yonts c 300KENTUCKY (1/13/13) - We are back in legislative session in Frankfort, and it is a budget session. That means making sure our spending over the next two years matches our revenue, which means some tough budget decisions will, again, have to be made.

The problem is a slow economic recovery--a seven-year odyssey that reflects extended high unemployment, a drop in school funding levels (as attendance increases while state funding levels remain flat), and extra requests for government assistance. It has made life hard for the average Kentuckian and will make this 60 legislative-day regular session fairly difficult.

Overall, I think what Kentuckians want most out of this session is for state lawmakers to pass laws that will boost the economy, allowing the average citizen to regain financial footing. In short, they want economic development. And they will likely get it in some measure.

Several bills already filed for consideration in this session prove welawmakers want economic development, too. There's a bill that would set up a $40 million "angel investor" tax credit program to encourage capital investment in small business. There are at least two bills that would establish a back-to-school sales and use tax holiday in August for clothing and supplies, and another piece of legislation that would set up a state income tax credit for the hiring of legally blind or severely disabled persons starting in 2015.

Then, of course, there are the heavily-publicized economic development proposals we've all read about: HB 1, which would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour over the next two years to help Kentucky's struggling working class; proposed constitutional amendments in both the House and Senate that would let Kentucky voters decide the question of whether casino gaming should be allowable in the Commonwealth; and the issue of state tax reform.

Let me say this clearly: The likelihood of tax reform passing this session based on recommendations of the governor's 2012 Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform or otherwise hinges on legislative will in the House and the Senate, and not all lawmakers in those chambers are of the same mind on the issue. Some want to see tax reform now; others say any chance for tax reform at this time is slim-especially passage of any proposal that would raise tax revenue.

That said, the governor has told lawmakers that he will present them with a "tax modernization proposal" including several provisions, not the least of which is a proposed constitutional amendment to allow local voters to consider a one-cent or less increase in the local option sales tax for specific projects. Any success it will have, like that of all bills filed this session, remains to be seen.

At least one economic development project planned for Kentucky as-of-late has raised privacy concerns among thousands our citizens: the proposed interstate natural gas liquid pipeline planned for construction through private lands across the Bluegrass region and portions of Western Kentucky. The proposal has led to the filing of two pieces of legislation in the House so far this session. While each of the bills would follow a different path to rein in a company's ability to condemn private property under the state's eminent domain law for the pipeline project, both bills and others-if considered this session-are expected to generate much interest.

The right to privacy is also behind opposition to so-called drones (or "unmanned aircraft") that were a big news item in 2013. At least one bill has been filed so far this session that would prohibit police or other law enforcement from using drones to "gather evidence or other information," with little exception, in hope of balancing the important work of law enforcement with a citizen's right to privacy. Law-abiding citizens expect to live without unwarranted intrusion, as well they should.

One issue that everyone has heard about over the past several months is the continued financial needs of the state employees' and Kentucky teachers' pension systems. Lawmakers passed legislation in 2013 to reduce the growing unfunded liability of the public pension system serving state government retirees, but additional public pension contributions are needed. The same is true for the Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System, a separate system representing the state's retired teachers that is requesting additional state funding to meet federal accounting rules set to take effect next year.

There is yet more planned for this session: legislation to ban smoking in public places statewide, energy legislation dealing with nuclear power and coal severance revenue distribution, legislation to authorize public charter schools, etc. It is a full agenda. Please stay informed via the Kentucky General Assembly's web site at www.lrc.ky.gov or via our toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. You can reach me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or through the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181. Have a good week ahead.

Brent Yonts

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

Owensboro Catholic, Henderson to Meet on Neutral Field

OWENSBORO, Ky. (7/31/15) — The Henderson County and Owensboro Catholic football teams will meet on a neutral field for… Read More

Henderson County-Owensboro Catholic Scrimmage Set for KWC

OWENSBORO, Ky. (7/31/15) — The Henderson County and Owensboro Catholic football teams will meet on a neutral field for… Read More
1 DOW 17,689.86
-56.12 (-0.32%)    
2 S&P 2,103.84
-4.79 (-0.23%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,128.28
-0.50 (-0.01%)    

Most Read This Week

July 27, 2015 5947

Death of Central City Man in Dawson Springs Under…

by SurfKY News
July 27, 2015 3797

School System Announces Free Lunch/Breakfast at…

by SurfKY News
July 30, 2015 3377

Webster Man Leads Police on Chase through Parts…

by SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 3317

Miss Hopkins County Fair 2015 Chosen

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 28, 2015 2592

Hanson, Owensboro, Bowling Green Youths Win at…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

July 17, 2015 16339

Muhlenberg Most Wanted - Top 10

by SurfKY News
July 23, 2015 15307

UPDATE: Family Confirms Body of Missing Teen…

by Shawn Freels, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

July 31, 2015 3317

Miss Hopkins County Fair 2015 Chosen

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 01, 2015 2191

24th Annual Miss Teen Hopkins County Fair Pageant…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 01, 2015 2046

Little Miss, Mister Hopkins County Fair Chosen

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
August 01, 2015 1447

'Diggers' Return to Find More Hatfield-McCoy…

by SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 1273

State Fair President Commends Hopkins County Fair…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 1101

Hopkins District Court Fines Handed Down

by SurfKY News
August 01, 2015 1010

Knight Crowned 2015 Miss Pre-Teen Hopkins County…

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 957

House of Onyx's Crystal Gallery Opens in…

by SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 840

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

by SurfKY News
July 31, 2015 829

Henderson Woman Faces Rape Charges

by SurfKY News