Thefourth meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government was held on Monday, November 24, 2008, at 10:00 AM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Damon Thayer, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Steve Riggs, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Carroll Gibson, Ernie Harris, and Dan Kelly; Representatives Ron Crimm, Robert R. Damron, Mike Denham, Ted Edmonds, David Floyd, Richard Henderson, Charlie Hoffman, Dennis Keene, Adam Koenig, Reginald Meeks, Brad Montell, David Osborne, Arnold Simpson, Ancel Smith, and Ken Upchurch.
Guests: Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington; Todd Cassidy, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet; Mary Pedersen, Kentucky Office of Homeland Security; David Nicholson, Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk; Bob Arnold, Denny Nunnelley, Tom Troth, Tim Sturgill, Ellen Williams, and Roger Recktenwald, Kentucky Association of Counties; J.D. Chaney, Kentucky League of Cities; Ron Wolf, Louisville Metro Government; Vince Lang and Shellie Hampton, Kentucky County Judge Executive Association; Richard Tanner and Sam Crawford, Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association; Sara Boswell Dent, Administrative Office of the Courts; and Gay Dwyer, Kentucky Retail Federation.
LRC Staff: Mark Mitchell, Joe Pinczewski-Lee, John Ryan, Kris Shera, Elizabeth Beardsley, and Cheryl Walters.
Upon the motion of Representative Keene, seconded by Representative Meeks, the minutes of the October 17, 2008 meeting were approved.
Chairman Thayer introduced a new LRC staff member, Kris Shera, to the committee.
The first order of business was a follow-up discussion from the committee’s last meeting on the impact of the film industry on Kentucky local governments. Chairman Thayer recognized Mr. Todd Cassidy, Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. Mr. Cassidy showed the committee videos on the film industry, which due to technical difficulties, were unable to be shown at the committee’s last meeting. He gave the members a list of productions pending inducements and productions lost to competing states. Mr. Cassidy noted that $200,000 is spent a day in film production. He asked the committee for their support in passing legislative incentives to attract films to be produced in Kentucky.
Representative Henderson commented that it seemed pretty simple to him—either spend the money here or there. He agreed that incentives should be passed.
Senator Kelly asked if legislation from the 2008 session was what Mr. Cassidy was referring to. Mr. Cassidy stated yes, it was HB 756, which never got out of the House.
Representative Meeks asked what incentives were included in HB 756. Mr. Cassidy stated that HB 756 included a sales tax exemption and a 15% tax credit for development of a film production facility in Kentucky.
Chairman Thayer commented that he would like to see more films produced in Kentucky and would like to work with Mr. Cassidy to get a bill passed.
The next order of business was a discussion on the progress of the Kentucky E-Warrants System. Chairman Thayer introduced Ms. Mary Pedersen, Chief Information Officer with the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, and Mr. David Nicholson, Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk.
Ms. Pedersen first gave the committee some background information on the E-Warrants System. She explained that the system was developed to standardize and automate the arrest warrant process enabling electronic signatures and ensuring a secure electronic database. Ms. Pedersen noted that there were 300,000 plus warrants.
Mr. Nicholson told the committee that there were 55,975 warrants in Jefferson County. He stated that the E-Warrants system “went live” in Jefferson County on January 28, 2008. Mr. Nicholson noted that over 44,000 Jefferson County paper warrants were imported the weekend of October 3, 2008.
Ms. Pedersen stated that Campbell County “went live” with E-Warrants on September 22, 2008, with Woodford, Bourbon, and Scott Counties “going live” the week of November 17, 2008. She noted that the next counties to “go live” will mostly likely be Fayette, Oldham, Henry, Trimble, Spencer, Shelby, Anderson, Franklin, and Bullitt.
Ms. Pedersen next discussed the prerequisites for establishing the E-Warrants system in a particular county, which include: an in-writing agreement to participate from all user agencies (judges, law enforcement, county attorney, circuit clerk, dispatch, and jail); a designated primary judicial point of contact; a designated jurisdictional administrator—overall system administrator for the county and/or judicial district; completed clean-up of paper bench warrants in preparation for conversion from KyCOURTS to E-Warrants; and completed clean-up of paper arrest warrants and selection of manual conversion option.
Regarding the E-Warrants status for Jefferson County, Ms. Pedersen pointed out that as of November 18, 2008, 72% of the authorized warrants of arrest has been served, 53% of the authorized criminal summons has been served, and 26% of the authorized bench warrants has been served. She noted that there are presently over 2,400 users and 80 roles in Jefferson County.
Representative Crimm commented that sheriffs are paid to issue the warrants. He asked if the E-Warrants system would have any impact on the sheriffs. Mr. Nicholson replied that the impact would be minimal.
