News Archives - 2011

Thayer Prefiles Bill to Eliminate Office of State Treasurer

FRANKFORT — On December 15, State Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) prefiled legislation for the 2012 Regular Session of the General Assembly to eliminate the office of State Treasurer.

The constitutional amendment, titled BR 821 until session convenes in January, will allow voters to decide if the Office of the Treasurer should be abolished.

“The Treasurer is a Constitutional Office whose duties do not justify a cost of nearly $3 million dollars in the state budget,” said Senator Thayer, Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. “The General Assembly needs to find cost-savings within state government, especially in areas like this where this is duplication of duties.”

Senator Thayer’s bill, if passed by both chambers of the General Assembly and ratified by the voters of the Commonwealth, could lead to savings and efficiencies through economies of scale. The Treasurer’s Office has a staff of 30 with a budget of $2.85 million.

“The Finance Cabinet is already tasked with supervision of Treasurer’s employees on how to fill out checks, in addition to bookkeeping for the unclaimed property fund so if this amendment is adopted, any remaining duties could be handled by the Finance Cabinet. Kentuckians deserve common sense applications and this is exactly how we can make state government more efficient, while saving valuable taxpayer dollars,” said Senator Thayer.

A similar bill, also sponsored by Senator Thayer, passed the Senate during the 2008 Session.


Thayer Proposes Congressional District Map

Frankfort - "Kentuckians want less political wrangling and maneuvering in the legislative process, so I have drawn a map that hopefully avoids this, and keeps the citizens in mind. This map looks much like the current map, with a few required shifts for population. There is no effort to shift the partisan balance of any district. We are simply building on the lines as they've existed for the past 20 years in the hopes of building consensus for a quick resolution so that people know who their congressman is moving forward."

Note: This map represents Senator Damon Thayer’s proposal for the congressional districts. He has developed it in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

Senator Thayer recently appeared on Insight Cable's statewide show "Pure Politics with Ryan Alessi." Links to the segments are below.


Thayer For Senate Campaign Reports $100,000 On Hand For 2012 Campaign

November 21, 2011

The Thayer for Senate campaign fund of Senator Damon Thayer(R-Georgetown) reported in its annual fundraising report last week that it had raised $118,395 for Thayer’s 2012 re-election campaign with just over $100,000 cash on hand. Thayer has served the citizens of the 17th Senate district since winning a special election in 2003, winning re-election handily in 2004 and 2008 in a district that is registered majority Democratic.

“We are gratified by Senator Thayer’s impressive fundraising total this early in the campaign,” said Thayer for Senate campaign treasurer Amy Hargrave. “This total shows that not only is Senator Thayer prepared to remind voters of his strong, conservative record next year, but also that he already enjoys broad support from people who want to see him re-elected.”

Thayer is the Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, co-chairman of the Horse Farming Subcommittee and a member of the Transportation, Agriculture and Licensing and Occupations Committees.

Thayer has been endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life in very race he has run, and is an “A” rated candidate by the NRA. The Kentucky Club for Growth has ranked him as the Senate’s top fiscal conservative for two years, and U.S. Senator Rand Paul(R-KY) recently said of Thayer that he is “… one of the most conservative, if not the most conservative, member of the state Senate.”

Thayer has spent his career advocating for Kentucky’s taxpayers, authoring successful bills to eliminate taxpayer funding of political campaigns, end the unnecessary gubernatorial primary runoff election, require all branches of state government to post expenses online, require regional sanitation districts to have more accountability to voters when rate increases are considered, and to require more transparency and disclosure from taxpayer-funded organizations like the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of Counties.

Senator Thayer is a leader in the Senate on public employee pension reform, and has also been an advocate for eliminating the office of State Treasurer and for reforming how tax and rate increases are approved by special districts.

Thayer was re-elected in 2008 in a three-way race, receiving 62% of the vote in a district where Democrats greatly outnumber Republicans; it was also the year Barack Obama was elected president in a difficult environment for Republicans. Thayer for Senate raised over $300,000 for that campaign effort.

“I am looking forward to running an aggressive campaign touting my record of fiscal responsibility, government transparency, restraining government growth, and protecting the rights of the taxpayers,” Thayer said. “Our campaign will continue to be active on the fundraising front, and we will have a strong grassroots organization so that we have the resources necessary to deliver my message to the voters in the 17th district.”


Redistricting Planned for 2012 - Op-Ed by Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown)

FRANKFORT – The U.S. Census conducted every 10 years is used for a variety of functions by our nation’s leaders. Complicated formulas take into account population, income, and other factors to determine how certain spending is allocated, from housing assistance to highway construction.
The U.S. Constitution, however, mandates the Census for one simple purpose: determining how many members of Congress each state sends to Washington, a process known as reapportionment. In this last census count, eight states gained seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, while 10 states lost seats. Some states gained or lost more than one seat. Kentucky’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will remain the same, but those six districts will be altered somewhat because of the growth of the Bluegrass and Northern Kentucky regions relative to other regions of the state.

State leaders also use census data to re-draw state legislative boundaries every 10 years. Just as with congressional districts, the General Assembly will draw new lines based on which areas of the state are growing quickly, which are growing more slowly, and which areas are actually losing population. For example, the Senate district I represent, the 17th, had the second-fastest growth in the state over the last decade. That means this district will have to grow smaller in area, while others, particularly those in certain cities and Eastern Kentucky, will have to expand because of population losses.

This summer, the committee I co-chair, the Interim Joint Committee on State Government, is looking at these population shifts and investigating ways to draw three maps — one each for the U.S. House, the Kentucky Senate, and the Kentucky House of Representatives. There are a number of state and federal laws that dictate how these maps are drawn, and in some cases they conflict.
Foremost among these rules is the principle of “one person, one vote.” This means that all districts must be relatively close in population. State legislative districts can only deviate 5% from the ideal population. Congressional districts, however, must be exactly the ideal number, give or take one person.

Courts have defined the “one person, one vote” principle in many ways over the last 50 years, but one traditional interpretation has been that minority communities should be kept together to ensure their voice is heard in Frankfort. After the 2000 Census, lawmakers drew three House districts and one Senate district, all in Louisville, so that African-Americans made up a majority of voters. Those numbers should appear similarly during this round.

The state constitution also says that as much as possible, counties should be kept whole. The current Senate divides only three counties, the minimum possible. The problem is obviously more difficult in the House, with 100 districts. Because of population shifts, not every county can be kept within one district, especially with the mandate that districts be close in population.
There are other traditional guidelines, such as the need for compact districts. This isn’t always possible, but Kentucky has been good about keeping legislative districts small enough that lawmakers can easily travel to every part of their district. Other states are known for their “gerrymanders,” or districts that are so oddly-shaped it’s obvious someone had an agenda when they were drawn.

My hope is that Senate and House leaders can work together so that when the 2012 General Assembly convenes on January 3, we’ll have a set of maps ready for a vote. The filing deadline for candidates is January 31, and we need to give candidates as much time as possible to make decisions. In 2002, before I was elected to the Senate, there were delays in reaching a compromise. In fact, the problems were so difficult that the filing deadline had passed and a new deadline for candidates had to be included in the bill. I hope we can deal with this issue during our regular session as in the past, and not in a costly special session.

With the Annual Session now completed, I will be preparing for next year's Session. As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing me at [email protected].


Thayer Holds Voter Identification Hearing

FRANKFORT — Sen. Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) held a legislative hearing on Tuesday in his capacity as co-chair of the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs. The Task Force heard a general presentation on voter identification laws in Kentucky as well as an update on how other states approach this election issue.

“Voter ID” has become a hot topic in many state houses across the nation. In fact, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) featured an in-depth report on the issue in a summer edition of their “State Legislatures” Magazine.

“Protecting the integrity of our elections is at the very core of our Republic,” Thayer said. “While there is no evidence of widespread voter impersonation in Kentucky, the opportunity exists under current election law and I thought it important to have a hearing on the issue to understand how other states are dealing with it.”

Among the presenters at the hearing was Jennifer Bowser, a senior fellow with the NCSL. Bowser testified that no states that have recently changed their laws turn away voters with no identification. These states instead set up recourse for the voter, such as requiring them to sign an affidavit as to their identity, or casting a provisional ballot. In some cases, states require the voter to return to the polling place or Board of Elections to have their vote counted. In other words, voters with no identification still have options to have their vote counted.

With an increasing number of states adopting new voter identification laws within the last ten years, the issue has often evolved into a non-partisan one. Democrats and Republicans in various states and regions across the country have taken both supportive and opposing stances on the issue. It is important to point this out as this public policy issue is often emotional charged due to the delicate balance that must be struck between protecting our democracy from voter fraud while also ensuring the right of public access to the ballot box.

In Kentucky, state law currently requires election officers to confirm the identity of each voter by personal acquaintance or by a document. The document may be a driver’s license, social security card, or credit card. When the officers of an election disagree as to the qualifications of a voter or if his/her right to vote is disputed by a challenger, the voter can sign a written oath as to his/her qualifications before he/she is permitted to vote.


The First Casualties in Obama’s War on Fossil Fuels will be Kentucky Workers

By Senator Damon Thayer, Kentucky Senate District 17

With the economy showing tepid growth, a job scene characterized by intractably high unemployment and global financial markets see-sawing daily, one would think that President Obama would be pulling out all the stops to get business humming again.

In fact, his administration’s policies – including the most recent attempt to increase taxes and borrowing in debt-ceiling negotiations – are doing little to get the economy going. Remember when Vice President Joe Biden announced the “Summer of Recovery” in June 2010? We’re still waiting.

But nowhere are the Obama administration’s policies so potentially lethal to our economic prospects – and especially so in Kentucky – as in the energy sector. Here, the president and his supporters in Congress have mounted a two-pronged campaign to increase taxes on energy producers while turning the Environmental Protection Agency loose on the coal industry in a breathtaking show of regulatory overreach.

With its hopes for cap-and-trade dashed by the results of the November 2010 elections, the White House is now advancing a “cap-and-trade by other means” campaign through its executive and regulatory powers. For Kentucky workers, this “strangulation by regulation” approach on the fossil fuel industry could prove disastrous.

Remember, we have a president who on the 2008 campaign trail vowed that an “aggressive” cap-and-trade program would make it so costly to build a coal-fired plant that it would “bankrupt” the builders. He has described fossil fuels as “yesterday’s energy” and is pushing to raise taxes on America’s largest gas and oil producers in a politically motivated campaign that labels legitimate tax deductions – broadly used by a numerous industries – as “subsidies.”

The EPA is currently preparing more than two dozen major regulations for implementation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has identified five aimed at coal-fired power plants for the purpose of reducing emissions. Kentucky, which generates the vast majority of its electricity from coal-burning plants, also enjoys some of the lowest retail rates in the country. Now imagine the effect on Kentucky families, businesses and local government if the EPA is allowed to run roughshod over key industries here.

In the wake of new EPA directives aimed at coal-fired electricity plants, Duke Energy announced that it would shutter, among others, a plant in Hamilton County, Ohio, which provides electricity to Kentucky. The reason is that the Charlotte, N.C.-based utility said it would cost too much to upgrade that plant to comply with the new EPA standards.

Duke can easily buy electricity on the wholesale market and resell it to customers, but what about the lost jobs at the shuttered power plant and tax revenue that would have flowed to local schools and government units? Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) was told that the closing of the power plant would cost one Ohio school district $2 million in revenue.

“The people who end up paying for the revenue lost because of the EPA’s regulations will be the students whose schools are not as well equipped as they should be, the teachers who lose jobs or are not paid what they deserve, and the parents who have to dig deeper into their pockets to cover tax increases that these localities could be prompted to seek,” Schmidt said.

The Atlanta-based Southern Co. recently announced that EPA regulations would force it to either shut or convert to natural gas about 40 percent of its coal-fired plant capacity. To comply with various proposed federal regulations, the utility estimated that it would have to spend up to $18 billion by 2020.

Does the EPA understand that Kentucky’s coal industry paid $271 million in state severance taxes in 2009-10, and that almost $100 million of this revenue was returned to coal-producing counties for economic development projects? Imagine what would happen to the state’s unemployment rate, currently at 9.6 percent, if the EPA were allowed to shut down or “bankrupt” the industry and the electric utilities it supplies.

