Legislative Update from State Rep. Dennis Keene
The 2013 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly opened this week with the election of new leaders who will help us navigate many important issues in the weeks to come.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark and Majority Whip Tommy Thompson retained their posts. The House elected its first female member of leadership with Rep. Sannie Overly as Caucus Chair. This team brings a broad spectrum of experience to our leadership team and I look forward to working with them over the next two years.
Another important task that was completed this week was committee chair appointments and assignments. Our leadership takes great care to honor our requests and fill committees with members who bring expertise and understanding of the committee’s scope of work to the legislative process.
I have been appointed to Chairman of the Licensing and Occupations Committee, Vice Chairman of the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development Committee and a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee.
We also began this legislative session with a bipartisan announcement of an innovative financing proposal to allow our public universities to invest in their schools. The governor, with the support of the Senate and House Leadership and university presidents, announced the issuance of bonds by Kentucky’s public universities for campus improvements to be paid with the school’s money. No money from the state’s General Fund will be used.
More than 5,100 construction jobs will be created from the 11 projects which will have an economic impact of $623 million. The cost of the projects which range from classroom, dormitory and academic building construction and upgrades, new student centers and sprinkler system improvements is $393 million. Dorm fees, dining hall revenue, athletic funds and private donations will pay for the projects.
As we wrapped up our first week of the session, we heard reports from House committee chairs that met during the interim summarizing the issues that we will have before us this session. Those include the state’s tax codes, state pension system, redistricting, special taxing districts and Medicaid. The fate of expanded casino gaming may be part of the 2013 legislative discussion as well.
I will write in more detail about these issues the first week of February when we return to Frankfort. We have a great deal of work to do before this short session ends on March 26th but I am hopeful that we will put our differences aside and reach consensus.
You can stay informed of legislative action on bills of interest to you by logging onto the legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. To find out when a committee meeting is scheduled, you can call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650.