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Western Kentucky Legislator Sponsors Bill To Help Disaster Relief Businesses, Employees

Georgeann Lookofsky
West Kentucky Rural Electric

Kentucky’s legislature will consider a bill during the upcoming session which aims to waive state income taxes and fees for utility and communication businesses and employees while they respond to natural, out-of-state disasters. District 9 Rep. Myron Dossett sponsored Bill 399 with co-sponsor District 90 Rep. Derek Lewis.

In an interview with WKMS, Dossett said this particular bill was filed in the 2020 legislative session, but never hit the floor. He said it’s important because unlike other states, Kentucky utility employees are still required to pay Kentucky rates, even when working out of state. This measure, if passed, would alleviate the issue.

“If they were to go to a state outside of Kentucky, while they’re working right there they will not be required to pay state Kentucky income tax. Several other states have already done this and this would just have us in line,” he said. 


Dossett said the bill is focused on critical infrastructure such as utilities and communications companies. He also said the relief waiver would only be for the disaster relief period. 


“This would only be during the time process that the emergency declaration would be in effect,” he said. “We were trying not to cause any impact on local government, and we were also working through how the constitution reads on taxes.” 


Dossett said he expects the 2021 legislative session to be much shorter than previous years on account of the pandemic. He said much of the session’s 30-day window would focus on the budget. 


“We’re going to have full plates as we start working here this session. We’re having to reopen the budget again; we only did a one-year budget last year, so we’re going to have to go back and put another budget in place to carry us for the upcoming year,” he said. 


Dossett also mentioned this year will be an “unusual session” due to the need for social distancing, which will limit how many bills are introduced to the floor. 


“This session’s going to be different from anything we’ve ever experienced because there’s going to be a limited number of individuals that are actually able to come in,” he said. “More than likely there will be less bills that will pass this time because of how much focus we will have on the budget.”  


Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association for utility co-ops, said in a statement it would welcome support. 


“When disasters strike, the local and member-owned electric cooperatives in Kentucky both provide and receive mutual aid assistance in coordination with fellow not-for-profit cooperatives, including hundreds from outside of Kentucky. Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association of co-ops, welcomes any support of these mutual aid efforts as co-ops work to deliver safe and reliable energy as efficiently as possible.”


Rep. Lewis did not respond to questions from WKMS. 

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