(KY) SENATOR DAVID GIVENS’ LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

For Immediate Release

April 6, 2018

SENATOR DAVID GIVENS’ LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

After a productive 58th day of the 2018 Legislative Session that saw the passing of several significant bills to benefit the Commonwealth, we have now entered a 10-day “veto recess” where Governor Matt Bevin will have the opportunity to sign and veto bills passed by the Kentucky General Assembly. The most significant measures to pass on Monday, April 2, were a budget and a revenue bill that will dictate how our state collects and appropriates funding for the next two years.

Some of the budget highlights included historical funding levels for state education, including record-high SEEK per-pupil funding, in addition to funding SEEK transportation at historic levels. All the charter school funding language was also removed from the budget. We fully funded the Department of Veterans Affairs and the State Police and shored up our state’s pension systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System, by fully funding them. This bill also ensures that retired teachers will see no health care premium increases or coverage decreases. Lastly, there are raises for our social workers who are on the front lines of taking care of our state’s most vulnerable.

Kentucky’s ailing pension systems have commanded significant funding increases in recent years and in order to honor our commitment to our retirement systems, we needed to come up with some added revenue to protect other vital government entities from funding reductions. Our approach decreased Kentucky’s tax income rate while broadening the tax base, a shift to a more consumption-based tax system which relies more on spending habits. This allows Kentuckians to keep more of their hard-earned income.

People have expressed concern to me that HB 366, the state’s revenue bill that also includes tax reform, raises the income tax on Kentucky’s most vulnerable. This is simply not the case. This proposal creates a flat income tax of five percent. If you make less than 133 percent of the poverty level (roughly around $18,000 or less) you are exempt from paying income taxes. If you make between $18,000-$75,000, your tax income tax rate will be lowered from 5.8 percent to five percent, keeping more money in the pockets of hard-working Kentuckians.

These are just a few of the biennium budget highlights, but ultimately our focus remained on fully funding education, providing for our public protectors, and ensuring our pension systems are fully funded. In our budget bill, we dedicated approximately $3.3 billion in funding, nearly 14 percent of the total budget, to help fund these ailing pension systems. We made a promise to our state employees, and these two bills help us keep that promise.

In addition to passing the Commonwealth’s budget and revenue bills, we passed a number of other measures this week. House Bill 1 is a comprehensive overhaul of Kentucky’s foster care and adoption system. More than 8,600 Kentucky children are now in foster care and awaiting permanent homes, and the need for such reform has been obvious for a long time. House Bill 1 includes major provisions that would expand the definition of blood relative for child placement.

The legislation would also require more case reviews for each child in foster care, create a “putative father registry” so that a child’s possible (but not verified) biological father can be notified of the child’s prospective adoption, and allow the state to seek termination of parental rights for new mothers who will not seek drug treatment after giving birth to a drug-addicted baby.

Senate changes to HB 1 that made it into the final bill include provisions that would protect a mother from losing her parental rights if she was properly prescribed and using medication that could have caused her newborn’s addiction. The amended bill would also clarify that foster parents and child placement agencies be given a 10-day notice before a foster child is reunited with his or her birth parents or placed in a new home.

Senate Bill 5 was also given final passage this week. This bill levels the playing field for small-town, locally-owned pharmacies. Senate Bill 5, as amended by the House, would make the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services in charge of setting the reimbursement rates for a pharmacist. The rate is currently set by pharmacy-benefit managers (PBMs) hired by the state’s Medicaid managed-care organizations (MCOs). Kentucky Medicaid spends $1.7 billion annually on prescriptions and SB 5 would help authorities track that money and determine whether locally-owned pharmacies were being reimbursed fairly.

We also passed House Bill 362, which allows for the phase-in of increased pension costs for local governments. Recently, the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board adjusted their assumptions to require cities, counties, and other quasi-governmental entities to increase their pension contributions. If those increased pension contribution costs were not phased in over time, several of these local governments would be at risk of bankruptcy.

Passage of major pension reform legislation in recent weeks allowed us to justify the decision to allow counties and cities to phase-in these costly pension contributions, which was the language passed in House Bill 362. While this measure represented a win for local governments and quasi-governmental entities, it reiterated the need for raising revenue through tax reform, as we did in House Bill 366.

There are only two days left in the 2018 Regular Session. We will reconvene for those final two days on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14. Kentucky’s constitution requires the General Assembly to be adjourned by April 15, and since April 15 is a Sunday and we cannot constitutionally meet that day, we must finish the state’s business by midnight on April 14. It has been an honor to represent you and our district in Frankfort, and I thank you for engaging in the legislative process.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.  You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

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Note:  Senator David Givens (R-Greensburg) represents the 9th District including Allen, Barren, Green, Metcalfe, Monroe and Simpson Counties.  He serves as a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Agriculture Committee, the Education Committee, the Enrollment Committee, and the Health and Welfare Committee. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator Givens, please log onto http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/portraits/senate09.jpg.

