Legislative committees paved the way for five KLC initiatives on Wednesday, bringing the measures one step closer to final passage. KLC Executive Director/CEO J.D. Chaney and Director of Public Affairs Bryanna L. Carroll testified alongside legislators to support the measures that will positively impact cities across the commonwealth.
The House Local Government Committee approved Senate Bill 106. Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson) sponsored the KLC initiative to establish a way to administratively dissolve cities that do not collect funds or have elected officials. The current process is lengthy, difficult, and potentially expensive.
The issue came to light as the distribution of CARES and ARPA funding from the federal government revealed that several cities have not maintained a government. Insurance providers in some communities are still collecting an insurance premium tax, even though there is no active city government to collect the money. Citizens are not actively working to dissolve the city because they would shoulder the expense of that effort.
Senate Bill 106 outlines a new process and contains multiple safeguards, including public notice, a public hearing at the city in question, and allowances for the city to incorporate again at a future date.
The House of Representatives will now consider the measure.
The Senate State and Local Government Committee approved four KLC initiatives.
House Bill 335 clarifies how a governor appoints some representatives to the Advisory Council for Recovery Ready Communities and the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council (KLEC).
Representative Adam Bowling (R-Middlesboro) sponsored the measure requiring the governor to select from a list of three names submitted by organizations with representatives on the council, ensuring the same process as appointments to other state boards and commissions.
Bowling and Carroll stressed that there is no issue with current members of the boards.
Local governments struggling to replace lost or damaged documents would see relief under House Bill 351. The Senate State and Local Government Committee approved the measure that Representative Deanna Frazier Gordon (R-Richmond) sponsored.
The legislation requires a local government to make a good faith effort to replace or re-create a lost, damaged, or destroyed record. City officials could file an affidavit instead if a city cannot replace or re-created the document.
The bill would not apply if a member of a local government or legislative body tampered with a record to invoke the bill’s provisions.
House Bill 351 will help ensure local governments do not miss out on vital funding opportunities when it is needed the most.
Representative Josh Branscum (R-Russell Springs) sponsored House Bill 399 to address municipal audits and public hearings.
The bill broadens when and how citizens can comment on how local governments spend state Local Government Economic Assistance funds and municipal road aid. The KLC initiative allows local governments to hear public comments at regularly scheduled council or commission meetings instead of requiring special meetings, often drawing little to no attendance.
The measure also raises the audit exemption to $150,000 for cities with no long-term debt. Currently, cities that receive or spend more than $75,000 must file an annual audit, which can represent 5% or more of small cities’ annual budgets. House Bill 399 adds a new requirement for attestation engagements for cities that claim the exemption for four consecutive years.
The Senate committee also approved House Bill 453. Representative Jonathan Dixon (R-Corydon) sponsored the bill that provides the same level of protection currently in statute for the state when selecting a successful bid. Additionally, the measure clarifies rules for video teleconference meetings.
“I feel it is important to stress that we worked with the Kentucky Press Association while drafting this bill, and any documents discussed in this bill are still subject to the Open Records Act,” Dixon told the committee.
Currently, city officials must discuss in public meetings bids they receive for a local contract, which could give those bidding on the project inside knowledge. The state does not have the same requirement and can go into a closed session when selecting a bidder for a contract.
A city’s governing body could also hold two closed sessions a year to conduct a city manager’s performance evaluation.
The Senate will now consider House Bills 335, 351, 399, and 453.