KY General Assembly: Reviewing 2015, Looking Ahead to 2016

KY General Assembly: Reviewing 2015, Looking Ahead to 2016

FRANKFORT – With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas and New Year’s Eve fast approaching, the General Assembly is winding down what it calls the interim and is preparing for the 2016 legislative session, which will start on Jan. 5th and last for 60 working days.
Although it is impossible to predict what ultimately will become law, we are getting a clearer idea of the major topics that will be debated.
Our biggest priority will be enacting a budget to run state government for the next two years. Included in that will be decisions regarding the future of Kynect and the Medicaid expansion as well as any plan tackling the liabilities facing our public retirement systems.
I will cover those more in-depth in a future column and as the legislative session progresses. Beyond our work in those areas, the Legislative Research Commission – the legislature’s administrative arm – published its latest annual in-depth last week taking a look at some of the other issues the General Assembly may confront.
More than three dozen are covered in the report, and they range from whether the state should boost tourism opportunities by requiring school districts to start their year later in August to whether now is the time to invest further in our state parks, which have identified more than $240 million in capital improvements over the next six years.
In transportation, the growing number of electric cars on the road raises questions about how their owners should help pay for highway expenses; and in judicial matters, it is becoming more apparent that our current district, circuit and family courts need to be re-aligned to better balance caseloads. According to the LRC report, the busiest circuit judges have nearly four times as many cases as judges at the low end; at the district level, meanwhile, the caseload for some can be seven times as high.
Other issues expected to come up next year include resolving an unfortunately high number of untested rape kits; deciding whether to increase the upper limit of beer that microbreweries can produce in a year; and determining if zip lines should be regulated more like amusement park rides.
While we may not know what will become law and what will have to wait another year, we do know that the legislative session will be an especially busy time.
Your input is extremely important to that process, so I encourage you to let me know your thoughts on these issues or any other that may arise.
You can always reach me by writing to Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601; or you can email me at [email protected]
To leave a message for me or for any legislator by phone, please call 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope to hear from you soon.

Paid for by Rick Rand for State Representative, Regina Rand, Treasurer