Frankfort Inside Out - Legislative Update

The 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly has reached the half-way point, with 32 of the 60 days behind them.

Last week,HB 407the Chamber initiative to enable public-private partnerships (P3), was filed Wednesday by Rep. Leslie Combs. A public-private partnership is a contract between a public entity, such as a state or local government, and a private business, under which the business builds a project or provides a service for the public. Any financial risk during the construction and/or operation of the project is assumed by the private business. P3s encourage competition for private sector investments, save tax dollars, and promote transparency and accountability. Every state bordering Kentucky already has P3 legislation. The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, along with the Kentucky Association of Highway Contractors, the Associated General Contractors of Kentucky (AGC), and nearly 20 local chambers of commerce support the legislation.

On Wednesday, the Senate took a major step on behalf of all Kentucky caregivers by passing SB 119, a common sense bill to fix the commonwealth’s broken medical malpractice system. For far too long, Kentucky healthcare providers have worked with the uncertainty of little to no protections against meritless claims.  The medical review panel process proposed in SB 119 is a proven way to establish a fair, reasonable and timely process for dealing with proposed claims against caregivers.    The Kentucky Chamber commends the Senate for passing SB 119 which would provide an additional layer of accountability for providers while fully protecting Kentuckians’ access to the courts. For additional information and a full list of supporters, please visit www.CareFirstKentucky.com.

On Thursday, Gov. Steve Beshear announced  “kyhealthnow,” an initiative to improve the state’s collective health. Kyhealthnow targets seven major health goals to be met within five years, by 2019: 

  • Health insurance - Reduce Kentucky’s rate of uninsured individuals to less than 5 percent
  • Smoking - Reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate by 10 percent
  • Obesity - Reduce the rate of obesity among Kentuckians by 10 percent
  • Cancer - Reduce Kentucky cancer deaths by 10 percent
  • Cardiovascular Disease - Reduce cardiovascular deaths by 10 percent
  • Dental Decay - Reduce the percentage of children with untreated dental decay by 25 percent, and the percentage of adults with 6 or more teeth missing by 10 percent
  • Drug Addiction – Reduce deaths from drug overdose by 25 percent, and reduce the average number of poor mental health days of Kentuckians by 25 percent.

The Chamber commends the governor for acknowledging that Kentucky’s poor health status has a significant impact on the business community by increasing employers’ health care costs, contributing to higher costs for public health programs and hindering our ability to hire a healthy and productive workforce. As part of the plan, Gov. Beshear acknowledged that passing a smoke free workplace law is critical to improving the state’s health status and needs to be addressed this legislative session. The Chamber urges legislators to support House Bill 173, which awaits a hearing on the House floor. We urge you to contact your House & Senate members at 1-800-372-7181 and ask them to support a smoke-free law.

Below is a list of legislation of interest to the business community. For a complete list of bills the Chamber is monitoring, click here.

Legislation of Interest

Cost of Goods Sold – HB 136 (Yonts) clearly defines the cost of goods sold under Kentucky’s Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET) which is paid by many small businesses in Kentucky. Call your legislator at 1-800-372-7181 and let them know you support this legislation. (Chamber supports)

False Claims Act – HB 335 (Stumbo) creates a Kentucky false claims act which gives private citizens strong financial incentive to sue a company that contracts with the state alleging fraud. The Kentucky Chamber agrees the state should recover fraudulent claims. However, creating such lucrative financial incentives to file lawsuits against employers is not the most effective way to pursue claims and could lead to meritless accusations and the state receiving less money recovered for each claim. Moreover, the federal False Claims Act and three Kentucky statutes already enable the state to recover money lost to false claims. HB 335 awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. (Chamber opposes)

Telecommunications Modernization SB 99(Hornback) modernizes Kentucky’s outdated telecommunications laws and allows telecommunications companies to invest more in modern high-speed internet and less on outdated landline telephones. SB 99 passed the Senate and now awaits action in the House. (Chamber supports) 

Casino Gaming – HB 67 (Clark) and SB 33 (Seum) amend the Kentucky Constitution to allow the General Assembly to submit to Kentucky voters to permit casino gaming. The Chamber has long supported expanded gaming to provide a much needed boost to the state as well as to recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent annually in casinos in neighboring states. Although legislators have expressed that support is lacking, public efforts continue to encourage action. (Chamber supports) 

Health Benefit Plans – HB 362 (Stone) prohibits health benefit plans from limiting out-of-network providers and covered services to those performed within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This appears to be an attempt to address limited health plans offered on or off the state’s health care exchange. Mandating expanded networks could remove the cost savings negotiated for these lower cost plans. The Chamber urges the General Assembly not to enact laws that raise costs of health plans, particularly as employers struggle to comply with the ACA. (Chamber opposes)

Prevailing Wage HB 419 (Hoover) saves taxpayers money by excluding educational buildings and facilities from the prevailing wage mandate currently in law.

Tax Exemption for Data Centers – HB 308 (DeCesare) exempts qualified data centers from paying certain state and local taxes.This would create a tax incentive to encourage the establishment of data centers, a fast growing industry which states are working to recruit. (Chamber supports) 

Eminent Domain HB 31 (Tilley) would retroactively change Kentucky's eminent domain laws by not allowing pipelines carrying natural gas liquids or gases such as butane and propane to use eminent domain to acquire land when constructing new pipelines. This change would have a negative impact on Kentucky's business community and potentially impact raw supplies many manufacturers and agriculture-based industries require. (Chamber opposes)

Employment Rates and Earnings  HB 87 (Yonts) requires the Office for Education and Workforce Statistics to disseminate, in cooperation with the Council on Postsecondary Education and the Department of Education, information concerning the employment rates and earnings by degrees and academic majors of graduates from the public universities. HB 87 passed the House 96-0 and awaits action in the Senate. (Chamber supports)

Small Business Tax Incentives  At the request of the Chamber, HB 422 (Nelson) was introduced on Friday and exempts small businesses in high unemployment counties (12% or greater) from paying the Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET) and $3000 a month from sales tax. This would create economic incentive and provide relief for small businesses in high unemployment areas. (Chamber supports)

 

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