BILLS WE'RE WATCHING: UPDATE #5 (FEBRUARY 19, 2005)


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BILLS WE'RE WATCHING: UPDATE #5 (FEBRUARY 19, 2005)  Posted: February 19, 2005

Kentucky Resources Council, Inc.
Post Office Box 1070
Frankfort, Kentucky 40602
(502) 875-2428 phone
(502) 875-2845 fax
e-mail FitzKRC@aol.com
February 19, 2005

REGULAR SESSION: Bills We're Watching Update #5

This list profiles the significant environmental, conservation, consumer and general government bills that are being tracked by the Council during the 2005 session. This is the fifth of many updates. It will be updated at least weekly, and will be supplemented with more detailed analysis on key bills.

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WANT TO READ THE BILLS OR CONTACT LEGISLATORS?

For a copy of any bill, or to check the status of the bill, to track which committee it has been assigned to for hearing, and other legislative information, visit the Legislature's Homepage at http://www.lrc.state.ky.us

The phone number to reach a legislator in person is 502-564-8100 (this is not toll-free).

The toll-free meeting schedule information line is 1-800-633-9650. The toll-free message line is 1-800-372-7181, to leave a message for a legislator or an entire committee. The TTY message line is 1-800-896-0305. En Espanol, el nombre es 1-877-864-0202. The toll-free bill status number will be available in a week.

THE BEST WAY TO REACH LEGISLATORS – IT’S NEVER BEEN EASIER!

Did you know that for a single fax to 502-564-6543, you can reach all of the legislators that you want to contact? You can send a faxed letter, for example, to all Senators and Representatives by listing their individual names on a cover sheet and asking that each get a copy of your letter. The good folks at the LRC fax room will copy your fax and distribute it to all that you list (the recipients must be listed by name.) The LRC web page has a list of all legislators and all committee members.

DAY 18 of 30: 743 BILLS AND 286 RESOLUTIONS FILED

On January 4, 2005, the General Assembly convened in Frankfort for the regular "short" legislative session. The General Assembly has returned to session until adjournment on March 22, 2005.

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 polluter-sponsored amendments. KRC's position concerning bills is indicated with a plus (+) or minus (-). The primary sponsors and current status of the bill are also noted by Committee or chamber. Note that the House has a rule requiring that bills to be heard in committee be “posted” for 3 days or that the posting be waived the day prior to hearing. Where a bill is identified as being in a house committee followed by “posted” it may be taken up at the next committee meeting.

SB 1 (D. Williams) (Defeated In Senate) (-)

Proposed constitutional amendment to allow the General Assembly to impose artificial caps on noneconomic and punitive damages in medical malpractice cases.

Kentucky's Constitution protects against legislative limitation of rights of action available to persons injured through the tortuous conduct of another. Section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution guarantees that "All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and rights and justice administered without sale, denial or delay." As has been the case in past sessions, KRC opposes any constitutional amendment that would seek to artificially limit for any class of injuries and for the benefit of one class of persons who have by definition inflicted harm on others, the right of any person to bring a civil action and to seek a jury trial for compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages for injuries sustained. Appellate mechanisms within the judiciary already exist to assure that punitive damages bear a reasonable relation to the conduct of the negligent party, and mechanisms exist for courts to control and punish frivolous or meritless litigation.

SB 8 (Boswell) (S. State & Local Govt)

Proposed constitutional amendment authorizing legislature to establish and regulate casino gaming.

SB 9 (Boswell) (S. Licensing & Occupations)

Companion bill to SB 8 to establish statutory and regulatory framework for regulation of casino gaming if the proposed constitutional amendment is adopted.

SB 31 (Tapp) (S. Appropriations & Revenue) Creates new tax credits for producers, blenders and retailers of biodiesel fuel (at least 2% mix of animal or plant oils with petroleum diesel).

SB 38 (Kelly) (H. Eco dev., posted)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of economic development agency and boards. (KRC tracks all reorganization bills in order to monitor any provisions or amendments that would diminish the regulatory powers of environmental or public health.)

SB 39 (Kelly) (H. Transp)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Transportation Cabinet.

SB 40 (Kelly) (H. Eco. Dev., posted)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Commerce Cabinet and eliminating Tourism Development Cabinet. Energy Division is moved to the new Commerce Cabinet under SB 41 and this bill.

SB 41 (Kelly) (H. State Govt, posted)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of natural resources, environment, labor and public protection agencies into Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. Senate Committee Substitute transfers Department of Energy to Tourism Cabinet.

