2015 KY General Assembly Wrap-Up

Weather and Short Session Challenge 2015 Kentucky General Assembly

Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, KY

Kentucky Capitol, Frankfort
photo by: C. Summers (Thanks, Chuck!)
____________________________

Your Legislative Information

KY House District #:
can be found here
KY Representatives by District

KY Senate District #:
can be found here
KY Senators by District

Chapter Legislative Committee

Committee Members:
Ruth Bamberger (Chair), Tom Morris, Joan Lindop, Ray Barry
Wallace McMullen, Jeff Hampton, Sherry Otto (staff)

Resources:
Chapter website (Legislative)
Chapter blog (Legislative)
Bills we are tracking

Help support our work in Kentucky - Donate

by Ruth Bamberger, Legislative Committee Chair
Cumberland Chapter, Sierra Club

This year should go down as one of the most unproductive sessions of the KY General Assembly, and nature ironically had a lot to do with it.  After a very successful Clean Energy Lobby Day in February with strong participation by Sierra Club volunteers, the highly publicized House hearing on the Clean Energy Bill was cancelled because of snow. The KY Sustainable Energy Alliance had arranged for Kacey Hoover of North Carolina Sustainable Energy Action to testify at the hearing, only to learn that her flight to Louisville had been cancelled as well.

Even though most of the bills we supported did not go very far, there were a few victories for the Energy/Environment agenda. The biggest was HB100 which allows local governments to establish Energy Project Assessment District (EPAD) programs for property owners who want to make energy efficiency improvements in their buildings. Under this program, a local government offers bonds to investors and the money raised is loaned to consumers and businesses to make energy retrofits and install renewable energy in their structures. The loans are repaid over a number of years through an annual assessment on the owner’s property tax bill. We anticipate that Governor Beshear will sign the bill.

Fracking has now become a reality in the state, as the Division of Oil and Gas Resources held a hearing in late February on a permit requested by Horizontal Technology Energy Company of Pennsylvania for a deep well drilling in Johnson County. In anticipation of an increase in horizontal drilling, SB186, known as the KY Oil and Gas Modernization Act, was passed and sent to the Governor for his signature. This legislation provides protections for landowners by requiring water well testing and identification of chemicals used in fracking. An attempt was made during the Senate hearing to place a two year moratorium on fracking in the state, but the effort failed. The Sierra Club opposes horizontal hydrofracking, but this legislation does offer some protections to landowners.

Other bills supported by the Sierra Club had no hearings this session, including HB523, the Tax Credit for Land Conservation, and HB372, which provides setbacks for residential property lines in proximity to landfill deposits such as coal ash. SB90, which would terminate the requirement for a permanent storage site for nuclear waste from nuclear power plants, passed the Senate this year, but the House took no action. The Sierra Club remained strongly opposed to this bill.

Those who follow the legislative process are always ready for the unpredictable and crazy things that can happen to bills. The Sierra Club supported HB93, establishing protections for endangered plant species, only to see it morph into a horse racing bill! HB131, the Stream Saver Bill, prohibiting dumping of mountaintop waste into valleys and streams, wound up with an amendment to delete all sections of the bill and require the EPA to appear before the US Congress!

The General Assembly sets up Interim Committees while not is session and we will be monitoring the work of these committees as they pertain to the Sierra Club agenda.

The sixty day session next year will generate more opportunities to move our priorities along.

Posted in Climate Change, Coal, Efficiency, Endangered Species, Energy, Fracking, InTheNews, Legislation, Mining, Mountain Top Removal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Renewable Energy, Surface Mining, Waste, Water | Leave a comment

ALERT HB229 Hearing Cancelled

Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, KY

Kentucky Capitol, Frankfort
photo by: C. Summers (Thanks, Chuck!)

____________________________Your Legislative Information

KY House District #:
can be found here
KY Representatives by District

KY Senate District #:
can be found here
KY Senators by District

Chapter Legislative Committee

Committee Members:
Ruth Bamberger (Chair), Tom Morris, Joan Lindop, Ray Barry
Wallace McMullen, Jeff Hampton, Sherry Otto (staff)

Resources:
Chapter website (Legislative)
Chapter blog (Legislative)
Bills we are tracking

Help support our work in Kentucky - Donate

 

ALERT: DUE TO WEATHER – THIS MARCH 5TH HEARING IS CANCELLED – POSTPONED

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act, HB229 (see below for details on this bill), was scheduled to receive a hearing today (March 5, 2015), but due to inclement weather conditions and flight cancellations, this hearing has been cancelled. Instead, we are asking the committee chair to reschedule the hearing in the interim between sessions. So stay tuned for an update on the new hearing date. And in the meantime – please still take action on this bill by contacting your Representative.

We need your help to get this legislation passed.  Please:

  1. Call Your Representative
    • Call the KY Legislative Message Line: 1-800-372-7181
    • Request: Your own elected Representative as well as members of the House Energy & Tourism Committee
    • Leave a message: Please support HB229 – the Clean Energy Opportunity Act
  2. Attend the Committee hearing on this bill:
    • Date: CANCELLED – stay tuned for new schedule.
    • Time: TBD
    • Location: TBD
    • Stay Tuned

When our testimony is rescheduled, we will need to show our elected leaders that passage of this legislation is important to us, their constituents, by packing this hearing with supporters of clean energy development in Kentucky – so please stay tuned, and plan to attend.

Questions?
Email our Legislative Committee Chair.

Thank you for making a difference!
_________________________________________________
About HB229:
The Clean Energy Opportunity Act (bill summary) (full text  – Word Doc)  requires utilities to include renewable energy resources in their energy portfolios (12.5% over next ten years); expands energy efficiency programs for customers. Similar legislation has been adopted by 30 states; bill could create 28,000 jobs in KY.

