2023 Legislative Update #7

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The 2023 General Assembly is almost done!
We at the Council are continuing to track environmental, conservation, consumer, energy, and general government bills and resolutions. We also publish this notice on our website weekly throughout the Session with updates on the bills we are supporting, opposing, or tracking.
This summary is complete through end of legislative day 28, March 16, 2023. This year is a “short” 30-legislative day session with an anticipated final day on March 30, 2023. The General Assembly has begun a “veto” recess from March 17 through 28th before it reconvenes on March 29 and 30th to consider any vetoes of bills and to finish work prior to adjournment sine die.
We will publish two more legislative updates – one, the “veto edition” that will be published on March 28, reporting on all vetoes by the Governor, and then the final update after adjournment sine die on March 30. Learn more about this year's session and how to contact your legislator.



HB 4 (Branscum and others)(To Governor)(-)
Bill would revise the current statutes on the Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting, weakening of protections for landowners from what is bring required by the state Siting Board under current law. The bill weakens existing protections for landowners and undercuts local government authority. Revisions are needed to assure the adequacy of decommissioning bonds, and to fully respect the rights of landowners during the decommissioning process. 
Senate Committee substitute and Senate Floor Amendment 1 attempted but failed to fix several of the problems with the bill.  KRC testified in opposition to the bill before the Senate Agriculture Committee, which can be viewed at 35:05 here.
HB 40 (Lewis, Hale)(H. Rules, recommitted to H. A&R)(-)
What would a legislative session be without a bill proposing changes in the administrative regulation process to address regulations found by an interim legislative committee to be “deficient?”  Bill in plain conflict with the separation of powers doctrine under Sections 27 and 28 of the Kentucky Constitution, would nullify any regulation found deficient by a legislative committee unless the agency appealed that finding to the Attorney General’s office within 10 days and the AGs office overruled the finding.
In addition to the unconstitutionality of granting interim legislative committees veto power over a regulation, the bill is a solution in search of a problem. The number of regulations found deficient and put into effect by the Governor under current law notwithstanding a finding of deficiency by a legislative committee is negligible on an annual basis, and in many years, there are none.  Since 2005, the percent of regulations out of the over 11,000 reviewed by legislative committee that have been deemed deficient, and which have gone into effect notwithstanding, is 3/10ths of 1% of those regulations.
Any effort by the General Assembly to direct or cause an automatic nullification of a regulation during the legislative interim, whether directly or by referral to the Attorney General, as in this case, would run afoul of the LRC v. Brown decision.  The General Assembly can make findings of deficiency and can act on those findings during the next legislative session, but it cannot delegate to a committee or in this case to another constitutional officer, the power to nullify a regulation.
KRC testified in opposition to the bill in House Committee, which can be viewed here.
HB 160 (Freeland)(To Governor)(+)
Would amend existing law to fix problems created by a previous legislative amendment to state clean water laws regarding Westlake Vinyl and a pre-2004 mixing zone that had been approved for a bioaccumulative chemical of concern. Prior to 2004, mixing zones that allow a certain amount of dilution of discharged wastewater prior to meeting in-stream water pollution limits, was available for bioaccumulative chemicals of concern.  Westlake was one of the facilities that had obtained such an approval, and those pre-2004 approvals were exempted from a ban on mixing zones for BCCs that has been in effect since that time. The bill corrects many of the problems created by the previous bill, which KRC had unsuccessfully opposed, that could have, if implemented, resulted in Kentucky losing primary regulatory authority for Clean Water Act permitting in the Commonwealth. 
KRC testified before committee in support of the changes to restore the Cabinet’s ability to determine on a permit-by-permit basis whether a pre-2004 mixing zone granted for a BCC should be continued, reduced, or eliminated.  That testimony can be viewed here. The bill also does not prevent the Cabinet from requiring on a case-by-case basis that a discharger using multi-port diffusers in order to meet water pollutant discharge permit limits adjust any mixing zone to account for the use of diffusers in accelerating the mixing and dilution of wastewaters.
HB 222 (Gooch)(To Governor)(+)
Would extend the levy of the hazardous waste management assessment until June 30, 2032.
HB 236 (Sharp and others)(To Governor)(-)
Would provide that fiduciaries shall consider the sole interest of the members and beneficiaries of the retirement systems using only pecuniary factors and prohibit the consideration of or actions on nonpecuniary interests including environmental, social, political, and ideological interests.
HB 264 (Pratt)(To Governor)(+/-)
Law would establish an office of regulatory relief that would be empowered to waive compliance with state laws and regulations in order to allow a “sandbox participant” to demonstrate an innovative idea.  To the extent that such a program would allow the suspension of applicability of an environmental protection or workplace safety or health standard, such delegation to the newly-established office is inappropriate, and could jeopardize continued delegated authority for Kentucky to manage several environmental and health and safety programs.  Many individual regulatory programs already contain waivers and variances that allow for innovative or fundamentally different factors while maintaining essential public protections and if others are desired, they should be developed by those agencies and with assurances that such protections will never be sacrificed or traded off. 
KRC sent Representative Pratt suggested language to assure no compromise to workplace health and safety, and to environmental health and safety regulations, and to programs delegated under federal law. That language was not included. KRC will monitor the implementation of the law if it is enacted.
HB 384 (Dossett)(H. Rules, recommitted to H. A&R)(+)
Would establish the Healthy Farm and Food Innovation Board and fund to help fund nonprofits working on health food access. House Bill 384 would create stability and opportunities for direct farm impact food access programs— such as Kentucky Double Dollars, Farms to Food Banks, and Fresh RX for MOMs—and pave the way for additional new efforts that support the vitality of Kentucky agriculture and the health of Kentuckians.