SB 43 (Kelly) (H. State Govt, posted)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Personnel Cabinet.

SB 44 (Kelly) (H. State Govt, posted)

Bill codifying creation of Office of Homeland Security to coordinate comprehensive statewide homeland security strategy. The creation of a new agency appears duplicative of and redundant to the charge of the existing Division of Emergency Management, which by law is already empowered to develop and coordinate for the Governor all matters pertaining to the state comprehensive emergency management program and disaster and emergency response of the Commonwealth. At a time when the administration has collapsed such significant governmental functions as labor, utility and environmental protection into one agency, creation of a new agency is questionable. The proposed funding coordination and tracking could be added to the existing mandates of the Division of Emergency Management without the new overhead cost.

SB 45 (Kelly) (S. Rules)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Justice Cabinet.

SB 46 (Kelly) (H. Education, posted)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Education Cabinet.

SB 47 (Kelly) (H. Health & Welfare)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

SB 48 (Harris) (S. Ag. Nat. Res.)

Imposes new requirement where city annexes land which includes only a portion of a sanitation district, that the sanitation district must vote to relinquish authority to provide sanitary sewers to that annexed portion. Currently, such approval is not required by statute.

SB 49 (Kelly) (H. A&R)

Bill codifying Fletcher Administration reorganization of Finance Cabinet.

SB 75 (Boswell) (S. A&R)

Bill extends duration of enterprise zones by 5 years and allows expired zones to apply for reinstatement.

SB 88 (Seum) (S. Judiciary)(-)

Bill would retroactively invalidate any ordinance adopted since 1998 by a local government expanding civil rights protections beyond those in state law, unless the ordinance is submitted for voter approval. Directed at undoing local “fairness” ordinances that have extended protections again discrimination based on sexual identity and preference.

SB 104 (Thayer)(Withdrawn)

SB 123 (Roeding, Pendleton, Kerr, Tapp) (H. State Govt, posted)

Bill amends various portions of existing law governing adoption and legislative review of administrative regulations.

SB 150 (Buford) (S. Rules)

Removes current prohibition against issuance by nonprofit corporations created by local government, of bonds for construction or acquisition of electric facilities.

SB 157 (Stivers) (To House) (-)

The bill makes mandatory the posting of an appeal bond in zoning cases where the person is challenging a development proposal or land use change. The bill imposes at $25,000 to 100,000 appeal bond on any person seeking appellate court review of a zoning or planning approval. Under the bill, if a person has not prevailed in a circuit court appeal of a land use approval, before that person may file an appeal with the Court of Appeals the circuit court would be mandated, upon motion, to impose a $25,000 minimum appeal bond, which could be increased to $100,000 depending on the appellees’ proof of the costs, including delay, that the appeal could impose.

The chilling effect on meritorious appeals is apparent, since the bill creates a financial bar to seeking appellate review regardless of the strength of the appeal, and that will dissuade parties from seeking review or meritorious claims. Existing law already grants appellate courts sufficient authority to “police” bad-faith appeals, providing both for sanctioning of counsel who file frivolous or bad faith pleadings and for assessment of costs against parties. Courts may impose damages and single or double costs to the non-offending party pursuant to CR 73.02(4), and Civil Rule 11 provides authority to assess attorneys with the expenses incurred by their opponents, including attorney's fees.”

The bill does not establish a standard for an award of “costs” to the appellee if the appellant, having posted the bond and pursued an appeal, is unsuccessful. Is it unclear whether the bill intends that the existing standard by which an appeal court may, as a matter of the sound discretion of the court, award costs for frivolous or bad-faith litigation, would remain the standard, or whether a new lower standard be established so that an appellant would be required to pay costs including “delay costs” merely for appealing and being unsuccessful.

Finally, and most fundamentally, the singling out of this class of appeals for mandatory imposition of appeals bonds presupposes that appellants seeking review of a trial court decision upholding the proposed rezoning are presumptively or more likely to be frivolous and that there is a need to constrain the right to seek review for all appellants, regardless of the strength of or merits of the appeal. KRC rejects this premise.

SB 173 (Scorsone & Neal)(S. Judiciary)

Amends civil rights statutes to include in antidiscrimination laws on housing and employment, protection against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

SB 175 (Stivers)(S. Rules)(-)

Bill provides authorization to Environment and Public Protection Cabinet to issue permits under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

KRC believes that delegation of the Section 404 program from the Corps of Engineers to the state at this time is not in the best interests of the state. Under current law, the National Environmental Policy Act requires a consideration by the Corps of the environmental consequences of issuance of authorizations allowing placement of dredged or fill material in rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands. Delegation would eliminate the requirement for an environmental impact statement or environmental assessment, and would also eliminate the “public interest review” under which the Corps can deny permits if on balance the public interest is not protected.

