Capitol Watch

CERS Contribution Rates Approved as Renewed Call For Phase-In is Dismissed

CERS Contribution Rates Approved as Renewed Call For Phase-In is Dismissed  The KRS Board of Trustees approved employer contribution rates that will result in a $108 million increase for Kentucky cities. We have comparison charts and a city-by-city analysis. The Thursday vote came after some Board members asked once again for a phase-in of the changes.


KRS Audit Finds KERS Drives up Administrative Expenses; CERS Payroll & Investments Bring in More Money

KRS Audit Finds KERS Drives up Administrative Expenses; CERS Payroll & Investments Bring in More MoneyA final FY 2017 audit of the Kentucky Retirement Systems will be presented Thursday at the KRS Board of Trustee's meeting. Preliminary information released Monday at a committee hearing shows CERS performing above expectations.


KLC Presents 2018 Legislative Agenda

KLC Presents 2018 Legislative AgendaEverything from CERS separation to newspaper publication requirements and modernization of the state's road funding formula was addressed Wednesday morning when the Kentucky League of Cities outlined its 2018 Legislative Agenda to the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government.


Kentucky Focus of Federal Opioid Discussions

Kentucky Focus of Federal Opioid DiscussionsThe U.S. Attorney General and DEA announced a new DEA field division in Louisville this week, as Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley testifies before a Senate Committee about the impact of opioids on the commonwealth.


Kentucky Work Matters Task Force Finalizing Recommendations

Kentucky Work Matters Task Force Finalizing RecommendationsThe task force, announced by Governor Bevin in June, held its final meeting this week to review a draft of its report and recommendations. Members of the group also discussed possible obstacles, including the state's pension problems.


Federal Tax Overhaul a Mixed Bag for Cities

Federal Tax Overhaul a Mixed Bag for CitiesTax reform has been the topic of conversation on Capitol Hill, with Republican leadership in the House and Senate debating various proposals. We've compiled a list of key issues being discussed that could impact cities.


Kentucky Committee Told $50 Million Still Needed to Repair Local Airports

Kentucky Committee Told $50 Million Still Needed to Repair Local AirportsThe Transportation Cabinet's Department of Aviation told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue it will need another $20 million over the next two fiscal years to continue fixing airports in cities across the state.


Federal Appropriations Process Still Not Complete

Federal Appropriations Process Still Not CompleteWe're two months into the federal Fiscal Year 2018 and there is still no regular appropriations bills. The continuing resolution passed by Congress in October is set to expire December 8. How could a government shutdown impact cities?


House Passes Bipartisan Brownfields Reauthorization

House Passes Bipartisan Brownfields ReauthorizationThe U.S. House of Representatives has approved legislation to reauthorize the brownfields remediation program within the EPA. Kentucky has an estimated 8,000 brownfields throughout the commonwealth.


Legislators Question if Drug Epidemic Leading to Infant Deaths in Kentucky

Legislators Question if Drug Epidemic Leading to Infant Deaths in KentuckyRepresentatives from the Department for Public Health testified Wednesday about the growing number of sudden unexpected infant deaths in Kentucky. Several lawmakers questioned if the state is doing enough to protect newborns from drug dependent parents.


Transportation Cabinet Testifies Road Fund Income Falling Short

Transportation Cabinet Testifies Road Fund Income Falling ShortThe House Working Group on Kentucky's Transportation Infrastructure heard Tuesday about outdated fees and formulas that have resulted in a state Road Fund that's in need of repair. One update KLC supports is a fairer allocation of local motor fuels tax income.


Preliminary Analysis of Kentucky Pension Reform Bill Not Released

Preliminary Analysis of Kentucky Pension Reform Bill Not ReleasedDespite the actuarial analysis of the pension reform bill being on the agenda for Monday's Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees meeting, it was not released. The Board did, however, hear from a consulting firm that reported good Fiscal Year 2017 returns for CERS.


Kentucky Office of Homeland Security Says Local Security Program in the Works

Kentucky Office of Homeland Security Says Local Security Program in the WorksHomeland Security Executive Director John Holiday testified Thursday before an Interim Joint Committee about current budget needs and future programs. The Office also provided information on the 911 Services Board, which was reassigned to Homeland Security by an executive order issued by Governor Bevin.


Transportation Cabinet Says Kentucky Cities Need Constitutional Amendment for Riverports

Transportation Cabinet Says Kentucky Cities Need Constitutional Amendment for RiverportsAn engineer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet told legislators at a Tuesday hearing that a section of the state constitution limits contracts with businesses looking to move into a city riverport.


State Budget Director Testifies CERS Employers Funded Above ARC

State Budget Director Testifies CERS Employers Funded Above ARCState Budget Director John Chilton testified Thursday before the Public Pension Oversight Board about the pension bill draft released last week. Legislators are still working out details of the proposed pension bill. Chilton talked about what led to funding shortfalls for the state's pension plans, including the County Employees Retirement System.


Draft of Pension Reform Bill Released

Draft of Pension Reform Bill ReleasedKentucky legislators received a copy of the pension bill draft Friday night. We have included it, along with a section-by-section summary and side-by-side comparison chart.


KLC Continues to Communicate with Governor & Legislators About Pension Reform

KLC Continues to Communicate with Governor & Legislators About Pension ReformThe KLC Board of Directors voted to not take a position on the framework released last week until a bill draft can be analyzed. In the meantime, KLC is reaching out to Governor Bevin & legislators to convey concerns and questions.


Kentucky Budget Director Tells Legislators Spending Reductions Imminent

Kentucky Budget Director Tells Legislators Spending Reductions ImminentThe Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue heard Thursday that recommendations will soon be made to the governor on how to make up a projected $155.6 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2018.


Case Made for Modernizing Kentucky's Road Aid Formula

Case Made for Modernizing Kentucky's Road Aid FormulaMembers of the House Working Group on Kentucky's Transportation Infrastructure heard Tuesday afternoon about a proposal that would help cities struggling to maintain roads in booming urban areas. The plan does not take from county coffers, utilizing instead a new formula for new revenue.


Kentucky Pension Plan Revealed but Cities Still Awaiting Final Draft

Kentucky Pension Plan Revealed but Cities Still Awaiting Final DraftThe governor and legislative leaders gave highlights of a pension bill that they say will be released in the coming days. City leaders are waiting for more details to determine how the plan will impact local governments.


Governor Bevin and Legislative Leaders to Unveil Pension Plan Wednesday

Governor Bevin and Legislative Leaders to Unveil Pension Plan WednesdayGovernor Matt Bevin, Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) and House Speaker Jeff Hoover (R-Jamestown) will hold a joint news conference Wednesday morning to detail a pension plan the governor's office calls, "Keeping the Promise."


Kentucky Senator Honored at Shelbyville Meeting as Council Supports CERS Separation

Kentucky Senator Honored at Shelbyville Meeting as Council Supports CERS SeparationThe Shelbyville City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for the separation of the County Employees Retirement System. The Mayor also joined KLC in thanking Senator Paul Hornback for fighting to protect cities from unfunded mandates.


Kentucky Projects a Better Economy for 2018 but Still Faces $155 Million Shortfall

Kentucky Projects a Better Economy for 2018 but Still Faces $155 Million ShortfallRevisions made by a group of economists has resulted in the state's General Fund having $50 million more in the Fiscal Year budget than originally thought. The Office of the State Budget Director is working to determine where the money will come from to make up the budget deficit.


Testimony Warns Kentucky Lawmakers of Hidden Dangers of Legalizing Marijuana

Testimony Warns Kentucky Lawmakers of Hidden Dangers of Legalizing MarijuanaA legislative Committee heard from a group of experts about the impact legalization of marijuana has had on states like Colorado. Kentucky lawmakers were told there are serious public protection concerns.


KLC Board Believes CERS Separation Best Protection for Local Tax Dollars

KLC Board Believes CERS Separation Best Protection for Local Tax DollarsThe Kentucky League of Cities Board of Directors was unanimous in voting to continue to support the separation of the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) from the state's Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS). Board members say concerns remain about the management of CERS and the local tax dollars that go into the system.


City Officials Get Eye-Opening Report on Kentucky's Opioid Problem

City Officials Get Eye-Opening Report on Kentucky's Opioid ProblemFour experts in the battle against the growing opioid epidemic, including a UK doctor and Governor Bevin's deputy chief of staff, talked to a group of city officials about the state's efforts to curb the tide. The message to cities was it will take a team approach.


KLC & Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles' "Hunger Packing" Event Feeds More Than 1200 Children

KLC & Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles' More than 100 volunteers took part in a signature event during this week's KLC Conference & Expo. The group assembled meal kits for Kentucky children, something Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles told attendees is vitally important in the battle against hunger in Kentucky.


Cities Know Importance of Engaging Millennials

Cities Know Importance of Engaging MillennialsSeveral Kentucky cities have undertaken initiatives to build the "Under 40 Crowd." It's a movement that's paying off with stronger economies and improved quality of life for every citizen.


Case is Made for Marsy's Law in Kentucky

Case is Made for Marsy's Law in KentuckyLawmakers heard from proponents of Marsy's Law Kentucky at a Wednesday Committee hearing. The law would ask voters to approve a Constitutional amendment that guarantees crime victims' rights.


CERS Coalition Continues to Seek Separation After PPOB Testimony Shows High KRS Fees

CERS Coalition Continues to Seek Separation After PPOB Testimony Shows High KRS FeesThe Legislative Research Commission and Kentucky Retirement Systems Interim Executive Director testified Monday to the Public Pension Oversight Board. Testimony showed KRS paid nearly twice the investment fees of its peers.


KentuckyWired Project Hoping to Build Public Support

KentuckyWired Project Hoping to Build Public SupportThe KentuckyWired Project is planning a statewide radio campaign, with a familiar voice, as it struggles to reign in costs and legislative frustration over the project's troubled timeline and budget.


Legislators Examine Kentucky's Drug Crisis at Marathon Meeting

Legislators Examine Kentucky's Drug Crisis at Marathon Meeting  Lawmakers, volunteers, doctors and recovery groups were just some of the people involved in a six-hour meeting Wednesday to examine Kentucky's drug problem and possible solutions to the crisis.


Kentucky Sees Boom in Prison Population

Kentucky Sees Boom in Prison PopulationA Criminal Justice Work Group was told Wednesday that more people in Kentucky are going to prison for drug crimes and parole violations. The Crime and Justice Institute presented a detailed report on what's driving the increases to Kentucky's prison population.


Large Crowd Attends First KRS Board Meeting Since Controversial Pension Report

Large Crowd Attends First KRS Board Meeting Since Controversial Pension Report Members of the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees met for hours Thursday with so many in attendance the crowd was forced into an overflow room. The Board discussed several changes and heard from the public.


KLC Joins Discussion on Local Government Tax Reform

KLC Joins Discussion on Local Government Tax ReformKLC Deputy Executive Director J.D. Chaney took part in a Tax Summit hosted by the KY Chamber of Commerce. Chaney and others voiced a unified opposition to centralized tax collection and discussed how possible tax reforms would impact cities.


Lawmakers Look For More Ways to Develop Kentucky's Workforce

Lawmakers Look For More Ways to Develop Kentucky's WorkforceLawmakers visited Bowling Green this week to talk workforce development. Mayor Bruce Wilkerson and other area leaders talked about the need for early job training. The IJC on Economic Development & Workforce Investment held its meeting at the Warren Co. Area Technology Center.


State Budget Director Acknowledges Dire Consequences of KRS Board Actions

State Budget Director Acknowledges Dire Consequences of KRS Board ActionsDespite warnings back in July by KLC, the State Budget Director has now sent a memo to CERS employers about the severe impact rate changes made by the KRS Board will have to their budgets. KLC continues to feel separation is the best option for CERS.


Bill to Regulate Pawnbrokers Goes Back Before Lawmakers

Bill to Regulate Pawnbrokers Goes Back Before LawmakersRepresentative Kim King (R-Harrodsburg) appeared before an Interim Joint Committee, along with members of law enforcement and a representative of The Castle, to advocate for KLC supported HB 23, which creates statewide regulations for pawnbrokers.


Lawmakers Told There's No Easy Answer to Road Funding

Lawmakers Told There's No Easy Answer to Road Funding The House Working Group on Kentucky's Transportation Infrastructure heard from two experts on road funding who warned that when it comes to road funding Kentucky needs to look to the future instead of sticking with policies of the past.


Hundreds Attend CERS Separation & Stability Forums Across Kentucky

Hundreds Attend CERS Separation & Stability Forums Across KentuckyThe Kentucky League of Cities and a coalition of 23 other organizations held forums in seven cities to help inform CERS members, employers and retirees of the latest in the pension debate and the need for separation without structural or benefit changes.


