The following is a narrative of the Legislative Update presented to City Commission on April 29, 2013 by Senator Chris McDaniel:
“When the gavel fell on the 2014 session of the General Assembly, we left having taken many positive steps to ensure that the citizens of the Commonwealth were properly served. We passed the biennial budget, the road plan, and the road funding plan. We significantly lowered the structural budget imbalance and the debt ratio while still investing in public safety, education, and infrastructure throughout the state.
In Northern Kentucky, we invested $97 million in a new Health Innovations Center, $11 million in Gateway’s Urban Campus, and kept projects moving for the Brent Spence Bridge, 536, and several others.
Also of importance to Northern Kentucky, we passed the Angel Investor Tax Credit. This will allow us to more effectively compete with Ohio for high-tech startup firms and the credit we are offering has been recognized as one of the most aggressive recruiting tools in the nation.
As most of you know, it is my firm belief that the number one obligation of government is public safety. To that end, we passed legislation to allow for the issuance of electronic warrants, reformed the juvenile justice code to try to keep status offenders in their homes versus incarcerating them, and passed a cybersecurity law saying that if a government agency or vendor has a breach of data, they must notify citizens within 72 hours. Further, we authorized the state police to hire an additional 17 troopers.
Also of primary importance is our education system. To that end, we increased the SEEK appropriation to its highest level in the history of the Commonwealth. For employees, we authorized raises of 1% and 2% across the biennium for our teachers and 1-5% for other state employees. We also honored our commitments from last session and fully funded the actuarially required contribution to the Commonwealth’s pension plans.
Several bills were approved to protect vulnerable and victimized citizens, young and old, by creating an adult abuse registry (SB 98) and expanding medical training for doctors regarding pediatric abusive head trauma (HB 157). Under SB 184 passed this session, victims of human trafficking will be allowed to have non-violent offenses resulting from trafficking cleared from their record. With the passage of HB 128 anyone granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order can apply for and receive a provisional concealed carry weapons permit in one business day after undergoing a background check.
One of things I am most proud of was the Senate’s refusal to raise gas taxes. Under the proposal sent to us from the Governor and the House of Representatives, fuel taxes would have risen on all Kentuckians. We held the line and refused to allow that to occur. However, we still provided for a robust transportation plan across the Commonwealth. In our region, we will see $29 million for Brent Spence Bridge planning to continue, $22 million for the expansion of KY 536, $5 million for the reconstruction of Hands Pike near KY 17, and over twenty additional projects of various sizes.
Other items that we addressed included reducing the amount of time for foreclosed properties to be reclaimed from one year to six months, required that planning and zoning amendments be approved within 60 days, allowed the use of cannabidiol oil in FDA trials, and said that people cannot hold two positions at the same time in special purpose government entities if those entities have taxing authority.
We also saw a number of bills fail in the House that would have resulted in millions of dollars of savings for the Commonwealth. Several of these are ones I’ve talked about before – my Senate Bill 4 which would have done away with legislative “pension spiking,” saving the state millions, the shortening of the legislative calendar, and the abolishment of the Treasurer’s office. We are again disappointed that the House failed to discuss these measures and as always, will continue to try to find ways to save taxpayer dollars.
My greatest disappointment from this session was the failure to pass a bill related to the heroin epidemic. The Senate sent a bi-partisan, bi-cameral bill to the House of Representatives on January 16th. They did not act on the bill for nearly 3 months and eventually failed to pass it because, as the Speaker said, “Time just ran out.” This was inexcusable and I was pleased that our Senate President immediately called on the Governor to hold a special session to deal with this issue.
As always, you can call me anytime at my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100. To review the work of the 2014 Regular Session, you may visit the legislature’s website at www.lrc.ky.gov. Archived meetings and proceedings, as well as interim coverage, can be viewed at www.ket.org.”