Additionally, given the budgetary constraints on the agency, the loss of technical staff, and the inability of the agency to fully meet its current water quality mandates, assumption of a new regulatory program is not in the best interest of existing programs or of the state’s waterways.

KRC has suggested language to the agency to address our concerns.

SB 180 (Stivers)(S. Rules)

Amends state law to extend the authority, beyond September 30, 2004, for remining incentives in Kentucky when the federal authority is extended.

SB 192 (Pendleton)(S. State & Local Govt)(?)

Prohibits state and local agencies from imposing or implementing a land use or public health regulation that imposes a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person including a religious assembly or institution, unless the government demonstrates that the imposition of the burden on that person, assembly or institution is in furtherance of a compelling government interest and is the least restrictive means to further that alternative. The bill, introduced February 11, tracks corresponding language from subsection (a) of the “Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000”, 42 USC 2000cc et seq. It is unclear whether the state law is intended to be distinct from the federal law, and why a state counterpart is needed in the land use arena in light of the existing federal statute, of which only one portion is incorporated into the state bill. KRC will explore this further with the sponsor before taking a position on the bill, though the selective incorporation of a comprehensive statutory framework at the federal level is of concern since unlike the federal counterpart, there is no guidance as to how the law is to be interpreted and applied in those cases where the burden imposed is not disproportionate to a similar burden (restriction) imposed on like-situated landowners where religion or the exercise thereof is not implicated.

SB 213 (Seum) (S. Ag & NR) (-)

Bill would eliminate Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control Board and would require any air pollution regulations adopted by any successor agency of Metro Louisville government be no more stringent than federal standards. It is unfortunate that the sponsor would seek to strip Metro Louisville of its power to protect children, elder citizens, and others most vulnerable to the harm caused by air toxics. At a time when the federal government has admitted that it is years behind in adopting rules to lower toxics risks to acceptable levels, the bill would shackle Mayor Abramson's Administration and the Air Pollution Board to the lowest rung of the ladder of public protection, turning the federal floor standards for toxic pollution control into our ceiling. It is an embarrassment that we would consider making "doing the minimum required by federal law and no more" our public policy, in the face of evidence that compliance with federal technology limits are not alone producing healthful air. How ironic it is that the sponsor filed another bill the same day to assure that commitments to green space in proposed subdivisions would be met, when on the same day he has introduced a bill that would protect polluters from having to reduce their toxic air emissions to a level where that green space could be enjoyed without exposure to unsafe levels of air toxics.

SB 214 (Seum) (S. State & Local Govt)(+)

Precludes local planning & zoning bodies from approving zone change or conditional use permit or subdivision of land approved as green space in a subdivision plat.

SB 216 (Rhoads & Others) (S. Education)(+)

Requires blood lead testing for children entering school, and requires blood lead testing of all children.

SB 222 (Blevins and Worley) (S. Education)

Bill creates Commission for a Healthy Kentucky to improve health outcomes by implementing recommendations from Department for Public Health report “Healthy Kentuckians 2010”.

KRC finds it curious that the DPH report failed to identify ending child blood lead poisoning as a statewide children’s health priority.

SR 1 (Williams)(Adopted)

2005 Senate Rules of Procedure.

SR 43 (Ridley & Pendleton) (Adopted)

Encourages state agencies to assist in promotion and preservation of Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

HB 2 (Weaver) (H. Rules)

One of a number of bills introduced that would amend the state constitution to mandate that the General Assembly not adjourn a regular “long” session without enacting a budget and providing that, if they cannot accomplish that in the normal 60 legislative days for the long session, that they remain in session without pay until a budget is adopted. Pass committee after amendment to deny compensation to Governor and his Cabinet in the event that budget doesn’t pass in the 60 days.

HB 3 (Stacy and others) (H. Elections)

Substantively identical to HB 2.

HB 8 (Cornett) (H. Rules with committee sub) (-)

Expands existing “extended weight coal haul road system” to include all forms of mineral, oil and gas. This system allows trucks to haul in excess of the maximum gross weight limits for state road systems for payment of a decal fee. Bill also broadens ability of any mineral haulers to operate overweight on roads not included within the extended weight system through a cooperative agreement.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet estimates that the bill will add $360 million in costs to the road fund for bridge replacements and $25 million each year due to increased maintenance and bridge repair costs.

The haulage of coal and non-coal minerals, and use of coal, non-coal and oil/gas related heavy equipment and trucks on state and county roads in this state present significant public health, safety and quality of life concerns. The damage caused by hauling overweight through local neighborhood and residential community roads that were never designed to carry such industrial traffic, and interference with the quality of life of residents of regions where mineral extraction occurs, deserves legislative attention. Expansion of the existing problem of coal hauling overweight to include other forms of minerals, compounds rather than resolves the underlying problem.

HB 9 (Crimm) (H. Eco. Dev.)

Revises enterprise zone statutes, renaming them “economic growth districts” and allows for designation of new districts.

HB 15 (Yonts)(Withdrawn)

HB 19 (Montell and Embry) (H. Elections)

Proposed state constitutional amendment providing that if budget is not adopted in session during even-numbered years (long session) that the Governor shall call a special session within 30 days of adjournment, and that the legislators will receive no pay other than expenses.

HB 29 (L. Clark & Draud) (S. State & Local Govt)

Bill providing for joint Senate and House cosponsorship of bill passed either chamber where a substantially similar one is pending in the other chamber.

HB 32 (Marzian and others) (H. Appropriations & Revenue)

Bill providing for a 32% gross receipts tax on wholesale sales of smokeless tobacco, cigars, loose and pipe tobacco, and 75 cents per pack (20) on cigarettes, and providing for disbursement of the tax revenues to fund children’s dental and oral health, mental health and substance abuse services, health care and insurance benefits for state employees, smoking prevention education, school expansion and construction, veterans nursing homes, cancer research, tuition assistance and the general fund.

HB 39 (Nesler) (H. Rules)

Bill authorizes transportation cabinet to allow local governments to erect motorcycle awareness signs with cabinet approval.

HB 56 (Burch) (S. Education)(+)

Bill creates a new Commission to develop an action plan to implement Department for Public Health’s Report “Healthy Kentuckians 2010.” Unfortunately, the findings and goals of that report and this bill fail to include ending childhood lead poisoning – a public health initiative that should be among the other childhood health priorities of this state. House Committee Substitute added provisions for physical activity and healthy beverages in elementary schools.

HB 57 (Baugh) (H. Appropriations & Revenue)

Companion bill to SB 31, creating new tax credits for producers, blenders and retailers of biodiesel fuel (at least 2% mix of animal or plant oils with petroleum diesel).

HB 59 (Weaver) (H. Floor)

Allows an agency to withhold from disclosure public records that might expose a vulnerability to terrorist act. The balance between the public’s right to know of the use, storage, and handling of hazardous and dangerous materials by facilities, and the desire to protect against exposure to vulnerabilities is a topic hotly debated in the nation. Sponsor agreed to a floor amendment, offered by Rep. Jim Wayne at KRC’s request, to assure that the exemption from disclosure records of “public utility” water, wastewater, sewage and gas systems would not impede access by the public to information necessary to determine utility compliance with air, waste and water pollution control obligations.

HB 61 (Weaver) (H. Rules)

Bill creates new certification program for residential contractors, and requires after January 1, 2007 that any person contracting with a consumer to build, remodel or repair residential real estate be certified.

HB 64 (Meeks) (H. Local Government, posted)

Bill creates financial incentives to encourage development of interlocal county agreements for sharing and coordinating fire, police and emergency/rescue services.

HB 73 (De. Butler) (S. Licensing & Occup)

Bill alters qualification requirements for the licensure of land surveyors.

HB 77 (Graham) (S. State & Local Govt)

Act provides procedures for dissemination of information from office of Attorney General to state and local government on Open Meetings and Open Records Act procedures.

HB 79 (Baugh) (H. Rules)

Bill allows for new category of Master Logger designation entitled “temporary master logger designation,” and allows Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet to establish requirements for that designation, and allows the temporary master logger to supervise a timber harvesting operation provided that the cabinet receives notice prior to beginning the operation. Sponsor agreed to technical committee amendment requested by KRC to clarify that the temporary license would expire after 4 months.

HB 81 (Fischer and S. Lee) (H. Judiciary) (-)

Bill would prohibit local governments from legislating protections of civil rights. Measure is intended to undercut local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The measure is an unwarranted intrusion into the authority of local communities acting through their elected officials, to establish civil rights policies more protective of individual rights than state policy.

HB 86 (Marzian) (H. Transp)

Requires use of protective headgear for all-terrain vehicles; prohibits use of ATVs by children less than 16 years of age.

