Education, pro-business, public pension and tax reform legislation await lawmakers when they return to Frankfort in February

01/10/2017 02:49 PM

ERLANGER – While the General Assembly passed seven priority bills during the first five days of the 2017 session, look for action to take place concerning a number of key pieces of legislation when the House and Senate reconvene on February 7, according to three panelists who attended a Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce forum in Erlanger on Tuesday.

Leading lobbyist and former state auditor and secretary of state Bob Babbage, Jeff Busick of McCarthy Strategic Solutions, and Greater Louisville, Inc. COO Sarah Davasher-Wisdom traveled to northern Kentucky to talk about what the General Assembly has done so far in 2017 and what will happen when lawmakers return to Frankfort in February.

Babbage believes that education will be an area which should generate legislation because it has a strong lobbyist base and it’s something that most lawmakers feel comfortable with.

“Expect university discussion and university boards to be a topic, expect other aspects of kindergarten through the 12th grade, and also the pre-K discussion that comes up concerning how much more can the state do,” Babbage said.

Babbage is also quick to point out that not all priority legislation made it through the first week including bills which would establish charter schools.

“That’s a complex issue in terms of how it affects the whole state,” Babbage said. “That’s been around awhile. We’ve read it, we know it, but different people have different opinions and a lot of those opinions are formed by folks back home.”

Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, sees charter schools as well as pro-business legislation on the horizon in February including a bill that he’s working on in the area of workers compensation reform.

“It will be business friendly, but really not affect workers very much,” Koenig said. “There’s just a lot of additional burdens that go on that are unnecessary that drive up costs for businesses.”

One area which figures to be dealt with in 2017, but not during the 30-day session, is pension and tax reform.

Babbage and Busick believe that will be saved for a special session, but Babbage feels that it will require a lot of preliminary work before that session takes place.

“Getting this right and getting this worked on in advance is imperative,” Babbage said.“We have to turn the attention to getting a consensus. This is not easy to do or it would have already been done.”

“It’s a massive undertaking,” Busick said. “The public pensions unfunded liability is really $82 million. “There’s going to have to be a lot more money into state government to fix the problem.”

The forum was part of the chambers monthly Eggs and Issues event where a topic relevant to to the interests of chamber members is discussed.


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