FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear wants the legislature to tackle a measure that would help shore up the state's bankrupt unemployment insurance trust fund when lawmakers return to Frankfort Monday for a special legislative session.
Beshear issued the "call," or the agenda, for the special session on Thursday.
Beshear would also like the legislature to address a measure that would allow the state's bourbon industry to offer free samples at certain events, such as the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Currently, the bourbon industry can only provide free samples on their own properties.
"The House and Senate appear to be in agreement on these two items," said Beshear. Both pieces of legislation will have a "permanent and positive economic impact on our state," he said.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, have said they believe there is enough support in both chambers to pass Beshear's $17.1 billion two-year compromise budget that was proposed after House and Senate leaders failed to pass a budget by the end of the legislative session.
The state's two-year and six-year road plans are also on the agenda. The two sides have not yet come to an agreement on which road projects will be funded.
A measure that would allow charter schools in Kentucky is not on the agenda. Education leaders had pushed for the legislation so the state would be eligible for millions of federal education dollars. The Republican-controlled Senate has supported charter schools in the past but the Democratic-controlled House has resisted the move.
The House passed a bill during the regular legislative session that would require businesses to increase payments into the state's bankrupt unemployment insurance fund and decrease unemployment benefits. The state has borrowed more than $795 million from the federal government to pay for unemployment insurance benefits since January 2009.
The Senate never passed the measure. Williams said that he agreed late Wednesday to add the measure.
However, Williams and the Republican-controlled Senate have some reservations about the measure as it currently stands, Williams said. For example, the maximum amount that an out-of-work person receives on state unemployment insurance is one of the highest in the nation, Williams said.
Williams said they would like to see some minor changes. "We're going to bring some things to people's attention," Williams said.
Stumbo said the House has already supported both the bourbon and the unemployment measures during the legislative session.
"We strongly support giving our businesses a $700 million break on their unemployment insurance over a 10-year period, and we want to be able to showcase our unparalleled signature bourbon industry during the World Equestrian Games."