Three bad bills still out there


With all the attention on the budget, revenue, and pension bills, it’s important to note that there are many other bad KYGA18 bills that could suddenly be passed on Friday or Saturday. Here are three of the most concerning.

HB169 – The so-called “Gang Bill”

This bill is supposedly an attempt to decrease gang activity by increasing penalties for being in a “criminal gang,” while at the same time lowering the standard of identifying “criminal gang members.” While current law limits the definition of “criminal gang” to five or more persons who commit either violent crimes or felony drug-related crimes, this bill drops that number to three, and includes such “violent crimes” as failure to pay child support.

Furthermore, it has been shown in other states that this approach to gang violence does not lower gang activity at all. Instead, it actually increases gang activity, while at the same time being disproportionately used against young people of color. In other words, even if not racist in its intent, it winds up being racist in its implementation.

For more information, read this article on KCEP:

Fact Sheet: HB 169 “Gang” Bill is Not an Evidence-Based Approach

HB227 — Net Metering Bill

Again this year, the utility companies have tried to kill off the solar industry by changing the playing field. In its original form, HB227 would have cut by 70% the payments utilities have to make when they buy electricity from home solar installations. Since those payments help make home solar more financially feasible, cutting them like that essentially suffocates the industry in its crib. (Less than 1% of Kentucky electricity is generated by home solar – but that amount is growing, thus this bill.)

Related article: No, Net Metering Is Not Anti-Coal

The bill has been amended to have the Public Service Commission set the reimbursement rate for electricity buy-back, which is some improvement. But, there is no guarantee that the PSC will be any more favorable to solar owners. The bill needs to die.

Of note is the apparent involvement by astro-turf forces from out of state, as described in this article by Clean Technica.

HB134/SB36 — Tuition Tax Credits

The pitch sounds so appealing: let’s give a tax credit to persons who donate money for scholarships. Unfortunately, there’s bad policy behind the appealing facade.

First of all, the money is for scholarships to private schools that compete with our public schools. Religious schools, charter schools, other types of private schools – all schools that cherry-pick students from our public school systems. If people want to form private schools, fine; but why should we use public monies to pay for them?

Secondly, this is a tax credit, not just a charitable donation. If you don’t appreciate the difference, you can read our explainer here. The bottom line, though, is that this bill takes even more money out of our state’s budget, even as we continue to cut public education.

For a longer list of all the problems with this approach, read this list of myths and facts from the ACLU.

This bill is yet another attempt to privatize education in this state. It needs to be filed in the big round trashcan in the sky.