FRANKFORT — Efforts to reform Kentucky’s laws for more than 1,000 special taxing districts—such as library boards, fire districts and sewer districts— are quickly moving this week in the General Assembly.
The reforms were filed Tuesday as House Bill 1—which typically denotes a top priority for legislative leaders— and would create an online registry to list the special districts and their required financial paperwork. It stems from a partnership between between state Auditor Adam Edelen and House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
In November, Edelen issued a report stating that nearly half the state’s special taxing districts don’t follow rules on filing budgets or submitting audits, among other things.
The reforms would also re-designate the special taxing districts as “special purpose governmental entities.” The registry created under HB 1 would be paid for initially with a special appropriation through the governor’s office, then supplemented by fees on the special districts.
Edelen says the quick path the bill is expected to take shows that Frankfort can work to together on meaningful reforms.
“You know for all of those naysayers who believe that Frankfort is not a place where big problems can be solved, where the parties are too stratified to come together, I would suggest House Bill 1 is an example of what happens in this town when we get it right,” Edelen says.
The bill is likely to quickly move through the state House and to the state Senate, where Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer supports the reforms.
“Special districts, an issue whose time has come and it is my hope that we can get this bill to the governor for his signature by the time this session ends next month,” Thayer says.
Supporters of the bill say they aren’t aware of any solidified opposition to the reforms, which have support from many of the special districts themselves.