Thayer: Coal Important to All Kentuckians
Frankfort – In my Senate district in central and northern Kentucky, when we think about coal, we consider its role in the economy of the eastern and western parts of the state. We don’t realize how important coal is to the economic growth of our local communities, but without coal and the cheap electricity it provides, our household budgets and small businesses would be in trouble.
Kentucky relies on coal for 92% of all its electricity needs, giving us the fourth-cheapest energy rates in the nation. In fact, our home energy bills are about half that of people living in New York and New England.
That cheap energy is also a powerful incentive for out-of-state businesses to locate in Kentucky. Utilities make up a sizeable chunk of any company’s non-labor costs, so being able to save money on heat and light goes a long way toward luring them here. Industrial energy in Kentucky is 16% cheaper than in Indiana, and 31% cheaper than in Ohio. If a company wants to locate in this region of the country, Kentucky can reduce their costs considerably.
Even beyond locally-created jobs, coal helps our statewide economy. Nearly 18,000 miners work to bring coal out of the ground, and there are more than 50,000 jobs as a result of those miners’ spending their income, whether it be at the local grocery or clothing store or at the doctor’s office. The miners alone make more than $1 billion in wages every year, and their tax dollars are important to keeping our roads and schools the best they can be. That’s not even mentioning the $270 million in taxes the coal companies pay for the privilege of taking the coal out of the ground in the first place or the corporate income taxes they pay on their profits. It’s obvious that coal not only keeps the lights on in your home it also keeps the lights on across the Commonwealth.
As oil prices go up, coal is increasingly becoming an important resource to keep America safe. More than a third of all U.S. oil imports com through OPEC — mostly countries like Nigeria, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia whose leaders don’t have Americans’ well-being in mind. The more energy we can produce at home, the less money that will be funneled to those regimes. Coal-to-gas and coal-to-liquid technology, along with clean-coal technology and carbon capture, has the potential to revolutionize our national economy. Not only could gas be developed from Kentucky coal rather than Middle Eastern oil, but the prices could go down as well. That’s a win-win for everyone in the country.
While national leaders are looking at cap-and-trade and other schemes to tax energy production, Kentucky officials have focused on encouraging the research and development that could restore Kentucky’s coal production to the center of our national energy economy. It’s a return on investment that’s sure to pay dividends for the taxpayers of today, and tomorrow.
Thayer Prefiles Campaign Funding Disclosure & Transparency Act
Frankfort – Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) prefiled the Campaign Funding Disclosure and Transparency Act of 2010 today due to the tremendous amount of money raised and spent on elections by special interest groups in recent elections often without the voters’ own knowledge until after the election. BR 258 will require any campaign issues group organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Service code – popularly known as 527s – to disclose its donors and the amounts contributed on the same schedule as statewide candidates.
Thayer stated, “The public deserves to know whose money influences elections. If a 527 is attempting to influence the outcome of a state election, it needs to disclose their contributors and expenses as do the candidates themselves.”
Thayer challenged the 527s currently operating in Kentucky, “I urge any active 527, in a show of good faith, to voluntarily disclose where its money is coming from and going to – the people deserve no less before the next election.”
There is currently a special election to fill a state senate seat in the 14th senatorial district.
A similar bill, also sponsored by Senator Thayer, passed the Senate during the 2009 Session.
BR 258 will be discussed during the 2010 General Assembly.
KENTUCKY CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION PRESENTS LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD TO KENTUCKY STATE SENATOR DAMON THAYER
Frankfort, KY – The Associated General Contractors of Kentucky, the state’s largest commercial construction association, is pleased to announce the 2009 Legislative Award of Merit recipient as Kentucky State Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown).
“Few in the Kentucky General Assembly have been a stronger advocate for business prosperity and free market principles than the Senator from the 17th District of Kentucky. His longstanding support for the betterment of the commercial construction industry is greatly appreciated and we are pleased to present Sen. Thayer with the 2009 Legislative Award of Merit Award. In over six years in office, Senator Damon Thayer has helped secure millions of dollars of economic development funds that have improved the quality of life for the citizens of Kenton, Grant, Owen and Scott County as well as providing jobs and opportunities for the members of our industry.” said AGC of Kentucky Executive Vice President Richard Vincent.
“It is an honor to receive this award from the AGC,'” Thayer said. “Its members help move Kentucky forward by creating jobs and quality of life opportunities across Kentucky, and I share their commitment to free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit that is so important to our economy.”
The Legislative Award of Merit was presented during the association’s Annual Meeting and Awards ceremony on Friday November 13, 2009 in Louisville, KY.
Veterans an important resource for our future
By Sen. Damon Thayer
Kentucky is home to nearly 350,000 veterans who fought in every war from World War II and beyond, and we owe them all a great debt of gratitude. Many of them signed up willingly, while others were drafted during a time of great national conflict. Some knew from an early age they wanted to join the military; others compared it to alternative career choices and decided the military was the best option. Some served during peacetime and were never forced to leave our shores, while thousands saw the most trying of circumstances, lost their compatriots in battle, and visited places many of us can’t imagine.
Regardless of the circumstances, however, they all deserve our respect, admiration, and thanks.
We honor our heroes each year on Veterans Day, November 11, but all too often we only take time to remember their sacrifices on major holidays and don’t think about all the freedoms we enjoy on a daily basis thanks to their efforts. Furthermore, we tend to think of these men and women as a single group, “veterans,” without considering the very different experiences they had during their time in uniform.
Taking Utah Beach in Normandy on D-Day was much different than storming Omaha Beach. Both were vastly different than the island-hopping required of our troops in the Pacific Theater during World War II. The trench warfare in Korea, the silent jungle expeditions in Vietnam, the desert heat and door-to-door searches in the Global War on Terror — every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine can tell a different story of his or her service, their individual contribution to America’s freedom and security. No two veterans are the same, and it’s worth our time to talk to them and learn what they did to protect us.
The Library of Congress, along with the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, are focusing their efforts on an oral history project, collecting these stories from veterans across the nation, so that future generations can understand why things happened the way they happened. This is our opportunity to help preserve the legacies of the men and women who fought and died to keep us safe. The Library of Congress has a list of sample questions at http://www.loc.gov/vets/questions.html, which you can use to help explore the lives of the veterans in our community. When you’ve recorded your interview with a veteran you know — or a veteran you’ve gotten to know — just contact KDLA or the Library of Congress, and they’ll work to archive your work and make sure children, scholars, and genealogists of the future understand these heroes’ stories.
We’re losing our veterans at a rapid pace, and they are a true great resource of wisdom and knowledge. We cannot afford to let their memories slip through our grasp. They saved our country’s past, and this is an opportunity for us to help save its future.
Senator Damon Thayer’s statement: “I have proposed a constitutional amendment on the gambling issue for 2010 that, if placed on the ballot, will let the people decide on this issue once and for all. It will protect the horse industry and create a fund to help pay down Kentucky’s debt, which is currently approximately $800 million annually.
I am no fan of expanded gambling, but there is no doubt that its presence in surrounding states is hurting Kentucky’s signature industry. Politically speaking, the debate overshadows all else and we are failing to deal with many other pressing problems affecting our state.
My position on this issue has been consistent for the entire time I have been in the Senate: let the people decide. Polls show that whether for or against gambling, an overwhelming number of Kentucky citizens wish to vote on this issue.
My proposal, if passed, would not allow for the expansion of gambling beyond the counties where horse tracks currently exist. It would be better controlled than in any other state, and protect the horse industry better than any other state.
So please review and comment on my proposal, and once again I will say: LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE.
Senator Thayer Addresses Horse Industry Issues in Senate Floor Speech
Lawmakers to push for more information on government spending
By Ryan Alessi – [email protected]
Two lawmakers want the state to create a Web site where taxpayers can see all expenditures made by Kentucky legislators, as well as by the executive and judicial branches of state government.
State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Bowling Green, said they are still working on details of a bill to create the site, such as the types of expenses that will be disclosed and the timeline for reporting them. They expect to announce those details by Thanksgiving.
“In a perfect world, we would want as many expenses as possible” outlined on the database, Thayer said. “When the state writes a check, it should be posted online so people can see how their tax dollars are being used.”
This is the first time Thayer, who chairs the Senate’s State and Local Government Committee, has worked on bill devoted to online disclosure of state expenses.
DeCesare has filed similar legislation in past sessions, but none of those bills cleared the House State Government Committee.
“I think it’s the right thing to do, especially in these economic times and when the Herald-Leader has uncovered some problems with public agency expenses,” DeCesare said.
The newspaper has published articles in the last 11 months detailing spending and inadequate expense oversight at agencies that receive taxpayer dollars, such as Blue Grass Airport, the Lexington Public Library, Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of Counties. Following the reports, the executive director of three of the agencies resigned. The executive director of the library was fired and state Auditor Crit Luallen’s office has audited all but the library, which is being audited by the city.
Rep. Mike Cherry, D-Princeton and the chairman of the House State Government Committee, said he will have “an open mind” on the issue in the session that starts January, and that it helps the bill’s cause that it will be pushed by his counterpart in the Senate. He also said the recent “attention to the subject” of taxpayer spending will help the bill.
In addition, both the Herald-Leader and the Courier-Journal have scrutinized travel expenses of state lawmakers and legislative staff.
Thayer, who noted that he will go on his first out-of-state legislative trip in his six-year career later this month, said he doesn’t “begrudge any legislator from taking a reasonable number of trips at a reasonable expense.” But he said Kentucky taxpayers should be able to see how much all public servants spend.
Thayer and DeCesare said they haven’t determined how much the transparency program would cost.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson, a Republican, voluntarily started a site to disclose his office’s expenses in the “Secretary’s Desk” section of his web site at www.sos.ky.gov.
And Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration created a Web site, opendoor.ky.gov, that outlined broad trends of government spending.
DeCesare said the planned legislation would go deeper.
“I think it’s important we be held accountable for every nickel and dime,” he said. “If we are wasting money in areas, this type of legislation would help point those out.”
KLC, KACo show need for transparency, responsibility
By Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown
The Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Association of Counties, among other organizations, have been in the media quite a bit lately because of perks paid to their leaders, lax oversight by their board members, and an otherwise insensitive attitude toward the taxpayers who pay for it all.
That’s the bad news, and it’s been inescapable. There is a kernel of good news to go with it, though. In the weeks since these patterns came to light, many of those responsible have stepped down and those organizations have instituted changes that will help ensure the rules are not abused in the future. City and county officials who pay their dues and buy their insurance from KLC and KACo have taken a closer look at what they’re getting for your tax dollars, and how that money can be more wisely spent.
Leaders of both groups spoke before me and my colleagues on the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government in August. They understood the gravity of the situation, and we made sure they comprehended the need for even more action. I’m pleased that they’ve made progress since our meeting, and I look forward to working with them to ensure even more steps toward honesty and transparency down the road.
Their efforts are important for two reasons. The most obvious is that your tax dollars should be carefully guarded and used to their greatest potential. More broadly, though, they’re acting to restore confidence in their associations and the services they provide.
On the other hand, few people have faith that these changes would have been implemented without a light being shined on the abuses in the first place. Who knows what other organizations are wasting your money because their neglect hasn’t been revealed in the newspaper? Supreme Court Justice and Kentucky native Louis Brandeis famously noted that “sunshine is the best disinfectant,” and it’s as true now as it was 100 years ago.
Along with Rep. Jim DeCesare (R- Bowling Green), I’m drafting legislation that would require all state government spending to be placed in an online database that anyone could search. Part of the problem with KLC and KACo is that few people knew where the money was going, so there was little incentive to stay accountable. With any Kentuckian able to track how tax dollars are being spent, public officials will recognize the need to make every penny count. They’ll know that if they waste money on some unnecessary project, the people will find out and demand answers.
In that way, government and public organizations are like children: if they know they’re being watched, they’re more likely to behave. And making them behave in the first place is much more effective than punishing them when they misbehave.
Felons Already Have Process to Regain Voting Rights
By Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown
Kentucky is often mischaracterized as a state where felons are banned from voting for life, but all convicted felons have the same constitutionally provided opportunity to regain their vote. Despite repeated efforts in the House of Representatives to give some felons preferential restoration of rights over others, I remain steadfast in my belief that all felons should be treated equally when it comes to voting rights–and most members of the Senate concur.
Currently, to be eligible for restoration of their voting rights, felons must have completed their sentence or received their final discharge from parole, whichever is applicable. Additionally, they must not be under felony indictment, must not have pending charges, or owe any outstanding fines or restitution. The plan is simple: in order to regain the right to vote, they must have paid their debt to society and not be facing punishment for another crime.
A common critique of Kentucky’s system is that it’s too difficult because of lengthy paperwork, involvement of several state agencies, and burdensome documentation. In fact, an eligible felon is asked to complete a one-page application which asks for basic information. The form asks for name, address, most recent felony conviction, and other facts – 15 simple questions in all, some of which don’t even apply to everyone and don’t require an answer. We have Division of Probation and Parole employees to assist any eligible felon in completing the form, which is then forwarded to the Governor.
The voter registration form that all of us complete before voting for the first time asks 11 questions. Many years, there are more than 15 offices to cast votes for between local, state, and national elections. Are we really asking that much more from convicted felons?
Last year, Gov. Beshear directed the Department of Corrections to contact all 129,000 felons in the Commonwealth, giving them the opportunity to request their voting rights back. He has set an example for all future governors to follow, encouraging all Kentuckians who want to participate in our representative democracy to make their voice heard. There is no more fundamental right in our society than the right to vote, and I trust that our leaders in the future will pay heed to the requests of felons who wish to take part in elections.
It’s hard to imagine an easier process than ours to re-integrate felons into society. House Bill 70, which failed in the Senate earlier this year, would create two classes of felons — those who don’t have to do anything to regain their rights, and those who must rely on the favor of the governor. Such actions would set a dangerous precedent. Our system as it currently stands offers opportunity to those who reach out for it.
SENATOR DAMON THAYER HONORED AS A ‘FRIEND OF KENTUCKY CITIES’
COVINGTON, KY – Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) was honored with a “Friend of Kentucky Cities” award on Thursday at the 2009 Kentucky League of Cities Conference & Expo. Thayer won KLC’s “Big Hitter Award” in 2006 and has now won the “Friend of Cities” Award three years in a row.
“I represent cities of all sizes, and standing up for my constituents who live in them is a priority for me,” Thayer said. “I want to help cities achieve the delivery of services that citizens expect without burdensome state mandates driving up costs to taxpayers. It is an honor to win this award and I want to thank the KLC Board for selecting me again this year.”
“As chairman of the Senate State and Local Government committee, Senator Thayer has always been keenly aware of the issues that matter most to cities,” said J.D. Chaney, KLC Director of Governmental Affairs. “He worked with cities to correct legislation that would have been inadvertently harmful to local decision-making and he is a frequent champion of cost-saving measures for cities. He is a true friend of cities.”
The “Friend of Cities” award is given by KLC to legislators who perform outstanding work in the legislature advocating for issues that impact cities across the state.
“It is an honor to commend legislators with the Friend of Kentucky Cities award,” said KLC President and Jackson Mayor Michael Miller. “We are appreciative of each recipient’s demonstration of an unwavering commitment to preserve and strengthen the cities of Kentucky.”
Eight other legislators were also recognized as a “Friend of Kentucky Cities”, including: Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville), Representative Steve Riggs (D-Louisville), Representative Mike Cherry (D-Princeton), Representative Dennis Horlander (D-Shively), Representative Arnold Simpson (D-Covington), Representative Rick Rand (D-Bedford), Senator Bob Leeper (I-Paducah) and Senator John Schickel (R-Union).
City leaders, legislators, exhibitors and other public officials from across the state participated in the KLC annual conference in Covington at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.
Senate President Appoints Senator Damon Thayer to the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee
(Frankfort) –– Senate President David L. Williams (R-Burkesville) recently announced that State Senator Damon Thayer has been appointed to the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee. Thayer will be joining the committee immediately.
“I am honored to be selected to serve on this committee. The tobacco industry is important to all of the counties in the 17th Senate District, as well as the entire Commonwealth,” said Thayer. “I look forward to helping our state’s agricultural industry transition out of its reliance on tobacco and into other products that will help Kentucky distinguish itself across national and international markets.”
The Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee has jurisdiction in matters pertaining to the:
- Agricultural Development Board, including requests to the board for grants and loans;
- planning by the board to establish short-term and long-term goals, to devise strategies, and to make investments that will assist farmers and the administrative, financial, and programmatic activities of the board;
- expenditures under the Early Childhood Development Fund and the Kentucky Health Care Improvement Fund;
- efforts of agencies and educational institutions to assist in the revitalization and diversification of tobacco farms
- efforts of institutions of public postsecondary research in conducting alternative crop development research;
- review of county agricultural development council plans, and the use of Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement money.
Senator Damon Thayer Appointed to Kentucky Capitol Centennial Commission
(Frankfort) –– Senate President David L. Williams (R-Burkesville) announced the appointment of Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) to the Kentucky Capitol Centennial Commission. Kentucky’s State Capitol Building will celebrate its 100th birthday during the 2010 calendar year. Senator Thayer, as part of the Commission, will have an important role in planning the centennial festivities.
“I’m proud to serve Kentucky in this way,” Thayer said, “This is an exciting way to be involved in the Kentucky history and I want to thank Senator Williams for asking me to serve on the Commission.”
The Kentucky Capitol Centennial Commission is made up of 23 members from various levels and branches of state government, as well as the community at-large. Sen. Thayer is one of two members appointed from the Kentucky State Senate, joining Senator Ray Jones (D-Pikeville).
The commission is charged with creating activities that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kentucky’s capitol building. The group will work with area development districts, local governments, school districts, as well as business and civic groups to create events across the commonwealth to celebrate this historic occasion. The commission can also recommend temporary or permanent improvements to the Capitol grounds to make them more amenable to activities associated with the centennial anniversary.
Senator Damon Thayer represents the 17th District comprised of Scott, Owen, Grant, and Kenton counties. He is chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee and serves on the Agriculture Committee, Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee, and the Transportation Committee.
KACo, League of Cities issues to be aired before state legislative panel
FRANKFORT – Two Kentucky local government organizations that have come under fire recently for their use of taxpayer dollars will send officials to Frankfort later this month to testify before a state legislative committee.
The Interim Joint Committee on Local Government will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 26 to question officials from the Kentucky Association of Counties, or KACo, and the Kentucky League of Cities about controversial spending practices revealed in a series of Lexington Herald-Leader articles this summer. The articles detailed excessive spending on travel, entertainment and other purchases by the organizations, both of which receive taxpayer dollars through local government dues and fees.
The Aug. 26 meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort.
Local Government Committee Co-Chair Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who will chair the Aug. 26 meeting, said committee discussion of the KACo and KLC issue will give KACo President Mike Foster and KLC President Mayor Connie Lawson of Richmond an opportunity to help rebuild their organization’s reputation.
“It is important that members of the General Assembly have an opportunity to hear testimony from KLC and KACo about their plans for improved financial controls and responsible use of taxpayer dollars, as well as the chance to question both organizations about the situation they have allowed to occur,” Sen. Thayer said today. “Hopefully this meeting will provide a chance for KLC and KACo to begin rebuilding public confidence after the unfortunate events that have been revealed during the past few months.”
Both KACo and KLC have posted statements on their web sites about questions raised by the Herald-Leader articles.
Foster, who is also the Christian County Attorney, wrote in an open letter to KACo members and “other key constituents” that KACo leadership “…including the Executive Committee, will undertake additional measure, on an interim basis, that will bring about greater accountability and transparency through appropriate checks and balances.”
A memorandum designed as Q & A for member cities posted on the KLC web site said the organization has already made some changes, including suspending use of KLC credit cards. The memo went on to say that “Every aspect of KLC operations is being reviewed…”
Senator Thayer Reviews the Special Session in Frankfort
Frankfort – Although it took a bit longer than planned, the House and Senate finally came to an agreement last Wednesday to reduce and balance the state budget and lay the groundwork for future economic development across the Commonwealth, as the eight-day special session called by the Governor adjourned.
Much of what emerged from the final compromise reflected what we in the Senate passed last week, including the bulk of our budget savings. Higher education and Medicaid will be protected, while both prosecutors and public defenders will see small increases to offset the steep cuts that have affected their ability to serve our justice system properly. Our state parks, the envy of most other states, will also see a small increase.
The General Assembly was able, however, to block the governor’s proposal for unpaid holidays for state workers. We were also able to protect county PVAs from cuts, because those offices are the lynchpin of local government revenues.
Both House Bill 3 and House Bill 4 included broad visions and targeted incentives for a wealth of economic opportunities. The most high-profile items were specific programs intended to lure a NASCAR Sprint Cup event to Kentucky Speedway and the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to Churchill Downs. We were also able to update economic incentives to Newport on the Levee as well as the Ovation Project, both of which are vital projects on the shores of the Ohio River.
The possibilities for small businesses and ordinary taxpayers go far beyond the headlines, though. There are incentives for homebuyers and car buyers to immediately stimulate our economy, enticements to bring the film industry to the Commonwealth, small-business reinvestment and historic preservation credits, and ways for innovative and creative developers to get projects going through tax-increment financing, including a new business and retail development in Georgetown that will include a 6,500 -seat arena.
Although no state funds are used, we also gave authorization to Jefferson Community College, our state’s largest two-year institution, to buy needed land at an attractive price. The University of Kentucky also received two significant approvals — one to move forward with the final phase of a new and improved medical center, and the other to upgrade several of its athletic facilities in conjunction with private financing. We also endorsed the acquisition of a 1,550-acre site in Hardin County that we hope can be used for an advanced battery factory that will further aid our state’s auto manufacturing sector.
The most controversial issue we have faced in many years was HB2, the racetrack slot machine bill. This bill barely passed the House with only one vote to spare, then failed to pass Senate committee. As I am not a member of the committee which considered the bill, I did not have a chance to vote on the bill, but I remain committed to helping Kentucky’s struggling horse industry and continue to believe the best way to deal with the expanded gambling issue is through a constitutional amendment where you, the people of Kentucky, get to decide the fate of this issue. We may need to consider a short term stimulus to help the horse industry, as the soonest a constitutional amendment can be on the ballot is November, 2010.
The General Assembly will return in January, barring any further calls by the Governor for another special session. Until then, I will be working within the Interim Joint Committees to review legislation that will come before the full General Assembly next year. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or emailing me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing your questions and comments.
Prevailing Wage Column from Senator Damon Thayer
The gavel hadn’t fallen on the recent legislative session before Kentuckians were told that fixing this year’s budget problem would look easy compared to next year. The Governor has just announced that he will be calling in the Legislature at a cost of $60,000 a day to address the budget shortfall during a Special Session.
Frankfort is already discussing options from expanded gaming to additional budget cuts to tax reform to meet these looming challenges. It would be my suggestion, however, that we first dedicate ourselves to maximizing every dollar we invest in Kentucky’s future.
Let us look at an example. According to a report by the Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky’s prevailing wage laws artificially inflate school construction labor costs by 21 percent. That means that 21 cents of those dollars are directed at inflated wages as opposed to going toward investments in larger schools, enhanced technology, more energy efficient facilities and an overall better environment for Kentucky’s children to learn in.
In 2004, KDE estimated that between 1999 and 2004, the prevailing wage law artificially increased the cost of school construction by more than $480 million. To put this in perspective, the total resource requirements in 2005 to meet the reported “needs assessment” of Category 4 and 5 schools, schools in the worst physical shape, was just under $500 million. Had the dollars that were directed toward inflated prevailing wages during that period been invested in our schools –nearly every child in Kentucky would have been attending an adequate school.
This is why I filed legislation to repeal “prevailing wage” during the 2009 Session and it is my intent to do so again. As the Governor and General Assembly come together to further address our budget shortfall, the time has also come to decide that failing to maximize our investment in our schools is a failure to maximize our investment in our children. Fortunately, this failure need not continue. We can increase our investment in our schools and Kentucky’s children without having to raise one additional dollar from new taxes.
I urge the Governor to add the prevailing wage issue to the special session call so that the General Assembly can maximize every taxpayer dollar that is invested in our future.
Protesters rail against taxes at Frankfort ‘Tea Party’
By RONNIE ELLIS
CNHI News Service
FRANKFORT April 15, 2009 04:01 pm
— More than 250 gathered on the steps of the state capitol to rail against taxation, corporate bailouts and the power of the federal government during a Tax Day Tea Party rally.
It was one of an estimated 750 or so such rallies across the country by what organizers say is a grass-roots effort, coordinated through a national Web site administered by Eric Odom. Many of those attending in Frankfort carried signs – some seemed directed at President Barack Obama as much as at high taxes – and at least one man dressed in revolutionary era clothing and wore a tri-corner hat.
“As my father said, I was born free and taxed to death,” said Col. Frank Haynes of Frankfort, one of the speakers at the rally. “We have to restore responsibility, accountability, and efficiency to the way they use our tax dollars.”
Beverly Roe, a 67-year-old retiree from Somerset, said she and her husband, Tommy, 69, have been married for 49 years and “Right now is the worst time of our lives.”
“With taxes and all the prices going so high, you can’t afford everything you need as a family,” she said, saying there’s too little money for groceries, utilities, gasoline, clothing and taxes. “Living on social security with everything else so high, it’s just very difficult.”
The “Tea Parties” have been cropping up lately in several states and localities. There were 18 scheduled in Kentucky on Wednesday, the federal deadline for filing federal income tax returns, including rallies in Corbin, London, Flatwoods, Bowling Green, Louisville and two in Lexington. “TEA” stands for Taxed Enough Already, a slogan printed on several of the signs carried by protesters in Frankfort.
Speakers railed against taxes, Obama’s economic stimulus package, his proposed changes in tax rates for the highest income groups, and federal bailouts – including apparently those passed during the administration of George W. Bush.
There were signs which indicated some were as unhappy with the results of last November’s presidential election as they are about taxes and bailouts of corporate financial giants such as AIG. One had a likeness of Obama with “Get a Birth Certificate” underneath, alluding to undocumented allegations by some that Obama was not born in the United States. Another read, “We Don’t Want No Stinking Socialism.”
Even state Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who spoke at Wednesday’s rally, said Obama “is not qualified” and at one point remarking on a sign in the crowd that called Obama “Commander in Thief.” Thayer called for across the board tax cuts. In this year’s General Assembly, Thayer voted against a package of cigarette and alcohol tax increases, although he voted to freeze the gas tax which would have fallen by 4 cents without the measure.
Another speaker, Lexington attorney Kent Masterson Brown, recalled for the crowd passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts during the administration of President John Adams, the country’s second president, and the Nullification Acts passed in Kentucky at the same time which said state governments could disregard acts of the federal Congress if they thought them unconstitutional.
Kimberly Moore of Lawrenceburg, the District Coordinator for Smart Girls in Politics, called for repeal of the constitutional amendment allowing the federal income tax. She suggested instead a national sales tax which she termed the “Fair Tax” to replace income taxes and payroll taxes which fund social security and Medicare.
Judy Licato, 68, runs a boarding kennel for dogs and cats in Georgetown. Business is bad in a bad economy, she said.
“Since we’ve had this big money crisis, we’ve had a big drop off because people can’t afford to go anywhere,” she said. “We’ve had about enough of Obama’s tax and spend policies.”
Asked if she blamed Obama for the country’s economic woes – given the financial crisis last October before he was elected and the initial passage of the Troubled Assets Recovery Program or TARP passed while Bush was president – she said, “He certainly has not made it any better. With that stimulus package, he’s ruined people and he has no intention of stopping.”
Brown, the Lexington attorney, said while Obama’s policies are wrong-headed, the problem lies with both parties – and he had a solution.
“We ought to throw out of office every one of them – Democrat and Republican – who voted for bills like that (stimulus package),” he said to cheers from the crowd.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at [email protected]
Senator Thayer’s General Assembly Wrap-Up
The 2009 General Assembly Session adjourned a day early, unfortunately closing the door on turning a good session into a great session. However, I was very proud of the terrific bipartisan work that we accomplished in the Senate. The Governor signed legislation that continued education reform and helped address the problem of addicted drug offenders. We helped protect our young people from harmful threats on and off school grounds. We also worked together to put a plan in place for the federal stimulus dollars.
The 2009 Session saw a strong push for children and education. After several years of discussion and compromise, the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed on revamping Kentucky’s educational assessment process. The biggest change will replace the CATS test with a combination standards-based and norm-referenced test by the 2011-2012 school year. A new math exam will be available a year earlier. Testing time will be reduced to five days, allowing more time for instruction. In this way, parents and teachers will be able to gauge individual achievement and see how a child learns year to year and compare that progress with fellow students in Kentucky as well as in the United States. This is a great step forward for Kentucky students and education reform – one that has support among teachers, local administrators and parents.
House Bill 383 requires all high school coaches to complete safety training and House Bill 315 prohibits sex offenders from logging onto social networking sites used by children under 18. Senate Bill 148 prevents violent offenders and registered sex offenders from serving on Site Based Decision-Making Councils. Furthermore, it requires such offenders to notify school officials and receive permission before coming onto to school property.
Senate Bill 4 will help curb the problem of addicted offenders crowding our jails. The bill requires that anyone charged with a felony be screened for substance abuse before trial; the trial judge can then order a recovery program as a condition for bail. These individuals will be in intensive treatment while continuing to be under strict supervision, saving the state and counties money. And it will help improve the lives of those who successfully complete the program.
In the realm of economic development, the General Assembly passed a road plan which identifies $370 million in “shovel-ready” road and bridge projects that can begin construction immediately in order to take advantage of the federal stimulus dollars.
There were disappointments, however. Several important bills died because of the stubbornness of the House Leadership. The Senate was prepared to sign a conference committee report on House Bill 433 that would have provided $4.7 million each for prosecutors and public defenders as well as funds for 14 schools around the Commonwealth that are physically in bad shape. A bill that would have provided economic incentives to help attract a NASCAR race to the Kentucky Speedway, incentives for the Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky film industry, as well as tax credits for small businesses and new home buyers also died because House Leadership refused to enter into negotiations in order to move the bill forward.
The Senate approved an agreement that contained both the Governor’s proposed cuts to state government as well as an increase in taxes in order to balance the budget before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30th. The increased tax revenues come from a 30 cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax and a 6% sales tax on package sales of alcoholic beverages. I did not vote for this package as I feel that we cannot afford to raise taxes on the people of this state in a time of economic downturn. In such times, each side of the political spectrum often uses the circumstances as an opportunity to move forward their own agendas. While some in Frankfort believe that we should increase the role of government, it has always been my philosophy to decrease the size of state government in order to decrease the tax burden on working families and promote economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.
Unless called back by the Governor for a special session, my trips to Frankfort will be for interim committee meetings to study and prepare legislation for the 2010 General Assembly next January. If you have any thoughts about the work we accomplished here for the past three months or want to voice your opinion about next session, please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or emailing me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing your questions and comments.
Senator Thayer Reviews This Week in Frankfort – March 20
Frankfort – The General Assembly closed the final full week of session with a strong bipartisan effort giving final passage to both Senate Bill 1, regarding education reform, and House Bill 330, Kentucky’s $3.7 billion road plan.
After several years of discussion and compromise, the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed on completely revamping Kentucky’s educational assessment process. The biggest change will replace CATS with a combination standards-based and norm-referenced test by the 2011-2012 school year. A new math exam will be available a year earlier. Testing time will be reduced to five days allowing more time for instruction. In this way, parents and teachers will be able to gauge individual achievement and see how a child learns year to year and compare that progress with fellow students in Kentucky as well as in the United States. The writing portfolio that we heard many complaints from teachers will not be used for assessment purposes this year. All core content areas will be revised and streamlined. Another important aspect of the legislation is that the Commissioner of Education and the President of the Council on Postsecondary Education will work together to ensure that high school graduation requirements align with the entrance standards of Kentucky’s public postsecondary institutions in terms of knowledge content. This is a great step forward for Kentucky students and education reform.
The Legislature also passed a road plan with identifies $370 million in “shovel-ready” road and bridge projects that can begin construction immediately in order to take advantage of the federal stimulus dollars.
The Senate approved House Bill 229 which revises and modernizes the state’s economic incentive program to help existing businesses and attract new ones. Included in the package are tax credits for small businesses for new technology investments, a first-come, first-serve $5,000 tax credit for buyers of new homes, incentives for Kentucky’s film industry, and incentives for the Breeders’ Cup to be held more often in Kentucky and Kentucky Speedway to try to lure a major NASCAR Cup race.
Finally, House Bill 383 to require all high school coaches to complete a safety course, including emergency medical training, and House Bill 315 that prohibits sex offenders from logging onto social networking sites used by children under 18, both passed and hopefully will help protect our children on the field and off.
The General Assembly will return for the final two days on March 26th and 27th which are reserved to consider the governor’s vetoes, if any. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or emailing me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing your questions and comments.
Senator Thayer Reviews This Week in Frankfort – March 6
FRANKFORT — As we hit the home stretch of this 30-day legislative session this week, we directed our attention to a range of bills that will make a difference in the lives of all Kentuckians. This is our last opportunity to focus on Senate bills, as next week, each chamber will turn its attention to final passage of legislation already passed by the other, so the Governor can sign or veto the bills during our two-week recess later in March.
As we continued on our theme of improving the education of Kentucky’s children, we passed Senate Bill 180. It would expand the KEES program, which has given so many Kentucky students a chance to earn a college degree. While both public and private school students are eligible for the program, which awards up to $2,500 for each year of college, home-schooled students have never been included. SB 180 would give those students the same opportunity as their public and private school counterparts.
We recognize that there have always been concerns about the uneven standards for home schooling, just as not every public school provides the same grading standards. Under our bill, home school students’ KEES award would be based solely on their ACT score rather than their GPA, at least for the first year of college. After that, the portion of their KEES award normally based on their high school GPA would be based on the GPA from their first year of college. By doing this, we can open up college opportunities for all Kentucky students, including the many bright and talented students who have received their education through home schooling.
A rally was held in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday where the Senate’s passage of Senate Bill 79 was celebrated. The bill would direct a doctor to make available an ultrasound picture of the baby to a woman considering an abortion. Women, as all patients do, deserve to be fully informed of the effects of their medical procedures and ultrasounds are already performed to gauge the age of the fetus. Too many times we’ve seen women make this fateful decision, only to regret it later. I am a proud cosponsor of SB 79.
Following up on the Senate’s renewed emphasis on transparency and accountability, we approved a later state primary election date — and the later candidate filing deadline that goes along with it. By passing Senate Bill 124, the filing deadline for candidates is moved from the last Tuesday in January to the last Tuesday in April and moves the primary from May to August. This would allow voters to see how an incumbent has voted during the legislative session in order to make a more informed decision. This would also lead to a shorter election season, which should be a welcome relief after the increasingly long cycles we’ve seen in recent years.
Finally, the Senate also passed Senate Bill 84, which requires state agencies and public universities to report the type, quantity and price of all agricultural products purchased to the Legislative Research Commission and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. The availability of this information enables local farmers to compete more effectively by allowing them to see what the demand and price is for certain agricultural products. Transparency also allows the KDA to identify buyers’ needs and introduce them to local farmers who can meet those needs. Kentucky farmers are rightfully proud of their products and the state should encourage local agriculture as much as possible.
Next week will be focused on approving House bills, and sending the Governor legislation for his consideration. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or emailing me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing your questions and comments.
Frankfort Week in Review from Senator Damon Thayer – Feb. 27
Frankfort –This week, as the 2009 Session resumed, we passed bills aimed at holding your government and electoral processes visible and publically accountable, from campaigns to officeholders to lobbyists.
Senate Bill 62, a bill sponsored by me, calls for more frequent reporting of campaign contributions and also directs that many of these reports be filed electronically. This will allow the reports to be posted to the internet more quickly and with more accuracy. Citizens will then be able to see where the financial support of political candidates comes from when weighing their voting options.
Another bill I sponsored that passed the Senate this week is Senate Bill 53. This key piece of legislation will regulate the independent, tax-exempt groups popularly referred to as “527 committees” by requiring them to report their contribution activities when the organization in question becomes involved in state-regulated campaigns. These groups can potentially raise massive amounts of campaign cash spend the funds on issue ads. Too many times during election season, we see ads praising or condemning a candidate or ballot measure — sometimes with millions being spent — but we don’t know until after the election who is paying for the ads or what their motives might be. Free speech through campaign contributions is important and should be protected but transparency of the process is always beneficial.
Finally, another bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 2 passed the Senate floor. It would cast light on any business relationships between lobbyists and elected officials. The bill would prohibit state contractors from donating more than $500 to any candidate for office while also extending the time-limit ban on retired public officials taking jobs with an industry they used to regulate. Currently, they must wait six months; SB 2 would extend that period to two years. A third provision of the bill includes business associates among the people who cannot benefit from a public official’s actions.
Ethical government and ethical elections are crucial to the success of self-government, and legislation to promote those core American values is as important as anything we do in Frankfort.
I would also like to add that Kentucky, as the home of two military bases, is rightfully proud of our servicemen and women. A few years ago, we created the military family assistance trust fund to help the families left behind when mothers and fathers were called to the war on terror. This week, we augmented the program with Senate Bill 37 which will help provide for the educational needs of veterans who have lost limbs if they received the injury while on active duty. We respect the service of these veterans and honor them.
There are just a few weeks of the session remain this year. The state has a toll-free number, 1-800-372-7181, that you can call with any questions or comments or you can email me at [email protected].
Frankfort Week in Review from Senator Damon Thayer – Feb. 20
Frankfort – This week in Frankfort, we have been working on the state road plan as well as working on legislation at the committee level. We weren’t in session on the Senate floor this week, which gives me the chance to update you on why I voted NO on the much talked about tax bill the Governor signed into law last week.
On Friday the 13th, the Senate approved an agreement that contained both the Governor’s proposed cuts to state government as well as an increase in taxes in order to balance the budget before the end of the current fiscal year on June 30th. The increased tax revenues come from a 30 cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax and a 6% sales tax on package sales of alcoholic beverages. The bill, HB 144, passed the Senate 24-12.
I did not vote for this package as I feel that we cannot afford to raise taxes on the people of this state in a time of economic downturn. In such times, each side of the political spectrum often uses the circumstances as an opportunity to move forward their own agendas. While some in Frankfort believe that we should increase the role of government, it has always been my philosophy to decrease the size of state government in order to decrease the tax burden on working families and promote economic growth throughout the Commonwealth.
I am also troubled by the fact that high growth areas like Scott County and Northern Kentucky already receive too little back in the taxes we pay to Frankfort due to the various formulas like the SEEK school funding formula, and this budget will only make that disparity worse. In addition, not all counties sell alcohol so the alcohol tax will not be borne by all of Kentucky’s citizens equally. Rather, Lexington, Louisville and Northern Kentucky will pay a disproportionate share of this tax.
I am happy that some wasteful spending was cut in the budget bill. But by making this bill law, members of the Senate and House are all but admitting that they cannot cut further and I don’t believe that’s true. It is unfair to cut into the household budgets of the families of this state while letting state government continue to grow during these tough times. I have sponsored several bills that deal with both improving Kentucky’s climate for creating new jobs and reducing the costs of state government, and I hope leaders will consider them as part of the solution to the situation we find ourselves in today.
We still have more than a month of the 2009 Session remaining, and if you have any questions or concerns about upcoming legislation or would like to voice your opinion, please call me on the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at [email protected]
Frankfort Week in Review from Senator Damon Thayer – Feb. 13
Frankfort – Every year, many good bills fail simply because there isn’t enough time for both chambers to fully consider them. That’s especially true in a 30-day “short session” like this year’s. In the last two weeks, however, the Senate has taken early action on major legislation, giving the House more time to study those bills.
As we work towards solving Kentucky’s economy for the future, we must also prepare our children. The Senate passed two far-reaching education proposals this week. Both Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass Senate Bill 1, the Senate’s signature bill. This legislation will replace the CATS test with a nationally norm-referenced test, supplemented by additional multiple-choice questions to ensure full coverage of Kentucky’s core content at grades three to eight, and the EPAS system (EXPLORE, PLAN, and the ACT) in the high school. We have heard from so many parents and teachers that the current assessment program does not provide valid information on how well their children are doing in comparison with their classmates, students in Kentucky, and students nationally. Many teachers also feel that they must “teach to the test.” The legislation will help parents and teachers track how their students are doing year to year and provide comparisons with national norms and with other states so that we have an accurate measurement of how our educational system is progressing.
Senate Bill 3, also passed in a bipartisan vote, provides an early graduation option to high school students who meet course requirements, grade point average, and college readiness standards. A student who completes an early graduation program will receive an “Early Graduation Scholarship Certificate” with the value of 24 credit hours at KCTCS. There is also a set of requirements for a four-year university program. Legislation like this will help focus our students on the higher challenges required of them.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 30, a crime victims protection bill. SB 30 is common sense legislation that will protect these victims by releasing only the text transcript of a 911 call, avoiding the uncomfortable situation when the audio of a 911 tape is played over and over again on the news. The audio record will still be available to law enforcement officials and to attorneys in any judicial proceedings. SB 30 protects the public’s right to know while also maintaining a level of human dignity for crime victims. I will never be part of legislation that restricts the public’s right to know through open records.
Finally this week, we voted to end our state’s restrictions on nuclear energy, the most burdensome in the nation. Under SB 13, Kentucky could join most other states in mandating safe storage options for the waste produced by nuclear facilities. Our current policy is that no power plants can be built until the nation has a permanent disposal site — and Congress has been debating such a site at Yucca Mountain since the 1980s. In the meantime, our nation has come to depend on foreign oil for its energy needs.
By combining the central role of coal in our nation’s energy future with the clean, safe potential of nuclear energy, Kentucky can become a leader in our nation’s fight for energy independence. These facilities also bring hundreds of high-paying construction, engineering, and permanent jobs, helping our economy for the long-term.
We still have more than a month of the 2009 Session remaining, please call me if you have any questions or concerns about upcoming legislation or would like to voice your opinion, toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.
Frankfort Week in Review from Senator Damon Thayer – Feb. 6
Frankfort –The full Senate reconvened this week after a three-week break for committee meetings. We made it a priority to begin our strong push on improving Kentucky’s education policy. On our first day back, we passed Senate Joint Resolution 19 which, if passed by the State House of Representatives, will streamline math standards in schools. Right now, our requirements are too vague for our high school students to receive the specific math training they need for their careers. Another effect of the current policy is that our students, when they graduate, are not prepared for college algebra. We must ensure that our children understand the fundamentals of math and master them before they leave high school. We chose SJR 19 as our first piece of legislation this week in order to highlight how important it is to the Senate to move forward on this issue without delay.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 4, a drug diversion bill. SB 4 requires that anyone charged with a felony be screened for substance abuse before trial. The presiding judge can then order a recovery program as a condition for bail. If the person successfully completes the pretrial diversion program and does not commit any other offenses, the charges can be dropped and the felony erased from their record. But make no mistake, long-term monitoring will be provided. SB 4 will allow law enforcement officials to balance accountability with rehabilitation.
Finally, the Senate also passed Senate Bill 5 which will allow law enforcement to arrest anyone caught driving under the influence of drugs, within certain parameters. Blood or urine tests would be used to determine whether the driver was impaired; but prescription drugs taken as directed would not be illegal in this situation. Also, highly intoxicated drivers could face incarceration for a first DUI offense.
This week also saw both chambers gather together to hear the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth address. The Governor laid out his vision of how to close the projected $456 million shortfall in the budget. Discussions on this serious problem are ongoing between the Senate and the House. It is the Senate’s priority to protect education, health services, and infrastructure. I am confident that we will be able to arrive at a resolution in a timely manner.
As I close this column, I want to acknowledge the sacrifice of so many Kentuckians during the past two weeks who have struggled without power and some even without water. I am also grateful to the National Guard and the utility workers who have worked tirelessly during this difficult time.
Senator Thayer Page Program
Frankfort – On February 3, the Kentucky General Assembly will be re-convening in Frankfort for the 2009 Legislative session. I would like to take this opportunity to invite students to serve in the Senate Page Program. This gives students an opportunity to assist Senate Members in the Senate Chamber, and have a firsthand look at how the Senate operates. Students interested in government, politics and civics are encouraged to attend, and the experience is best enjoyed with a friend with shared interests.
