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FRANKFORT - With the holiday season behind us, the General Assembly returned to Frankfort to prepare to deal with several crucial issues facing our Commonwealth.
The first task of the 2013 legislative session was to elect leadership for the respective caucuses, receive committee assignments and essentially get our footing as we get ready for the work ahead of us. It’s also a time of transition for me and the other new members in the House as we prepare for the first legislative session.
Although new questions arise from time to time, the 2013 session finds us dealing with some of the same issues that have been discussed and debated for several sessions. First and foremost is the need for comprehensive tax reform, which must be done if we hope to keep Kentucky on pace with states like Tennessee and Indiana in job creation.
We have done some work on Kentucky’s tax code, most recently during the 2005 legislative session. But most of the tax code is still written for the economies of the 1940’s-1970’s and we expect some bills to be filed based on the recommendations of a task force created by the governor.
The general assembly is also expected to take up recommendations from a separate task force to bring our pension system under control. National publications have ranked Kentucky’s public pension system as one of the worst in the nation and we currently face an unfunded liability of more than $33 billion. It is expected that legislation will be filed based on the committee’s report early in this session.
Discussion will more than likely also focus on minor changes to the so-called pill mill bill, which passed in the 2012 special session. Although the bill’s goal was to reduce the number of pain pills being sold illegally on the streets, it’s essential we balance the needs of patients who legitimately use pain medication and the physicians who follow the law in prescribing them.
As in every session, other issues are likely to come up, such as the possibility of legislation dealing with special taxing districts.
I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep track of legislation for the 2013 session through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.
(Brian Linder is the state representative for the 61st House of Representative District. His district covers Grant, Owen and Gallatin counties.)