by Rep. Michael Lee Meredith:
The General Assembly returned to Frankfort this week after a brief organizational break, and the week has been filled with legislative meetings as well as the daily session. We also heard from Governor Matt Bevin as he delivered the State of the Commonwealth Address to a joint session of the House and Senate.
In his address, Governor Bevin spoke of the need for tax and pension reforms. Although it will be resolved in a special session, these reforms will come to our Commonwealth this year. Kentucky has an outdated tax code that is not only harmful to business, but burdensome to the individual. We need reforms that broaden the tax base and I look forward to working with Governor Bevin to put forward a fair tax code that is beneficial to both our citizens and the operations of state government. Pension reform will also be addressed by the legislature. Kentucky’s public pension systems are some of the worst funded in our nation, with the worst funded system in our state being that which supports the majority of our state’s retirees. I am firmly committed to reforming our pension systems, and fulfilling the promises made to our state’s retirees.
This week has also been filled with various committee meetings, where bills have continued to make their way through the legislative process to be considered by the full House. One bill in particular is House Bill 14, which aims to protect police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel. This legislation would classify any offense against these individuals, when committed against them due to their occupation, as a hate crime. The brave men and women who serve our community put their lives in danger every day to keep us safe, and it is imperative that we not only show we value their lives, but that offenses against first responders will be punished to the full extent of the law.
As we continue through the legislative session, a top priority of mine will be education. I have heard from many teachers, students, administrators and parents on the needs of our district, and I look forward to voicing your concerns as the General Assembly takes up this important issue. I am committed to seeing that every student in Kentucky receives a world-class education and that our state is an example to the nation on how education should be approached.
Finally, on Friday morning, the House passed House Bill 174, which would extend the allowed weight variance of vehicles hauling meat, crops, or livestock as well as vehicles that exclusively haul feed for livestock and poultry. This bill was a priority for the poultry industry in Kentucky which supports many of our family farms and has, in recent years, become Kentucky’s leading agricultural cash crop. I was proud to support this legislation and our family farms.
It is a great honor for me to serve as your voice in Frankfort. This legislative session has already proven to be a great success, and I look forward to continuing the momentum for Kentucky.
I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues impacting our Commonwealth during the 2017 Regular Session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at email@example.com. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.