When Congress takes up the budget and debt negotiations again after its summer recess, there will be renewed calls from the White House to raise taxes on domestic energy producers. The Obama administration and its allies on Capitol Hill will also be pushing the EPA to go after the coal industry.

Fortunately for the people of Kentucky, we have Senators McConnell and Paul pushing back against the administration’s campaign to undermine the coal, oil and gas industries. They are drawing the line on higher taxes, regulatory overreach, and policies that undermine our fragile economy recovery. They understand that securing affordable and abundant sources of energy are the only way we’ll ever get this economy back on track, and re-ignite the job creation engine.

Damon Thayer is a state senator representing Grant, Kenton, Owen, and Scott Counties.


Kentucky Club for Growth: Sen. Damon Thayer a Champion for Taxpayers in the Senate

Kentucky ranks poorly on many lists. An article from Forbes last year listed Kentucky as the worst-run state in the country. The Institute for Truth in Accounting calls Kentucky a ‘Bottom 5 Sinkhole State’ due to nearly $30 billion in unfunded debt and obligations, largely from the state pension system. Every dollar of debt is pressure for future tax increases, and $30 billion is equivalent to $23,800 for every Kentucky taxpayer.

Every year, the Kentucky Club for Growth compiles a scorecard ranking our legislature according to how they have voted to address Kentucky’s challenges and protect Kentucky’s taxpayers. In the history of our scorecard, no Senator has opposed unnecessary spending and held the line against tax increases more often than Damon Thayer.

A few years ago in an article about our rankings, Sen. Damon Thayer noted that after receiving a low ranking in our initial scorecard in 2007, he “rededicated [him]self to fiscal conservatism.”

While Thayer ranked 25th in the Senate in 2007, he has become a leader for fiscal conservatives since. His ranking rose to 2nd in 2008, and he received the top ranking in the Senate in 2009 and 2010.

But votes don’t tell the whole story. Thayer has also become a dependable sponsor and champion of legislation to protect the Kentucky taxpayer.

He has sponsored legislation to eliminate the unnecessary office of State Treasurer and written bills to exempt school construction projects from artificial prevailing wage requirements.

When he discovered that citizens and businesses were paying storm water taxes to a storm water system that didn’t serve them, he introduced legislation to correct the problem. He also crafted legislation that would close property tax loopholes and require all taxing authorities to adhere to the 4% property tax cap.

This year, he was lead sponsor on SB 2, a bill that would address Kentucky’s largest financial challenge. SB 2 would reform the state retirement system and reduce the state’s $30 billion unfunded liability.

For years, Thayer has introduced legislation to require the government to post spending online. This year SB 7 finally passed and Kentucky taxpayers will have a resource to find out exactly how state government is spending our tax dollars.

He created new accountability for regional sanitation commissions – like SD1 in Northern Kentucky – by requiring them to post expenses online and requiring rate increases to be approved by fiscal courts that are accountable to the voting ratepayers.

His record isn’t perfect, but his commitment to government transparency, low taxes and controlled spending is unmatched in the Senate.

Andy Hightower is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Club for Growth, a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to economic freedom, limited government, lower taxes and less regulation. To find out more about the scorecard and the Club, please visit our website atwww.kyclubforgrowth.org, or email [email protected]


 

Education Improvements on the Way
Op-Ed by Senator Damon Thayer(R-Georgetown)

FRANKFORT – – Two years ago, the General Assembly passed the most comprehensive improvement to K-12 education in Kentucky in two decades. When I co-sponsored Senate Bill 1, my goal was to ensure that every student’s education prepares them for their future, whether they attend college, join the armed forces, or directly enter the workforce. For the last 20 years, our testing system has concentrated on evaluating schools, but individual students and their success should be our focus. When fully implemented this fall, SB 1 will emphasize student learning and achievement from the first day they enter the classroom to the day they cross the stage at graduation.
No system of change this large can be implemented overnight, and indeed the final touches will begin this fall. I want to update you on where we are right now and the differences we’ll be seeing in education.

The Kentucky Department of Education has worked hard over the last two years to follow the Senate’s directive and develop new standards for core content. These new standards are more aligned with what our colleges expect students to know when they begin their freshman year, and what our businesses expect students to know when they first enter the workforce out of high school. This was an original goal with KERA, but that focus was lost over time.

Setting those goals was important, but having an action plan for achieving those goals is critical. Beginning next school year, statewide tests will last only five days, and will take place according to the individual school’s calendar. This will prevent some students attending class for weeks after “end-of-year” tests have concluded thanks to snow days or sick days. Most significantly, students will get their results back before the next school year begins. Those who haven’t mastered the skills they need in English, math, science, and social studies will be identified quickly and will have access to interventional programs that will bring them up to speed rather than falling further behind their peers.

Another critique of the old testing system has been that students have no stake in the outcome, so they don’t take it seriously. Recently, the state Board of Education voted to essentially require end-of-year tests to make up at least 20% of a student’s final grade. Local schools and district can opt out, but they’d have to explain why.
While the spotlight will now shine on individual student learning rather than school-wide performance, teachers and school administrators will also be evaluated. The final plan for school accountability is a fresh look at what constitutes a “good school.” Every school will be evaluated based on three factors: 1) overall test scores for the student population; 2) test scores for “gap groups” to make sure that minority students, low-income students, disabled students, and students of both genders are achieving at high rates; and 3) the percentage of students who are improving their scores year-over-year.

Middle schools and high schools will also be evaluated based on college readiness test scores like the ACT or EXPLORE, and high schools will additionally be judged on their graduation rates.

When KERA was passed in 1990, its goal was that every child could learn at a high rate, no matter their background. These new accountability standards will transform that motto from an ideal to a reality. Every child, no matter where they are headed after graduation, should be learning in the classroom every day.

With the Annual Session now completed, I will be preparing for next year's Session. As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing me at [email protected].


Annual Session Saw Passage of Numerous Bills
by Sen. Damon Thayer

FRANKFORT –Now that the 2011 General Assembly has adjourned, I wanted to review some of the legislation enacted this year. As chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, I made sure that we took action on key pieces of legislation that will impact the lives of many Kentuckians.

