Legislative Update by C.B. Embry, Jr.
Legislation to Help Victims of Tornadoes Highlights Busy Next to Last Week in Session
FRANKFORT, Ky. – With only days remaining in the 2012 Legislative Session, the pace of consideration and approval of bills picked up this past week.
At the top of the list of bills passed in the House is one that offers a tax rebate to those who were greatly impacted by recent tornadoes that struck the Commonwealth. House Bill 165, of which I am a proud co-sponsor, provides individuals and businesses in the 21 counties declared Federal disaster areas from the February 29th and March 2nd storms to receive a refund on the sales tax charged on building supplies.
Numerous homes and businesses in areas like Morgan, Magoffin, Kenton and Russell County were severely damaged during these storms, and we in the House recognize that the road to recovery can be long. I’m pleased that we came together in a bi-partisan manner and placed the lives of our people above partisanship in passing this legislation quickly.
The continued debate over whether to make pseudoephedrine available by prescription moved to the House Judiciary Committee this past week. Senate Bill 3, which would place limits on the amount of pseudoephedrine a person could purchase without a prescription, was passed by a vote of 10-4. Under the bill if a person exceeded the monthly amount they could only purchase pseudoephedrine with a doctor’s prescription.
Advocates of Senate Bill 3 say the legislation is needed to combat the methamphetamine trade in rural parts of Kentucky that is tearing apart families and in some instances leading to deaths, while opponents argue the bill punishes law abiding citizens for the criminal actions of others and believe this bill is taking the eventual step of making pseudoephedrine a prescription only medication. It remains to be seen whether Senate Bill 3 will be voted on by the full House in the remaining days of the session.
Another bill that was debated but not voted upon was Senate Bill 1, which was discussed in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee. Senate Bill 1 proposed to cap Kentucky’s debt service ratio at six percent. In other words Senate Bill 1 would make sure our debt service shall be no more than six percent of what we do take in.
Senate Bill 1 is good fiscal policy and a responsible way for Kentucky to reduce its debt. Passing a bill like this, along with tackling real comprehensive tax reform, is the path we need to take to make our Commonwealth more financially responsible to you the taxpayer. Many of you have tightened your belts during these tough economic times, and there is no reason why we cannot follow your example.
Next week should be a busy one for us in the General Assembly as we should receive the budget bills from the Senate. Depending on if the other chamber makes any significant changes to the budget bills to the executive and transportation budgets will determine when we select a conference committee of House and Senate members to potentially iron out an agreement.
As always, I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached at home at (270) 526-6237, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. A taped message containing information on legislative committee meeting schedules is available by calling 1-800-633-9650, and information on the status of each bill is available by calling 1-866-840-2835. If you have Internet access, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you may keep track of legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.