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Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty: Legislative Column

BELTON, KY— Interim Joint Committee (IJC) meetings began on June 1. ICJ meetings always take place between sessions when both Senate and House respective committees meet together to hear information to begin or further conversations about issues that will potentially be addressed in the next session or to follow-up on the effects of legislation enacted in the past.

I attended my first two meetings for this interim, the IJC on Health, Welfare, and Family Services and the IJC on Appropriations and Revenue, on June 2 at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

In Health, Welfare, and Family Services (HW&FS) we heard from various organizations regarding prescription affordability specifically related to diabetes, the rising rates of diabetes in Kentucky, and the infant formula shortage with healthcare providers and state program administrators.

Those with diabetes can consult organizations such as the Diabetes Leadership Council (DLC) or the American Diabetes Association (ADA) for information and tips on how to best meet your insulin needs. Contact information for the DLC is diabetesleadership.org or email contact@diabetesleaderhship.org;  for the ADA go to diabetes.org, @AmDiabetesAssn , or call1-800-DIABETES (342-2383).

The Kentucky Health Department Association (KHDA) shared how they have altered their plans to try and address the formula shortage in the Commonwealth. It is a real issue for those infants who are already well established on formula. A committee member urged young women who are pregnant or considering having babies in the future to educate themselves about the benefits of and consider nursing their babies so that a formula shortage will not affect them moving forward and encouraged health departments to include that in their curriculum if they do not already do so.

In Appropriations and Revenue (A&R), among other things, we received an update on how legislation aimed at eliminating the state personal income tax is being implemented. HB 8 would lower the state’s personal income tax incrementally over a period of years until it is eliminated completely.

Before the rate is lowered, the state must meet preset triggers from a formula based on how much actual revenues exceed expenses plus the dollar value of a 1% drop in income tax. If that trigger is engaged, the personal income tax decreases by half a percentage point. Since the first decrease is measured against Fiscal Year 2021 performance, Kentuckians will see the rate lower to 4.5% on January 1, 2023.

This decrease is expected to leave an estimated $500 million in taxpayer’s pockets to be invested and spent in local communities. According to testimony from legislative committee staff, the Department of Revenue and the Office of the State Budget Director will review the tax reduction conditions and report findings to the A&R Committee by September 5, 2022.

On June 7th I attended the IJC on Education remotely and have been in an ongoing email conversation with Dr. Jason Glass, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, since. I sent him both feedback on his presentation in committee as well as shared with him a teacher constituent’s perspective on testing who is also the mother of a student.

Conversations in the committee meeting were related to reading instruction methods and interventions, teacher shortages along with ideas to promote, recruit, and retain teachers moving forward, and how retired teachers can come back to teach as it relates to their pension.

In the IJC on Natural Resources and Energy on June 9th we discussed emerging trends in energy markets, implications of energy market trends on utility regulations, and the feasibility of nuclear power in Kentucky.

Senator Danny Carroll from the Paducah area sponsored SCR 171 during the 2022 Session, a concurrent resolution looking for both funding sources and potential institutions that could conduct a feasibility study for Kentucky to educate legislators and the public about the possibilities of nuclear energy for Kentucky as well as address any questions and concerns regarding safety as well.

TVA officials updated the committee on their current sources of energy and shared about their past, current and future plans for nuclear in TVA’s mix. I advocated that they continue looking at Paradise when considering any future additions to their fleet.

I was delighted to attend local functions recently. Those included honoring Linda Porter and Larry Howard for their commitment for over thirty years to provide an organized softball league for all ages in the Beechmont/Dunmor area in Muhlenberg County as well as attending the ribbon cutting of the new ADA approved playground equipment at Morgan Memorial Park in Greenville. Providing healthy, engaging opportunities for children, youth, and adults, especially on a volunteer basis, are vital and positive to our communities. The ongoing efforts of Linda and Larry are much appreciated.

Being a former physical therapist who worked with children with physical challenges, the new ADA playground is truly a great, long overdue addition to the park. Hats off to the City and everyone involved, financially or otherwise, to make it a reality.

On a personal note, many of you know that I have been greatly involved in the care of both of my parents since Mother’s Day. We have been trying to find out what is the cause of Dad’s condition and are in a holding pattern to see if he can return to pre-Mother’s Day status of functioning. I appreciate all of your prayers and well wishes and ask for your continued prayers.

 As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless of if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100, Ext. 59010, or via email at melindagibbons.prunty@lrc.ky.gov

Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation by visiting our website at https://legislature.ky.gov and watch both live and recorded meetings on YouTube at KY LRC Committee Meetings or on Kentucky Educational Television at https://ket.org/legislature.

Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District. She is Vice-Chair of both the Health & Family Services Committee and the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Health & Family Services. She serves on the Appropriations & Revenue, Education, and Natural Resources & Energy Committees as well as Medicaid Oversight & Advisory and the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening & Prevention Advisory Committee.

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