I am very proud that Senate Bill 7 became law. I was the primary sponsor SB 7, also known as the “Taxpayer Transparency Act.” It requires that all three branches of government and state universities create Web sites where all financial transactions may be viewed by the public.

Another bill I sponsored which became law was Senate Bill 24, which creates an interstate horse racing and wagering compact with Kentucky becoming the first state to enact the provisions of the compact. The compact will give state racing commissions the option—but not require them—to participate in the same rules and programs as other states. It will also simplify procedures for horsemen racing in multiple jurisdictions.

Many other bills that were approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee also became law. Senate Bill 64 establishes a Kentucky Center for African-American Heritage attached to the Tourism Cabinet. House Bill 33 prohibits any state agency from mailing an unsolicited publication to any person who has not requested a copy, thus saving taxpayer dollars. House Bill 192 requires secondary schools to provide information to 12th-grade students on how to register to vote and vote in an election. House Concurrent Resolution 13 creates a Task Force to study childhood obesity. House Bill 333 allows the sale of fireworks in Kentucky, consistent with our neighboring states. House Bill 433 establishes the tire waste working group in the Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Other important legislation passed the committee and the Senate this year but did not become law in 2011 due to lack of action in the House of Representatives. These bills include Senate Bill 2, which would have reformed the public employee pension system. SB 2 would help put Kentucky on more sound financial footing with a move toward a 401(k)-style plan for future state and local government employees. Senate Bill 10, known as the “21st Century Bill of Rights” highlights a variety of measures that will protect Kentucky’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution. SB 10 would have put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to prevent citizens from being forced into a federal health plan, prevent healthcare providers from being forced to perform abortions, require any expansion of gambling be done so through a vote of the people, prevent environmental extremists from ending coal mining, and affirm the free practice of religion, such as posting the 10 Commandments in public venues. One constitutional amendment that you will get to vote on in 2012 is HB 1, which will affirm the right of Kentuckians to hunt and fish. Finally, Senate Concurrent Resolution 134 would have made Kentucky the first state to petition Congress with specific proposals as part of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment. The proposed 28th Amendment would not only limit federal spending to annual revenues, but also prohibit tax increases or unfunded mandates on states. I was proud to work with U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky on this important legislation.

With the Annual Session now completed, I will be preparing for next year's Session. As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing me at [email protected].


SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW
By Senator Damon Thayer(R-Georgetown)
March 25, 2011
One of the more unusual and intriguing special sessions in recent memory wrapped up in rare fashion this week, with the House concurring in a Senate plan to plug a hole in the Medicaid budget without the need for a conference committee. Before voting for the plan, however, House leaders announced that Governor Steve Beshear would issue line-item vetoes gutting key Senate changes to the bill. The House then adjourned its session, forgoing the traditional opportunity to override those vetoes.

The budget process usually follows a familiar pattern: the House passes its plan, the Senate approves its own proposal, and then legislative leaders work out a compromise between the two. On the most important bill the General Assembly considers, the state budget, it is unheard of for one chamber to simply go along with the preferences of the other, especially when the two proposals seem so widely divergent as to promise lengthy negotiations.

And yet, in surprising fashion, that happened Thursday evening. The original House plan, passed on Monday, gave the governor until August 15 to show he could deliver on his promise to save $139 million through Medicaid managed care in the next fiscal year. Only then, if the savings could not be attained, would cuts be implemented.

On Thursday, the Senate approved a starkly different approach. The cuts would come immediately and only if the governor later came through on his promises would funding be restored to prioritized areas of state government. We settled in for the prospect of long hours, potentially days or weeks, of discussions before a final agreement was reached. Just as word spread that a compromise might never be reached at all — and the governor could be forced to make good on his warning of 35-percent cuts in Medicaid reimbursement — the House abruptly chose to concur in the Senate plan.
The caveat to that concurrence was that the governor was already planning to issue line-item vetoes of the parts he and House leaders didn't like. The House chose to adjourn sine die, forgoing the Legislature's ability to override those vetoes they knew were coming. The Senate will be back on April 6, but without the House to join us, there is no hope of maintaining our legislative equality in this budget process.

That process may only be interesting to political junkies, but the policy could affect nearly every Kentuckian. Since we don't know specifically what line-item vetoes the governor will issue, I can only tell you what's in the bill we — and the House, remember — sent to him.

The plan we passed this week makes smaller cuts than the Senate approved in the regular session: 0.355 percent this fiscal year, and 1.74 percent in FY 2012, which begins July 1. After listening to the lengthy testimony of cabinet officials, our budget assumes the governor can achieve half the $139 million savings he has promised. As in the regular session, this plan exempts certain dedicated funds like local government economic development funds and coal severance.

Education will largely be spared cuts in this fiscal year. Our colleges and universities, as well as local K-12 districts’ per-pupil SEEK funding, will continue to be spared until January 30, when they too will share in the sacrifice. If the governor achieves just 82 percent of the savings he has promised — and we truly hope he reaches that threshold — those January cuts could be eliminated as well, continuing full education funding through the end of the budget cycle.

A second key aspect of the final plan deals with that savings threshold. The governor will certify the savings he has achieved before the General Assembly convenes in January 2012. Those figures will be subject to an independent evaluation by an accounting firm contracted by the legislative branch. That evaluation would also rely on the expertise of the Consensus Forecasting Group, the panel of independent economists that develops the revenue numbers on which the budget is based.

Finally the governor is required to achieve $169 million in savings across state government by reducing personal service contracts, cutting the number of political non-merit appointees, and instituting operational efficiencies that would not only save the state money immediately, but put us in better shape long-term. This is the same language the Senate proposed during the regular session, and the same language the General Assembly passed last year before the governor issued his vetoes.

Previously, we gave the governor authority to furlough state employees as necessary after those cost savings were achieved. The governor’s veto pen crossed out the cost savings requirement, and he proceeded with the furloughs, effectively cutting state worker pay, without the reductions in political spending. The House plan would have stopped those furloughs beginning July 1, but the Senate plan eliminates them immediately, giving state workers two more paid workdays in this fiscal year.

