Committee Advances Three KLC initiatives

The House Local Government Committee passed two measures that aim to help local utility companies, House Bills 238 and 272. KLC Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney joined the bills’ sponsors in calling for passage of the measures. They were among several KLC initiatives before the committee Wednesday afternoon.

Chaney and Representative DJ Johnson (R-Owensboro) explained how House Bill 238 will help local governments find the most knowledgeable people to serve on utility commissions. The bill removes strict residency requirements that now limit who can serve on such a board. City officials could appoint one person to a three-person commission and up to two to a five-person commission based on a person’s skill instead of their address. Additionally, the bill allows cities with a population of 20,000 or more the ability to form a three-person commission instead of mandating a five-person commission.

Representative Josh Bray (R-Mount Vernon) filed House Bill 272 to define utility workers as essential during states of emergency. Additionally, the measure protects the ability of water districts to charge late fees, something Kentucky suspended during the pandemic. Committee Chairman Michael Meredith (R-Oakland) referenced August testimony from KLC and municipal utility representatives about the problems such suspensions created.

The committee also passed House Bill 199, sponsored by Representative Brandon Reed (R-Hodgenville). The KLC initiative helps cities deal with encroachment permits to ensure contractors doing work within a city’s limits have proper permits.

All three bills now go to the full House of Representatives for a possible vote next week.