KLC Board of Directors Evaluating PFM Pension Recommendations

KLC Board of Directors Evaluating PFM Pension RecommendationsMonday afternoon the PFM Group released its third and final report after studying Kentucky's pension plans. The report included recommended reforms that would bring drastic changes to future, current and retired public employees.


Governor Says CERS Separation "Topic of Discussion"

Governor Says CERS Separation Speaking at the Governor's Local Issues Conference in Louisville Thursday, Governor Bevin said lawmakers are "having a very frank discussion" about CERS separation. The governor also gave a passionate speech about pension reform.


Lawmakers Told Kentucky Needs Rules for Release of Police Body Camera Video

Lawmakers Told Kentucky Needs Rules for Release of Police Body Camera VideoA group, including the Kentucky League of Cities, law enforcement officials and Representative Robert Benvenuti testified Wednesday that Kentucky needs to provide clarity to how the Open Records Law pertains to police body camera video.


23 Kentucky Agencies Call for CERS Separation Without Unnecessary Changes

23 Kentucky Agencies Call for CERS Separation Without Unnecessary ChangesCurrent and retired CERS members met in Lexington Monday to hear from the members of a coalition that has banded together to support the separation of CERS without changes to its structure or benefits.


State Releases Pension Website to Make Their Case for Reforms

State Releases Pension Website to Make Their Case for ReformsA new website that became active this week outlines Governor Bevin and other state leaders' case for pension reform. The Kentucky League of Cities worries it takes too broad of an approach.


Workforce Development Looks to Build Middle-Skill Workers

Workforce Development Looks to Build Middle-Skill Workers Officials with the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet testified Thursday that the state has a middle-skill workers shortage. They outlined how they're trying to fill the need with five programs that focus on building a workforce from a variety of places.


State Economists Pessimistic About Outlook

State Economists Pessimistic About OutlookMembers of the Consensus Forecasting Group, seven economists who adopt scenarios for the state's General and Road Funds, worried Friday that national uncertainty made it impossible for them to accurately predict what the state could expect in the coming years.


More Indications from Governor Special Session May Not Include Tax Reform

More Indications from Governor Special Session May Not Include Tax ReformIn a radio interview this week, Governor Bevin said fixing the pension system was his first priority. He said he does not consider tax reform and pension reform as a required pair.


Kentucky Lawmaker Fights Against Sanctuary Cities

Kentucky Lawmaker Fights Against Sanctuary CitiesKentucky Representative Lynn Bechler (R-Marion) told lawmakers at a Friday Committee hearing he wants the state to pass a law prohibiting sanctuary cities in the state and penalizing those that do so anyway.


Kentucky's Road Fund Ends Fiscal Year with $51 Million More Than Expected

Kentucky's Road Fund Ends Fiscal Year with $51 Million More Than ExpectedThe Transportation Cabinet's Executive Director of Budget and Fiscal Management testified Thursday that the Road Fund performed better than expected in FY 2017. She warned, however, that expectations should not be the same for FY 2018.


Kentucky Representative Says Lawmakers Need to Defend Home Rule

Kentucky Representative Says Lawmakers Need to Defend Home RuleRepresentative Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) says a lot of lawmakers like to say they're for home rule, but many will have to show it when they meet for this year's special session and next year's budget session. Lawmakers could take up several issues that impact cities, including pension and tax reform.


Frustrations Spill Over as Lawmakers Get Update on KentuckyWired Project

Frustrations Spill Over as Lawmakers Get Update on KentuckyWired ProjectThe Executive Director of the Kentucky Communications Network Authority told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue the KentuckyWired project won't be ready by its 2018 deadline and is way over budget.


Lawmakers Told Local Publication Requirements Costly and Ineffective

Lawmakers Told Local Publication Requirements Costly and IneffectiveMembers of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government were told it's time Kentucky let local governments publish online. State law requires various documents be published in a local newspaper, but the Kentucky League of Cities and other groups testified that the rule is unnecessarily costly when social media and government websites get more traction.


Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer talks about Kentucky's Pension Problems

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer talks about Kentucky's Pension ProblemsKentucky Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) says he believes Republican leadership is ready to tackle the state's pension problems. He believes the best way to fix the pension system is to develop a business-friendly environment that leads to more taxpayers.


