Rep. Regina Bunch expects the Kentucky General Assembly to take up the issue of comprehensive tax reform in the near future.
This was part of the message she delivered to members of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce during its monthly membership luncheon Tuesday afternoon at the Cumberland Inn in Williamsburg.
Bunch noted that Gov. Matt Bevin vetoed nearly every tax reform related bill in 2016.
“He consistently made notes on the veto statements that this type of tax reform issue should be part of a larger more comprehensive tax reform bill. Large comprehensive tax reform is clearly on the horizon for this administration,” Bunch said. “I will just go ahead and tell you that is a major objective that we want to reach.”
She said Bevin has talked about calling a special session to deal with comprehensive tax reform but she is hoping he waits until next year’s legislative session to address this.
“I would like for you all to talk and to start some dialog, and spearhead conversations on what you all think would be important locally and regionally for us in terms of tax reform,” Bunch told the audience. “We need to be at the forefront of this issue because once we do these reforms then it will be a long time coming again. We want to get it right.”
This past legislative session, there wasn’t a lot of pro-business legislation, which got approved by the Kentucky General Assembly, but Bunch is expecting that to change over the next few years.
Bunch noted that while the session was somewhat “lack luster”, there were a few pieces of good legislation approved, including:
• P3 legislation was approved allowing governments to more easily partner with private entities.
“This is a good pro-business bill,” Bunch said. “It allows states and cities and counties to benefit using local workers and local finance. If we do anything, we have got to be collective in this area. We are destroying ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. We have to work together. If you look at Northern Kentucky they are just huge. We will rob Peter to pay Paul here.”
Bunch, who represents both Whitley County and southern Laurel County, said that a piece of legislation she would have liked to have seen passed would have dealt with annexation issues, so that a town like Corbin could annex an area like Exit 29, which is in Laurel County.
“We need to be clear and concise in our efforts. We need to get down to business to make our area prosper,” she added. “This is something that could benefit us if we can work all of that in.”
• House Bill 40 – allows low-level convicted felons to have their records expunged. It excludes people convicted of sex crimes, crimes against children, people with multiple crimes or those with violations pending.
“As a teacher, I have witnessed kids make mistakes at age 18 to 20 that followed them all throughout life. It held them back from jobs and education,” Bunch noted. “I just helped someone, who had gone to school to be a nurse and got almost finished before he realized that his felony record kept him from serving in that capacity. Finally Gov. (Steve) Beshear signed a pardon for him.”
The bill passed the house by a vote of 83-13.
• Senate Bill 56 – expands the look back period for driving while under the influence arrests from five years to 10 years.
The measure passed the house by a vote of 98-1 and the senate by a vote of 35-1.
L&N Federal Credit Union sponsored Tuesday’s luncheon.