HJR 37 (Bauman and others)(To Governor)(+)
Direct the Energy and Environment Cabinet to adopt revisions to the state air quality implementation plan to remove the reformulated gas requirement for Jefferson County and applicable parts of Oldham and Bullitt Counties.

KRC is working with the sponsor, Cabinet, and District to revise the resolution to assure it doesn’t not interfere with the analysis, process, and outcome mandated under HJR 8 in the 2020 session.  RFG has become an ineffective strategy for pollution control relative to other measures and KRC does not support SIP revisions to replace RFG with more effective and efficient strategies as needed to achieve and maintain healthy air quality in Metro Louisville.

KRC testified on HJR 37 in the House Committee., which can be viewed at 17:00 here.
HB 87 (Bratcher)(+) Adopted
Simple resolution condemning any and all manifestations of antisemitism.


SB 4 (Mills and others)(To Governor)(-)
Bill would create a presumption against retirement of coal-fired electric utility plants owned by PSC-regulated electric utilities.  While the concept of direct PSC review and approval of decisions to retire generation units deserves consideration and grid resiliency and reliability are legitimate issues, the bill as written has substantial legal and practical problems that could unreasonably burden ratepayers in order to advance continued operation of coal-fired generation units that should be retired because of inefficiency, cost of operation relative to cleaner energy sources, and relative pollutant contributions.
SB 126 (Howell) (To Governor)(-)
Bill would further muddle venue for civil actions against state officials or the General Assembly that challenges the constitutionality of state laws, regulations, and agency orders, by allowing any plaintiff or defendant in such an action to request a change of venue without reason, at which time the case will be assigned randomly by the Supreme Court Clerk to another circuit.  Former law provided that venue was in Franklin Circuit Court, which was changed more recently to provide that venue lies where the plaintiff resides if the plaintiff is a Kentucky resident, or in Franklin County if a non-resident.
SB 192 (Wheeler)(To Governor)(+)
Would allow an investor-owned electric utility to apply to the Public Service Commission to finance though securitization both extraordinary costs and costs associated with the retirement of electric generation of more than $200 million dollars for a single regulatory asset or more than $275 million for multiple regulatory assets and require a decision of the commission on securitization to be predicated on fair, just, and reasonable and the public interest of the utility customers. 
Securitization is a method of refinancing utility obligations in order to lower the interests costs to ratepayers for retirement of debt by converting the short-term debt to longer-term secured debt. Properly done, it can produce a win-win for utilities and ratepayers.
SB 213 (Higdon)(To Governor)(+)
Bill would define domestic sewage treatment sludge as a “biosolid” and require it be regulated in conformance with 40 CFR Part 503, which are the self-implementing federal regulations governing use and disposal of sewage sludge. The Committee Substitute to the bill is a much-appreciated effort by Senator Higdon to attempt to responsibly address the need of the cities for a predictable and streamlined permitting process, while protecting farmers from application of contaminated sludges on their lands.  KRC will be actively involved in the regulation development process to assure that where needed the Cabinet exercises the discretion contemplated by the 40 CFR Part 503 standards to fully protect public health and the environment, and prevent today’s disposal of municipal sewage sludge from becoming tomorrow’s superfund problem.

KRC testified in support of SB 213 in the House Committee.  That testimony can be read here.
SB 226 (Turner)(To Governor)(-)
Bill would significantly interfere with the implementation of Kentucky’s water quality standards when permitting discharges, such as coal mining-related wastewaters, into streams containing federally threatened and endangered species, and would alter timeframes for issuance of water quality certifications. The bill is in several ways inconsistent with Kentucky’s obligations under the Clean Water Act and will likely spawn significant litigation and more delays and uncertainty in permitting under the 402 and 404 programs.

