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Interim week in review: Legislative committees meet to prepare for the 2022 regular session

BY DANIEL ELLIOTT

State representative

It is hard to believe that we convene for the 2022 regular session in a little over 150 days. Interim committees met this week for their monthly meetings, bringing together members of the House and Senate to receive an update from state government officials and members of the public concerning the issues that we will examine next session. Among the topics were workforce development issues, supply shortages, charitable gaming accessibility, and post-secondary education planning.

IJC on Economic Development and Workforce Investment: Committee members discussed the uphill battle in several areas of business having a trickle-down effect on the manufacturing of goods. One of the issue areas is the current national semi-conductor computer chip shortage. The market for these chips has grown nearly 25% beyond the planned capacity, rendering manufacturers unable to complete products. In addition to supply shortages, we are seeing many transportation professionals reluctant to get back on the road due to gas prices, equipment shortages, and failing domestic infrastructure. All of these problems have culminated into a potential work hesitancy crisis effecting everything from manufacturers to restaurants and retail.

IJC on Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology: Members of the Interim Joint Committee on Tourism, Small Business, and Information Technology received a brief overview of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. According to officials, fishing and hunting license sales alone fund 48% of the department’s budget. Before the pandemic, Fish and Wildlife contributed $5.9 billion to the state’s economy. The Commonwealth has a 13% participation rate for fishing licenses and an 8% participation rate for hunting licenses. This is great news since outdoor recreation like fishing and hunting not only lead to long lasting memories with family and friends but also provide healthy food sources and draw tourists into Kentucky. The committee also heard from the Kentucky Historical Society about site markers throughout the state. Currently, we have at least one historical marker per county in the state. The Historical Society is faced with a challenge when it comes to the maintenance of the missing and damaged markers.

IJC on Licensing, Occupation, and Administrative Regulations: The Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations discussed the use of technology in charitable gaming. During the pandemic, an emergency regulation was passed to allow a random number generator rather than using in-person volunteers. Nonprofit representatives also shared their desire to offer online ticket sale options.

Unemployment Insurance Reform Task Force: Earlier this month the executive branch administration revealed that the state was restarting the search for a contractor to overhaul the unemployment system. Shortly after, the Labor Cabinet indicated that the state planned to award a $40 million contract to complete the project. During the task force meeting, they shared that the administration was backing out after realizing more work needed to be done to secure the unemployment system, the same system that has been hit by multiple data breaches and significant fraud over the past year. Since the request for proposal was restarted, there have been vital infrastructure updates to help prevent any further system breaches.

Capital Planning Advisory Board: At this month’s meeting, members were briefed on capital construction plans from nine public colleges and universities. The institutions have priorities that range from renovation of sports facilities to routine maintenance. According to the presentation, the projects are aimed at improving the quality of life for students and to promote workability and employability.

As always, I want to share a look back at the week, but I hope you will reach out to me for more information. I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Daniel.Elliott@lrc.ky.gov. Also, feel free to watch the committee meetings on YouTube by searching “KY LRC Committee Meetings” or on Kentucky Educational Television (KET) at ket.org/legislature. KET does not cover all committee meetings, but the YouTube channel will have the meetings that KET does not. Also, visit the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.

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