As I say, we aren’t quite sure which pieces of this bill the governor will veto — only House leaders are privy to that knowledge — but with each portion of the bill so interrelated with the others, it is all but certain that the end result will not adhere to our legislative intent. That is disappointing, but that is the prerogative of the House and the governor when they outnumber the Senate and choose to make a cynical power play power play.

Fortunately, we included language in this bill to eliminate legislator pay during this veto period, so the usual added cost of veto days is null.


SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW
by Senator Damon Thayer(R-Georgetown)
March 10, 2011

The 2011 legislative session ended this week just as it began in January — with unprecedented actions in the Senate aimed squarely at saving taxpayer dollars.

Rather than recessing — with pay — during our veto period and returning in two weeks, the Senate completed its work on Wednesday in our constitutionally allotted 30 days. While the General

Assembly has fought hard to assert its equality in our system of government and staunchly guards its ability to override the governor’s vetoes, we don’t see anything likely to be vetoed that can’t wait until next year.

Because legislators get paid daily until the end of the session, whether we’re in Frankfort or not, this move will — or would have — saved the taxpayers $800,000. That’s a significant savings from our relatively small branch of government, especially in light of the Senate’s call last week for minor state spending cuts across the board to plug a $166-million hole in our Medicaid program.
Unfortunately, House and Senate leaders could not agree on a plan that would ensure financial stability for Medicaid both next year and for the long run. As a result of that impasse — and the session adjourning early — Governor Steve Beshear, surprisingly, called a special session to deal with the issue beginning Monday.

We would much prefer that a special session call be delayed until the House and Senate could reach a consensus agreement on how to deal with the problem. With such an agreement in place, the session could finish its work in just five days.

As is, with both chambers still not in agreement, the governor has called what is basically an open-ended session — at who-knows-what cost to the taxpayers. While we don't agree with the governor's approach, it is his constitutional prerogative to call a special session.

Rest assured we will work hard to make that session as brief as possible.

Before we adjourned the regular session, though, two major pieces of the Senate’s legislative agenda were sent to the governor’s desk. You’ll remember that in the very first week of the session, a time traditionally spent on mere formalities, we passed a dozen bills aimed at overhauling the way state government does business. Of those dozen, only measures aimed at government transparency and efficiency were approved by the House.

Senate Bill 7, a bill I sponsored along with Sen. Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green), will require state agencies, including the legislative branch and the courts, to post their spending online in a searchable database. Most agencies do this already, but it’s at the whim of current officeholders. Future governors or other officials could choose to keep that information offline. SB 7 puts it in statute, ensuring that taxpayers will always have quick access to knowing how their money is being spent.

Not only does this allow the public to know where their money is going, but also state officials will know they’re being watched. Most unethical and immoral actions happen because the perpetrators think they’ll never be caught. Just like a security camera cuts down on crime, government transparency will stop wasteful spending before it occurs.

Bill 8 will create a one-stop online resource for businesses and entrepreneurs, allowing them to fill out fewer forms and spend less time on government paperwork. By filling out one online form that can be used by multiple state agencies, businesses can quickly file their annual incorporation documents, complete their licensing requirements, pay their taxes, and inquire about economic development incentives. With less time and money wasted on bureaucracy, they can focus on their core mission: growing the economy and creating jobs.

Although there was more we could have accomplished — there always is — these last few days capped a successful session by any definition.

We sent a constitutional amendment to next year’s ballot enshrining the right to hunt and fish in our state’s bedrock document, the Kentucky Constitution. We approved legislation that could help create thousands of high-paying jobs while also commissioning a study of all our economic development programs to ensure that we’re getting maximum bang for our buck. We took steps to reduce cases of diabetes in Kentucky and improve the health of those living with that dangerous affliction. We moved to protect the elderly and disabled from abuse at the hands of their supposed loved ones. We voted to allow private insurance companies to offer incentives for wellness programs, which would help Kentuckians stay in better shape and prevent costly illnesses in the first place.
Perhaps most importantly, we reformed our penal code in a way that will save countless Kentucky families needless heartache, and save taxpayers an estimated $12 million a year for at least the next decade. That’s more money for education, for social services, hopefully even for tax cuts.
Our work at the Capitol is now done — until Monday, when the regular session becomes a special session.

Please contact me with your comments at (502) 564-8100 or [email protected].


Week in Review #5 by Sen. Damon Thayer

FRANKFORT ––This week, the Senate passed legislation dealing with issues facing our federal budget deficit, the election recount process, and measures dealing with veterans and military service personnel.

This week, United States Senator Rand Paul testified before a meeting I chaired of the State and Local Government Committee. Later in the day, he addressed the full Senate and spoke of how public officials need to take action to rein in out of control government spending. All but one state is required to balance its budget, and it’s time to require the same of the federal government. That’s why I was proud to support Senate Concurrent Resolution 134, which would make Kentucky the first state to petition Congress with specific proposals as part of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment. The proposed 28th Amendment would not only limit federal spending to annual revenues, but also prohibit tax increases or unfunded mandates on states. Those limits could be waived by a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress. The plan also allows flexibility in times of war or military conflict. If passed by the House, the call would be forwarded to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House as well as legislative leaders in statehouses across the nation, requesting their participation. It would take 33 other states — for a total of two-thirds of all states — making similar requests before Congress would be forced to call a constitutional convention. Once the convention is called and the exact language is drafted, it would take ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, 38 in all, to add it to the U.S. Constitution. It is the hope of Senator Paul and many of us who support SCR 134 that this action will strongly encourage the U.S. Congress to pass a federal balanced budget amendment.

Another bill passed by the Senate this week was Senate Bill 155. This legislation clarifies the rules for calling and then proceeding with election recounts. We’ve had a number of them in recent years. This bill will apply a uniform standard for the recanvass and recount process no matter where the election is held within Kentucky.

We also passed three bills relating to military issues. House Bill 122 will expand membership of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs to the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court. House Bill 173 exempts members of any branch of the United States Armed Forces based in Kentucky from having to obtain a license to engage in sport hunting or fishing on any military property belonging to the Commonwealth. House Bill 200 authorizes Kentucky’s Congressional Medal of Honor recipients to be honored permanently in the State Capitol Building.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing me at [email protected].


SENATE WEEK #4 IN REVIEW
February 18, 2011

Ask virtually anyone in Kentucky what the General Assembly’s driving mission should be during this session, and “creating jobs” will be at the top of their list. We can’t just create jobs on our own, but we can build an environment where private business can generate jobs, and want to. There are several ways we can do that, but building a strong infrastructure is key. We did that on three fronts this week: education, energy, and transportation.

One of the major points of emphasis in education over the last two decades has been how to motivate students who aren’t interested in school or who have other problems keeping up. In the Senate, we’ve continually tried to boost career and technical education, in addition to programs that help students who are falling behind, especially in their early years.

One group that often is forgotten are the students already achieving great things. Many of them are ready to head on to college but are constrained by the restrictions of our classrooms. Those students can fall prey to the “lost senior year,” the year-long version of senioritis where they lose their drive and don’t put forth their maximum effort in class. It’s a dangerous habit to fall into and a tough habit to break.

Senate Bill 69, similar to a bill we passed last year, is an attempt to keep students from coasting. SB 69 creates a statewide program to encourage interested students to graduate high school early — and take challenging courses in college — rather than simply biding their time.

Under our plan, students interested in early graduation could finish with 18 courses, rather than the 22 currently required. The number of electives would be reduced, but their core courses would actually increase from 15 to 16, to include two years of a foreign language along with biology, chemistry, and other traditional pre-college courses. Two of those courses would also have to be Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, which can then be used for college credit with good scores on the final exams.

To make sure that students don’t enter the program just to get out of high school early rather than drop out, they would have to achieve a 3.2 GPA along with benchmark scores on both the ACT and our own statewide end-of-year exams.

Every school district would offer English I and Algebra I to 8th grade students interested in early graduation, either at the middle school or by making other arrangements. This would allow students to begin planning their future far in advance instead of having to decide their junior year of high school, when their scheduling options will be more limited.

Beyond just early graduation and a head start on college, there are enormous incentives for students and their families. Every year, the state sends local school districts money based on their number of students. For students graduating early through this program, they could take the money their school would get for their attendance during senior year — around $2500 — and apply it toward their first year of tuition at any Kentucky two- or four-year college. They would also have their KEES scholarship money increased by one-third so they aren’t punished for only taking three years of classes.

Obviously, this program isn’t for everyone, but for students with the drive and focus to excel academically and start their college careers with a head start, this could be a golden opportunity. It also benefits all Kentuckians, because motivated students mean a stronger workforce for all of us.
A constant question regarding our energy economy in Kentucky is what we can do with the carbon dioxide gas that our power plants produce. Clean coal mandates that we capture and store that CO2, but what do we do with it then? We now have the opportunity to join a carbon pipeline from Illinois to Louisiana, running through Western Kentucky, that would allow us to send that stored carbon to the Gulf of Mexico, where it can be used to help extract oil and natural gas from existing fields. We could see 1,000 construction jobs from the pipeline if everything is in place, and SB 50 puts us in a great position. SB 50 would create a process to site the pipeline and use eminent domain to purchase the land for it, just as we do for electric lines, water pipes, and other utilities.
Finally this week, we boosted the prospects of our statewide economy through our airports. Airports have been among the biggest job creators in our economy — for every person they hire, they create more jobs in the surrounding community than almost any other industry. Successful airports also help lure large industry by allowing executives to quickly and efficiently visit their operations.

With recent airline industry consolidations, however, there are fewer flights running through Kentucky airports. Smaller airlines that could move in and take those routes may be too small to economically handle all the services their passengers need. With SB 48, airports would be able to set up separate entities to handle baggage handling, ticketing, and other services for those smaller airlines at a competitive price. More flights for our airports would mean cheaper flights for all Kentuckians, more jobs, and a brighter future for our children.

Just 10 legislative days remain before we break for the veto period. To leave a message for me, your House member, or any other legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at (800) 372-7181. People with hearing impairments may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at (808) 896-0305.


SENATE WEEK #3 IN REVIEW
by Senator Damon Thayer
February 11, 2011

We’re nearing the halfway point of this 30-day legislative session, and an important mile-marker passed Friday — the last day to file new bills in the Senate. Fairly soon, we’ll wrap up our work on Senate-sponsored bills and begin considering House proposals. Conversely, we passed several significant bills this week in the hopes the other chamber will give them its seal of approval.

Although this isn’t a budget session, some of the bills we pass can have drastic effects on future government spending. One badly needed change is reform of the public-employee pension plan, because the current system is disastrously over committed — to the tune of $25 billion, with a ‘b’ — and threatens to swallow up funding for education, public safety, and social services.

Under SB 2, a bill I am sponsoring along with Senate President David Williams(R-Burkesville), all new state employees would enroll in a defined-contribution 401(k)-style plan like most private-sector workers, instead of the defined-benefits retirement package they receive now. The plan would over time restore fiscal soundness to the program and the state budget, protect taxpayers from a growing unfunded liability, and protect the pensions of current employees and retirees.

Another bill that passed the Senate this week is Senate Bill 41, which would open up our primary elections to the nearly 200,000 independent voters in Kentucky. SB 41 would require voters to be registered as an independent on Dec. 31 in order to vote in a party primary the following year.
The bill would maintain the current ban on cross-party voting — Democrats could not vote in the Republican primary and vice versa, and independents could not alternate between parties based on the office. This bill would have its greatest impact at the local level, especially in counties dominated by a single party where general elections are for all practical purposes decided in the primary.

Senate Bill 34 is the latest in our continuing effort to create more high-paying jobs in Kentucky’s energy sector, while also moving us toward energy independence. SB 34 would allow safe nuclear facilities to be built in Kentucky, just as they exist in dozens of other states. This would create good jobs, leverage our current uranium enrichment facility in Paducah, and even boost our current energy industry by using Kentucky coal to power nuclear facilities. More than 100 nuclear facilities currently operate safely throughout the country, and it’s time for Kentucky to expand its leadership in the energy field into the nuclear realm.

An education bill we approved this week, SB 56, focuses on helping students understand the virtues and values our nation was founded on by offering courses in Bible literacy. These elective social studies classes, freely chosen by students, would focus not on the Bible as a religious text, but rather how it has influenced history and the arts throughout the last two millennia. Renaissance art focused a great deal on biblical scenes, and many literary works have their roots in Biblical stories and parables.

