For immediate release…
Wednesday – Jan. 21, 2015
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – For the sixth consecutive year, the Northern Kentucky Forum will host a public discussion of the issues facing the Kentucky General Assembly as legislators gather for their annual session in Frankfort.
Combatting the heroin epidemic and enabling economic growth are among the leading issues facing the state as the 2015 legislative session begins. The forum, “A Look Ahead at the 2015 General Assembly,” will give our community a chance to hear how our delegation to Frankfort sees these and other issues playing out in the coming weeks.
A panel of two state senators and two state representatives will participate in the forum on Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Campbell County Administration Building in Newport. The forum is free and open to the public. Also, Northern Kentuckians are invited to participate in an online survey about issues in advance of the forum. To participate, go to the forum’s website, nkyform.org.
The panel will include Sen. Wil Schroder, R-Wilder, Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, and Rep. Diane St. Onge, R-Lakeside Park. Michael Monks, editor-in-chief and publisher of Covington-based the River City News will moderate.
The 2015 General Assembly convened on Jan. 6 with over 260 bills already on its plate.
One clear legislative priority among the Northern Kentucky delegation is addressing the heroin epidemic. Senate Bill 5, an anti-heroin bill co-sponsored by McDaniel, Schroder and others, already has already won Senate approval. If passed by the House and signed by the governor, the new law would increase treatment available to addicts and stiffen penalties for convicted dealers. House support for taking some action on the heroin epidemic is evident. Reps. Keene and St. Onge each is sponsoring anti-heroin legislation.
“It is no secret to the members of this body, those in the audience or the people of the commonwealth that heroin use has reached epidemic levels here in Kentucky,” McDaniel said. “Its use and distribution has become a major issue for our citizens, our employers, and our families.”
Schroder also commented that, even though he’s only been in office for one week, he thinks SB 5 will be one of the most important votes he will ever cast. “This was an issue I dealt with day after day,” he said, referring to his former career as a felony prosecutor. “I’m excited about this bill, not just because of the trafficking levels but the second part of it – the treatment side.”
In addition to the region’s struggle with heroin, economic development and job creation were on the minds of Northern Kentucky voters last fall, and Frankfort has already taken notice. Senate Bill 1, dubbed the Right to Work Act, has already passed the Senate, but not without sparking some heated debate.
A local option sales tax bill, which proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow communities to implement a temporary sales tax to raise money for a specific economic development project, was the first legislation proposed in the House. A local option sales tax was also a topic along the Northern Kentucky campaign trail last fall.
After the General Assembly’s first week in session, Kentucky lawmakers will not return to their chambers until February. The legislative session is scheduled to conclude on March 24.
What: A Look Ahead at the 2015 General Assembly
When: January 22, 2015, 6:30-8 p.m.
Where: Campbell County Administration Building, Fiscal Court Chambers - 1098 Monmouth Street, Newport, Ky. 41071
Moderator: Michael Monks, publisher and editor-in-chief of the River City News of Covington.
About the Northern Kentucky Forum:
The Northern Kentucky Forum is a partnership of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, Vision 2015 and Legacy - three nonpartisan groups in Northern Kentucky dedicated to public engagement. The Forum conducts several "public square" events each year around current events and public policy in locations across Boone, Campbell and Kenton Counties. Forum events are free and the Northern Kentucky community as a whole.
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