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Week in Review February 17, 2023
This past week of the General Assembly saw the return of busy Committee meetings, with a marked increase in the number of bills being heard and voted on in the various committees. There were also a few bills that have already been signed by the Governor and are now law.
House Bill 1, the continuation of the income tax reduction that began with HB 8 last session, was signed by the Governor on Friday. For the past few days the Governor was coy when asked about how he would act on HB 1 after it passed the House and Senate, but with his signature, the answer is clear – January 1st, 2024 Kentuckians will see another 0.5% decrease in their individual incomes taxes – from 4.5% to 4%.
House Bill 2, the bill appropriating more funds for the Bowling Green Veterans Center, was also signed by the Governor. This project has been years in the making, and advocates like Rep. Michael Meredith and Sen. Mike Wilson stood with the Governor and members of the military to acknowledge completion of this funding effort to get the project across the finish line.
House Bill 146, a further reform to the Commonwealth’s Unemployment Insurance program, passed out of Committee this week. Efforts at previous reform, supported by business groups like the Chamber of Commerce ended up being too aggressive and injurious to unemployed Kentuckians in economically depressed areas— and there were some compliance issues with the Federal Department of Labor. The new bill loosened some of the restrictions, and with its Second reading in the House, is ready for passage off the House floor next week when they return.
Next week the speed of action will continue at a rapid clip as Committees meet and pass bills. Monday is a legislative holiday, President’s Day, and there will be no session. They return to regular activities on Tuesday, February 21st. As always, Top Shelf will continue to keep you up to date on all the news and actions coming out of Frankfort.
Legislation of Interest
HB 3 – House Bill 3 is the General Assembly’s effort to reform the Juvenile Justice system in Kentucky, a system fraught with tragic and disturbing incidences over the past few years. HB 3
was amended in Committee this week, but many advocates are still working to add more services and funding to the bill as it moves through the process. The bill currently appropriates funds to reopen a shuttered juvenile detention in Jefferson County. The bill has had two readings in the House, and is waiting for final passage of the floor.
HB 75 – House Bill 75, sponsored by dozens of legislators, would expand the Hospital Rate Improvement Program (HRIP) to outpatient services. HRIP was passed a few sessions ago, and allows hospitals to draw down further federal funds, and has become a lifeline for the hospital community, especially rural hospitals. HB 75 expands the services that can draw down these federal dollars, and will further stabilize hospitals across the Commonwealth. The bill passed the House on Friday 95-0, and is headed to the Senate for action.
SB 65 – Senate Bill 65 is the same bill it has been for three years going – the bill finds administrative regulations founds deficient by the General Assembly to be null and void. The Senate State and Local Government Committee amended the bill this week to include the new Medicaid regulations expanding dental, vision and hearing. These regulations were found deficient earlier in the week by the Administrative Regulation Review Committee, and if the bill passes both chambers, and is either signed by the Governor or any veto overridden, then these regulations will no longer be in effect. SB 65 is waiting for action on the Senate floor.
SB 150 – Senate Bill 150 passed out of the Senate Education Committee for a second time this week, and then off the Senate floor on Thursday. Supporters describe the bill as a parent’s rights bill, leading to deeper involvement of parents in what services schools offer to children, primarily focused on issues of sexuality. Opponents of the bill describe SB 150 as an attack on trans children, and an effort to further marginalize them. The bill is waiting for action in the House.