lawmakers, have stated that they find the bill to be an overreach by the utilities on a small, independent solar market. This bill is in the House and could be voted on at any time. We want to thank those of you who came out on Thursday for the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance Lobby Day and KCC’s Land Conservation Lobby Day. Each and every visit with legislators has been vital on these bills, and we have received multiple reports on a massive outreach campaign in support of the utilities on HB227, so we need you to keep reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors to make their calls against this bill. This bill is unnecessary because the present statutes already cap the use of net-metering at 1% of the market, and we are decades away from that kind of market penetration. See KCC’s Alert Page for this week’s actions on this bill, which we believe will kill the independent solar market. If you would like more background information about this bill, we have also posted several editorials and fact sheets at this link.

Similarly, we want to ask you all to also focus this week on HB200 (main budget bill). The budget bills have just now begun to move, with the first reading happening last week. We want to thank all of you who helped us to collect sign-ons from 45 organizations who are opposed to the $5 million in funding sweeps from the Heritage Land Conservation Fund which are in this bill. The letter was delivered last week to all lawmakers. See KCC’s Alert Page for this week’s actions on this bill, A copy of the text for the sign on letter delivered to all lawmakers can be found here.

We cannot express enough how much all of your calls and actions have made a difference. 

One last acknowledgement: Earlier this past year, just before the holiday season, I was trying to schedule multiple, and unavoidable, medical appointments for family members and for myself. Being that KCC is a small office (just myself as full time staff and the ever-reliable legislative support from Randy Strobo during the legislative season), I was dreading the prospects of going into this session with a backlog of detail work that would need to be postponed as we prepared for the session due to these unplanned interruptions. However with impeccable timing, I received an email from someone who attended our Wild & Scenic Film Festival, and offered to intern with us. Kerry Skiff has been an invaluable help these past few months during some of our most critical times, helping out with research work, our Legislative Summit, and last week’s multiple lobby days. Such talent has been recognized, and Kerry will be moving to Washington D.C. to work in the communications department of Defenders of Wildlife. We wish Kerry well and thank her for the generosity of her time and her “can do” attitude. We are very sorry to see her go, but are excited for the new opportunities she has in store. Kerry, thank you SO much!

—Lane Boldman 

Week Seven: Taking Stock at the Halfway Point

This week marks the halfway point of the 60-day session. To date, KCC has now reviewed 536 bills and 377 Resolutions, of which we have listed and ranked over 90 of these for their environmental or social consequences. (See our latest rankings of House and Senate bills).

Each week, KCC legislative agents and board members convene to go over every piece of legislation, and those which receive a “strong support” or “strong oppose” rating are given special direct attention throughout the session. We send copies of our rankings and analysis to lawmakers on a regular basis throughout the session.

While bills such as the anti-homegrown solar bill HB227 (KCC Strong Oppose) finally moved to the House after 22 amendments and after dominating the news, there are several other pieces of legislation that are also receiving our highest attention.

We are still challenging several of the budget cuts and funding sweeps in the primary budget bill HB200 (KCC Strong Oppose). The bill was sent to the House this past week for its first reading but then returned to the House Appropriations & Revenue committee to continue its work.

We are also working on slowing the momentum on HB10 (KCC Strong Oppose) which would amend the Kentucky Constitution and permit the General Assembly or its committees to review and approve or disapprove regulations of the Executive Branch during the General Assembly. This bill has passed the House and was received in the Senate on February 9th. It now resides in the Senate State & Local Government Committee.

Fortunately, not all bad bills are on the move. The horrible “auxiliary container” bill  SB82 (KCC Strong Oppose) fortunately seems to be stalled in the Senate State & Local Government committee.  This bill would prevent local governments from setting their own ordinances on these containers, which are defined as “a bag, cup, bottle, or other packaging, whether reusable or single-use, that is designed for transporting, consuming, or protecting merchandise, food, or beverages from or at a food service or retail facility.”

And we also have several GOOD bills and resolutions that still need additional co-sponsors and support. Those include HCR18 (Mileage-Based Transportation Task Force), HR148 which urges the Governor to declare a state of emergency in Martin County over their water crisis, HR154 urging passage of the RECLAIM act, and HB196 the Clean Energy Opportunity Act.

We hope to see you in Frankfort this week! Join us this Thursday, February 22, where we will be supporting groups who are coming to town to lobby for clean energy and land conservation. For more information on how you can join us, just call us at 502-209-9659.




