Senator Douglas’ Legislative Update: Tax Relief Plan; Ending COVID State of Emergency

Published 11:42 am Sunday, February 27, 2022

With each passing day of the session, you can feel legislative efforts intensifying as lawmakers seek to enact bills that are important to them and, most importantly, beneficial to their constituents.

Budget review continues in the state Senate, and in week eight of the session, we introduced and passed significant bills to help people across the commonwealth.

I want to inform you about a tax relief measure introduced in the Senate.

Senate Bill 194, a tax rebate plan, responds to inflation hitting a 40-year high and imposing financial challenges on Kentucky residents. Under my bill, each working Kentucky taxpayer will receive up to $500 and each household up to $1,000.

This tax rebate is possible because of the Kentucky General Assembly’s conservative budgeting and unexpected and exceptional revenue growth, which is expected to yield over $1.94 billion in excess funds that rightly belong to Kentucky taxpayers. This plan will keep more money in working taxpayers’ pockets and empower them with the tools to make appropriate choices for their families.

I am pleased to announce Senate Joint Resolution 150, which I am the primary sponsor of and alluded to in last week’s legislative update. It passed the full Senate in week eight and is now qualified for consideration of the state House of Representatives. My resolution aims to end the COVID-19 state of emergency declared by Governor Andy Beshear on March 6, 2020.

After a challenging two years, which have included unintended consequences of government responses to COVID-19, we have reached the point where we need to leave this state of emergency behind us. I have been asked, ‘why March 7, why not now or wait until the state of emergencies expiration?’

The answer is, terminating the state of emergency on March 7 strikes a balance and a compromise.

First, we want to provide the executive branch a window of opportunity to engage with the legislature on any efforts they think may be needed before the state of emergency ends. Secondly, if lawmakers do not terminate this current state of emergency by March 7, it will expire on April 15.

The issue there is the legislative session ends on April 14. At that time, the Governor will have the ability to put in place administrative regulations without any oversight from the legislative branch. Lawmakers have spent most of the state of emergency on the sidelines, unable to take action despite constituents requesting it. We will make sure any potential executive measures receive the oversight they need.

With COVID-19 here to stay, we must use the tools and knowledge available to all of us to stay safe so we can end the two-year-long state of emergency. It is time for Kentucky to return to normal. Senate Joint Resolution 150 signals to all Kentuckians that their representatives recognize this reality.

I have previously detailed Senate Bill 138, also known as the ‘Teaching American Principles Act.’ In week eight, the bill passed the full Senate, receiving hours of debate on the Senate floor and rightfully so. The bill takes a positive approach to heated discussion in the education sphere. It takes a positive approach to address all stakeholder’s concerns by expanding elementary school standards to middle and high school. It sets reasonable parameters in student instruction on controversial topics and establishes a baseline required study of 24 core American primary source documents.

Senate Bill 48 would recoup taxpayer money designed to help Braidy Industries, now known as Unity Aluminum, establish a $1.3 billion, 2.5 million-square-foot aluminum mill in Greenup County near Ashland.

Senate Bill 91 allows licensed dealers to conduct online sales and delivery of a motor vehicle to customers’ residences or other suitable locations if requested by the customer. It modernizes the purchase and sale of automobiles, enabling more convenience in the marketplace for both consumer and merchant.

Senate Bill 133 reorganizes several departments and offices within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Among provisions of the bill includes expansion of the responsibilities of the Office of Inspector General. This is a measure in several legislative efforts to refocus and refine legislative efforts to address challenges facing Kentucky families and children.

Additional bills passing in the Senate included Senate bills 24, 80, 148, and 152.

It is an honor to serve you. Please reach out to my office with any questions or concerns at Donald.Douglas@lrc.ky.gov. You can also share your opinions on legislation by calling the Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181.

Senator Donald Douglas, M.D. (R-Nicholasville) represents the 22nd District, which includes Garrard and Jessamine counties and a southwestern portion of Fayette County. Sen. Douglas serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Appropriations and Revenue; Banking and Insurance; and Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations.