KLC Initiatives Moving at the Capitol

It was another busy day at the Capitol for KLC initiatives. The Senate passed a bill that addresses inactive cities, the House Local Government Committee approved two measures that focus on public safety personnel and open meetings, and another regarding solid waste management is ready for a committee hearing.

Senate Bill 106 now heads to the House of Representatives after the Senate unanimously passed the measure on Wednesday.

Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson) sponsored Senate Bill 106 to administratively dissolve cities that do not collect funds or have elected officials. Mills spoke from the floor to explain the impact on citizens. “Kentuckians who live in these inactive cities can be in limbo. There may be no one to plow their streets when it snows, and they could be paying an insurance premium tax when there is no city to collect the funds.”

Currently, citizens must circulate a referendum petition or file a court motion to dissolve the city. The petitioner must shoulder the financial burden.

Senate Bill 106 allows the Department for Local Government (DLG) to notify those who did not file their annual City Officials Update Form by January 31 to question whether the city meets the criteria for dissolution. The measure also outlines a process by which DLG can request more information, set a hearing, and handle appeals.

Mills introduced and the Senate adopted a floor amendment requiring administrative hearings to take place in the city in question.

Earlier on Wednesday, KLC Public Affairs Director Bryanna L. Carroll testified alongside Representative John Blanton (R-Salyersville) in the House Local Government Committee in support of House Bill 414. Blanton filed the measure to address several issues relating to public safety personnel.

“Our commonwealth faces a public safety personnel crisis,” Blanton testified. “We do not have enough people applying to serve in these vital roles, whether it be police officers or emergency medical services positions. House Bill 414 removes some of the barriers that might stop good people from applying or staying in the role.”

The bill removes the maximum age currently in statute for new police hires. Kentucky law forbids cities to hire any new officers over 46 years old.

The measure also addresses rehiring of retired police officers and clarifies disciplinary procedures involving complaints filed against police and fire personnel in former second or third class cities.

House Bill 414 also provides flexibility in work period scheduling for police departments in all cities, which could benefit the community and improve officers’ work-life balance. If the department has a collective bargaining unit, the union must agree to the exception.

“It allows an 80-hour, 14-day work period instead of a 40-hour, seven-day period,” Carroll explained. “HB 414 will allow city officials to provide flexibility to their police officers while reducing overtime costs.”

The committee unanimously approved House Bill 414.

KLC Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney and Representative Jonathan Dixon (R-Corydon) also testified in the House Local Government Committee.

Dixon sponsored House Bill 453, which protects public assets and ensures transparency in regard to local governments selecting bidders. It also addresses rules for video teleconference meetings.

“We worked with the Kentucky Press Association while drafting this bill,” Dixon told the committee.

House Bill 453 gives local governments the same protection as state governmental entities to discuss bids in a closed session. Cities would still need to announce the closed session pursuant to the Open Meetings Act.

Additionally, cities could hold closed sessions to evaluate a city manager. “Nineteen Kentucky cities operate under the city manager form of government,” Chaney said. “A city manager has about five bosses, essentially. There are not a lot of opportunities for them to have a personnel evaluation session outside of being in an open full session. This authorizes for the board of commissioners to be able to go into closed sessions up to two times a year to conduct a personnel evaluation of the city manager only. Any records created as a result of that would be subject to Kentucky’s Open Records Law.”

The measure also clarifies requirements for video teleconferencing local government meetings. It requires agencies to provide information about how members of the public or the media can electronically view the meeting. If there is a physical location for the meeting, officials must provide information about where that is. They also must disclose any location where two or more members plan to attend the meeting together.

The committee unanimously approved House Bill 453 as well.

Senator Stephen West (R-Paris) introduced Senate Bill 152. The legislation addresses cities that wish to cease solid waste management by awarding a franchise to a private company. Current statute creates a lengthy and laborious process for cities to cease operations.

Senate Bill 152 allows a local government to award a solid waste management service franchise if the local government has exclusively provided the same solid waste management service in the proposed area. Local governments still must follow state law for the bidding process to ensure transparency and open competition.