Representative Riggs commented that this system was a great example of a government program going well. He suggested that it be publicized. Representative Riggs asked the speakers if they were comfortable with the security of the system by putting these warrants on a server. Ms. Pedersen stated that the system is well secured and that they have done all they can do to make it secure.
Senator Kelly asked who is responsible for doing the work to the system, including maintenance, and will the system belong to the state. Ms. Pedersen stated that a vendor does the developing and scanning, that there is a contract with the vendor, and that the state does own the system.
Representative Denham asked if her office has seen any resistance, and when the rest of the state would be operational with this system. Ms. Pedersen said they have not seen any resistance. She added that it will be a couple of years to get the system implemented statewide.
Representative Henderson commented that her office will run into problems with the rural counties regarding the technology. Ms. Pedersen stated that before they commit to a county, they look at it to see if they have the necessary technology.
Senator Gibson asked who would be held accountable for mistakes in the system. Mr. Nicholson said that accountability would fall upon the agency responsible for the warrants. He added that in Jefferson County it would be the clerk’s office.
Chairman Thayer recognized Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington, former executive director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, for some comments. Representative Webb-Edgington told the committee that she was pleased to see that the E-Warrants system was being continued that she helped start in 2006 under the Fletcher administration She expressed her gratitude to the clerks, judges, Administrative Office of the courts, and the Kentucky State Police for their assistance with the project.
The last item of business was a presentation of the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) legislative platform for the upcoming 2009 Session of the General Assembly. Chairman Thayer recognized Mr. Bob Arnold, Executive Director of KACo.
Mr. Arnold told the committee that KACo’s issues are not new and are not going away. He then introduced Mr. Tom Troth, Director of Legislative Affairs for KACo, to discuss KACo’s legislative agenda. Mr. Troth told the committee that KACo is working with the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC) on the following issues: (1) pension reform, in the areas of fair employer contributions and reemployment. Mr. Troth stated that KACo is requesting that the General Assembly give careful consideration to providing additional pension relief to county governments, including the adoption of a less aggressive but actuarially sound full funding standard for the actuarially required contribution, and to provide relief from the restrictive reemployment provisions of 08 SS HB 1; (2) jail funding, in the areas of reimbursement and medical expenses. Mr. Troth explained that the counties wish to be reimbursed for the time each prisoner spends in the county jail when that prisoner is charged with a felony and the sentencing judge gives credit for time served in the county jail toward the prisoner’s sentence. He said that KACo also believes that counties should be charged no more than the Medicaid rate when treatment of inmates in county jails is required; (3) collection of property taxes and third-party purchasers of delinquent tax bills. Mr. Troth stated that KACo fully supports the efforts of its affiliate organizations as they seek consensus on legislation dealing with the collection of delinquent property taxes, and the appropriate purchase of those delinquent tax bills by third party (private) purchasers; (4) $22 million shortfall from the telecommunications tax. Mr. Troth told the committee that KACo would like to see the state budget be amended to add $22 million to compensate local governments for money lost since January, 2006, from the hold harmless provision of the telecommunication tax legislation; and (5) the way cities and counties enact ordinances. Mr. Troth pointed out that the method by which local governments enact ordinances should be consistent for both cities and counties. He said KACo believes that the three county statutes should be combined into one comprehensive statute that is consistent with the city statute.
Mr. Troth told the committee that KACo also has some emerging issues. He said KACo would like to see a parallel procedure for wastewater collection on a regional basis as exists for drinking water under the provisions of KRS Chapter 74. Mr. Troth stated that KACo is concerned that with the advent of the 2010 census, many counties will exceed the 30,000 mark in population calling for a maximum occupational license fee of 1%. He added that KACo is concerned that this will invoke the offset provisions of the law providing a transfer of the 1% to the cities currently having an occupational license tax in the county.
Representative Riggs asked for an example of an emergency in which an ordinance would have to be enacted. Mr. Troth said in a flood, tornado, or earthquake where a county would need to provide regulations in a short period of time.
Regarding the area of employer contributions in pension reform, Representative Montell asked if counties had felt the full effect yet. Mr. Troth replied no.
Representative Crimm commented that he tried to get a bill passed that would recoup the money from the telecommunications tax. He said he intended to run that bill again.
Representative Hoffman asked if KACo will have one bill that will include all of their issues relating to occupational license taxes, or will they deal with each issue one at a time. Mr. Troth said they are working with KLC on what would be the best way.
Regarding the issue of reemployment, Representative Floyd asked who counties were competing with for retired peace officers. Mr. Troth said private entities. Mr. Arnold added that more than peace officer jobs were being competed with.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:05.