Kentucky Representative Says Fixing Kentucky's Pension System Will Take Some Tough Choices

Kentucky Representative Says Fixing Kentucky's Pension System Will Take Some Tough ChoicesRepresentative Jerry Miller (R-Louisville) talks about his firm support for separation of the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) from the Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS), what tax reform in Kentucky will need to look like and why he believes expanded gambling may be the ticket to a better financial situation for the state.


KLC Speaks Out Against Reorganization of 911 Services Board

KLC Speaks Out Against Reorganization of 911 Services BoardKLC Deputy Executive Director J.D. Chaney told lawmakers on the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection the removal of local officials from the 911 Services Board was an insult.


KRS Board Ignores Request and Practice of Phasing In Changes To Assumption Rates

KRS Board Ignores Request and Practice of Phasing In Changes To Assumption RatesThe Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees voted for new assumption rates for both CERS plans but did not phase-in the changes as requested. The new rates will have a major impact on cities.


Kentucky Mayors Say Community Development Block Grants Vital to Cities

Kentucky Mayors Say Community Development Block Grants Vital to Cities Debate continues in Washington, DC, over a new budget. President Trump has proposed several cuts, including Community Development Block Grants. Two Kentucky mayors say those grants are, many times, the only way smaller cities can compete.


Northern Kentucky Representative Says Pension Reform Will Take Compromise

Northern Kentucky Representative Says Pension Reform Will Take Compromise Representative Brian Linder says interest groups and stakeholders involved in the state's current pension debate may have to accept the end result may not make everyone happy; but, he says he hopes the final outcome is one everyone can live with.


Mayors Make Case to Lawmakers For More Flexibility With City Taxes

Mayors Make Case to Lawmakers For More Flexibility With City Taxes Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson and Sadieville Mayor Claude Christensen recently spoke to the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government about the state's tax laws. Tax reform is expected to be on the agenda if the governor calls a special session later this year.


Representative says Kentucky's Pension System in Need of "Surgery"

Representative says Kentucky's Pension System in Need of Representative Steven Rudy, who chairs the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, spoke to the Kentucky League of Cities about tax and pension reform. The Paducah Republican warns fixing the state's pension system can't wait.


KLC Board of Directors Votes on 2018 Agenda

KLC Board of Directors Votes on 2018 AgendaThe Kentucky League of Cities Board of Directors met in Georgetown Thursday afternoon to vote on issues to be included in the 2018 Legislative Agenda.


KLC Board of Directors Names 2017 Friend of Kentucky Cities

KLC Board of Directors Names 2017 Friend of Kentucky Cities The Board voted Thursday, at the summer meeting, to name 14 lawmakers as "Friend of Kentucky Cities." The board selected the winners based on their advocacy for local rule and KLC Legislative Priorities.


Senator McDaniel Sees Special Session as a Sure Bet

Senator McDaniel Sees Special Session as a Sure Bet Kentucky Senator Chris McDaniel sat down with KLC to talk about pension and tax reform and what he would like to see in a special session this fall.


Kentucky Senator Joe Bowen Talks About Kentucky's Pension Problems

Kentucky Senator Joe Bowen Talks About Kentucky's Pension Problems KLC sat down with Kentucky Senator Joe Bowen to talk about CERS separation, the crisis with KERS & SPRS funding, and what the state will have to consider to fix it.


KLC Leaders Connect with Congressional Delegation in DC

KLC Leaders Connect with Congressional Delegation in DCMembers of the Kentucky League of Cities Federal Relations Committee flew into Washington, D.C., in May to meet with all of Kentucky's Members of Congress and their key staff. The group focused on several legislative priorities including key discretionary programs, preservation of the income tax exemption on municipal bonds, increased infrastructure investment and preservation of local control.


Group gives lawmakers results of study into state's pension system

Group gives lawmakers results of study into state's pension systemA group presented to the Public Pension Oversight Board Monday the results of its study, ordered by Governor Bevin, that looked into how the state's pension system got into a multibillion-dollar funding shortfall.


2017 Legislative Update

2017 Legislative UpdateWith the 2017 legislative session now in the books, we took time to look through the 190 bills passed by the legislature to compile a list of those that impact Kentucky's cities the most.