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Week Six: Citizen Power Alive and Well in Frankfort

Latest Legislative Alerts for the week of 2/12 here

Latest House and Senate bills

Over the past several weeks, citizens who have never lobbied before have been calling the office daily to ask what they can do, and asking if we help them to lobby their representatives. KCC is on-site during the full session to help any and all citizens who want to lobby. If you are passionate about any of the bills on our House and Senate lists, and will be in Frankfort, please call us at 502-209-9659 and we will be glad to assist or accompany you on a visit to your representatives!  In-person constituent visits are the most effective way to deliver a message to your legislator!

More tips on engaging your lawmakers here!

Finally, we hope you will consider coming to Frankfort for one of several different upcoming clean energy lobby days. Sign up here!








Other Developments for the week: The hard-fought battle to stop HB227, a bill which would fundamentally change net metering laws, has now moved on to the full House after Chairman Gooch added three new members to his Natural Resources & Energy Committee. Our thanks to all of the citizens who came up to Frankfort on very short notice for all of the committee actions! While dozens signed up to speak at the hearing, the chairman called the vote without allowing citizen testimony. We are asking for the House Leadership to “recommit the bill” for additional work. There have been many misconceptions about this bill which are being spread by utility supporters, so we appreciate this week’s article in the Herald-Leader which explains the misconceptions.

We also want to thank Solar Kentucky for this video, where KCC’s legislative agent Randy Strobo explains the legislative history of the fight to protect solar in Kentucky.

We also are organizing efforts on February 22 to also lobby for land conservation funding. Please email us if you are interested in coming to Frankfort on Feb. 22 to lobby for land conservation! Sign on Letter in Support of Land Conservation Funding:
Downloadable Letter HERE, Sign on Form HERE

Finally, we want to highlight one “feel good” item of the week, the filing of Senate Resolution 157, which recognizes the 50th anniversary of the original protest hike in the fight to save the Red River Gorge. We want to leave you with this reminder that effective citizen action, no matter the odds, can, and has, resulted in monumental changes for all Kentuckians.

Latest Legislative Alerts for the week of 2/12 here



Week Five: More Twists and Turns

What a week of twists and turns! As you recall from the previous week’s posting of the KCC Guardian, that week had begun with the filing of the anti-net-metering bill HB227, with the anticipation that the bill would immediately be heard with the first meeting of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee later that week. But due to effective lobbying by citizens working with KCC and allies, that meeting was cancelled.

So going into this past week, we expected for the bill to be heard at the committee’s regularly scheduled Thursday meeting. Citizens were once again planning to fill the meeting room to defend rooftop solar. However in a surprise move, with only 24 hour’s notice, Chairman Gooch moved the meeting up by one day, to be heard on adjournment of the session Wednesday. Fortunately KCC was able to quickly send out alerts of the change, and citizens were able to re-group and fill the room. You can find the full video of the hearing here, where you will see that due to pressure from well-informed citizens, Chairman Gooch once again declined to call a vote on the bill.  We would like for you to thank Rep. Tim Couch, who asked thoughtful questions on the merits of the legislation during this surprise hearing.

But this surprise hearing was not the only surprise of the week. Once it was clear that the Chairman lacked the votes to pass his own bill out of committee, House Leadership was approached with a request to add three more committee members to Gooch’s team on Friday. (Read more details on KCC’s Clean Energy page). So look for another attempt at a vote this week.

With so much attention to this bill, we don’t want to overlook that KCC is still continuing its work on land conservation funding in its opposition to HB200, the main budget bill. But we need your help! Please circulate this sign-on letter to all organizations who support land conservation and oppose the funding sweeps in HB200.

We also want to make sure you will plan on attending one of several Clean Energy Lobby Days, including one planned for Feb. 22 by the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance in support of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act (HB196).

Week Four: Picking Up Speed

With the General Assembly not even through its first month, we have already seen several bills attempting to make their early mark. KCC and their allies have been working hard to slow the momentum of these significant bills. This week, our efforts have been focused on HB227 (Strong Oppose), which would re-defined the state’s net metering laws and compensation to citizens who have grid-tied solar arrays on their homes. Paired with the recent tariff on imported solar panels, this legislation would cripple independent solar installer businesses. This bill was filed late on Monday, Jan. 22 and KCC was watching, immediately alerting members and allies to flood the switchboard with calls. We have also been accompanying citizens to the Capitol Annex all last week to meet with members of the House Natural Resources Committee. Expectations were for the bill to be heard during the Committee’s meeting last week, however due in large part to your calls and effective lobbying efforts, it has not yet been called for its first hearing. The next scheduled meeting is this Thursday, February 1, so please keep those calls coming! (See Actions to take HERE).

