melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (3/18/19) — There is only one day left for the General Assembly for the 2019 General Session. The veto period began on Friday, the 15th and will conclude on the 26th. When we go back in on the 28th it will primarily be to override any vetoes we do not agree with and finalize any other measures prior to finishing up that day.

I received numerous phone messages and e-mails throughout the session, the number of which are overwhelming. Even though I try to respond to each one, time constraints often prevent me from doing so. The intern in Frankfort who was helping make these calls for me did not get to complete the session, which was a great loss to me. Rest assured, I am receiving them, and your input is very important to me.

There were two bills that went to free conference committees made up of both House and Senate members, for the final negotiations between the two chambers. They were HB 354, the tax clean-up bill, and HB 268, a bill that allocates financial assistance for our state park systems.

HB 354 clarifies that non-profits are exempt from collecting taxes on both fundraising event sales and admission tickets. The bill also puts in place a timeline for reforming the bank franchise tax that has been seriously impacting our local banks. Many hometown banks have been bought out by larger out-of-state banks that have been taking our capital out-of-state with them. The reforms will have our local banks paying what other businesses in Kentucky do in 2021 which will hopefully keep them here at home in the Commonwealth.

Another key provision of HB 354 is the clarification of the definition of heavy equipment rentals making the rate of inventory tax the same whether you finance through your local bank or a financing district. This levels the playing field for companies that own the exact same equipment renting to potentially the same customers yet financing a different way, an inequity that had taken place far too long.   

HB 268 amended the state Executive Branch budget to provide $50 million in bonding authority so that the first phase of much needed infrastructure repairs to our state parks can be funded to help attract more visitors and income from tourism dollars to the state as well as continue to provide enjoyable experiences for Kentucky residents. Other adjustments would provide monies for updated equipment for the Kentucky State Police (KSP) among other things.

HB 58 would restore the state’s income tax exclusion on pension income up to $41,000. It would also allow for automatic refunds for the additional amount of state income tax collected in the 2018 tax year on pensions above the $31,000 threshold up to $41,000. If the bill becomes law, there would be an emergency clause that would allow it to go into effect immediately. It must pass the Senate and be signed by the Governor to become law.

SB 41 passed the House late Thursday that would freeze pension contribution rates for regional universities and quasi-governmental agencies, such as out health departments, for one more year.

Other bills that received final passage, that means they now go to the Governor for either his signature or his veto include:

HB 5- of which I was a primary sponsor, passed the Senate on Wednesday and is headed to the Governor for his signature.
SB 114 would remove the State Board of Elections (BOE) from the Secretary of State’s Office and make it an independent agency. The bill is a huge step towards ensuring fair and bipartisan oversight of elections and had bipartisan support from county clerks across the Commonwealth.
HB 296- creates a higher education loan repayment program for registered nurses and LPN’s if they work in a VA nursing home to help our veterans because there is such a shortage of nurses to help care for them.
SB 84 would require the creation of a regulatory framework for certified professional midwives while requiring collaboration between midwives and health providers. There has been much work towards this goal for several years.  

The Governor has already signed ten bills into law. Some highlights are:
SB 9- The “Heartbeat Bill” which passed the House on Thursday and was signed into law upon adjournment. SB 9 would prohibit abortions once the heartbeat is detected on ultrasound, which usually occurs at approximately six weeks. One exception allowed would be to save the life of the mother.  
SB 77- There was concern over whether there would be a decrease in Kentuckians who would register to be organ donors with the enactment of the new Kentucky ID system. SB 77 would allow individuals to sign-up online @ https://kog.chfs.ky.gov/home/
SB 85- otherwise known as the “Interlock Bill”, would amend existing driving under the influence (DUI) laws that would increase the time a first-year offender’s license would be suspended and expand the use of the interlock device. The device includes a breathalyzer test that will not allow the car to start if they blow over the legal limit.

All pro-life bills will most likely be challenged as the ACLU filed a lawsuit against HB 5 prior to it’s being signed into law and I received a call from the Governor’s legal staff on Friday evening informing me that the courts had already put an injunction on SB 9. The Governor has made it clear he and his staff will defend all pro-life bills in court that have been passed by the Kentucky Legislature and he has signed into law; to be continued.

I was glad to return to the district and assist at the Reality Store at Muhlenberg North Middle School on Friday. It was enjoyable assisting students in their experience at a Real Estate booth, when they had a low income and when they had a higher income, to think about choices and priorities that related to housing. The Reality Store experience had them travel from booth to booth to consider not only housing, but utilities, insurance, groceries, transportation and other expenses a normal household must consider. It is a great example of teaching students about financial literacy which is an essential skill. Great job to the organizers.

I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100 Ext. 686, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov
 
Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District serving Muhlenberg and SE Hopkins Counties which includes White Plains, Morton’s Gap, Anton as well as sections of Nortonville, Earlington and SE Madisonville. She is Vice-Chair of the Health & Family Services Committee as well as the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Health & Family Services. She serves as a member on the Appropriations & Revenue, Education, and Natural Resources & Energy Committees as well as the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Advisory Committee. http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ColonCancer.htm

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