Legislative Update By State Representative C.B. Embry, Jr.
Past the Halfway Point of 2013 Session, and Major Issues Left to Address- The Kentucky General Assembly passed the halfway point of the 2013 Legislative Session this past week, yet several major issues are left to be resolved.
On Thursday the House State Government Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 2, which deals with much needed reforms to our state and local government public pension systems. However the committee only discussed the proposal, and didn’t vote to pass it out of committee.
Each day we wait to take action on our public pension system, which has an unfunded liability of more than $33 billion and continues to grow, the deeper the hole we dig for our Commonwealth. In addition one of the other major issues Kentucky must address, comprehensive tax reform, won’t be addressed during this session.
It is troubling that some continue to allow these problems to grow and fester in our Commonwealth because of a lack of leadership. We must stop this tactic of delay and deny, and we owe it to you as your representatives to address these issues immediately.
Despite the continued delay, we did get several bills passed over the week. The first bill to gain approval from both the House and Senate was House Bill 7, which authorizes the issuance of bonds to pay for construction and renovation projects at most of Kentucky’s public universities. The one change to the original bill was to ban the schools from raising tuition to pay for construction and renovation of the 11 authorized projects, which include a major renovation of Commonwealth Stadium at the University of Kentucky, and academic buildings and dorms at other colleges. It is important to note that no taxpayer dollars are being used for these projects. The cost will be covered by the universities.
Another bill that gained approval this past week is one that will be beneficial to Kentucky’s agricultural industry. House Bill 273, which I am a primary co-sponsor along with Representative Bart Rowland of Tompkinsville and a host of House Republicans and Democrats, would allow the operation of mini-trucks on Kentucky’s public highways. The proposal treats mini-trucks the same as ATV’s, and would allow farmers to drive on roadways for short distances to transport supplies from one farm to another.
With two weeks to go, bills dealing with human trafficking, allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky, and now redistricting in the House remain to be addressed. It appears the end of the 2013 session may only be the beginning to addressing these and other major issues mentioned before the close of this year.
I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of legislation for the 2013 session through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.