The page program has the following requirements for each student:
- Pages are required to be 12 to 18 years of age.
- Each student should have permission of their parent or guardian to serve as a page and that person is responsible for getting them to the page office located in the Senate Chambers and picking them up.
- Students should arrive at least one hour before the session begins for orientation and training.
- Tuesdays through Thursdays are the best days for serving as a page.
- Session begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, at 4 p.m. on Monday and 9 a.m. on Friday.
- Pages should wear something neat, coats and ties for boys and skirts or dresses for girls are not required, but are common. Mini-skirts are not appropriate.
I look forward to having students from my district visit me. Please contact Susan Rambo at (502) 564-8100 ext. 827 to schedule this visit.
Senator Damon Thayer
Frankfort Week in Review
The Kentucky General Assembly convened its 2009 Regular Session this week, with more than 200 bills already filed and more on the way. During this odd-year “short” session, legislators will meet for 30 days. Already, I have been selected as the Chairman of the Senate State & Local Government Committee. I have also been assigned seats on the Senate Agriculture Committee; the Senate Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations Committee; and the Senat Transportation Committee. I will also serve as Senate Chair of the Subcommittee on Horse Farming. All of these will help me provide the people of my district with a wide-ranging voice on the pertinent issues of the day
Typically, the rest of January is used to wrap up any legislation in the interim committees. However, many of you have probably heard about the state’s budget situation. We are faced with a projected $456 million budget shortfall. Governor Steve Beshear has proposed budget cuts, a 70 cent cigarette tax, and furloughs for state employees. It is my belief that we must look at cost cutting before raising any taxes. These times provide us with the perfect opportunity to see what is truly necessary. Furthermore, we must look at our budget with a long view to the future. None of the proposals the Governor has discussed will alleviate the situation next year. The Senate is open to considering all options. Providing for education, infrastructure, and health services will be priorities.
One issue we worked on this week was the increasing need for our high school students to improve in math and related fields in order to compete in tomorrow’s workforce. Senate Joint Resolution 19, which passed the Senate Education Committee this week, directs the state to revise the core content standards for math. We want to ensure students focus on critical basic skills rather than an overly broad set of goals that spread teachers too thin.
Of course, many other issues large and small will arise when we finish out the remainder of the session in February and March. To help us do that work, we need you, our constituents, to stay in contact. The General Assembly has a number of ways for you to stay informed, from our toll-free hotlines to the Kentucky Legislature Home Page to our free e-mail service.
The Kentucky Legislature Home Page (www.lrc.ky.gov) provides information on each of Kentucky’s senators and representatives, including their phone numbers, addresses, and legislative committee assignments. The home page also provides summaries and texts of bills, as well as information on the progress each bill has made through the legislative process. Feel free to call me in Frankfort at (800) 372-7181 or email at [email protected]
Sen. Vernie McGaha(left) and Sen. Damon Thayer take the oath of office
as they are sworn into four-year terms in the Kentucky state Senate.
Sen. Damon Thayer confers on the Senate floor with Senators Katie Stine
and Dan Seum, both members of the Republican Leadership team.
Senator Damon Thayer and Senator Katie Stine discuss upcoming
legislation during the first week of the 2009 General Assembly.
Successful Bills sponsored by Senator Thayer
Senate Bill 60 streamlines annd simplifies the UFIR (Uniform Financial Information Report) document which cities must file annually with state government, thus making city financial data more readily available and easier to utlize.
Senate Bill 112 eliminated the possibility of taxpayer funded political campaigns in Kentucky. In 1995, $17 million was wasted on the Governor’s race. Although recent campaigns never received formal funding from the Commonwealth, the statutes that lay out the framework for the system were still in Kentucky law books. SB 112 eliminated the campaign finance law lawmakers approved in 1992 to let candidates for governor receive public funds to cover some of their campaign expenses.
House Bill 272, the tax modernization plan, includes a provision that created a breeders’ incentive plan in the state by diverting taxes from the general fund to three breeding incentive funds to be administered by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority. Senator Thayer visited with the governor with the idea and asked that he include this provision in the tax modernization plan. The provision assigns the sales tax paid on breeding fees to breed development funds for the horse industry. These funds could attract new business and sustain existing business in Kentucky’s horse industry.
House Bill 230 requires a local board of education to award a high school diploma to an honorably discharged veteran who was enrolled in, but did not complete, high school prior to being inducted into the United States Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. Senator Thayer sponsored this bill in the Senate where it received strong bi-partisian support.
Senate Bill 145 allows law enforcement officials to charge those caught exposing themselves to minors with a felony upon the second offense. The old indecent exposure law only allowed for a misdemeanor charge and ignored the victim’s age. This sends a strong message that Kentucky will no longer tolerate these crimes against our children. Potential sex offenders should now think twice before targeting children because if they do, they will be punished severely and will spend time behind bars.
Senate Bill 228 will increase the efficiency of state government by ensuring that every tax dollar is accounted for responsibly. Through errors and fraud, several hundred million dollars are owed to the Commonwealth. SB 228 established an audit system that will identify and prevent error and abuse in order to recoup these payments. It also establishes a system for the Finance Cabinet to collect debts owed to the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 127 allows the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to make more money available for low-interest loans to local communities for use in water and sewer services. In 2003, $119.6 million in available funds provided communities with the tools to help themselves, and all without General Fund appropriations. This policy makes common-sense for cities and towns in need and financial sense for taxpayers of the Commonwealth.
Senate Bill 133 allows county and independent school districts to form or join interlocal cooperation agreements with counties and cities to make the payment of occupational taxes easier and less time consuming for small businesses. Such agreements can already be entered into by a city council, county commission, or agency of the state but was not a right of public school district until SB 133 became law.
Senate Resolution 36 honors the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan’s ascension to the presidency from a lower-middle class home through hard work, determination, and persistence is a role model for all Kentuckians to follow. Indeed, President Reagan left a lasting mark on our nation’s history. With is death in 2004, Senator Thayer introduced the resolution honoring the President of the Kentucky State Senate.
Senate Resolution 40 honors and supports members of the United States Armed Forces and President George W. Bush for their steadfast efforts in protecting our nation and fighting terror. In the resoulution introduced by Senator Thayer, the Senate expresseed its unyielding support of the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in Iraq and the ongoing Global War on Terrorism. The Senate also expressed its wholehearted support and utmost appreciation to our troops for their outstanding efforts in protecting American liberty and providing for the security of this Commonwealth, our nation, and the world.