We also have been reacting to the filing of the House Budget Bill, HB200 (Strong Oppose). While the bill reflects a continuation of budget reductions all around, including important departments such as enforcement, we wish to highlight specific areas of concern to our members, including the elimination of the state tree nurseries, the Environmental Education Council and the Mesonet program that is part of the Kentucky Climate Center.

In addition, followers of KCC may recall that during the previous budget cycle, we were able to restore $5 million from a proposed $10M “sweep” from the Heritage Land Conservation Fund. When KCC members and allies in the Conserve Kentucky coalition prevented a full sweep, this allowed KHLCF to complete important projects in progress. For this budget year, however, the House is once again proposing to “sweep” the funds we were able to protect ($2.5M each year, $5M total). This is the state’s only funding for land conservation, so we are once again asking for organizations to sign on to a joint letter opposing the sweeps. Please see KCC’s ALERTS for details, where you will also find a handy list of nature preserves located in your legislator’s district. And in the meantime, contact your representative and members of the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee and tell them you oppose the budget sweep of the Heritage Land Conservation Fund.

We also want to draw your attention to the following: Two weeks ago, the Senate filed two bills of great concern, SB2 (Strong Oppose) that would amend the Ky. Constitution to limit damages from injury and environmental harm, and SB82 (Strong Oppose) that prohibits local ordinances to regulate the use, prohibition or taxes on disposable containers. Both of these bills are currently in the Senate State & Local Government Committee.

This week we also saw the re-filing of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, HB196 (Strong Support), a bill that KCC and our allies in the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance have been supporting for several years. See details in our House bill list and please encourage co-sponsors.

Finally, if you are interested in lobbying in person, please note that KCC is working alongside allies to promote several upcoming lobby days from Ky. Student Environmental Coalition (Feb. 12), Ky. Interfaith/Ky. Council of Churches (Feb. 13), Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance (Feb. 22), and KCC on March 14. Please go to our home page at to sign up for any or all of these events. KCC will also accompany any citizen on an individual basis that would like lobbying support. Just call us at 502-209-9659.



One Door Closes, Another Wide Open- Week Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week Two: How To Take Action

These first few weeks of the General Assembly are a time to get situated. The House, in particular,  has had its challenges over the past few weeks in settling who will be the Speaker of the House. And several bills filed in the first week of the session have now been withdrawn, either because they were duplicative filings, or for other reasons.

So this is a good week for a refresher on the process on how a bill becomes a law in Kentucky. You can go to KCC’s webpage for a full rundown of the process.

And then during these early weeks in the session, this is a great time to build momentum on bills.  We ask that you act by doing the following:

  1. Review our latest updated list of the House and Senate bills we have reviewed, addressing topics within our mission. You will find several we have listed that also address fundamental democracy issues such as access to voting.
  2. Check to see if your legislator is a sponsor of any bills we have flagged as “support” or “strong support.” If you do not know who your legislator is, you can find out here.
  3. Regarding legislation you support: If your legislator is not currently a sponsor, please call their office, which you can reach through the central message line, and encourage them to sign on to your preferred legislation. If they HAVE sponsored your preferred legislation, please call and THANK them!
  4. Regarding legislation you oppose, contact members of the committees where the legislation currently resides,  and express your opposition. List of House standing committees here, List of Senate standing committees here. The status of where each bill currently resides is listed in the last column of KCC reviewed bills.

KCC Alerts: We have also added a new page to our website to make it easier for you to find which actions to take every week. We hope you will visit this page often and take action during the session.

This week we also wish to highlight that there are deadlines coming up for special elections for two House seats. If you reside in House districts 49 or 89, please note these deadlines and note our House information page on open (or soon to be open) seats.

And finally, the best way to get prepared is by coming to KCC’s Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit in Louisville this coming Saturday, January 20th, where you will have the opportunity to speak with legislative and issue experts directly on the issues you care about. Please register in advance so we can adequately plan for your attendance, and we look forward to seeing you there! If you do not wish to register online, just call our office at 502-209-9659 and let us know you are coming.

Opening Days…Long Nights Ahead

Opening Days…Long Nights Ahead

Having made it through the opening week of the 2018 General Assembly, KCC’s legislative agents and board have spent some long days and nights reviewing the first offerings of 2018 legislation. You can find our initial list of screened bills from the House and Senate, plus additional information about the session on the KCC website.

