The Kentucky Chamber’s 2015 Legislative Agenda was released on Nov. 19, outlining the business community’s goals for the 2015 General Assembly. The agenda places special emphasis on the need for public-private partnership (P3) legislation and financial transparency in Kentucky’s pension systems.
Kentucky Chamber President & CEO Dave Adkisson has launched a 12-city tour around the state to spell out these goals. He first visited Elizabethtown last Wednesday, offering the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce a sneak peek at the agenda.
“As we head into the 2015 General Assembly, there are a number of issues that could have a significant impact on the health of the business community,” said Adkisson. “Our goal with this tour is to ensure our members and local chamber members are not only educated on those issues, but stay looped in as those issues continue to evolve during the session.”
Adkisson says several legislative issues which the Chamber advocated heavily for in the 2014 session are still on the table as we move into the 2015 session.
“We were disappointed by the amendment that led to the Governor’s veto of P3 legislation at the end of the 2014 session,” said Adkisson. “This year, we will continue to push for passage of a comprehensive plan that will encourage the creation of partnerships between private companies and government to create jobs, while saving tax dollars and providing needed projects and services.”
As for the state’s pension system, Adkisson says the “day of reckoning has come.”
“Our bond rating has already been downgraded three times. Kentucky’s one of the worst states, frankly, among all 50 in terms of our total liabilities. So we have to continue to address our pension issue.” He added, “Some major reforms have been made in 2008 and 2013, but we’ve got to keep our eye on the ball because it’s going to require a sustained commitment to solve,” he said.
The Chamber’s legislative agenda is a comprehensive approach to creating a competitive business climate and investing in the future of the Commonwealth.
- Kentucky’s adoption of tougher academic standards was an important step toward ensuring that students are prepared to succeed in college and career. The Chamber will continue our strong support for protecting the state’s new, more rigorous academic standards.
- The Chamber will support the enactment of a charter school law to give all children access to the highest-quality education possible.
- The agenda also includes support for early childhood education and for protecting school funding.
- The Chamber supports pro-growth comprehensive tax reform which would include, among other items, a simplified tax code, a focus on prioritized government spending, and support of growth-oriented policies that would improve the competitiveness of Kentucky’s business climate.
- Reforming Kentucky’s telecommunications laws to spur investment in high-speed telecommunications infrastructure that supports business and commerce is an important priority this year.
- The Chamber supports an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would allow cities and counties the choice, with voter approval, to enact a local sales tax with a sunset provision, dedicated for the funding of transformational local projects.
- Right-to-Work legislation is needed to put Kentucky on a level playing field with surrounding states when it comes to business recruitment.
Health & Wellness
- The Chamber will continue to support the creation of incentives for workplace-based wellness programs and enactment of a statewide smoke-free law.
- Improving the medical liability climate through medical review also is a priority item.
- Supporting and protecting Kentucky’s low cost energy advantage is a key priority for the Kentucky Chamber.
- Supporting the infrastructure of Kentucky’s signature coal industry is key focus of this goal.
- The Chamber will advocate for policies that strive for energy independence and encourages a sensible regulatory approach.
Adkisson noted, “Clearly, our agenda is a full one, and we know that additional issues will emerge as the session progresses. As always, we look forward to the opportunity to represent the interests of Kentucky’s employers as we work together to build a stronger future for our Commonwealth.”
Adkisson and other Chamber leaders will be touring the state through Jan. 22, 2015. For a listing of stops on the tour, click here.