Frankfort Local News

House Committee Quickly Passes Bill Designed to Help Kentucky Tornado Victims

A bill granting sales tax refunds for Kentuckians hit by this month’s tornadoes is swiftly moving through the General Assembly.

The measure cleared the House Appropriations and Revenue committee less than 12 hours after it was first proposed. The language granting the refunds had to be inserted into another bill, House Bill 165, because the deadline to introduce new House bills passed weeks ago.

“It is very important and I appreciate it and I know all of the committee members appreciate you working quickly and working on this, to get this issue before us before this session ends,” said committee chairman Rick Rand of the work Representative John Will Stacy and others did on the measure.

The refunds will be granted for any sales tax storm victims pay on building materials. Those who want a refund must submit receipts and proof that the materials were used for rebuilding structures damaged by tornadoes.

“You know this is a rare opportunity that we all have under extraordinary bad circumstances to do something jointly for people who all over the state are in need,” says Stacy.

Lawmakers have eight legislative days to pass the measure out of both chambers, creating a bit of urgency to do something to for victims. The full House is expected to vote on the bill before the end of the week.

Frankfort Local News

Lawmakers Propose Partial Sales Tax Refunds for Residents of Tornado-Stricken Areas

Kentucky lawmakers are planning to help home and business owners in tornado-stricken areas.

Earlier this month, tornadoes ripped through Northern and Eastern Kentucky, causing millions of dollars in damage. But lawmakers are working on legislation to give storm victims refunds on sales tax for building materials.

The plan addresses a concern that people won’t rebuild destroyed towns.

“If you were, got an insurance check or a FEMA check, you may look around and there be such devastation in your community that you might decide you want to locate somewhere else,” says Representative John Will Stacy, who lives in the hard-hit town West Liberty. “But we don’t want to leave our communities like that, we want to fix these areas and we don’t want to leave a blighted area,” Stacy says.

The proposal has the support of leadership of both parties in both legislative chambers.

At a news conference announcing the proposal, lawmakers said they are looking at other ways to help the area, but the current proposal is the only solid effort so far.

Local News Next Louisville Politics

Bauer: Suspend Indiana Gas Taxes This Summer

From the Associated Press:

The leader of Indiana House Democrats wants the state to suspend taxes on gasoline during the summer in a move he says would save consumers about 40 cents per gallon.

Representative Patrick Bauer says Republicans who control the statehouse are trying to help the wealthy by cutting the corporate income tax. Bauer says this is a chance for the GOP to help the working class by suspending the gas tax and the gas sales tax for June, July and August.

Local News

KY's August Revenues Up, But May Not Be Sustained

When it comes to the state’s general fund, revenues are up more than 7% for the month of August.  Part of that increase comes from higher coal prices, and the resulting higher coal severance taxes…the taxes that companies pay the state based on the value of that coal.  State revenue analyst Greg Harkenrider says they weren’t expecting such an increase.

“$23,227,000, that amount for the month of August is pretty much an all time record for the coal severance tax in one month,” says Harkenrider.

But Harkenrider says that just because revenues were up in August, there’s nothing close to a surplus.  And he says budget officials worry the increases aren’t sustainable.  Property tax receipts from public utilities were up for example, but that’s because many paid their bills early.  Also, sales tax revenues are up for the entire year, but Harkenrider says that could be because inflation is up and everything is more expensive.  A full fiscal year projection will be ready at the end of October.