Thursday, January 04, 2001

Patton pushes for garbage collection in all 120 counties

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — Gov. Paul Patton talked trash as he delivered a State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night to a joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly.

        Mr. Patton took up one of his pet causes during the 33-minute speech, calling on lawmakers to enact mandatory garbage collection in all of Kentucky's 120 counties.

        Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in Northern Kentucky are among the 24 Kentucky counties where trash collection is mandatory. Most communities in Northern Kentucky also have curbside recycling at least once a week.

        “I'm for it in every county, and I'm asking legislators from both houses and both parties to stand with me and enact this law in this session,” Mr. Patton said.

        He also asked the state's 138 lawmakers to begin the process of comprehensive tax reform and make changes this year to Kentucky's workers' compensation laws.

        Lawmakers are in Frankfort for the first annual legislative session in history. In November, voters passed a constitutional amendment that allows the General Assembly to meet annually. Previously, the legislature met every other year.

        After meeting this week to elect leaders and make committee assignments, lawmakers will return to Frankfort on Feb. 6 and meet through March.

        But because this is the first annual session, lawmakers are moving slowly on major pieces of legislation. It's doubtful much will get accomplished this year on tax reform or garbage collection.

        “I think there will be several substantive issues, but maybe not too many of a major public policy significance,” said House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green.

        Republicans, who control the state Senate, as well as many leading Democrats have said they will not support a garbage collection bill if it includes a deposit on drink containers.

        Likewise, many lawmakers are reluctant to embrace Mr. Patton's tax package because in the past he has said it would likely increase the state's gas tax.

        “The Senate will not raise taxes,” said Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville. “We won't go there.”

        Several lawmakers want to cut the property tax on vehicles.

        But Mr. Patton said he will oppose any measure that cuts taxes without finding a way to balance that loss of money in the state's budget.

        “That's too bad, because there are several bills to cut that automobile tax, and it's something the people want us to do,” said Senate President Pro Tem Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park.

        Mr. Roeding predicted that members of the legislature will move forward with at least one bill reducing the vehicle tax.

        Mr. Patton said if tax reform can't be done in this session, he at least wants it studied.

        “I call for comprehensive, revenue neutral, bipartisan tax reform, developed by a coalition of leaders of the House, the Senate and the executive branch,” Mr. Patton said.

        Mr. Patton also called on lawmakers to enact so-called smart growth legislation that would mandate better planning in Kentucky counties.

        “Kentucky is developing its farmland at a rate that's ranked third in the nation,” he said. “Many of our communities are seeing the high cost of unplanned growth.”


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