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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom

Bill Filed Would Give Citizens Right to Vote on Local Option

Wednesday February 12, 2014

Sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, Republican of Shelbyville

Kentucky citizens would have the right to vote on investing in local projects important to their communities under a bill filed this week in the state legislature.

 Sen. Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) filed SB135, known as the Local Option, that would allow Kentucky voters to decide if they want to amend the state constitution to allow for a local option sales tax of up to 1 percent.

 "Local control is the most direct form of governing -- and that's the beauty of SB 135. It is not a tax increase -- it's giving citizens the right to decide, by a referendum vote, if they want to temporarily raise their own taxes to fund a project or projects that are important to their community," Hornback said. "This bill gives local voters a voice in the future of their community."

 "Our coalition applauds the Senator for listening to the people of Kentucky, an overwhelming majority of whom say they want local control," said Bill Samuels, a member of the LIFT Kentucky Coalition.

 Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer called Hornback a leader who understands that local government is closest to the people.

 "This is about giving Kentuckians the right to vote on investing in their hometowns, a right that citizens in 37 other states already have," Fischer said. "This is direct American democracy at its finest and we thank Sen. Hornback for leading on this important initiative."

 Hornback's bill would amend Section 181 of the Kentucky Constitution to allow for up to a one percent sales tax that would be levied in a city or county for specific capital projects. The projects and the tax would be put to voters in a referendum and, if approved by a majority, money collected would be used for the project or projects -- and when the projects are paid for, the tax goes away.

 The bill, which now awaits a committee hearing, must be approved by three-fifths of the Senate and House before it is put to Kentucky voters in November.

 The amendment, according to Hornback's bill, would read:

 "Are you in favor of giving local voters a new right to approve or reject the funding of specific local projects that would be paid for by a temporary local sales tax of no more than one percent, and that would expire when the projects are completed, as authorized by the General Assembly?"

 A Bluegrass Poll released this week showed that 60 percent of Kentuckians want the right to vote on local projects. The support was deep across all party lines, ideological lines and areas of the state, the poll showed.

 For more information, visit