The session will be picking up speed between now and when the work is finished on April 13th. In the meantime, here is what is in store: Since this is an even-numbered year, the main focus for lawmakers will be on passing a budget to run state government.  Governor Bevin is anticipated on delivering his proposal on Jan. 16th. And then that is when it will be handed off to the House.

Lawmakers will have their hands full. The Governor has already stated that state retirement systems and the tax code are areas he would like to address during this session. When paired with other budget challenges, this presents a sizable chunk of work, even with a 60 day “long” session. The budget process is anticipated to run through the end of March.

So where does this leave the work that impacts conservation initiatives, the environment, and the health and safety of Kentucky’s citizens in the priorities? We shall see as this session evolves. However KCC’s legislative agents will be making sure these issues remain on lawmaker’s radar.

Issues we anticipate this session include the re-emergence of anti-independent solar legislation, and a continuation of cuts to important state departments that are in charge of protecting and enhancing our land, air and water. As we have been reviewing this year’s bills, you will see that KCC’s review team has added more reviews on legislation that affects our fundamental democracy, in addition to our primary bills affecting natural resources.

With this in mind, we hope you can join us for the KCC Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit on Saturday, January 20th at Bellarmine University. I am very excited about the lineup this year, starting with a Keynote from U.S. Congressman John Yarmuth, who will speak on the nexus between federal and state legislatures. We also have a power-lineup of speakers in specialized areas, including:

Register Here!  The event is FREE to students, and others are asked to donate a small fee to cover lunch.

And Finally, some important recognitions as we close out the week. We would like to take a moment to single out two resolutions that were filed this week. The first was HR36, which is a recognition honoring the top five energy efficient school districts in 2017. For many years now, the Kentucky Schools Board has done an amazing job in saving energy costs. ACT:  Please thank Representative Jim Gooch, who sponsored this resolution. It is important that the value of these programs get the attention they deserve. And while you are thanking Representative Gooch, you might mention that the next step is to make it easier to add solar to these schools.

The second resolution we want to highlight (and to end our post for the week), is HR25This resolution called for an adjournment of the House “in honor and loving memory of Judge Richard J. FitzGerald.” Judge FitzGerald devoted his entire career to advocating for the welfare of Kentucky’s abused and neglected children, and carried tremendous respect in and around Louisville and throughout the state. We wish to pay our respects to his lifetime of accomplishments and send our regards to his family.

The 2018 General Assembly Convenes

The 2018 General Assembly Convenes

Today marks the beginning of the 2018 General Assembly. As your constant presence in Frankfort, KCC has followed the legislature all during the 2017 Interim Session, in our ramp up to today’s session launch. While the focus this year will be primarily on the state budget and pension reform, we also anticipate another round of bills addressing distributed solar, and also land conservation funding. We will also be watching for proposed legislation that can impact electric and hybrid vehicles, taxes on natural resources, bike safety and more.

We also expect more proposed legislation that addresses issues of basic democracy. For example, one pre-filed bill from Rep. Wesley Morgan addresses conflicts between motorists and groups who protest in roadways. We may also see the return of legislation relating to Article V of the Constitution, which was a topic in the previous General Assembly. Two bills relating to this have already been pre-filed.

To see KCC’s current compiled list of pre-filed legislation for the 2018 session, click here.

KCC reviews legislation weekly and provided detailed analysis of bills as they are filed, plus actions you can take. We encourage you to invite friends to join our mail list to keep up with the latest developments on bills as they progress. If you are not already a subscriber to our mail list, you can subscribe here.

And please explore the new resources and information on our updated website, including expanded information on the Legislative Session, House and Senate elections, and how to contact your representatives. We also have expanded our calendar of important dates so that you can plan ahead for the session, as well as additional events from KCC and allies.

We want to encourage you to attend this year’s KCC Annual Meeting and Legislative Summit, to be held at Bellarmine University in Louisville on Saturday, January 20th. We will have a full day of sessions on what to expect during the legislative session, plus informative speakers who will update you on the latest issues. Register NOW for this event! (Registration FREE for students!).

And if you are part of a civic group who would like a presentation on what is happening this session, please contact us and we will be glad to present to organizations around the state.

We also anticipate lobby days this year on renewable energy and land conservation, so if you would like to be a part of those initiatives, please contact us and we will send you details as those plans develop.