What can the General Assembly accomplish?

Though it may seem like a rhetorical question to ask “What can the General Assembly accomplish?” in an election year, there is still a significant opportunity for several important measures to pass. That is the Kentucky Chamber’s message to the legislature.  In spite of 2014 being an election year, lawmakers have an opportunity to make the 2014 session of the General Assembly as success. Tuesday, the Chamber’s public affairs team delivered our most recent Legislative Brief: Still time for session to be successful! to all lawmakers. In the brief, we outline specific key pieces of legislation hanging in the balance as the session winds to a close. In addition, we delivered Where We Stand, a comprehensive list of bills for which we have taken a position based on our board-approved legislative agenda.

The Chamber calling on all members to help us urge passage of these critical issues. Citizens can leave a message for their lawmakers quickly and easily by calling 1-800-372-7181 or email their representatives from the Kentucky Chamber’s Public Affairs website.

New study makes the case for telecomm reform

A recently released study by the Digital Policy Institute at Ball State University, Telecom Regulatory Review: Kentucky 2014 (PDF), makes the case that Kentucky need to reform its outdated telecommunication laws.  The study finds that Kentucky’s economy will greatly benefit from removing barriers that delay capital investment in our telecommunications system. In the report, the authors point to SB 99 and how, through its passage, Kentucky can finally begin modernizing its telecommunications policies to sooner realize the benefits that will strengthen and diversify the state’s economy.

The Kentucky Chamber has long supported telecommunications reform to increase investment in technology that is critical for businesses to thrive in the modern economy. Currently Senate Bill 99 has passed the full Senate and a House committee and is waiting for a vote by the full House. Leave a message for your state representative at 1-800-372-7181 to encourage them to pass SB 99 this session.

Budget amended in Senate; conference committee to begin soon

The biennial budget passed the Senate Monday. The Senate budget made a number of changes to reflect their priorities. It adjusted funding for a number of education priorities to restore the 2.5% cuts to higher education. Their budget also reduced the state’s debt burden and structural imbalance significantly. Now a group of Senators and Representatives will convene in a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate budgets. For a breakdown of the key differences between the executive, House and Senate budget, click here.

 

Chamber’s P3 bill one step closer to law

House Bill 407, a key priority of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, passed the Kentucky House on Monday and is moving closer to becoming law. HB 407 would provide opportunities fuel job growth by enabling the use of public-private partnerships – so called P3s – by state and local governments, creating a system in Kentucky that already exists in many states. A public-private partnership is a contract between a public entity, such as a state or local government, and a private business, under which the business builds a project or provides a service for the public. Any financial risk during the construction and/or operation of the project is assumed by the private business.

The Kentucky Chamber released its comprehensive P3 report last summer to educate policymakers and the public on the importance of allowing the private sector to help government on public projects. HB 407 mirrors closely the recommendations of the Chamber report. Among other things, the legislation would:

  • Encourage competition for innovative private sector investments in the Commonwealth;
  • Establish reliable procedures that encourage such private sector investments;
  • Allow for the use of public-private partnerships at a state and local level; and
  • Promote transparency and accountability in project delivery.

P3s have been used in over 30 states for decades, including all of Kentucky’s surrounding states. P3s aren’t limited to state projects; they can also save taxpayers money at the local level.

“We are very pleased with the bipartisan support HB 407 received in the House,” said Adkisson. “The Kentucky Chamber and more than 20 business groups from across Kentucky support this legislation. We look forward to working with the Senate to help pass comprehensive P3 legislation this session.”

To support the passage of P3 legislation, the Chamber is running a positive media campaign in support of HB 407. As part of this effort, the Chamber has launched a P3 Action Alert on their updated Public Affairs website to make it easy for the public to voice support for this important legislation.

Healthcare and business groups launch ad campaign supporting medical malpractice reform

Members of the Care First Kentucky Coalition, including the Kentucky Chamber, have launched an ad campaign to spread public awareness and support for Senate Bill 119, commonsense legislation to protect all Kentucky caregivers from meritless lawsuits.

The focus of the advertisements, which include TV, radio and digital ads running across the Commonwealth, is to encourage the House of Representatives to take up the bill during the 2014 Legislative Session and finally give it a vote. Similar legislation has been proposed in past sessions, and each year the House has failed to act.

