Senator Jimmy Higdon’s Frankfort Report

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By Sen. Jimmy Higdon

FRANKFORT – There were several Interim Joint Committee meetings this past week, including a Special Subcommittee on Energy that focused on Kentucky’s struggling coal industry and the adverse impact of impending federal regulations.   The decline in coal production that could result from these regulations is not just an Eastern Kentucky issue, but a serious statewide issue, as well.

Because of coal, our state is fortunate to have some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation – 25% lower than the national average.   According to the Kentucky Coal Association, coal provides more than 90% of our state’s electricity.  Higher electricity costs will adversely impact our ability to keep our current manufacturing companies and attract new ones.  It’s critically important we continue these discussions.  Perhaps we might even get through to Washington that we are mining coal safer and burning it cleaner than ever before and stricter regulations are not the answer.

During the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism, members heard presentations on landline deregulation.  There has been a tremendous amount of misinformation surrounding this issue, including that rural communities will be left without access to landlines.  However, protections have been put in place, so that will not happen.  In order for Kentucky to be competitive with other states, we need to open avenues that will allow telecommunications companies to invest their resources in new technology.   This will improve our ability to bring jobs to our state.

I will continue to monitor these issues and others.   If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call me at 1-800-372-7181 or my home at 270-692-6945.  I will keep you updated on what’s happening in Frankfort.  In addition, you can go to www.lrc.ky.gov to get the latest interim committee meeting information and more.