We returned to Frankfort on Tuesday following the long President’s Day weekend and hit the ground running on the second half of the 2022 General Assembly. In anticipation of the filing deadline on Tuesday of next week, members are filing the last of their bills and resolutions for the Session. The first 30 days of Session saw a number of priority measures pass through the House, including a fiscally responsible state budget, a constitutional and contiguous redistricting plan, and reform of an outdated unemployment insurance system. As the Session continues, I will keep you updated as we push forward priority legislation.
Tax Modernization Bill Aimed at Eliminating Personal Income Tax Filed: I rarely report on bills when they are filed because most measures will change before they come up for a vote. While this is true for HB 8, the tax modernization proposal filed this week, I want to share some details about this bill for you to consider. HB 8 would reduce the personal income tax from 5% to 4% as of January 1, 2023. The bill also includes triggers that call for further reducing the personal income tax until we eliminate it entirely. These changes would be permanent, and they will leave more money in the pockets of working Kentuckians. While the first decrease is paid for with money we reserved in this year’s budget, revenue forecasts show that there is enough growth in our future to sustain this 1% cut, but HB 8 also includes provisions that make it possible to grow revenue in other areas — without an increase in any taxes. Instead, the bill broadens the tax base to include services like pleasure watercraft docking, transportation services like Uber and Lyft, non-medically essential cosmetic surgeries, legislative and executive branch lobbying, and advertising, marketing, and graphic design. I also want to point out that there will be a sales and use tax extended to electrical bills for non-primary residential properties. In other words, if you own a second or third home in this state, you will pay a tax on the electricity you use.
Providing a Lifeline for Rural Hospitals: House members unanimously passed legislation to support rural health care across the Commonwealth. The measure, HB 364, expands eligibility for the Rural Hospital Loan Fund to former hospitals in underserved areas. Eligible hospitals were closed within 36 months of their loan application, are located in a county of less than 50,000 people, and have a certificate of need to open or reopen a facility.
Health Resources for First Responders: The House also passed the Lifeliner’s Act, HB 79, aimed at increasing access to mental health resources for 911 dispatchers. The bill provides dispatchers with access to the same counseling and post-critical incident seminar as other first responders and makes them eligible for the Law Enforcement Professional Development and Wellness Program. The bill also includes training and resources for PTSD and work-induced stress for dispatchers.
Promoting Agricultural Economic Development: This week we also approved legislation that promotes the vital role of agriculture in Kentucky’s economic development. HB 390 adds the Commissioner of Agriculture as a voting member of the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership and requires one member of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority to have experience in agriculture, giving a voice to the agricultural industry in decisions that affect our state’s economy.
Improving Health Care Access: Members of the House Health and Family Services Committee passed legislation to help medically underserved communities overcome barriers to care. HB 525 expands the Community Health Worker (CHW) program statewide, creating a system of navigators who help improve access to health care. CHWs are frontline healthcare workers who guide local grassroots efforts and help individuals understand what resources are available, whether it be through informal education, counseling, support, or advocacy.
Preserving Public Safety: Members of the House Judiciary Committee approved legislation aimed at protecting innocent individuals across the Commonwealth from violent criminal offenders. Currently, there are no restrictions on non-profit and for-profit organizations that raise money to bail people out of jail. HB 313, known as Madalynn’s Law, would make it illegal for these organizations to post bail for a person charged with a violent offense or with a bail over $5,000.
Protecting Religious Freedom: The House State Government Committee approved legislation to prevent organizations from being discriminated against due to their religious affiliation. The measure, HB 43, would keep government entities from prohibiting religious services to a greater extent than other gatherings or businesses deemed essential during states of emergency.
Recognizing Kentucky FFA: I joined my colleagues in recognizing National FFA Week here at the Capitol. We had the pleasure of welcoming Kentucky FFA officers from across our state to share the great work they are doing in their local communities and their goals and accomplishments for the year. The Kentucky FFA Association is a student-led organization that focuses on developing leadership skills, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.
Honoring Kentucky’s World War II Veterans: I also joined my House colleagues in honoring the service and sacrifice of Kentucky’s World War II veterans. HJR 42 grants the family of the last remaining World War II veteran in Kentucky the option of the veteran lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda and receiving a funeral with full honors.
As always, I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com. If you would like more information, please visit the LRC website www.legislature.ky.gov.
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