For updates on this bill, as well as other legislation we are tracking – see our Cumberland Chapter Bill Tracker here.

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, InTheNews, Legislation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

KY Clean Energy Opportunity Act – Help Us Get It Passed

Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort, KY

Kentucky Capitol, Frankfort
photo by: C. Summers (Thanks, Chuck!)

____________________________

Your Legislative Information

KY House District #:
can be found here
KY Representatives by District

KY Senate District #:
can be found here
KY Senators by District

Chapter Legislative Committee

Committee Members:
Ruth Bamberger (Chair), Tom Morris, Joan Lindop, Ray Barry
Wallace McMullen, Jeff Hampton, Sherry Otto (staff)

Resources:
Chapter website (Legislative)
Chapter blog (Legislative)
Bills we are tracking

Help support our work in Kentucky - Donate

ACTION ALERT:

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act, HB229 (see below for details on this bill), is receiving a hearing this Thursday (March 5, 2015).

We need your help to get this legislation passed.  Please:

  1. Call Your Representative
    • Call the KY Legislative Message Line: 1-800-372-7181
    • Request: Your own elected Representative as well as members of the House Energy & Tourism Committee
    • Leave a message: Please support HB229 – the Clean Energy Opportunity Act
  2. Attend the Committee hearing on this bill:
    • Date: March 5, 2015
    • Time: 10:00 a.m. ET
    • Location: Room 131 of the Capitol Annex in Frankfort, KY (map)
    • Help us fill the room: Invite your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors to come along!

We need to show our elected leaders that passage of this legislation is important to us, their constituents, by packing this hearing with supporters of clean energy development in Kentucky.

Questions?
Email our Legislative Committee Chair.

Thank you for making a difference!
_________________________________________________
About HB229:
The Clean Energy Opportunity Act (bill summary) (full text  – Word Doc)  requires utilities to include renewable energy resources in their energy portfolios (12.5% over next ten years); expands energy efficiency programs for customers. Similar legislation has been adopted by 30 states; bill could create 28,000 jobs in KY.

For updates on this bill, as well as other legislation we are tracking – see our Cumberland Chapter Bill Tracker here.

Posted in Climate Change, Energy, InTheNews, Legislation, Renewable Energy | Leave a comment

Legislative Actions: Environment, Energy on Our Agenda

by Ruth Bamberger, Legislative Committee Chair
Cumberland Chapter, Sierra Club

Kentucky Capitol

Kentucky Capitol, Frankfort
photo by: Chuck Summers

The Kentucky General Assembly officially opened January 6th with the swearing in of all 100 Representatives and 37 Senators. The Democrats have a 54-46 edge in the House and the Senate is controlled by the Republicans 23-14 with one vacant seat.

This year will be a short session of 30 days, but with no budget bills pending, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups in the state anticipate their agendas will gain greater visibility.

The Clean Energy Opportunity Bill remains a top priority. This bill had a full hearing in the House Energy and Tourism Committee in 2014 with particular attention given to the number of jobs that could be created in the state if the bill became law. Thirty states already have such legislation that would:

  1. require utilities to create a portfolio of energy sources that include renewables like wind and solar;
  2. create energy efficiency projects for customers and improve efficiency in power plant operations.

North Carolina has such a law and a recent study commissioned by the NC Sustainable Energy Association concluded that 17,000 new jobs had been created over a six year period. This bill will be reintroduced in the House and could go into the House Economic Development Committee because of its potential for job creation.

The Sierra Club will likely be supporting a bill to be introduced to create a tax credit for conservation easements. A similar bill was voted on unanimously in the House Appropriations Committee in 2014 but died at the end of the session.

Bills introduced at this time earning the Club’s support include:

  1. Creation of energy property assessment districts providing a loan fund for energy efficiency improvements with the cost to be paid back in the yearly property tax assessment;
  2. Exclusion of natural gas liquids from the definition of oil or gas used in the state’s Eminent Domain statute (this bill attempts to clarify the application of Eminent Domain which arose in the Bluegrass Pipeline controversy.)
  3. Establishment of a plant Endangered Species list to be maintained by the KY State Nature Preserves Commission.

Every year bills are introduced to weaken the state’s moratorium on construction of nuclear power plants. Two such bills prefiled would:

  1. allow plants to be built without a plan for permanent storage of nuclear waste;
  2. exempt the nuclear power moratorium on construction of a power plant on a site that manufactured nuclear materials.

The Sierra Club opposes these bills.

The national Sierra Club has long been committed to Campaign Finance Reform and Voting Systems, as they play a major role in the outcomes of the organization’s agenda. This year, Rep. Jim Wayne has introduced a bill in the House that would create a public financing system for state judicial campaigns.

This bill falls within the organization’s support for public financing of major offices. The Cumberland Chapter has never adopted a position on the Voting Rights Restoration Bill for ex-felons which has been before the General Assembly for many years, but one could assume that our members would be supportive of such a bill to give the thousands of ex-felons in the state the right to vote after they have served their sentences.

To check on the status of bills, check out the KY Legislative Research Commission web site at www.lrc.ky.gov.

We are looking for volunteers to lobby in Frankfort on February 5th for the Clean Energy Bill and February 12th to stop Mountaintop Strip Mining of coal. If you can be in Frankfort on either or both of those days, please contact:

Ruth Bamberger, KY Sierra Club Legislative Chair:

Posted in Coal, Efficiency, Endangered Species, Energy, InTheNews, Legislation, Mining, Mountain Top Removal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Politics, Renewable Energy, Surface Mining | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment