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Senator Meredith Legislative Update

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by Steve Meredith

After 30 productive legislative days in Frankfort, the Kentucky General Assembly bid farewell to the 153rd Regular Session.

In our final legislative week, the General Assembly saw the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 1, the pivotal bipartisan measure to enhance school safety. Also known as the School Safety and Resiliency Act, SB 1 was widely considered as the highest-legislative priority of the 2019 Regular Session by both the House and the Senate. While no legislation is perfect, when it concerns the well-being of our students, inaction is not an option. This collaborative measure is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to addressing these school safety provisions further in the 2020 budget session.

Discussion on pension reform was an immense priority this week. With the passage of House Bill 358, the Senate acted to help Kentucky’s regional universities and “quasi-governmental” agencies, like health departments and mental health boards that have struggled to meet their employer pension contributions.

This measure would allow our schools and other agencies to stop participating in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (KERS) by July of next year. Employees of the exiting groups hired before 2014 could keep their pensions or join a defined contribution plan. All employees hired after 2014 would be required to join the defined contribution plan, similar to a 401(k) retirement plan.

In addition to House Bill 358, the Senate approved a number of bills that will become law upon the governor’s signature, including:

House Bill 11 would ban the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes, such as vaping devices, on public school campuses, in school vehicles and at school activities beginning with the 2020-’21 school year. 

With only 42 percent of Kentucky school districts being 100 percent tobacco free, this legislation would provide a healthier learning environment for our students, and help promote a tobacco free lifestyle.

Senate Bill 18 would address pregnancy-related discrimination by clarifying employers’ responsibilities when it comes to making reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees.

SB 18 would do this by clearly outlining in statute what constitutes reasonable accommodations and explaining the proper procedures for the employment of pregnant women. Another provision states SB 18 would apply only to businesses with 15 employees or more.

Senate Bill 162 is designed to increase the pool of qualified applicants to be school resource officers. SB 162 would do this, in part, by creating the Kentucky State Police school resource officer program.  

House Bill 458 would address changes in Kentucky’s tax code that were embodied in House Bill 354 that was signed by the governor earlier this week

It would address deferred tax deductions and net operating losses incurred under the unitary reporting requirements that were passed last session. It would also make sure financial organizations established as “thrifts” in Kentucky would get the same tax relief banks will receive under House Bill 354, a measure that passed earlier in the session. And HB 458 will clarify that local deposit taxes on banks can continue to be levied.

While the 30-day session concluded shortly before midnight Thursday, the work in Frankfort continues. To provide a continuity of study and action between sessions, interim joint committees are formed to discuss issues in-depth for the 2020 Regular Session.

It is an honor to represent you in Frankfort, and I look forward to continued discussion on a number of issues facing our district and the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Stephen.Meredith@LRC.ky.gov.  You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.