Story by Alicia Steele, Assistant News Editor
Members of the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce and Calloway County business owners will travel to the state capitol Feb. 15 to bring issues of Calloway County face-to-face with Kentucky legislators.
“The goal is to go up to Frankfort and articulate things that we’re needing, wanting, to benefit not only the Murray and Calloway community but the future of where we go as a community,” said Aaron Dail, president and CEO of the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber constructed a Public Policy Positions and Priorities list of issues in Calloway County to be brought up in Frankfort, Kentucky. The priorities include:
- Highway 641 South: expanding the highway from Kentucky 1828 to the Tennessee state line into a four-lane road.
- Post-secondary funding for Murray State’s 2017 and 2018 legislative goals and priorities.
- Public school funding for Murray Independent and Calloway County School Districts, including no reduction in the current funding levels, reducing the regulatory burden of Kentucky’s public schools and empowering local boards of education to handle matters of governance and authorization.
- TVA In-Lieu-of-Tax Payments: Supports the idea that a portion of the Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of-tax payments deposited into Kentucky’s general fund be transferred to the Regional Development Agency Assistance Fund. The money would be distributed among the fiscal court-designated local economic/industrial development authorities in those counties that contain TVA assets for economic development and job creation activities.
- Red-Tape-Reduction Initiative: Supports efforts to make Kentucky a more business friendly state by eliminating “unnecessary, burdensome or duplicative regulations” by reviewing over 4,700 state regulations.
- County Agriculture Development Fund: Supports maintaining half of Master Tobacco Settlement funding to the state and County Agriculture Development Fund to promote development and diversification.
- Comprehensive Tax Reform: Encourages the General Assembly to adopt those tax reforms that will have a positive impact on business growth and investment in Kentucky.
- Inventory Tax: Supports repealing or phasing out property tax on business inventory that negatively impacts business growth in the state.
- Local Option Sales Tax: Supports giving citizens and counties the choice, with voter approval, to enact a local sales tax with a sunset provision dedicated to the funding of transformational local projects.
- Medical Liability Reform: Supports establishing a medical review panel system for use in civil litigation relating to health care providers to reduce the filing of frivolous lawsuits.
- Prevailing Wage: Supports repealing Kentucky’s mandatory prevailing wage law to make Kentucky’s economic and infrastructure development more competitive.
“The number one priority across any of those categories is the widening of 641 South,” Dail said. “It needs to be four lanes for safety, for economic development, for transportation purposes.”
Dail said they have room for roughly 41 people to travel to Frankfort, and about half of that space is currently full. The group, according to an email sent to community members, will meet with:
- Terry Gill, Economic Development Cabinet Secretary
- Hal Heiner, Education & Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary
- Asa James Swan, Chief of Staff Transportation Cabinet
He said the group will also attend a luncheon that will feature Gov. Matt Bevin as the keynote speaker.
“What we are doing is putting together an opportunity for business folks, Murray State officials, both city and county officials, and others in between to go up with us and be a part of that conversation,” Dail said.
According to the agenda for the day, sent with the community email, the group will depart from the Commerce Center at 6:10 a.m. via charter bus to travel to Frankfort, Kentucky, where they will stay until 7 p.m. the same day before heading back to Murray, Kentucky.
“You have to be engaged in the conversation, or you will have things happen to you versus with you,” Dail said. “That’s the ultimate purpose, is to be up there and listen and learn and also communicate what’s going on in Murray and in Calloway County because we’ve got a lot to celebrate and also share with them.”