Senate gives green light to homestead exemption measure Skip to content

Senate gives green light to homestead exemption measure

A bill to expand the homestead exemption passed, but not without concerns.

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A measure that would amend the state constitution to expand the homestead exemption for older Kentuckians received Senate approval on Monday.

Under the proposed amendment, resident homeowners who are older than 65 would continue to pay property taxes, but they would not face tax increases based on rising property valuations.

Sen. Michael J. Nemes (R-Shepherdsville) is sponsoring the legislation, Senate Bill 23. He said, if the amendment passes, property tax assessments would be frozen for qualifying homeowners.

“So, he’ll still pay the property taxes when he turns 65 or when he purchases the house, but not additional on the assessment,” Nemes said.

The Senate voted 32-2, with one pass vote, to advance the bill to the House. If the measure wins passage in the General Assembly, it would still need approval from Kentucky voters on a statewide ballot before taking effect.

Several lawmakers weighed in on the bill during discussion on the Senate floor, including Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon), who said he voted for the measure after hearing from constituents who were begging for tax relief.

Sen. Stephen West, R-Paris, voted against the measure citing concerns that some millionaire homeowners could get a tax break while young people would still have to pay.

“A lot of these local taxes go to support our schools and libraries, and so for that reason, although I respect the sponsor’s intent, I personally vote no today,” he said.

However, Sen. Johnnie Turner (R-Harlan) said the bill would benefit all of society, and he doesn’t think it’s wrong to vote for it.

“Just to clarify something as I understood the bill to say, that you’re going to pay the taxes that are owed on that home when you turn 65 years old. So, I don’t think anybody will get by without paying any taxes if they own a home whether they’re a millionaire or a poor person,” he said.

Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D-Louisville) also voted for the bill, but said if it doesn’t advance as a constitutional amendment, she filed a resolution that would establish a task force to study how the homestead exemption can be increased.

“I couldn’t vote against helping seniors, but there will be ramifications, and it will be felt within our school system, our local and our county governments, our fire districts.” she said.

Harper Angel said a task force could possibly come up with something that wouldn’t be as drastic but would be fair and reflect the original intent of the homestead exemption.


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