Category Archives: Frankfort Focus

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand February 18, 2019

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly

Frankfort – There’s a saying in sports that championships are won in the off-season.  In the General Assembly, however, new laws are won in committee, since that’s where most of the substantive work to pass them takes place.

The Kentucky House has 16 committees that consider legislation, and while they may have many bills referred to them, that doesn’t necessarily mean all of these proposals will be heard, much less approved.

The committees generally meet once per week during this time of year, and most bills are voted on with little fanfare.  A handful, however, generate a considerable amount of interest among supporters and opponents alike.

We saw a great example of that in action on Thursday, when one of our House committees voted on a bill that would have a significant impact on the solar industry, especially those looking to buy these panels for their homes.

Currently, these customers – there are about 1,000 in Kentucky – are given credit for whatever excess electricity they generate, and these credits allow them to lower their electric bills when solar energy is not enough.

The bill’s supporters say these credits are too high and don’t take into account infrastructure costs that the electric companies have in serving their customers.  Opponents, meanwhile, say lowering the value of the credits would make the systems much less attractive financially to potential customers.  Fewer panels would mean fewer solar jobs, from production to installation.

  This bill has failed to clear the legislature over the last couple of years, but following a vote in the House on Friday, our chamber and the Senate will work to see if a compromise can be reached.  The goal is to make sure we don’t hinder a growing industry that also eases stress on our electrical grid.

Another bill to come out of committee on Thursday is actually on track to be the first sent to the governor for his signature.

It would require electronic filing of all campaign finance reports, which would greatly speed up the process to get this information online and before voters.  Most of these reports are now filed on paper, which takes time for election officials to enter manually.  If this bill becomes law, it will take effect during the 2020 primary.

Although debate from opposing sides is built into the legislative process, there are other moments where there is broad consensus.  We saw an ideal example of that on Tuesday, when House and Senate members from both parties came together to announce the formation of the Engage & Empower Caucus.

This caucus is designed to serve as a focal point for legislation that would help the estimated 874,000 Kentuckians with a disability.  It will search for ways to increase their independence and help them better achieve their full potential, and I’m proud to support its work.

Some of the bills the Engage & Empower Caucus will promote this year would do such things as broaden the Golden Alert system so it could be used to help find more missing citizens with an impairment or who may be an at-risk veteran.  Other bills will help those with disabilities retrofit their homes and extend health insurance coverage for amputees in need of a prosthetic.

One of the best parts of legislative sessions is the sheer number of people who visit the Capitol.  There have already been thousands who have come to support or oppose a bill or just to make legislators more aware of causes important to them.

On Wednesday, for example, we had the 15th annual Children’s Advocacy Day, which focuses on improving the overall well-being of our youngest generation.  Some of the proposals highlighted include limiting the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes among adolescents and young adults; providing more mental-health professionals in our schools who can recognize and treat behavioral issues early on; and doing more to help young adults transitioning out of foster care.

Last Thursday, meanwhile, there was a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in support of affordable housing.  Kentucky has a much higher percentage of people who struggle to find a place to live within their budget, but such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky are making a profound difference when it comes to improving those numbers.

This week, the 30-day legislative session reaches the halfway point, so the pace to approve bills is set to quicken.  We will wrap up much of our work by mid-March and complete the session by the end of that month.

I encourage you to keep letting me know your views and concerns.  You can email me, and the toll-free message line is 1-800-372-7181.  If you have a hearing impairment, please call 1-800-896-0305.

The legislature’s website also has a lot of information and can be found online   

A Legislative Perspective with Rep. Rick Rand February 11, 2019

Frankfort – The 2019 regular session may have begun early last month, but it wasn’t until early last week that, like a train leaving the station, the legislative process began picking up steam. That delay is by design. Under the constitutional rules governing odd-year meetings of the General Assembly, legislators only meet for four days in… Continue Reading

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand February 4, 2019

FRANKFORT – For well over a decade now, no issue has dominated the General Assembly’s time quite like our public retirement systems – and that trend isn’t expected to change as this year’s legislative session re-starts this week following a short break. Because this matter is as complicated as it is important, now is a good… Continue Reading

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly by Representative Rick Rand January 28, 2019

FRANKFORT – Last November, nearly two-thirds of Florida’s voters approved a constitutional amendment that automatically restores voting rights to most felons after they complete their sentence.  It’s a move that many think is long overdue here in Kentucky, since we’re now just one of two states – Iowa is the other – that still enforces a… Continue Reading

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand January 21, 2019

FRANKFORT – Each legislative session may be different, but nearly all share a common trait: They spend a considerable amount of time focused on education. This year’s meeting of the General Assembly is certainly no different, with nearly a fifth of all bills filed so far falling into this category.  Many more will almost certainly be… Continue Reading

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly by Representative Rick Rand January 14, 2019

FRANKFORT – The opening week of odd-year legislative sessions is traditionally dominated by such organizational matters as electing House and Senate leaders, establishing committee assignments and formally submitting the first round of bills. While all of those did take place last week, two other actions – both highly controversial and potentially far-reaching in their impact –… Continue Reading

Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly by Representative Rick Rand January 7, 2019

FRANKFORT – This week, the General Assembly heads back to the Capitol to begin the 2019 Regular Session. These odd-year meetings of the House and Senate are still relatively new, with this being the 10th one since voters made them possible in 2000.  Kentucky was actually one of the last states to have its legislature meet annually;… Continue Reading

A legislative perspective with Rep. Rick Rand December 31, 2018

FRANKFORT – It may seem odd to talk about 2020 with 2019 just now getting underway, but given the importance of next year’s U.S. Census, it is not too soon to begin raising public awareness about something that will have a direct impact on us all for the next decade. The Census is one of our… Continue Reading

Legislative Update from Representative Rick Rand December 27, 2018

FRANKFORT – In most years, the latter half of December is when the Capitol is at its quietest.  The joint House and Senate meetings are over, and legislators are back home, enjoying the holidays while preparing for the General Assembly’s return in early January.  That routine was broken early last week, however, when rumors began circulating… Continue Reading

A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand December 18, 2018

FRANKFORT – With Christmas arriving early next week, time is drawing short for those who’d still like to fit in a Kentucky-themed holiday activity. The good news is that there are still plenty of destinations across the commonwealth for those willing to travel. The Louisville Mega Cavern, for example, features two-million points of light and bills… Continue Reading

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