KRC Recaps "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" from the 2012 General Assembly Regular Session Posted: June 20, 2012
2012 GENERAL ASSEMBLY REGULAR SESSION WRAP-UP:
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
On April 12, the Regular Session of the 2012 Kentucky General Assembly ended, and was immediately followed by a week-long special session to address two issues not resolved at the end of the 60-day regular session. As has been the case since 1984, the Kentucky Resources Council had a prominent presence in Frankfort on a wide range of environmental, energy, and utility issues. Most notably, KRC’s Director led the opposition to the “AT&T Bill,” a proposal by the telecom giant to complete the deregulation of basic telephone service.
What follows is a brief wrap-up of the significant bills that were supported and opposed by the Council, a description of changes to those bills that were made in response to KRC’s concerns, and the disposition of the bills
HB 124 (Wayne) Would have amend KRS Chapter 100 to allow a planning unit to incorporate airport noise overlay districts within its zoning texts and maps and to incorporate guidelines on building techniques and materials that are designed to provide acoustical insulation benefits to structures within the overlay. Died in Senate committee.
HB 146 (Rollins) Would require the Kentucky Department of Education to consult with the Department for Environmental Protection and the Kentucky Chapter of the U. S. Green Building Council in promoting green cleaning programs in schools. Died in Senate Committee
HB 148 (Combs)(Became Law) Amends state pipeline safety law to allow imposition of individual penalties for violations of $100,000 for each day of the violation, up to an aggregate of $1,000,000 for related violations.
HB 238 (Jenkins) Would have created a prescription drug drop off and recycling program. Died in the Senate.
HB 465 (Nesler, Gooch)(Became Law) Will create a new section of Subchapter 1 of KRS Chapter 224 to establish a Brownfields Redevelopment Program to be administered by the Energy and Environment Cabinet, and would extend nonliability to property owners where a release of petroleum, pollutants, or contaminants has occurred to the extent of performing characterization or corrective action for the release. Would also establish criteria for the protection from liability for property owners and allow the cabinet to promulgate administrative regulations to establish standard and procedures for implementing the Brownfields Redevelopment Program.
Would also amend KRS 224.60-135 to provide that property owners are not require to take corrective action where a release from a petroleum storage tank occurred if the property owner is not the tank owner or operator, and amend KRS 224.60-138 to remove from general cabinet authority residual contamination on property where a release has occurred from a petroleum storage tank if the contamination is below standards established by the cabinet under the Brownfields Redevelopment Program.
KRC offered some revisions to the bill language, which were made by House Floor Amendment.
HCR 29 (Graham) (Became Law) Would have established a Kentucky Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights and declare it to be the public policy of the Commonwealth. Senate Committee Substitute softened the language into an expression of sentiment for “promoting, as a public policy goal, enhanced opportunities for outdoor activity for Kentucky’s children.”
HCR 64 (Combs) Would establish a Timber Theft and Trespass Reduction Task Force to study issues regarding timber theft and trespass and to develop consensus recommendations to address those issues; and name the membership of the task force. Died in Senate committee.
HB 30 (Mills) Would allow school boards to approve billboards on school buses, except that political, alcohol and tobacco advertising would be prohibited. Quite possible that the attempted “content-based” restrictions on the advertising would be struck if challenged, and bill provides that program would end if the content-based restrictions are deemed unconstitutional. Died in Senate committee.
HB 226 (Bell) Would allow bill board owners to apply for a permit to “trim” public right of way trees in order to assure the motoring public would be exposed to billboard messages. KRC testified in opposition to the bill in committee, noting that the permit fees didn’t begin to cover the cost of implementing such a program, and that the program would allow non-conforming billboards to be eligible . Died in House.
HB 352 (Jenkins and Thompson) Would create a new section of KRS Chapter 148 to define "metal detector" and "public area"; allow use of metal detectors in public areas; require registration of use of metal detector within state park or monument office; amend KRS 148.991 to provide a penalty for violation. House version of SB 105, which KRC opposed. Died in House committee.
HB 450 (Combs, Lee, Bell) Would declare public policy that the costs of administrative regulations shouldn’t exceed the public benefit, and amend KRS Chapter 13A relating to administrative regulations to clarify the review authority and duties of the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee and authorize a nonbinding determination that an administrative regulation is deficient if the administrative regulation appears to be against public policy; amend KRS 13A.240 to change the regulatory impact analysis by deleting questions regarding the costs and benefits to regulated entities; amend KRS 13A.280 to require administrative bodies to file an in-depth costs-benefit analysis with each statement of consideration and authorize a person or entity to submit an alternative costs-benefit analysis to the regulations compiler. Died in House committee.
The Council expressed concern to the sponsors that a traditional cost-benefit analysis undervalues or ignores benefits that are not easily monetized, such as ecological functions, environmental quality, and public health.
SB 4 (Carpenter) Would place a moratorium of one year on any new regulations other than emergency regs and those required by 2012 session. Would sunset all regulations within two years unless they are repromulgated within that time (between 1 and 2 years). Would require an “economic impact analysis” and a ”small business and consumer impact analysis” . Would prohibit state regulations from imposing stricter requirements on regulated entities than “those required by the federal mandate” unless specifically authorized by statute.
KRC has vigorously opposed different versions of “no more stringent than” legislation, which makes the federal minimum standards for environmental protection and public health the state maximum standards. The Commonwealth has already undertaken this exercise in summary repromulgation of all regulations, and it is a waste of agency time and resources, since all of the existing regulations have already been through the process at least once. Bill died in House committee.
SB 10 (Bowen) Proposed constitutional amendment that would alter the current balance of power among the branches of government by reversing the LRC v. Brown decision and empowering the General Assembly to authorize interim committees to reject proposed administrative regulations when the General Assembly is not in session. Bill died in House committee.
SB 62 (Thayer) Would lower percentage of voter signatures needed on petition to dissolve an area planning commission from 25% of voters in last presidential election to 15% of registered voters who voted in most recent election. Effort to make it easier for tea party and homebuilders groups to dismantle the Northern Kentucky Regional Planning Commission, http://www.nkapc.org, died in House committee.
SB 105 (Seum and Hornback) Would allow use of metal detectors in state parks and monuments, with no ability of the land manager to prohibit or restrict their use. Only protection is that they cannot be used in areas restricted as a “primitive trail or ecologically sensitive area.” It was a problematic bill that could have resulted in significant damage to our Commonwealth's historic and cultural heritage. Individuals who work with civil war site preservation were very concerned that SB 105 would increase the incidences of collectors damaging battlefield sites in search of buckles, bullets, and other metal objects. Others are concerned that archaeological sites from historic and prehistoric times might be damaged. Bill died in House committee.
SB 12 and SB 135 (Hornback, Kerr, Carpenter)(S. Eco Dev)
Would complete the deregulation of telecommunications service in Kentucky, undercutting the 2006 bill that the basic telephone service would remain regulated by the Public Service Commission. Would have exempted electing utilities from prohibitions on discrimination in rates and service, and eliminate the requirement to file and display rates and conditions of service. Would have also eliminated obligation to provide service where any other voice service was available, and would eliminate any obligation to serve after June, 2013. Would also curtail significantly PSC jurisdiction over complaints.
KRC testified in opposition to the bill, wrote op-ed pieces that ran in Lexington and Louisville papers, and worked with allies across the Commonwealth to communicate these concerns to the House and Senate. Thanks go to House leadership for opposing the bill, and to many members of the House and Senate for their opposition. Bill died after clearing the Senate committee.
Cathy Allgood Murphy with the Kentucky AARP noted KRC’s prominent role in defeating these bills: “Many, many thanks to Mr. Tom FitzGerald for his leadership in opposing this bill.… Kentucky is blessed to have the Kentucky Resources Council and Mr. FitzGerald working on our behalf on issues such as this deregulation bill. “
Our thanks to KRC members and supporters who responded to our Action Alerts and contacted State Senators and Representatives. Your voices helped!!