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(KY) SENATOR DAVID GIVENS’ LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

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For Immediate Release

February 23, 2018

SENATOR DAVID GIVENS’ LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

After weeks of anticipation and months of discussions and meetings with stakeholders, the Kentucky Senate Majority Caucus filed its comprehensive pension reform bill as Senate Bill (SB) 1 on Tuesday, February 20.  While SB 1 marked the filing of one of the most significant pieces of legislation of the 2018 Session, we continued to hold committee meetings and voted bills out of the Senate chamber, making for another busy week in Frankfort.

In addressing our pension crisis, our goal was to balance the harsh reality of the fiscal health of the retirement systems with the expectations of current public employees, teachers, and retirees.  We worked to do just that while respecting the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, many of whom do not have a retirement plan of any kind.  I am proud to report that Senate Bill 1 is a data-driven plan that reflects hard work, numerous revisions, and most importantly, input from public employees.  We listened to your feedback and this plan reflects that.

This massive $40 billion pension problem occurred due to a combination of factors, such as failed promises by previous administrations to fund pensions at the level requested by the retirement systems, the Great Recession from 2008 to 2012, and pension board mismanagement of administrative costs, investments, and a failure to meet projected returns.  However, this new approach finally puts our state on the path to solvency.

This plan does not place any future state employees into a defined contribution, or a 401(k)-style, retirement plan, and it will not force any current or future state employees into a 401(k) plan.  It will not create a retirement “cliff” by preventing current employees or teachers from accruing more service credit in their defined benefit plan.

Most importantly, this proposal solves Kentucky’s $40 billion unfunded pension problem by changing how state government funds pensions.  Kentucky will convert to a “level dollar funding formula” which means the unfunded liability will be completely paid off within thirty years by making a large payment each year—just like paying off your home mortgage.  Under this funding plan, the retirement systems will receive hundreds of millions more in funding each year, going above and beyond the minimum payment to more quickly pay down the debt.  I look forward to continuing the pension discussion as the bill moves through the legislative process.

One of the first pieces of legislation we passed this week was Senate Resolution 149, which recognizes the role the hospitality industry can play in disrupting child sex trafficking and encouraging residents, employees, and agencies to use hotels and venues which are signatories of the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct, known as The Code.  The Code is a voluntary multi-stakeholder initiative with the mission to provide awareness, tools, and support to the tourism industry to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.

We also passed a number of other bills in the Senate this week: Senate Bill 119 lays out the legal carcass disposal methods for cervid (deer) meat processors; Senate Bill 149 and SB 126 are both reorganization bills for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; Senate Bill 109 updates the statutory definition of rape; and House Bill 74 aims to deter the resell of stolen goods to pawnbrokers by making the pawnbrokers’ registers more transparent and requiring secondhand merchandise sold to a pawnbroker to be held a minimum of 12 days before being resold.

The budget is still in the hands of the House of Representatives, but we expect to receive it in the Senate in the coming weeks.  We have already begun an intensive review process, and once it is in our possession, we will continue that process while making our own changes.  It is a lengthy and strenuous process, but I am confident that the final product will be fiscally responsible while ensuring sufficient funding for our critical programs.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.  You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

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Note:  Senator David Givens (R-Greensburg) represents the 9th District including Allen, Barren, Green, Metcalfe, Monroe and Simpson Counties.  He serves as a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Agriculture Committee, the Education Committee, the Enrollment Committee, and the Health and Welfare Committee. For a high-resolution .jpeg of Senator Givens, please log onto http://www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/portraits/senate09.jpg.

(3/10/17) Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens Week in Review

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

A flurry of activity stemming from committee meetings and the passage of bills marked a short but intense Week 6 of the Kentucky General Assembly. Although the Senate was only in session from Monday to Wednesday of this week, committee meetings still met during the later part of the week to give final hearings to a few select bills.

Quite a few pieces of legislation have already made it to Governor Bevin’s desk to await his signature. Senate Bill 17, relating to student rights to political and religious speech, was given final passage by the House this week. Senate Bill 101 would allow pharmacists to administer more immunizations to children, and Senate Bill 117, allowing veterans who meet certain criteria to obtain special teaching certificates, were also finally passed by the House.

The Senate also enrolled House bills to be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature, including: House Bill 14, which makes committing an offense against a first responder a hate crime; House Bill 93, strengthening penalties for assaulting a law enforcement animal, also known as “Ernie’s Law”; and House Bill 189, increasing transparency within area development districts.

Senate Bill 50 would allow school districts that choose to start the school year no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 to follow a “variable student instructional year.” Schools which start the school year a little later in August than other schools, would not have to meet a 170-day requirement for the school year, as long as students still receive 1,062 hours of instruction each year, which is considered the equivalent of 170 school days. Senate Bill 50 was passed by the Senate 33-1 on February 9 and approved 77-18 by the House on March 8. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Senate legislation that would allow medical review panels to review medical malpractice lawsuits before they go to court was also sent to the Governor last week.  Senate Bill 4 would establish a process for medical review panels to review cases and issue opinions that could be used as evidence in court if a case proceeds. It does not prevent any citizen’s access to the courts. The bill was approved by the Senate 23-13 on January 5 and approved 51-45 by the House on March 1. It was delivered to the Governor on March 6.

The General Assembly is now quickly approaching the end of the 2017 Session. We adjourned on March 8, marking day 26 of 30 of the session, and we will reconvene again on March 14 and 15 before going into the veto period. During that period the Governor has the power to veto bills, but the General Assembly can override vetoes on the last two days of session, March 29 and 30.  If you have questions about the status of bills, please feel free to contact my office or review the Legislative Record online which can be found at www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/record.htm.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

David Givens

Senate President Pro Tem

Bill would dip into tourism funding

  • BY GINA KINSLOW gkinslow@glasgowdailytimes.com
  • Feb 29, 2016

     

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    GLASGOW — A piece of legislation now being considered by the State Senate will allow a restaurant tax of 3 percent or less to be levied on all cities and merged governments, and for the revenue collected from the tax to be distributed between the tax jurisdiction and the relevant tourist and convention commission.

    Currently, Kentucky Revised Statute 91A.400 only allows fourth and fifth class cities to levy a restaurant tax that is not to exceed 3 percent of the retails sales made by the cities’ restaurants. All revenue collected from the tax is to be appropriated to the tourist and convention commission established by the city.

    If Senate Bill 166 passes, only 25 percent of the tax revenue will go to the tourist and convention commissions.

    The Kentucky League of Cities supports the legislation, and according to J.D. Chaney, deputy executive director of the organization, cities are having a difficult time handing over monies generated by the levying of restaurant taxes to non-elected boards, such as the tourist and convention commissions, which make decisions on promotional efforts for tourism.

    “They (cities) actually want to construct something, operate something and maintain something that is useful to draw people into their communities and benefit their citizens,” he said. “We think it restores accountability back to the elected officials. … It also eliminates the net profits and gross receipts tax which are paid by the restaurants if the cities elects, it doesn’t require them to enact (a restaurant tax).

    “So they would be choosing, if (cities) enact a restaurant tax, they can no longer collect net profits or gross receipts occupational taxes directly from the restaurant.”

    Chaney continued that the state has no compensation-based taxation element in the menu of options beside the restaurant tax.

    “This provides an element to also collect revenues from people coming into the community who don’t necessarily live there, which is also an attractive revenue option for cities,” he said.

    Not all favor the proposal

    Officials with the Kentucky Travel Industry Association are opposed to Senate Bill 166.

    “This is not the first time that legislation has been introduced and so the Kentucky Travel Industry Association has maintained a longstanding opposition to it, and the key and core reason is the bill says that up to 75 percent of restaurant tax money can be taken by the cities and city governments,” said Hank Phillips, president and CEO of KTIA. “A part of the bill is intended to make all cities eligible for the restaurant tax, and if that were to occur tourism commissions that got 25 percent of that tax in cities that enacted it, they would probably be happy with it, … however, what is the element within the bill that we find impossible to support is that the over 40 cities that already have the tax, the tourism commissions would be subject to a 75 percent reduction of their restaurant tax funds.”

    Phillips continued that it is very important to understand why the restaurant tax exists, and why it was enacted, which he said was for only the small towns to have.

    “The reason is the other source of revenue for funding local tourism efforts is a hotel tax. Typically, a fourth- and fifth-class have a relatively few number of hotels and hotel rooms from which to generate that tourism marketing money, so at a point in the past, quite a long time ago, the legislature said we need to help them generate some additional revenue to promote tourism in the small towns so let’s put in a restaurant tax that only the small towns are eligible for,” Phillips said.

    “The restaurant tax is absolutely dedicated to tourism and on that basis all of those moneys go to the tourism entity in the small town. That’s why these small tourism commissions, many of them if not most, would be devastated by a 75 percent reduction in their primary funding source.”

    Tourism reaction

    One area tourist commission that would be affected by the legislation if it is passed is the Munfordville Tourism Commission.

