The 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly came to an abrupt end at midnight last night, the constitutionally-mandated end of session. Lawmakers were literally left standing on the House floor in the middle of a debate on how to address the heroin epidemic when the clock struck midnight. Senators were also standing on the Senate floor waiting to see if any additional bills would make it before the deadline. Despite having 60 days every even-numbered year, lawmakers routinely find themselves debating issued until the last moment and important measures fail as they are pushed later and later in session and eventually remain unaddressed as the clock strikes midnight.
After a flurry of activity for the final two days of session, there were a handful of good bills passed and several bad ideas thwarted, but many good bills fell victim to the legislative process.
Good bills passed
- The $20 billion state budget funds P-12 education better than the past several budgets, but enacts higher education cuts. It also funds the pension reform promises of 2013, but shortchanges the teachers’ retirement system.
- Bourbon barrel tax credit to encourage investment and job growth in one of Kentucky’s signature industries.
- Angel investor credit to help entrepreneurs grow start-up companies into successful Kentucky businesses.
- Lowering the statute of limitations on written contracts from 15 years to 10 years.
- Clarifying the current small business tax credit.
- Juvenile justice reform bill to give youthful offenders a better chance of turning their lives around and save money for the system.
- Requiring financial accountability for school districts by increasing reporting requirements.
Good bills failed
- Despite passage of a significant job-creating public-private partnership (P3) bill in the first part of the session, legislators failed to address the governor’s veto.
- Telecommunications reform failed to pass the House for the third consecutive year.
- An effort to address the medical liability climate failed to gain passage in the House.
- Expanded gaming wasn’t take up by either legislative chamber.
- Tax reform was never considered by lawmakers in 2014.
- Efforts to reform prevailing wage and consider right-to-work legislation was thwarted by the House Labor committee.
- Efforts to enact charter schools to address persistently low achieving schools failed in the House.
- Numerous legal liability reform efforts were stopped.
- An effort to allow voters to vote for a local tax to fund local projects never garnered the support necessary for passage.
- An effort to enact a statewide smoke-free law never received a floor vote in the House, nor a committee vote in the Senate.
- Education reform efforts to professionalize teaching in the classroom were stopped by the
- House committee.
- An important small business tax relief measure clarifying how the Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET) is calculated was bogged down by outrageous fiscal estimates.
Bad bills stopped
- Efforts to abolish the new, rigorous academic standards were stopped by heavy lobbying by the Chamber and education groups.
- The Chamber led the fight to stop efforts to increase workers’ compensation costs.
- Efforts to increase Kentucky’s minimum wage higher than surrounding states was stopped.
- The bill to politicize the Public Service Commission was stopped dead in its tracks.
- Onerous coal mining restrictions were defeated.
- A bill to hike business taxes was never considered.
The Chamber’s public affairs team is combing over the final actions of the 2014 session and preparing our annual Results for Business: What passed? What didn’t? And what it means to your bottom line? Keep an eye out for it in your upcoming chamber newsletter.