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Higdon: State lawmakers’ work continues through summer months

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Friday, May 31, 2019 — It’s nearly summertime! Time for a break from school in addition to barbecues, baseball and maybe a vacation. But June also marks the start of the interim period for the Kentucky General Assembly.

SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

That’s a time when standing committees of both chambers come together to form interim joint committees. For instance, the transportation committees of the House and Senate become the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation.

Interim committees discuss and study issues in-depth and prefiled bills for the next regular session. This enables standing committees to start the session with a familiarity of the issues before them.

This year the General Assembly is trying something new with the interim committee schedule. All committees will meet during the same week. This should make it more convenient for constituents to participate. All interim committees are open to the public and the press so the people have an opportunity to express views on areas the proposed legislation will affect.

I will be co-chair of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation and sit on the interim joint committees on licensing, occupations and administrative regulations; veterans, military affairs and public protection; economic development and workforce investment; tourism, small business and information technology; education; transportation; and economic development, small business and information technology.

In addition to pension funding, some of the issues the interim committees will examine for the 2020 regular session include the state’s budget for the next two fiscal years, funding the School Safety and Resiliency Act (Senate Bill 1), education, health care, continuing tax reform, transportation, the drug crisis, jail and justice reforms, medical marijuana and voting rights.

I’m also co-chair of the Public Pension Oversight Board that meets throughout the entire year in addition to being a member of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Administrative Committee and Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee.

As you read this article, we may very well be in a special session – or close to starting one.

Time is running out to make changes to quasi-governmental agencies’ contribution rates to the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KERS) before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. These agencies, like regional universities, local health departments and mental health boards, face a 70 percent increase in their required contributions to KERS after the governor vetoed a bill that would have provided relief to these agencies.

The measure, known as House Bill 358, would have given these agencies a chance to leave KERS as of June 30 of next year by paying their unfunded liability to the system in a lump sum or installments.

It’s hard to believe that the 2020 Session is only seven months away. Because it falls during an even year, it will be a 60-day budget session that starts on Jan. 7. I encourage anyone to share their thoughts with me on the issues I’ve mentioned or other topics you feel should be taken up next regular session. My office is always open.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, represents the 14th District that encompasses Casey, Marion, Nelson and Spencer counties as well a portion of Jefferson County including Fern Creek and Jeffersontown. He can be reached by calling his office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100, his home in Lebanon at 270-692-6945 or emailing him at senatorhigdon@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @SenatorJimmy.

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