The 2nd meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Monday, August 28, 2006, at 10:00 AM, in Room 169 of the Capitol Annex. Representative John Arnold, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members: Representative John Arnold, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders and Alice Forgy Kerr; Representatives Jim Gooch, Charlie Hoffman, Dennis Keene, Lonnie Napier, Ruth Ann Palumbo, John Vincent, and Susan Westrom.
Guests: Talina Matthews, Executive Director, Office of Energy Policy; John Davies, Director, Division of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency; and Bill Bowker, Director, Division of Fossil Fuels and Utility Services; Commerce Cabinet. Kent Whitworth, Executive Director; Linda Redmon, Director of Finance; and Alice Rogers; Kentucky Historical Society, Commerce Cabinet.
LRC Staff: Kevin Mason, Jack McNear, Jeffery Hancock, Janie Miller, Tom Willis, and Spring Emerson.
Chairman Arnold welcomed Talina Matthews, John Davies, and Bill Bowker. Ms. Matthews gave a brief presentation outlining the mission and daily operations of the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy.
Representative Gooch expressed his support of the use of renewable sources of energy and stated that Kentucky needs to decrease dependence on petroleum, adding that coal liquids should be considered a portion of renewable resources. Ms. Matthews agreed, stating that the Division of Fossil Fuels and Utility Services is focusing on the development of market opportunities for coal and chemicals from coal, among other resources. Chairman Arnold asked where it is produced. Ms. Matthews replied that the plant is still in the planning stages and does not exist at this time.
Representative Keene inquired about the $600,000 in Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) funds for Applied Energy Research. Ms. Matthews explained that the funds have not yet been awarded and a Request for Proposal (RFP) is forthcoming. Representative Keene asked for an example of applicants. Ms. Matthews replied that one of the questions on the RFP would be for the applicant to explain how the KEDFA funds will help them to reach commercialization. Mr. Bowker added that four entities are being considered.
Chairman Arnold stated that the quest for alternative fuels is at a fever pitch and now is an opportune time for the state to investigate the use of alternative fuels.
Mr. Davies commented that the Division of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency works very hard to increase energy efficiency in all sectors of Kentucky's economy, also promoting renewable energy where it is cost effective.
Representative Gooch stated that a lot of people don't realize where their energy comes from and it is important to educate the public about it, as well as things they can do to make the environment cleaner. He went on to say that funding incentives need to be considered rather than using coal severance money. He expressed his appreciation for the work being done, stating that it is of cabinet-level importance.
Representative Hoffman commented that the Office of Energy Policy will be a huge point of discussion in upcoming years and these issues are in the forefront for all fifty states.
Chairman Arnold welcomed Kent Whitworth and Linda Redmon of the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS). Mr. Whitworth gave a brief presentation outlining the activities of the KHS.
Chairman Arnold inquired about personnel expenditures. Mr. Whitworth replied there are 74 full-time, 13 part-time, and 2.5 time-limited federally funded employees. Chairman Arnold asked why there are so many. Mr. Whitworth answered that the KHS operates three different properties, and have 40 different educational outreach programs that service the entire state, as well as responsibility for more than 500,000 artifacts that require special care, cataloging and conservation, which is fairly labor-intensive.
Chairman Arnold asked for a motion to adopt the minutes of the July 27, 2006 meeting. A motion was made, seconded and the minutes were approved unanimously.
Representative Palumbo asked if the Filson Group still exists. Mr. Whitworth replied that the Filson Historical Society still exists, but no longer produces the scholarly journal on Kentucky history. He went on to say that the Register published by the KHS four times per year is the only scholarly journal devoted to new Kentucky history, and he feels very strongly that producing the journal is at the core of what the KHS needs to be doing. Representative Palumbo stated that she believes this information is very important to Kentucky's students, and should be placed in all the schools. Mr. Whitworth continued by saying that new target audiences have been developed in the past year and a half, indicating that the high priority target audiences are teachers and students.
Representative Palumbo requested an explanation of what age levels are included in the clubs. Mr. Whitworth replied that there are approximately 1,400 Kentucky Junior Historical Society (KJHS) members right now, and they are from grades K through 12. He explained that a teacher can sponsor a KJHS chapter at his or her school, and it culminates each spring with a major convention in Frankfort. Last year approximately 600 students from all over the commonwealth attended for two days. It includes a History Bowl quiz show, exhibits, theatrical presentations, and high-tech presentations on Kentucky history, among other things.
Representative Palumbo asked if there are clubs in Fayette County. Mr. Whitworth replied that there is not a strong contingency in Fayette County, adding that there is a strong base in the more rural communities, with urban centers shying away from it.
Senator Borders commented that Kentucky has a great tradition, and it is critical to remember the past. He inquired about the progress of valuable old document storage. Mr. Whitworth replied that everything is now being housed in the History Center. He added that they are in the final stages of replacing the roof at the History Center, which will provide the necessary climate control. To illustrate the progress of the KHS, Mr. Whitworth stated that in August 2005, it was awarded accreditation by the American Association of Museums, and is only the fifth museum in Kentucky to receive that designation, and only about 750 nationwide.
Representative Hoffman asked how the KHS would be involved in the newly announced Agricultural Museum. Mr. Whitworth replied that the KHS has served as a resource throughout the planning of the Agricultural Museum.
Representative Westrom inquired about the artifact on the presentation table. Mr. Whitworth explained that they are raising money to go into an endowment that will continue to help pay for multi-media tools, temporary exhibits, outreach programs, etc. He continued by saying that $5 million of the ten million dollar goal has been raised thus far. He went on to explain the artifact on the desk is a souvenir cabin that he purchased when he was a small child on a trip to Hodgenville to see the Lincoln birthplace, and went on to say that it represents the kind of heartfelt connections to Lincoln the KHS is trying to rekindle in Kentucky and then to folks across the country. He stated that in an effort to reclaim Lincoln as a Kentuckian, a state memorial will be built on the Louisville Waterfront by 2009.
Chairman Arnold thanked the guests for appearing before the committee. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:55 A.M.