Kentucky lawmakers close 2018 General Assembly with flurry of activity
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - —
Kentucky lawmakers have wrapped up this year's legislative session.
The final day of work Saturday included two bills with last-minute changes to spending and tax policies. The bills sped through the Senate and House and are headed to Gov. Matt Bevin. He has authority to veto any of the changes and lawmakers wouldn't be able to attempt an override.
The day included an extraordinary rebuke of Bevin's incendiary remarks toward teachers. The GOP-led Kentucky House approved a pair of resolutions condemning Bevin's comments Friday that children were sexually abused while teachers rallied at the state Capitol.
Lawmakers sifted through a stack of bills to cap a tumultuous session that began in January. The 60-day session will be remembered for massive teacher protests, divisions among ruling Republicans over the budget and tax bills, work on a pension overhaul and a sexual harassment scandal that ensnared then-Speaker Jeff Hoover.
Kentucky lawmakers have killed a proposal that would have let utility companies pay less for the energy they purchase from solar customers.
People with solar panels on their homes generate their own electricity. Sometimes they don't generate enough, so they buy power from the utility company. Sometimes they generate too much, and they sell power to the utility company.
Utility companies are required to buy the power at the same rate they sold it. House bill 227 would have let power companies pay less for the excess energy. Supporters said the bill would make the process fair. Opponents said the bill would kill the fledgling solar power industry in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Senate sent the bill back to committee on the final day of the legislative session.
Kentucky lawmakers have passed a series of last-minute spending and tax policy revisions on the final day of this year's legislative session.
With the clock winding down on the 60-day session, the two measures sped through the Senate and House on Saturday. The bills were described as providing "cleanup language" to the operating budget and revenue bills that lawmakers enacted Friday when they overrode Gov. Matt Bevin's vetoes.
The tax-related measure would, among other things, restore a tax credit available to some of Kentucky's largest manufacturers, including Toyota and GE Appliances. The tax credit was inadvertently cut in recent weeks when lawmakers rushed to pass the tax overhaul.
A key provision in the spending-related measure offers some relief to school districts in Kentucky's economically distressed coal-producing regions. The bill would divide $7 million among 31 school districts, based on how much was lost in unmined minerals tax revenue.
Kentucky lawmakers have grudgingly agreed to fund a high-speed internet project that has been plagued by delays and cost overruns.
The project, dubbed Kentucky Wired, is supposed to build a network of more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cables to bring broadband capability to all of Kentucky's 120 counties.
It was supposed to be finished by now, but state officials think they won't be able to turn the network on until at least 2020.
The delays have cost the state $88 million in unexpected expenses, money the state does not have to spend. Lawmakers agreed Saturday to let the state borrow up to $110 million to pay that debt. And they agreed to continue to fund the project at about $60 million over the next two years.
Gov. Matt Bevin's administration had warned not funding the project would kill it and cost taxpayers up to half a billion dollars.
Kentucky House Democrats have filed a resolution condemning Republican Gov. Matt Bevin for his comments saying children were sexually abused while teachers rallied at the state Capitol.
Friday more than 30 school districts throughout the state closed so teachers could rally at the state Capitol and ask lawmakers to override Bevin's vetoes of the state budget that included increased classroom spending. Lawmakers did override Bevin vetoes and the new spending became law.
Asked about the protests, Bevin said he guaranteed a child who had been left home alone was sexually assaulted because the schools where closed. He also said children likely ingested poison or were introduced to illegal drugs for the first time if they were out of school while teachers rallied in Frankfort.
House resolution 335 would condemn Bevin's comments. It's unclear if the House will act on the resolution.
Kentucky lawmakers have convened for the final day of a tumultuous legislative session.
A day after the GOP-led legislature voted to override Gov. Matt Bevin's vetoes of the main budget bill and a tax measure, lawmakers quickly took up another veto.
The House voted 74-12 Saturday to not fund their pensions. Lawmakers have their own pension system that is separate from other public workers and it is much better funded. Bevin vetoed that provision, saying it makes good politics but not much financial sense.
The effort to override that veto next moves to the Senate.
Lawmakers are expected to take up a few final issues before ending their 60-day session. Those issues include providing funding for road projects and fixing a problem that could cost coal-producing counties millions of dollars.