General Assembly Third Week February 11 - 15

Net-metering

Net metering is what occurs when a utility customer generates his or her own power and receives credit on the utility bill. The most common situation is where a customer has installed solar panels on a home. The customer draws power from the utility company at night, but supplies their own power during the day when the sun is shining.

More efficient and larger solar panels allow some home owners to generate more power than they use. They receive a 1 for 1 credit. The net-metering bill failed to pass in the last couple of sessions. There are only about 1,000 solar panel customers in the Commonwealth. A Department of Energy study stated that “distributed solar on retail electricity prices will likely remain negligible for the foreseeable future.

Utility companies argue that the customer generators should help pay for the infrastructure—wires, poles, maintenance, etc.—and only receive a portion of the credit. The bill allows for the Public Service Commission to set the rate customer-generator reimbursement and for the solar industry to participate in the rate setting process. Since the bill was amended, it now goes back to the senate. (I voted in favor).

Abortion “Trigger-Law”

The bill outlaws abortions in Kentucky should the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade. The law is referred to as a “trigger-law” because it only becomes effective if Roe is overturned. It passed the house yesterday 69-20. Looking at the voting board, the Representatives that voted against the law lived in the more urban areas of Louisville and Lexington, but there were exceptions. The survey that I did helped on this particular issue. Henderson is pretty evenly divided in my estimation. Many thanks for participating if you took the survey. (I voted in favor).

Golf Carts

House Bill 154 cleared the house this past week. The bill allows for city and county governments to designate roads where golf carts may be driven. The golf cart must have head lamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, front and rear turn signals, red reflectors on each side, and exterior mirrors, a parking brake horn and seat belts. (I voted in favor).

Child Advocacy Day

On Wednesday, we had the 15th annual Children’s Advocacy Day, which focuses on improving the overall well-being of our youngest generation.  Some of the proposals highlighted include limiting the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes among adolescents and young adults; providing more mental-health professionals in our schools who can recognize and treat behavioral issues early on; and doing more to help young adults transitioning out of foster care.

African-American History Month

February is African American History Month which recalls their accomplishments and the transition from slavery to citizenship. The Library of Congress and others have an excellent website dedicated to the event. Different members of the General Assembly have been reading profiles of prominent African American Kentuckians. This week, the era of black lynchings was discussed and the number of lynchings was read by county by Representative Charles Booker. The House Chamber went silent. The Equal Justice Institute has a powerful presentation here.

Conclusion

Frankfort is one of those places where you can be alone in a crowd. So grateful and appreciative of those that visited. This week, the 30-day legislative session reaches the halfway point, so the pace to approve bills is set to quicken.  We will wrap up much of our work by mid-March and complete the session by the end of that month.  I encourage you to keep letting me know your views and concerns.  You can email me at rob.wiederstein@LRC.ky.gov, and the toll-free message line is 1-800-372-7181.  If you have a hearing impairment, please call 1-800-896-0305. The legislature’s website also has a lot of information and can be found online at www.lrc.ky.gov.