LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP FROM THE 2007 REGULAR AND SECOND EXTRAORDINARY SESSION Posted: September 26, 2007
As it has each legislative session since 1984, KRC has engaged in legislative advocacy before the General Assembly, both to protect existing laws and regulations from efforts to weaken environmental protection and to abridge public access to the process of governance.
Here is wrap-up of KRC?s advocacy work during the 2007 Regular and Second Extraordinary Sessions. The total amount spent by KRC during both sessions was $3,343.24. None of this work would be possible without the unflagging support and encouragement of KRCs Board of Directors, membership, and supporters.
Energy Bill Amended To Include Increased Incentives For Renewables, and Mandated Studies On Demand Management, Efficiency, And Green Building
HB 1, enacted during the 2nd Extraordinary Session, included several provisions drafted or modified by KRC, including lowering the minimum capital and electricity output provisions to broaden available of incentives for solar, hydro and other renewable power; a mandate to the Public Service Commission to study and report on how to incorporate demand management and full-cost life-cycle energy, economic, environmental and public health accounting in energy planning, and decoupling recovery from power sales; a recognition of the importance of proactive carbon management and mandate to report on carbon capture and management; a mandate to develop a Center for Renewable Energy Research to parallel the UK CAER; and a study on how to create incentives and remove impediments to energy efficient green building and construction practices.
Billboard Bill Stopped
SB 155, which would reverse current state policy against cutting trees in rights-of-way in order to assure visibility of billboards and would weaken existing prohibitions against extending the life of a nonconforming billboard, was again stopped by House leadership. As has been the case in past years, KRC worked with Scenic Kentucky to bring public attention to this bill and to mobilize opposition in the House membership.
Effort Override Rockcastle Wild River Protection for New Interstate 66 Bridge Stopped
Two 11th-hour efforts by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to sneak amendments into unrelated bills to create a new legislative exception for interstate bridges across the Rockcastle Wild River segment to allow construction of the questionable I-66 London Somerset segment, were turned back by House leadership at KRCs urging.
Bill To Lessen Public Scrutiny Over Natural Gas Rates Defeated
HB 261 would have modified laws governing rate cases for natural gas utilities to allow gas utilities to avoid rate cases by electing to operate within a certain bandwidth of .5% above or below of an approved return on equity and to report and adjust earnings annually where they fall above or below the approved range. The bill would eliminate the scrutiny of revenue and expenses that would otherwise occur during traditional rate cases before the Public Service Commission, and potentially result in overearnings. KRC and the Attorney Generals Office opposed the bill.
Effort To Rewrite Natural Gas Leases Defeated
In an effort to avoid a civil judgment similar to that awarded by a West Virginia Court over the manner in which gas royalties were calculated and paid to lessors, the natural gas industry sought to legislatively abridge the meaning of existing natural gas leases by limiting the royalty payments for lessors to the actual sale price of the natural gas rather than the market value of the gas, and to shorten the statute of limitations for bringing such suit.
Underground Storage Tank Fund Eligibility Extended
HB 137 extends the expired deadline for registration of old underground storage tanks, allowing the removal of those tanks to be reimbursed by the state petroleum storage tank account. A KRC-drafted amendment extended deadlines for eligibility for reimbursement for tank removals and remediation of contaminated properties, assuring that as properties continue to be discovered, they will be eligible for remediation under the publicly-funded program.
Local Power to Regulate Industrial Livestock And Poultry Operations Protected.
SB 91 and HB 399 broadened existing preemption of local government regulation of pesticides to preempt local government enactments regulating the registration, packaging, labeling, sale, storage, distribution, use or application of fertilizers. KRC secured an amendment protecting local government powers to adopt siting ordinances and also reporting obligations under state and federal law.
Tire-derived Fuel Exemption Narrowed And Public Comment Opportunities on Air Permits Improved.
KRC negotiated language in SB 125 narrowing an exemption from local solid waste consistency determinations to end uses of processed TDF, and gained a requirement that all air permit applications for use of such TDF be subject to public notice and comment. Use of whole tires or unprocessed TDF remains subject to air permitting and local solid waste board determinations.
Circuit Court Bypass Sought By Peabody Eliminated, but Venue For Appeal Shifted to Local Court.
SB 196 originally exempted industrial energy facilities from circuit court review. While KRC succeeded in restoring circuit court review of permitting actions the venue for this discrete class of facilities was shifted to the local circuit court. KRC believes it inappropriate to seek to incentivize new industrial facilities by abridging citizen rights, and that such an approach will result in more, rather than less, controversy regarding such proposals.
Meth Lab Cleanup Bill Amended To Include Bonding and Insurance
HB 94 creates standards and procedures for remediation of properties contaminated from methamphetamine labs. KRC suggested language clarifying the purpose of the bond or financial assurance and the process for forfeiture of the contractors bond, and for requiring a liability insurance policy for personal or property damage associated with the decontamination of inhabitable properties by a certified contractor.
No Privatizing Of Planning, Zoning And Code Enforcement.
HB 355, which authorizes planning commissions to enter into interlocal agreements for administration of zoning and planning statutes, code enforcement, and urban renewal programs was modified at KRCs request to remove language that would have allowed privatizing of governmental planning and zoning and code enforcement functions.