KRC testified in House Committee against SB 226.  That testimony can be read here. 
The testimony in committee can be viewed at 10:20 here.
SB 241 (Webb and others)(To Governor)(+)
Would amend laws governing acquisition of conservation easements by the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and make other changes in state fish and wildlife laws.
SB 245 (Frommeyer and Williams)(S. NR Energy)(-)
Bill advocated by several investor-owned utilities would make several changes in laws regulating public utilities, including allowing securization of debt by investor-owned electric utilities.  The bill would weaken PSC and public oversight over utility investments in nuclear power proposals and would give utilities effective control over the rate and amount of development of distributed solar energy resources in the Commonwealth.

KRC testified in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee in opposition to SB 245.  That testimony can be read here.
SB 263 (Wheeler, West)(H. NR Energy)(+)
Would address regionalization of public water and wastewater systems to clarify the goal of offering secure water and adding managerial and technical resources as needed resources for the improvement of infrastructure for the security and safety of water systems; encourage infrastructure funding for regionalization, merger and consolidation of water and wastewater systems.
SB 277 (Turner)(H. Rules)(+)
Agency-sponsored bill would revise regulations and framework for floodplain management; prohibit buildings, barriers, or obstructions in floodplains or floodways without approval and a permit from the Energy and Environment Cabinet; allow the Energy and Environment Cabinet to require approval prior to construction related to agricultural operations that impact the base flood of a stream; establish administrative regulations requiring some dam owners to develop and maintain emergency action plans; and prohibit encroachment on the reservoir area of any dam in Kentucky.


SR 46 (Wheeler)(S. Rules)(+)
Would confirm Mary Pat Regan as a Commissioner for the Public Service Commission.  Commissioner Regan is by training and experience well-qualified for the position and should be confirmed.
SR 196 (Wheeler, Turner)(S. NR Energy)(+)
Would confirm Angie Hatton, former House Member, as a Commissioner for the Public Service Commission.  Commissioner Hattton is by training and experience well-qualified for the position and should be confirmed.

Feel free to share this notice. If you know someone who would like to be added to this list, tell them to write us at amy@kyrc.org. The legislative update will be refreshed and republished each Friday afternoon when the General Assembly is in session.

Find copies of bills, votes, and more information at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/23rs/record.html To find out bill status by phone, call 1-866-840-2835.

Find your legislator at

Leave a message for a legislator on the message line:
Call 1-800-372-7181 to leave a message for a legislator or an entire committee.
En Espanol, el nombre es 1-866-840-6574.

The schedule of the committees during the 2023 session is found here: https://legislature.ky.gov/Documents/Current_Standing_Schedule.pdf

Note that there is a daily schedule published on the preceding day, which may alter the standing committee schedule to cancel a meeting, or to propose a special meeting.

That daily schedule is found here:

Please note that the Council does not have a position on each bill listed. Some bills are tracked for general interest; others simply to assure that they do not become vehicles for mischievous amendments. We have formatted this update to highlight in the first section, those bills on which KRC has taken a position.

Where KRC has taken a position concerning a bill it is indicated with a plus (+) or minus (-).

The primary bill sponsor is then listed, followed by its current status of the bill (noted by Committee or chamber). If there is no indication of assignment to a committee, the bill has not yet been assigned and remains in the Committee on Committees, where introduced bills and resolutions are initially sent.

Here’s the key to understanding where a bill is in the process:
H. Ag = House Agriculture
H. A&R = House Appropriations and Revenue Committee
H. B&I = House Banking and Insurance Committee
H. CC = House Committee On Committees –
this is the “first stop” for all new bills, from which the bills are assigned to a committee for consideration.
H. Eco Dev = House Economic Development & Workforce Investment Committee
H. Ed = House Education Committee
H. Elections= House Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee
H. FC = House Family and Children Committee
H. HS = House Health Services Committee
H. Judiciary = House Judiciary Committee
H. L&O = House Licensing, Occupations And Adm. Regulations Committee
H. Local Govt = House Local Government Committee
H. Nat Res Energy = House Natural Resources and Energy Committee
H. Rules = House Rules Committee
H. Sm Bus = House Small Business and Information Technology Committee
H. State Govt = House State Government Committee
H. Tourism = House Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee
H. Transp = House Transportation Committee
H. Veterans= House Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee
S. Ag = Senate Agriculture Committee
S. A&R = Senate Appropriations and Revenue
S. B&I = Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
S. CC = Senate Committee on Committees
S. Eco Dev = Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee
S. Ed = Senate Education Committee
S. FC = Senate Family and Children Committee
S. HS = Senate Health Services Committee
S. Judiciary = Senate Judiciary Committee
S. L&O = Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee
S. NR Energy = Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee
S. Rules = Senate Rules Committee
S. State Local Govt = Senate State and Local Government Committee
S. Transp = Senate Transportation
S. Veterans = Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee
By Kentucky Resources Council on 03/20/2023 5:37 PM
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