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Local Option Bill Filed in House With Bipartisan Sponsors

Friday February 14, 2014

Companion bill in Senate filed earlier in the week

Seventeen members of the Kentucky House of Representatives today filed a bill to give Kentucky citizens the right to vote on investing in local projects important to their communities.

Rep. Tommy Thompson (D-Owensboro and the House Majority Whip) is the primary sponsor for House Bill 399. Co-sponsors -- Republicans, Democrats and legislators from metropolitan and rural communities -- are:

  • Tom Burch (D-Louisville)
  • Denny Butler (D-Louisville)
  • John "Bam" Carney, House Minority Whip, (R-Campbellsville)
  • Jeff Donohue (D-Louisville)
  • Kelly Flood (D-Lexington)
  • Jim Glenn (D-Owensboro)
  • Jim Gooch (D-Providence)
  • Derrick Graham (D-Frankfort)
  • Richard Heath (R-Mayfield)
  • Jeff Hoover, House Minority Floor Leader, (R-Jamestown)
  • Terry Mills (D-Lebanon)
  • Sannie Overly, House Majority Caucus Chair, (D-Paris)
  • Steve Riggs (D-Louisville)
  • Rita Smart (D-Richmond)
  • John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville)
  • Brent Yonts (D-Greenville)

“Local control and local decisions are the most fundamental aspects of government. That’s why I believe it’s time for the state to empower local governments to invest in their future,” Thompson said. “HB399 will be the vehicle for people to have a voice in the shape and direction of their community.”

"With the Senate bill filed earlier this week, and now the House bill, the local option has shown it has wide support -- and for good reason. This is about direct American democracy, giving people the right to vote that citizens in 37 other states already have," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said. "Polls show that this is resonating with Kentuckians, 60 percent of whom want this new right."

Bill Samuels, a member of the LIFT Kentucky Coalition, applauded Thompson and the 16 co-sponsors for leading on this initiative that is important for all Kentucky cities and counties.

HB 399, like its companion Senate Bill 135, 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 bills, which now await committee hearings, must be approved by three-fifths of the Senate and House before the local option is put to Kentucky voters in November.

The amendment, according to both versions of the 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 liftkentucky.com