The5th 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 Thursday, December 14, 2006, at 10:00 A.M., at Kentucky State University. Representative John A. Arnold , Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Teresa Hill, Secretary, Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet; Aaron Keatley, Director, Division of Compliance Assistance; Jon Gassett, Commissioner, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
LRC Staff: Jack McNear, Jeffery Hancock, Kevin Mason, Matt Ellis and Christina Lee.
Chairman Arnold called the meeting to order at 10:20 A.M. The first presentation was provided by Ms. Teresa Hill, Secretary of Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.
Chairman Arnold asked the background of Secretary Hill. He also asked what direction she sees the cabinet going. Secretary Hill responded that she was from Corbin, Kentucky, attended Chase Law School then became a journalist. Following journalism she practiced law for 10 years in Corbin. Following her years of practicing law, she became the Commissioner in the Commerce Cabinet. Ms. Hill then became the Executive Director of Boards and Commissions. Finally she was a Commissioner of the Public Service Commission before accepting her current position as the Secretary of Environmental and Public Protection. Secretary Hill stated that she would like to see more people get involved in recycling programs, especially state employees. She also stated that the Division of Forestry is in need of additional funding and that she would like to be more involved in helping the division obtain the funding. Chairman Arnold stated that it is not likely that the General Assembly will be opening the budget this session, but that the need for funding for the Division of Forestry will be considered in the 2008 session.
Representative Hoffman stated that he was impressed with the enthusiasm shown by Secretary Hill. He also stated that it was good to hear that the number of participants has increased in the recycling programs. Representative Hoffman asked for an update on the progress the cabinet has made concerning cleaning up abandoned landfills. Secretary Hill introduced Mr. Bruce Scott who explained that the cabinet has $35 million left to spend before FY '08. Mr. Scott stated that currently 10 out of 620 landfills are under construction. He also stated that there has been tremendous progress in the program.
Chairman Arnold stated that Morganfield was on a list of cities failing to meet federal standards for their water and sewer treatment. He asked Secretary Hill to explain the problem and what was being done to fix it. Mr. Lloyd Cress, Commissioner of Department for Environmental Protection stepped up to explain that there are certain standards that can be met without receiving treatment. He stated some cities rain water system is tied in to their sewer system and that the cabinet has asked the federal government for a waiver to be allowed time to fix the problems. Chairman Arnold asked if citations are issued to the violating counties and if so what kind. Mr. Cress responded that citations are issued and that the agency resolves the problems in steps, citations being the first step.
Representative Keene asked if other agencies oversee that the regulations are being met, or is it only the state that finds deficiencies. Mr. Cress responded that yes other agencies do oversee the regulations. He stated that people with permits are used to find the needed improvements. He stated however, that it is up to local government to decide how to pay for the services. Representative Keene asked if the changes are regulated by local government as well. Mr. Cress responded in the affirmative.
Mr. Aaron Keatley, Director of the Division of Compliance Assistance began his presentation. Chairman Arnold asked why Kentucky hasn't gotten grants from federal agencies for the Brownfields. Mr. Keatley responded that the EPPA will not say specifically why the application has been rejected. He further stated that a significant amount of applications have been rejected due to the fact that there is not a clear method to show how the plans will benefit the environment.
Chairman Arnold stated that he was afraid that problems would arise where certified waste water operators would apply to the cabinet for jobs, but are not hired due to lack of funding. He asked if Mr. Keatley forsees any methods of additional funding. Mr. Keatley stated that they currently do not have anything to target that problem, but that they will get back to the committee on that issue.
The final presentation was given by Mr. Jon Gassett, Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. Commissioner Gassett provided an overview of the department and discussed issues concerning the agency. Chairman Arnold requested a copy of the breakdown of types of fish and wildlife licenses being issued. Mr. Gassett stated that they also have a breakdown of district wide licenses issued. He stated that he would get those to the committee. Chairman Arnold asked if the state of Kentucky being a key destination for hunting and fishing for the nation, is a good thing. Mr. Gassett stated that it is a mixed blessing for Kentucky. Mr. Gassett explained that the negative aspects of Kentucky being a key destination is that there is more competition for Kentucky fishermen and hunters. The positive side is that the majority of citizens in the nation come to hunt or fish in Kentucky, therefore more revenue is being brought into the state. Chairman Arnold stated that because Kentucky is a key area for hunting and fishing, he foresees problems down the road with non-Kentucky citizens not respecting the land or environmental problems the state faces. Chairman Arnold stated that a list of "do's and don'ts" needed to be drafted and given to the tourists. Mr. Gassett stated that pamphlets are handed out when licenses are sold. Chairman Arnold asked how the federal farm bill worked. Mr. Gassett stated that Natural Resource Conservation Service is the keeper of the federal farm bill in Kentucky. Chairman Arnold stated that another problem he sees is the need for increased public access for the outdoorsman. He stated that there are not many places to hunt anymore because fence rows and bush piles, which are usually the habitat for wildlife are being destroyed. Mr. Gassett stated that in strategic planning meetings, the decline in small game and habitat issues are being discussed. He stated that currently 77,000 acres of land are tied up to provide access to outdoorsmen.
Chairman Arnold motioned to adjourn the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 11:50 A.M.