“The growing number of meritless lawsuits filed against caregivers increases healthcare costs for all Kentuckians,” said Dave Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “For far too long, personal injury lawyers—many from outside Kentucky—have treated our caregivers like their personal ATM machines. It needs to stop.  That’s why the Kentucky Chamber supports this effort to increase support for Medical Review Panel legislation and help fix our broken medical malpractice liability system.”

Kentucky’s healthcare and business communities are taking a stand to protect all caregivers against aggressive personal injury lawyers and meritless lawsuits that divert precious resources away from patient care and into lawyers’ pockets. The Coalition supports the creation of medical review panels (MRPs) to provide an independent, expert review of proposed claims against health care providers.

This process would not only weed out frivolous claims, but strengthen and expedite legitimate claims, putting squarely putting the focus of healthcare where it belongs, on patients, not lawsuits.

Watch the television ad here:

Listen to the radio ad here:

Advertisements as a part of this ad campaign were paid for by the Kentucky Chamber and the Kentucky Medical Association.

Chamber board chair touts early childhood programs at Capitol news conference

Image

Kentucky Chamber Chairwoman Elizabeth McCoy, president of Planter’s Bank in Hopkinsville, stood alongside Gov. Steve Beshear and Stu Silberman, executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, during a news conference in Frankfort last week urging support for quality early childhood care and education programs.

The news conference was held in response to a recent report by America’s Edge that shows investments in early childhood programs provide a significant economic boost for businesses and help develop a skilled workforce.

“Looking longer-term, we know that today’s 4-year-olds are the workforce of tomorrow,” said McCoy. “Every child who enters the workforce with the skills Kentucky businesses need will help our state and our communities stay competitive in an increasingly challenging global marketplace.”

The America’s Edge report shows investments in high-quality early care and education programs can generate immediate sales of local goods and services, attract workers, create jobs and aid in long-term economic security in Kentucky. ReadyNation/America’s Edge is a national organization of business leaders who support proven education investments that strengthen businesses and the economy.

“This report supports what we are doing in Kentucky to focus our time and resources on early childhood education. These efforts not only assist our communities but also begin preparing our future workforce at an early age,” Gov. Beshear said. “Kentucky has made enormous progress in creating a seamless, cradle-to-career education system that is better preparing students for a complex world. We must continue to partner with education, business, and state and local leaders to maintain our progress and to highlight the information in this and other studies.”

The news conference was hosted by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Stu Silberman, the Committee’s executive director, noted that specific findings of the report include:

  • For every dollar invested in early care and education, an additional 64 cents are generated for a total of $1.64 in new spending in Kentucky;
  • Inversely, cuts to programs hurt businesses by eliminating 64 cents in additional new spending for every dollar cut;
  • The return outperforms investments in other sectors, including construction, transportation, retail and wholesale trade and manufacturing;
  • In addition to the economic boost brought by the new spending, investments in early learning help build stronger communities over the long term.

Silberman praised Gov. Beshear’s leadership, saying the Governor’s “commitment to quality early childhood programs has been evident in both word and deed since he took office.” He also called on the General Assembly to enact a 2014-16 state budget that includes the Governor’s proposed increases in funding for early childhood care and education programs.

Urgent Action Alert: Stop workers’ compensation cost increases

The Kentucky Senate Leadership is pushing a proposal that would add costs to all businesses by driving up workers’ compensation premiums in order to appeal to the narrow special interests of lawyers who profit from our workers’ compensation system. This does nothing to make the system more fair for employers or the injured workers. It is just a way to reward lawyers who take a cut from the claims.

  • SB 137 will DOUBLE attorney fees to $24,000.
  • SB 137 will encourage trial attorneys to reopen litigation against employers by doubling the lawyer fees to reopen a case.
  • SB 137 will drive up workers’ compensation insurance premium costs for all Kentucky employers.
  • SB 137 is an unfunded mandate on Kentucky’s local governments and school districts.

The Chamber reacted quickly to the Senate action with a strong letter of objection and has been rallying other business groups to join us in our opposition. If you can spare just two minutes this week to save your company money, leave a brief message for your Senator at 1-800-372-7181 and tell them to OPPOSE SENATE BILL 137.

You may also take action by visiting our Workers’ Comp Action Alert and tell the State Senate to Reject Senate Bill 137 and OPPOSE higher workers’ compensation cost mandates.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers

%d bloggers like this: