Piggyback bill phase begins: Senate panel adds overweight truck bill, lifting of nuclear moratorium to House bills

03/18/2014 09:03 AM

The 2014 General Assembly has hit the bargaining phase with senators attaching two bills they’ve been pushing for to popular House bills that enjoy bipartisan support.

The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee tacked on a bill that would increase the permitted weight of agriculture trucks by 10 percent to a House measure aimed at lowering taxes on classic car owners who restored their vehicles.

The move didn’t go over well with Rep. Hubie Collins, D-Wittensville, who chairs the House Transportation Committee and has shelved the original overweight truck bill — Senate Bill 44 — in his committee. Collins sponsored the classic car tax bill and wasn’t aware of the Senate substitute until after he presented his bill Tuesday morning to the Senate budget committee.

It passed 11-0 with Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, and Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville passing. Jones said Eastern Kentuckians know all too well the damage heavy coal trucks can do in a car accident and said he doesn’t want to see more heavier trucks on Kentucky roads.

Nuclear moratorium lift gets new life

Similarly, the Senate budget committee, chaired by independent Sen. Bob Leeper of Paducah, also attached Leeper’s bill to lift the moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants to a measure designed to provide tax incentives to companies that make major infrastructure investments.

That bill, House Bill 483, has support of the northeastern Kentucky delegation, who say it could help AK Steel construct a new blast furnace.

Leeper has been pushing to lift the roadblocks in Kentucky law to construction of nuclear power plants for years. He is retiring this session and told Pure Politics, he’s “not ready to pass the torch” to another lawmaker quite yet on that issue. Many coal-area legislators have opposed lifting the moratorium because they see it as eroding Kentucky’s reliance on coal.

Even with the combination of the nuclear moratorium provision on the AK Steel bill, the measure easily passed the committee 12-0 on Tuesday with only Jones passing. However, several Democrats said they were voting for the legislation reluctantly because of the nuclear provisions.

Those forced legislative marriages likely will force conference committees or stalemates between the House and Senate should these two bills pass the Senate and go back to the House.

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