It also includes incentives to lure a new next-generation car battery plant to Hardin County, and more than 2,700 miles of railroads would be upgraded should this legislation pass the Senate. House Bill 3 will improve our quality of life, keep and create jobs, attract new business and expand our revenue base in Kentucky. This important legislation passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming vote of 97-1.
House Bill 4, known as the "Bridges Authority Bill," would create a public infrastructure entity to help Kentucky build and maintain bridges. The plan would allow local involvement in deciding how to fund bridge projects and allow a local tolling authority to manage the Ohio River Bridges Project. A planned bridge in Henderson would be eligible for funding under the bill as well. House Bill 4 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 89-9.
Legislation that sparked the most interest this week was House Bill 2 which would have allowed video lottery terminals (VLTs) at Kentucky race tracks to support our horse industry. A Senate committee killed the bill Monday night.
Supporters said the legislation could have yielded over $1 billion in gaming revenue for the state over the next five years and help the ailing horse industry bring more races to the state's tracks through increased purses and breeder incentives.
The House of Representatives passed HB 2 by a margin of 52 to 45 after nearly four hours of debate. Since my employer also owns an interest in one of the race tracks mentioned in the legislation, I requested a ruling from the Legislative Ethics Commission as to whether or not I could engage in the debate and vote on the bill.
Their opinion was very clear that I was not allowed to vote for or against the bill and should abstain from all votes concerning the legislation. I abstained from voting because I wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety in this measure.
And finally, the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee heard testimony on House Bill 1, which addresses Kentucky's severe fiscal problems by using federal stimulus money and utilizing some cuts throughout state government. We expect a full vote on HB 1 on Monday June 22.
It is difficult to predict what will happen with any legislation before us this session. Work on these bills will now go to conference committees to resolve differences between the House and Senate if possible as we continue what is the second, and hopefully the last, week of the special session this week.
If you have anything you would like to discuss, please remember that you can leave a message for me in Frankfort by calling the legislative toll-free message line at 800-372-7181, or through the Legislative Research Commission's Web site at www.lrc.state.ky.us. You may also reach my Capitol office directly by calling (502) 564-2217 or e-mailing me at Robert.Damron@lrc.ky.gov.
It is an honor to serve as your voice in Frankfort.