It’s impossible to understand the turmoil in the Middle East, among other current events, without the background history told in the Bible. Giving public schools this option would help create students who are more well-rounded and informed about the world they live in.

Two other bills we passed will not grab headlines, dealing as they do with the inner workings of government, but each have a major impact on thousands of Kentuckians. Since you won’t read about them from most media outlets, I want to to report on them to you myself.

SB 39 will require any business bidding on a state contract to be registered with the Secretary of State’s office. We currently require most businesses to do this already, but many out-of-state businesses skirt the rules without real consequence, putting Kentucky businesses at a disadvantage. In the last six months alone, nearly $3 billion in state contracts have been awarded, a figure that shows the magnitude of the potential problem.

We also approved participation in a proposed multi-state compact governing horse-racing rules and regulations. If the House goes along, SB 24, also a bill I am spomnsoring, would make Kentucky the first state to join the compact, assuring our leadership position among other 'horse states' like New York, California, Maryland, and others that have their own rules for horse racing. Just as importantly, this compact will still allow the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to have final say over any new rules. The compact will act as a coordinating body, not the final authority on the rules.

In recent years, there has been an effort at the federal level to regulate horse racing, and that threatens the ability of Kentucky horse owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, and track operators to have a direct local say in how our signature industry is run. The main concern is that, as different states impose their own rules for which medications are legal, how pari-mutuel wagering is conducted, and other important aspects of how horse racing is operated, cross-state differences could put Kentucky at a competitive disadvantage. We, of course, want Kentucky racing to remain vital and well-run. This multi-state compact, we believe, is a better way to accomplish that than federal oversight.

Only fifteen legislative days remain before we break for the veto period, so now is the time to make your views known. To leave a message for me, your House member, or any other legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at (800) 372-7181. People with hearing impairments may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at (808) 896-0305. The best way to reach me is via email at [email protected].


Week in Review #2 by Sen. Damon Thayer

FRANKFORT ––The General Assembly returned to full session this week in Frankfort and the Senate continued to focus on initiatives that will protect taxpayer dollars and the unborn.

On Tuesday, we began the legislative week with the Governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address where the Governor Beshear discussed Kentucky’s budgetary status. I have concerns with the Governor’s plan to move Medicaid funds from the 2012 year back to the 2011 year to solve the current Medicaid shortfall. Kentuckians have sent a clear message to their elected officials that they don’t want short term accounting tricks to simply delay the real problem for a few months. If we are going to turn the economic tide in Kentucky, we must be willing to enact policy changes that will make our state friendlier to business and the jobs it can create.

After the speech, the Senate introduced a plan to trim legislative costs this session. By adjusting the legislative schedule, we can eliminate six days of legislative pay that could save the state almost $400,000. This will still allow us to get the work done we need to during the session, while also respecting our budgetary situation. It is my hope the House will go along with the idea and the plan can be implemented.

On Thursday, the annual Right-to-Life Rally took place at the Capitol. It was wonderful to see so many Kentuckians from all corners of the state come to show their support for the unborn. One of the key points of the rally was to urge the House to pass Senate Bill 9. I was proud to co-sponsor SB 9, an informed consent bill that will ensure face-to-face meetings between a woman considering an abortion and her doctor. Currently, such counseling is often available only in the form of a recorded message. SB 9 will require doctors to make available ultrasound images of the unborn baby to the mothers. My hope is that this process will make women reconsider the life altering decision they are considering.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181 or by emailing me at [email protected].


Week of Jan 4-7
What we did…

Senate Republican Agenda for Prosperity:  All these bills passed the Senate this week with full debate in committee and on the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 1: Rewriting tax code

  • Creates an independent commission of tax experts including economists and accountants who, with assistance from other interested parties, will review, revise, and most importantly, draft a new state and local tax system. If passed during the session, the proposal would be considered by the 2012 General Assembly.
  • An independent panel without a political agenda has the best chance to overhaul an antiquated system.

Senate Bill 3: Charter Schools/Neighborhood Schools

  • Volunteer charter schools authorized by the local school district
  • Allows parents to enroll their children for attendance at a neighborhood school
    Senate Bill 4: Public Official Accountability
  • Increases accountability of public officials by demanding more frequent reporting of campaign contributions, restricting contributions from lobbyists, and perhaps most significantly, moves the filing deadline to file as a candidate from late January to after the legislative session.
  • In this way, the public will be able to review the full legislative record of any legislator.
    Senate Bill 5: 48 hour rule
  • Helps ensure sufficient public notice of how taxes are raised and tax dollars are spent by requiring any appropriations bill to be made available to the public for 48 hours prior to a vote. Would also help avoid session overruns.

Senate Bill 6: Immigration Reform

  • Helps ensure not only that local governments uphold federal immigration laws but also that law enforcement make attempts to verify citizenship or immigration status where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien.

Senate Bill 7: Govt Spending Online

  • Requires that all three branches of government and state universities create Web sites where all financial transactions may be viewed by the public.

Senate Bill 8: One-Stop

  • Provides a single web based portal for businesses to incorporate, renew permits, pay taxes and file reports – in short, meet all of their state requirements on a single site. That’s time, aggravation, and money saved.

Senate Bill 9: Informed Consent/Sonogram

  • Enhances the informed consent statutes already on the books by ensuring a face-to-face meeting between a woman considering an abortion and her doctor – as opposed to a recorded message
  • Requires doctors to make available ultrasound images of the unborn baby to the mothers

Senate Bill 10: 21st Century Bill of Rights

  • Protects Kentuckians’ sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
  • Protects citizens from being forced into an Obamacare federal healthcare plan
  • Prohibits expanded gambling without a vote of the people
  • Affirms the free practice of religion, including posting of 10 Commandments
  • Directs government agencies to promote coal over environmental extremists,
  • Guarantees the right to hunt and fish
  • Protects healthcare providers from having to perform abortions

Senate Bill 11: Medicaid False Claims

  • Allows Kentucky to aggressively pursue and penalize health care providers and individuals who attempt to defraud the state’s Medicaid program

Senate Bill 12: Principal Selection

  • Allows superintendents to select the principal in consultation with the School-based Decision Making Council

Senate Bill 13: Advanced Placement

  • Offers financial incentives to teachers whose students do well in math and science advanced placement exams

David Williams and Senate Republicans Announce Agenda for 2011 Session
Serious government, pension & education reform, overhauling KY’s tax code top the list

(Frankfort) Senate President David Williams and the 23 members of the Republican caucus have announced their agenda for the upcoming session of the General Assembly. The legislation deals with a wide range of serious issues, including pension reform, the tax code, government transparency and reform, and state sovereignty.

