In response to the Herald-Leader’s recent histrionic editorial, “Let nightmare developer bill die in limbo,” it’s probably important to note that House Bill 72, the appeal bond bill, is hardly in limbo.
Both legislative chambers passed versions of the bill and in the House, where I serve, we did it with the votes of Republicans and Democrats. HB 72 is now going through the routine concurrence process, which could call for a conference committee where designated members of the House and the Senate hammer out a compromise version of the bill.
However, the Herald-Leader’s continued misinformation about the bill is quite alarming.
It’s disappointing that the editorial writers continue to parrot talking points of attorneys who ply their trade filing bogus appeals. I hope it is simply intellectual laziness, because examination of the bill’s language would reveal that it applies equally to developers and opponents of developments. Therefore, the party that prevails at the circuit court level could request a hearing, where a judge would consider the merits of the appeal. It would then be at the judge’s discretion to set a bond. There is no minimum bond amount.
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The editorial board’s absurdly simplistic “David vs. Goliath” framing is certainly not worth your newsstand price. In parts of my district, which includes Jefferson and Oldham counties, bad actors have chilled the legal climate with frivolous appeals to the point where family-farm values have been depressed. Appeals have been filed that do not cite case law, a clear indication they have no purpose but to delay the process.
These delay-to-kill tactics have had profound negative consequences in Louisville’s West End. Radical preservationists lost appeals at every level in their quest to block a Wal-Mart, but not before the company pulled out because of unreasonable delays. The project had the support of thousands and would have brought hundreds of jobs to an impoverished community, but the property instead remains an empty lot in the middle of a struggling urban neighborhood.
Since the project unraveled, Louisville’s West End has become even more of a food desert, due to other closures in the area. It may be inconvenient for the Herald-Leader narrative, but affordable housing developments are often also a target of these bad actors. Perhaps the paper should focus on these appeals the next time they conjure up the Philistines.
This important bill cleared both chambers because it will deter frivolous appeals, allow legitimate cases to proceed, and make the process fair through a common bonding process that is used throughout the Kentucky civil courts system.
Kentuckians can expect that the House and Senate will reconcile small differences in the two versions of HB 72. In the meantime, hopefully the editorial board gets some sleep, and its delusional and fantastical dreams and nightmares subside.
Rep. Jerry T. Miller, R-Louisville, serves House District 36.