Greater Louisville Inc. unveiled its legislative agenda for the 2019 session of the Kentucky General Assembly on Wednesday, largely focusing on policies that the local chamber of commerce says will help businesses in the region.
Much of the agenda hasn’t changed much from recent years, but new features include support for reforming the cash bail system, increasing the power of district superintendents relative to school-based decision-making councils and school boards, and allowing employers to crack down on employees that test positive for medical marijuana if that becomes legal in Kentucky.
GLI continued its call for making felony expungements easier and less expensive, but this year added its support for legislation adding “limitations on the use of monetary bail or transition to a cashless bail system” — a cause that is picking up momentum nationally and in Louisville.
On the education front, GLI continued to call for more need-based pre-K funding and restoring per-student state spending for higher education to 2007-2008 levels, in addition to funding public charter schools and allowing tax credits for those who donate to organizations granting scholarships to private schools.
New features of GLI’s education agenda this year include measures that mirror the wish list of Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, including transferring the power to appoint principals away from site-based decision-making councils and to district superintendents, and transferring certain power from school boards in large urban districts to the superintendent.
GLI also calls for establishing new and unspecified “qualification guidelines and requirements” for school board members, plus adding new at-large seats for school boards in larger urban districts to “ensure the concerns of the district as a whole are adequately represented.”
While support among the legislature has grown for proposals to legalize medical marijuana in Kentucky, that issue is absent from the GLI agenda.
However, the chamber — noting the possibility of such legalization — called for legislators to ensure that employers can still require drug tests and fire workers who test positive for medical marijuana. Additionally, GLI said that such workers fired for testing positive for medical marijuana should not be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
Other perennial policy stances supported by GLI in the 2019 legislative agenda include:
- Support for a local option sales tax amendment to the constitution
- Reducing corporate and personal income tax rates “as much as possible,” while raising sales tax rates to be more in line with surrounding states.
- Increasing the cigarette tax, raising the legal age to buy tobacco to 21, a statewide smoke-free schools and workplaces ban, and the removal of smokers as a protected class under state law.
- Raising the gas tax in order to pay for road and infrastructure improvements.
- Legalizing casino gambling to raise revenue that is currently lost to other states.
“We are only as strong as the investors engaged with us and this agenda was created by those same individuals to grow Greater Louisville in a meaningful way,” stated GLI President and CEO Kent Oyler in a news release. “We look forward to working with legislators on both sides of the river to improve our business climate.”