The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Legislative Agenda, which outlines the priorities of the business community, includes such things as investing in early childhood education, making higher education affordable, enacting a statewide smoke-free law, increasing the cigarette tax and continuing to reform the state’s criminal justice system.
It also calls for expanding gaming in the state.
“To better compete with surrounding states and enhance economic development, the chamber strongly urges the General Assembly to support a constitutional amendment to allow citizens to vote on expanded gaming,” the report says. “Allowing additional gaming would create jobs, enhance tourism and help recoup hundreds of millions of tax dollars lost annually to casino gaming in neighboring states.
“The chamber also supports allowing sports wagering in Kentucky, as permitted by the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Any legislation to approve sports wagering in the Commonwealth must protect existing signature industries and racing facilities.”
The agenda also supports local tax revenue flexibility, something Owensboro and Daviess County officials have sought for years.
“The Kentucky Chamber supports giving local authorities the flexibility to increase local tax revenue while ensuring the local tax code does not negatively impact businesses,” the report says. “We encourage the discussion of this and other local tax issues to be included in the broader dialogue centered around tax reform and competitiveness.”
“As Kentucky and the nation continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time to position Kentucky for future growth and to outcompete other states for jobs and workers,” Ashli Watts, president of the Kentucky Chamber, said in a news release. “The economy is changing: new technologies are emerging, workforce trends are evolving, and businesses and industries are pivoting and restructuring. Public policy in Kentucky must change as well in order for the commonwealth to compete in today’s shifting economic landscape.”
The agenda says, “Criminal justice reform is pivotal to building a competitive workforce and reducing cycles of poverty and unemployment. The chamber has worked closely through the Smart on Crime coalition to pass legislation to expunge criminal records, raise the felony theft threshold, encourage work and training for individuals on probation, and support successful re-entry for individuals leaving incarceration.”
More from this section
It calls for creating more alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent offenders and placing a greater emphasis on rehabilitation through access to job training opportunities and preparing for a successful re-entry.
“Strategies such as de-felonizing drug possession and diverting individuals arrested for possession into treatment, instead of prison, are important next steps to modernize the justice code,” the report says.
And it says the chamber supports efforts to increase access to professional licensing and educational opportunities for individuals with non-violent, non-sexual criminal histories.
The 29-page report says, “We know other states have passed, or are considering passing, controversial legislation in the name of religious freedom that will negatively impact their economic activity, both short- and long-term. We oppose and discourage any discriminatory legislation that would hinder any individual’s or organization’s desire to do business in or with the commonwealth.”
And it calls for initiatives “to protect and grow” the bourbon industry, which the report says is a thriving $8.6 billion economic and tourism engine that generates more than 20,100 jobs with an annual payroll topping $1 billion each year, $250 million in local and state tax revenue and more than $500 million in global exports.
The report says that the General Assembly “must update the commonwealth’s burdensome alcohol taxes and respond to consumer demands by modernizing Prohibition-era policies around hospitality and sales at distillery gift shops.”
The chamber says it “supports parity with wineries and brewers by giving distillers the ability to sell unique bottles at their gift shops; expanding distillery participation and sales at fairs, festivals and farmer’s markets; and operating satellite tasting rooms with retail privileges.”
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.