HB 97 (Denham) (H. Rules)

Establishes new permanent legislative subcommittee on Rural Enhancement and development, with goal of improving quality of life of rural residents in the state.

HB 104 (Bratcher) (H. Local Govt)

Would allow any public question not prohibited by law to be submitted to voters of a city or county government for referendum by resolution of the governing body or on petition by 3% (down from the current 20%) of the voting population.

HB 110 (Burch) (S. H&W)

House counterpart to SB 47, Fletcher Administration reorganization bill on Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

HB 114 (Wuchner) (H. Rules)

Bill would reduce the number of Board members and change the composition and appointment of District Boards of Health, and would move authority to confirm appointments (which are made by the County Judge/Executive) from the local board of health to the fiscal court. The current requirement for a consumer member on the Board would be eliminated.

HB 122 (Feeley) (H. Local Govt)

House counterpart to Senate Bill 48, the bill imposes new requirement where city annexes land that includes only a portion of a sanitation district, that the sanitation district must vote to relinquish authority to provide sanitary sewers to that annexed portion. Currently, such approval is not required by statute.

HB 129 (A. Smith) (H. Transp)(+)

Bill adjusts downward by 10,000 pounds the upper weight limits for coal haulage by trucks with 2 – 5 axles.

HB 135 (DeCesare and others) (H. Elections & Const. Am.)

Another bill proposing to amend the state constitution to mandate that the General Assembly not adjourn a regular “long” session without enacting a budget and providing that, if they cannot accomplish that in the normal 60 legislative days for the long session, that they remain in session without pay until a budget is adopted.

HB 137 (Harmon) (H. State Govt)

Amends statutes governing Kentucky River Authority in order to prevent imposition of water user fees on municipal tributary lakes or reservoirs not recharged by main stem.

HB 138 (Draud) (H. A&R)

Bill, similar to HB 32, providing for a 32% gross receipts tax on wholesale sales of smokeless tobacco, cigars, loose and pipe tobacco, and 75 cents per pack (20) on cigarettes, and providing for disbursement of the tax revenues to fund children’s dental and oral health, mental health and substance abuse services, health care and insurance benefits for state employees, smoking prevention education, school expansion and construction, veterans nursing homes, cancer research, tuition assistance and the general fund.

HB 143 (Wayne & Riggs) (H. Rules)

Amends planning statutes to address relationship of independent and joint planning units within counties.

HB 146 (Westrom) (H. Elections & Const. Ams.)

Proposed constitutional amendment to allow in medical malpractice cases, the General Assembly to impose artificial caps on noneconomic and punitive damages.

Kentucky's Constitution protects against legislative limitation those rights of action available to persons injured through the tortuous conduct of another. Section 14 of the Kentucky Constitution guarantees that "All courts shall be open, and every person for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and rights and justice administered without sale, denial or delay."

As has been the case in past sessions, KRC opposes any constitutional amendment that would seek to stem jury awards by artificially limiting or eliminating, for any class of injuries and for the benefit of one class of persons, the right of any person to bring a civil action and to seek a jury trial for compensatory or punitive damages for injuries sustained. Appellate mechanisms within the judiciary already exist to assure that punitive damages bear a reasonable relation to the conduct of the negligent party.

HB 160 (Pullin) (To Senate)

Eliminates confirmation by Interim Committee on Energy of appointments of PSC Commissioners; effect is that any appointments made when General Assembly is not in session will serve until they convene and confirm.

HB 172 (R. Nelson) (H. Eco. Dev., posted)

Creates new process for designating forest land as “classified forest” and requiring a management plan to be developed by Division of Forestry for such lands, and providing tax assessment at alternative rates for such lands.

HB 190 (Collins and others) (To Senate)

Bill creates timeframes for processing, review, and approval or denial of permits for on-site sewage systems by both local health departments and the state Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet. KRC had initial concerns with language in Section 1(2) that directed issuance of a permit, rather than issuance or denial, implying that all permit applications were to be approved irrespective of whether the proposed on-site system is appropriate for the property. Additionally, for sites where a septic tank system is not appropriate due to soil or other conditions, the Cabinet was obligated under Section 2, to provide “information relating to an alternative on-site sewage system alternative that can be approved[.]”

In response to these concerns, KRC and the sponsor met and the sponsor agreed to several amendments addressing these two issues, providing additional time for both the Department of Health and Environmental Cabinets to review more complex cases, and clarifying that the now-discarded “perk test” is not a mandated tool for determining site suitability by the Health Departments.

HB 192 (Bowen and others) (H. Eco. Dev.)

Extends duration of enterprise zone designations for additional 5 years and allows expired zones to be reinstated.

HB 205 (Wayne and Riggs) (House Floor) (+)

This bill would cover owners of mobile and manufactured homes who rent lots in mobile or manufactured home communities with two or more homes, and provides protections for renters by creating standards for evictions and utility surcharges.

HB 207 (Stein, Marzian, Meeks & Owens) (H. Judiciary)

Amends state civil rights laws to extend protections against discrimination in employment and housing based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

HB 211 (Wayne) (Senate)

Makes several amendments to Executive Branch Ethics Commission operating procedures and reporting requirements.

HB 218 (McKee, Adams, Denham) (Senate)

Bill confirms Executive Order creating Division of Agritourism within Department of Agriculture.

HB 225 (Pullin) (H. Rules with committee & floor amendments)

Creates a Kentucky Gas Transmission Authority with the Finance Cabinet, to issue revenue bonds to fund construction, improvement or repair of gas transmission pipelines where no transmission lines exist or where existing lines have insufficient capacity.

As initially drafted the bill raised a number of questions. In response to those concerns, the sponsor agreed to a series of committee amendments to clarify that the authority will assist in financing repairs or construction of pipelines in constrained or underserved areas but will not own or construct lines. Additional amendments are expected to clarify that only intrastate pipelines are eligible for assistance and establishing criteria for determining that ”no existing lines exist” or that “existing lines have insufficient capacity.”

HB 232 (Wayne & Riggs) (Senate)(+)

Modifies laws relating to planning commissions, to make them subject to ethics codes, extends comprehensive planning window to 20 years, specifies consultation required for plan changes and adoption.

HB 247 (Brinkman) (H. Judiciary)

Significant revisions to law concerning partnerships, proposing to adopt with some changes the Uniform Partnership Act.

HB 251 (DeCesare & Bowen) (H. Judiciary)(-)

Bill would create a new section of Chapter 454 mandating an award of costs, expenses and attorneys fees against a party where a court finds that a civil action was malicious, harassing, legally without merit or factually frivolous, or a request to proceed in forma pauperis was false or misleading. Bill also provides makes mandatory the assessment of costs, expenses and attorney fees against inmates for frivolous suits (the court now may assess costs).

Courts already have the authority to award costs, including attorney fees, in appropriate cases. Judicial discretion to determine when to grant such an award should not be eliminated, nor should such awards be mandated where a court finds a particular legal argument to be without merit, as opposed to having been brought forward to harass or out of malice.

HB 267 (Hoover & Feeley) (H. Rules)

The Governor’s proposed Executive Branch Budget. KRC has expressed concerns regarding the transfer of funds from the petroleum storage tank account. The bipartisan House Committee Substitute is expected to pass the House this evening.

HB 272 (Hoover) (To Senate)

Governor’s “Tax Reform” Package. Among measures included are (1) a 3-year lower property tax rate for property that has been remediated for contamination under the state voluntary remediation law; (2) a tax credit for dealers distributing biodiesel fuel; (3) an individual or corporate income tax credit against expenses incurred in characterizing the extent of contamination and in remedying contamination of sites in the voluntary environmental remediation program; (4) a “clean coal credit” of $2 per ton against corporate income taxes individual income taxes or corporate license taxes, to electric power companies per ton of coal used to generate power at a “clean coal” facility. “Eligible coal” is that coal that is mined in Kentucky; (5) tax credits and inducements for companies incorporating technologies or other changes to produce environmentally superior products in terms of use of recycled content, lesser toxicity in manufacturing or use, or energy conservation; and (6) credits for rehabilitation of historic structures.

With respect to the “clean coal credit,” KRC has several concerns. First, why is the state creating tax credit incentives for installation of “clean coal technologies” when installation of those technologies are already required by law for new plants. Additionally, providing credits to companies based on tonnage of Kentucky coal burned is a Kentucky coal subsidy rather than a meaningful incentive for construction of new more efficient electric generation facilities, for whom the choice of fuel supplier depends on quality, reliability of delivery, and fuel composition. Credits or other inducements should be directed at the improvements in the efficiency in conversion of fuels to energy, improvements in waste minimization and reductions in emissions from such units, and other criteria that reward deployment of new generation technologies that perform better than baseline best available technology at capturing mercury, CO2 and other pollutants.

The House modified several aspects of the Governor’s tax plan, including lowering the cigarette tax increase proposed by the Governor, removing the proposed retail liquor tax and instead increasing the wholesale tax, and removing more low-income residents from the tax filing population.

HB 283 (Vincent) (H. Nat R. Env)

Bill creates reporting requirements for junkyards and recycling facilities of materials sold, and transfers authority over junkyards to Environment & Public Protection Cabinet from Department of Highways.

HB 297 (Marzian) (S. Judiciary)

Extends statute of limitations for claims resulting from exposure to vinyl chloride.

HB 302 (Hall & others) (H. Rules)

Creates new Kentucky Multiple-Use Recreational Trail Commission for two-year period to develop plan for a long-term permanent state entity to plan, promote, fund, and manage multi-county recreational trails which are developed for multiple uses, including pedestrians, horses, motorized and nonmotorized vehicles on privately owned land.

HB 315 (Stacy)(H. Elections & Const. Amendments)(+)

Proposed constitutional amendment providing that if executive branch budget isn’t enacted on or before the 60th legislative day during an even-numbered year regular session, the terms of members of the General Assembly, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor end 35 days later and special elections are called to fill those positions.

HB 319 (Fischer & Keene) (H. Local Govt, posted)

Amendment to planning statutes to allow independent planning units created prior to 1966 to continue to operate independent of joint planning units.

HB 330 (Meeks) (H. Rules)

Bill creates a permitting process for an excavation of archaeological sites on private properties; increases penalties for desecration of human remains; provides right of access to private cemeteries for family members; provides procedures for notification and disposition of accidental disturbances or disinterment cases.

HB 331 (Meeks) (H. Rules)

Bill creates process for verification by Kentucky Heritage Council of the lack of known archaeological or human burial sites on real property, applies to any alteration of real property, provides procedures for addressing encountered remains.

HB 332 (Meeks & Owens)(H. Rules)

Bill reforms several aspects of laws concerning cemeteries, including codification of a right of reasonable access for families of deceased persons to cemeteries on private lands; recordation of the location and existence of cemeteries or graves in recorded deeds; and a listing and consideration of reinterment for native American remains held by state institutions.

HB 337 (Palumbo)(H. Rules)

Bill relates to tax increment financing, and provides a process for creating “development areas for community redevelopment” in which identified distressed areas can be identified as redevelopment areas, and utilize tax increment financing and other redevelopment assistance tools.

HB 372 (Ballard)(H. NR & Env)

Bill would create a program and standards for certification & accreditation of environmental laboratories.

HB 390 (Hoover and others)(H. Elections, Const Am., posted) (+)

Proposed constitutional amendment to repeal annual sessions and return to sessions every two years.

HB 406 (Cherry)(Tourism Development & Energy, posted)

Authorizes creation of joint municipal power authorities comprised of two or more units of local government, and authorizes those authorities to plan, construct, finance and operate electric power, transmission and distribution facilities.

HB 421 (Webb & Pasley)(H. Licensing & Occupations)

Creates permitting system for installation of major heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

HB 423 (Wayne)(H. Local Govt, posted)

New section of Chapter 100 to empower local governments to assess and collect development impact fees for public facilities, such as water, wastewater, stormwater, schools, roads, parks and open space.

HB 427 (Kerr) (H. Tourism, Development & Energy, posted)

Amends existing law to authorize Public Service Commission to allow water utility to implement a multi-year rate adjustment to implement a capital improvement plan.

HB 436 (Cherry) (H. Rules)

Amends Executive Branch Ethics law to include Public Service Commission as an “executive agency” and commission orders as “executive agency decisions.”

HB 440 (Nesler)(H. Seniors & Military Affairs, posted)

Amends existing law to require that installation and maintenance of gas appliances comply with manufacturer and administrative requirements and limiting licensee liability for damages for nonconforming installation or maintenance.

HB 447 (Palumbo)(H. Eco. Dev., posted)

Tax incentive program for manufacturing, service technology and tourism business investments.

HB 450 (Gray) (H. Transp)(-)

Raises state speed limits to 75 mph on interstates, 65 on state highways with over 4 lanes, 55 on state highways four lanes or less.

HB 456 (Rand & Vincent) (H. A&R)

Amends existing state law concerning recycling tax credits for investments in recycling or composting equipment.

HB 457 (Webb & Montell)(H. Rules)

Bill makes several changes to existing fish & wildlife laws, including strengthening certain penalties.

HB 459 (Palumbo) (H. Eco. Dev, posted)

Bill downsizes the Board of the Commission on Small Business Advocacy, removing 5 state and 4 local government representatives among others.