    Coni Shepperd, executive director of the Munfordville Tourism Commission, said she is hoping to work with Munfordville Mayor John Freeman on the issue. The Munfordville Tourism Commission is funded only by the city’s restaurant tax.

    “That would probably put us out of business,” she said. “We hope it goes nowhere.”

    The legislation would also affect the Cave City Tourism and Convention Commission.

    The Cave City City Council voted in June 2015 voted to raise the city’s restaurant tax from 1 to 3 percent. A portion of the tax revenue is used to fund a grant program to which local business owners can apply and use the money to promote their businesses, or for signage or beautification.

    “As a part of that, the tourist commission agreed to give a third of those funds to the city of Cave City,” said Sharon Tabor, executive director of the Cave City Tourism and Convention Commission. “That’s how we are getting the money for the 150th anniversary and the concert series.”

    The city of Cave City is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, and as part of the celebration a concert series featuring performances by jazz pianist Bee Gee Adair, who is originally from Cave City, and bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs will be held.

    “If for some reason the restaurant tax initiative is approved by the House and the Senate, and if Cave City government decides to take that 75 percent that would take all of the increased tax money, plus a portion that we use for the convention center’s maintenance and upkeep,” Tabor said.

    Likely to move ahead?

    The sponsor of SB 166 is Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea. According to Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, there’s a “significant” restaurant/tourism industry in the Berea/Richmond area and that is why Carpenter introduced the legislation.

    Givens said he believes Carpenter did so more or less to start a conversation than to see if the legislation would move all the way through the state legislature.

    The bill was introduced on Feb. 9 and sent to the State Senate’s Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Feb. 11.

    Givens does not anticipate the bill moving out of committee at this point.

    “It would be unusual in a budget session for us to pass a piece of legislation like that (because) the focus is going to be on the budget,” Givens said.

    As for whether he would ever support such a piece of legislation, Givens said, “I’m open to the conversation if it is part of a tax revenue neutral package. As a stand alone piece of legislation, it’s a little hard to support.”

    “Communities right now have some tools in the tool box to raise local revenues. A lot of those tools are either being under utilized because locals don’t want to vote a tax increase, or they are simply not feeling the need to raise taxes locally. So some of these pieces of legislation are actually efforts to cause us to give them a way to avoid making a tough vote. If locals want to raise taxes, they’ve got the ability to do it and they have the multiple means already.”

    CONTINUE READING…

    http://www.lrc.state.ky.us/record/16RS/SB166/bill.pdf

  • Floor votes, committee hearings, and spirited debate highlighted an action-packed second week of session in the Kentucky Senate

    Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
    Week in Review

    Floor votes, committee hearings, and spirited debate highlighted an action-packed second week of session in the Kentucky Senate. Guests from all corners of the Commonwealth were welcomed to Frankfort to speak on behalf of various bills.

    The Senate began passing bills on Thursday, headlined by Senate Bill (SB) 9, a measure to repeal the prevailing wage requirement on public school projects with a cost of over $250,000. Passage of this priority legislation will reduce construction costs on large-scale school projects, thus providing additional funding for education.

    On Thursday we were visited by hundreds of young and energetic faces celebrating Children’s Advocacy Day, sponsored by Kentucky Youth Advocates. The group hosted a rally in the Capitol Rotunda where several Senate majority members were recognized for their efforts in standing up for Kentucky’s children.

    From Senate committee meetings this week, two of our priority bills—SB 4 and SB 10—were reported favorably. SB 4 would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure as a measure to help further promote the value of life. SB 10 would move statewide elections to even-numbered years, thus promoting greater voter turnout and saving the Commonwealth money.

    Senate Bill 72, which clarifies when the Executive Branch must come before the Legislature to make appropriations and protects the separation of powers in state government, also passed out of the Licensing and Occupation Committee this week.

    The Health and Welfare Committee passed SB 20, which would create an appeals process for Medicaid claims denied by a managed care organization, and SB 33, which would require students to receive CPR training one time while enrolled in grades 7-12.

    Senate Bill 56, which would extend the look-back window for DUI’s from five years to ten, and SB 60, which would add further protections for vulnerable victims of sex crimes, were both reported out of the Judiciary Committee this week.

    In the Education Committee, SB 52 passed, which would allow veterans to receive a provisional teaching certificate after meeting certain criteria. The same committee also passed SB 81, which would require the Department of Education to create a system identifying students with military parents or families in order to ensure these families receive any veteran’s benefits available to them.

    As we look forward to another busy week of session, I am proud of the bipartisan demeanor displayed thus far in the Senate. I will continue to commit myself to legislation that will move our Commonwealth forward.

    If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

    David Givens
    State Senator