“This is an agenda rooted in conservative values designed to improve our state. We will move on it quickly and make the upcoming session of the legislature productive on behalf of the people of Kentucky,” Williams said. “I am proud to serve with so many committed conservatives who have serious ideas to move Kentucky forward.”

SENATE REPUBLICAN “AGENDA FOR PROSPERITY”

• Neighborhood Schools and Voluntary Charter Schools. Williams and Sen. Dan Seum will sponsor legislation allowing children to attend neighborhood schools, which is especially important in Jefferson County. The legislation will also create voluntary charter schools in Kentucky to give parents, teachers, and local communities more options when deciding how best to educate students within the public school system. Kentucky lost out on millions of dollars in federal funding in 2010 because Gov. Steve Beshear failed to stand up to the teachers’ union that killed charter school legislation which had already passed the State Senate.

• Reforming Kentucky’s Anti-Growth Tax Code. Senate Republicans seek to get the ball rolling on meaningful tax reform by creating a commission made up of experts (economists, CPA’s, business leaders) who are charged with writing a new tax code that creates jobs and prosperity for Kentuckians. Sen. Williams believes our tax code is anti-growth and that other states have tax systems that make them more competitive. Williams believes Kentucky taxes productivity more than consumption and that such a system restrains job growth. This commission will write a new tax code and send it to the General Assembly by the end of 2011 that must be voted on up-or-down without amendment by legislators in the 2012 session; this will keep special interests from hacking up a plan that should create a level, pro-growth playing field. The goal is to unleash the potential of the people of Kentucky to prosper and create better lives for their families. While Williams and the Senate Republicans have successfully cut Kentucky’s income, property, and small business taxes in recent years, it is past time for a new system that will make restore Kentucky’s competitiveness.

• Improving the Budget Process. Lawmakers won’t pass another budget until 2012, but Senate Republicans believe the system by which the General Assembly passes a budget needs serious reform. The Senate GOP will offer legislation that would require a 48 hour window where legislators and citizens could review any bill that raises or spends tax dollars. The bill would be posted on the internet and given to legislators 48 hours before any vote is taken. The bill will also establish a more orderly timeline for the legislature to write the state budget so citizens have more opportunity to offer input on how their tax dollars are spent.

• Reforming Pensions for State Employees and Legislators. Senate Republicans will offer legislation to move new state employees (with the exception of teachers, who do not participate in Social Security) to a “defined contribution” plan instead of the current “defined benefit” system, which is bankrupting Kentucky. The legislation will also close loopholes in the current pension system that allowed some legislators to use executive branch positions to enrich their retirement packages at taxpayer expense. The legislature began the process of reforming the state pension system in 2008 but more must be done to put Kentucky’s fiscal house in order. Senate Republicans passed a legislative pension reform bill in the 2010 session but Senate Democrats block voted to kill it.

• Making State Government Transparent. State Senator Damon Thayer will offer legislation that requires all three branches of government to make financial information available to the public on the Internet in a user-friendly fashion. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent by state government.

• Creating Legislative Accountability. The Senate GOP proposes to move the filing deadline to run for office until after the legislative session so citizens can watch how their legislators perform and then decide whether to run for office. The current system protects legislators from possible opponents who take issue with how the incumbent votes during an even-year session in which the state budget is written. The bill would also move Kentucky’s primary back to August to accommodate the later filing period.

• Clean Elections. The Senate GOP proposes to eliminate all contributions by lobbyists or their spouses to any statewide candidate for office. Currently, there is one set of rules for legislators that restrict lobbyist contributions and a different system for the constitutional offices (Governor, Auditor, etc). The bill would require electronic filing of all campaign finance reports so citizens can better track the flow of money in a particular campaign.

• Fighting Medicaid Fraud. “False Claims” legislation will allow Kentucky to aggressively pursue and penalize health care providers and individuals who attempt to defraud the state’s health care program for low-income residents. Several states have already passed “false claims” legislation, including: California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

• Informed Consent. This pro-life legislation has passed the Senate previously. It would require women seeking an abortion to be given as much information as possible before making the decision, including ultrasound photos. Senate Republicans have a long record of fighting for the unborn.

• 21st Century Bill of Rights. Senate Republicans will again offer this important constitutional amendment. In 2010, Senate Democrats block voted to kill it, but in 2011 Senate Republicans will have enough votes to overcome them and send it to the House. The bill will assert Kentucky’s sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; prevent citizens from being forced into an “Obamacare” federal health plan; prevent doctors and nurses from being forced to perform abortions; protect hunters’ rights; require any expansion of gambling be done so by a vote of the people; prevent environmental extremists from stopping coal mining in Kentucky; and affirm the freedom to make religious expressions, including posting the 10 Commandments.

• Eliminating Red Tape with Business OneStop. Businesses large and small in Kentucky are forced to interact with a huge number of agencies to renew permits, file paperwork, and pay taxes. This law would create a “one stop” portal for businesses to meet all of their state requirements on a single website. Cutting red tape and eliminating the time it takes to deal with the state bureaucracy will save time and resources for Kentucky’s job creators.

• Arizona-style Immigration Reform. Illegal immigration has placed a heavy burden on state and local governments, and the federal government has failed to enact needed reforms. The Senate GOP applauds Arizona policymakers for creating a strong, anti-illegal immigration law and proposes to do something similar in Kentucky. The proposal would require state law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt to verify the citizenship or immigration status of a person where reasonable suspicion exists that the person might be in Kentucky illegally. The law makes clear that local law enforcement agencies may arrest, detain and turn over to federal authorities people who are in the country illegally.