HB 471 (Denham) (H. NR & Env)

Bill would allow local governments to issue floodplain construction permits if the local government has staff with sufficient expertise to meet the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program requirements.

HB 472 (Lindsay)(H. NR & Env, posting waived)

Adopted Uniform Environmental Covenant Act providing for uniformity of contents and effect of environmental covenants for restriction of land uses for remediated contamination sites.

HB 479 (Meeks, Simpson & Owens)(H. Health & Welfare)(+)

Important environmental health legislation, the bill provides for blood lead testing as part of early childhood screening; provides for agency inspections and mandated remediation of lead paint and soil hazards by owner where occupant shows high blood lead levels; provides fines for noncompliance.

HB 483 (Simpson)(H. NR & Env)

Bill allows multi-resin plastic bottles to be labeled with “predominant resin” or “Other/7” if the two or more plastic resins render the bottle or container incompatible with recycling.

HB 491 (Wilkey)(H. Elections, Const Ams)

Proposed constitutional amendment would allow General Assembly to mandate alternative dispute resolution process prior to a trial for medical malpractice cases.

HB 507 (Moberly)(H. A&R)

Bill would empower budget bill to amend, modify or suspend effect of other laws beyond budget cycle.

HB 508 (Moberly)(H. A&R)

Bill would empower budget bill to amend, modify or suspend effect of other laws beyond budget cycle.

HB 509 (Pasley, Moberly, Stein, Wayne) (H. NR & Env)(+)

Bill would require mountain removal mining operations to return as much overburden to mined area as possible and to dispose of remainder on old mine sites or in constructed fills outside of stream channels. Bill also requires steep slope contour mining operations seeking variances from obligation to return land to premining contour to dispose of excess overburden on old mine sites and to avoid filling streams. Requires all other mining operations to dispose of excess overburden in constructed, compacted fills outside of stream channels.

HB 515 (Wuchner & others)(H. Judiciary)

Bill requires Attorney General to develop guidance document to assist state and local government agencies in evaluating proposed actions to minimize the effect of taking of property.

HR 2 (Adkins)

Adopts 2004 House Rules of Procedure as temporary rules for the 2005 Session.

HCR 12 (Gray) (H. Rules)

Urges Congress to pass amendment to U.S. Constitution “defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in marriage.”

The preamble to this resolution indicates that it is directed at reversing the trend to civil unions for same sex couples. Aside from the redundancy of defining marriage as marriage, the language read literally voids second marriages. Sponsor needs to clarify whether serial monogamy is still acceptable for those who like the institution so much that they do it more than once.

HCR 15 (Gray) (H. Elections)

Urges Congress to pass an amendment to the U.S. constitution prohibiting abortion under any circumstance.

HR 23 (Nelson) (To Senate) (+)

Urges Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to recommend issuance of a stamp commemorating the nation’s coal miners.

HCR 57 (P. Clark)(H. Judiciary, posted)

Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary will study the use by government and private parties of eminent domain and to assess the advisability of safeguards to protect private property owners and the environment.

KRC believes that a review of the authority vested by state law to private entities, including utilities and certain extractive industries, to exercise the power of eminent domain, and the use of such authority by governments for nominally public purposes, is appropriate for review by a task force or standing legislative committee.

HJR 65 (Nelson) (H. Nat. Res. & Env)

Reauthorizes Forest Health Task Force

HR 104 (Richards & Others)(Adopted)

Adopts Rules of Procedure for 2005 Session

HCR 105(Pullin)(H. Rules)

Resolution directing Interim Special Subcommittee On Energy To Invite World Trade Organization representatives to discuss potential impact of WTO decisions on Kentucky.

HJR 112 (Denham)(H. Rules)

Joint resolution calls on Transportation Cabinet to continue efforts to develop signage program for temporary tourism events.

HJR 122 (Yonts) (H. Trans)

Designates US 25E from I-75 in Corbin to the Cumberland Gap Tunnel as “Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail.”

HJR 146 (Moberly)(H. A&R)

Provides that mandates and directives in Executive Branch Budget Memorandum have the force and effect of law.

HJR 158 (Couch)(-)

Urges the Congress to enact President Bush’s “Clear Skies” proposal, which would produce less reductions in key air pollutants from major sources than existing law will provide. The initiative is stalled due to lack of support from moderate Congressional Republicans.

HJR 160

Urges Interim Joint Committee on Local Government to study subdivision of land issues and planning official training.


By Kentucky Resources Council on 02/19/2005 5:32 PM
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