Mayor Fischer outlines legislative priorities with a focus on enhancing public safety, allowing local tax reform and boosting equi
Mayor Greg Fischer today announced Louisville Metro Government (LMG) priorities for the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2022 Regular Session, focusing largely on enhancing public safety, instilling Louisville’s Civilian Review & Accountability Board with investigatory subpoena power, allowing for comprehensive local tax reform, boosting equitable economic and land development and strengthening sustainability efforts.
Joined by a bipartisan group of members of Metro Council and community representatives, the Mayor noted that, “In advocating for Louisville, we are a united front and force,” and he called on legislators to similarly come together to build up communities throughout the state.
“Recent tragic events in western Kentucky underscore that the urban-rural divide does not have to exist, and neither does a partisan divide, if we decide to pull together on things upon which we can agree, like putting people and policy before politics and partisanship,” the Mayor said. “If we can overcome differences in bad times, why not for better times?”
Citing public safety as his No. 1 priority, the Mayor outlined several measures the city is supporting in Frankfort, which include amending state law to allow for firearms seized by law enforcement to be destroyed and/or removed from public circulation; creating new laws that would require firearm owners to responsibly store their firearms and impose liability on violators for damages sustained as a result of their violation; and a new section of KRS 237 to require owners to report when their firearms become lost or stolen.
“These are commonsense gun laws that most everyone – including firearm owners – agree with,” the Mayor said. “These measures respect the rights of responsible gun owners while also protecting the public from those who are not being responsible.”
Louisville Metro is also urging legislators to strengthen its Group Violence Intervention (GVI) initiative by amending state law to make risk and needs assessments mandatory for those accused of violent offenses, and to clarify court-designated workers’ duties and the impact of their assessments on judicial decisions for juveniles convicted of violent crimes.
“We know how to reduce violence on the streets of Louisville” said former U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “It’s called Group Violence Intervention or GVI and it’s worked to save lives in cities large and small for decades. It’s not a pilot project or experiment, but a time-tested strategy that we hope to soon fully deploy here through collaboration between law enforcement, social service providers, survivors as well as the business, faith, and non-profit communities.”
Mayor Fischer is also asking legislators to support the city’s new Civilian Review & Accountability Board by granting it subpoena power, through the newly created Office of Inspector General; and measures to allow the police chief to assign a designee to attend disciplinary hearings and other actions; and to repeal a section of KRS 67C that prohibits police and city officials from discussing pending internal disciplinary cases.
“Cities across the nation recognize the need to improve trust between police and the larger communities they are sworn to serve and protect. Greater balance between the public’s right to know and an officer's due process rights is critical to achieving that,” the Mayor said, noting that officials’ inability to answer even basic questions in officer-involved shootings, for example, “undermines trust and transparency in the process and in working toward justice.”
The priority list also includes reforming Kentucky’s bail system, bringing it in line with national trends recognizing that a primarily “money bail” system is not working. “Too often, a person who is presumed innocent and who could be safely released into the community pre-trial is detained, while some too dangerous to release into the public or are a flight risk are being released – all because of the amount of bail set by courts and that person’s ability to post bond,” the Mayor said. “Justice should not be dependent upon a person’s financial ability.”
Along with the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of Counties, Louisville Metro supports a constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to comprehensively discuss ways to reform local government tax policies. Currently, cities have a small number of revenue options, including property, occupational, and a few fees and license taxes.
“Cities across Kentucky have different needs and different goals, and what we’re asking for here is modernization of antiquated restrictions that limit how we meet our revenue needs,” the Mayor said. “As KLC President and Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott has said, the key is giving cities adequate, stable and flexible resources to generate sufficient revenue to provide the critical services that residents expect and deserve.”
Louisville Metro Government’s priority list also includes measures to more equitably boost economic and land development and to strengthen sustainability efforts, including:
- Work on the West End Opportunity Partnership and TIF statutes to incorporate explicit protections for renters, remedy administrative hurdles for the Metro Revenue Commission, and address concerns regarding existing state incentives and economic development, such as ensuring accessibility to existing state incentive programs for businesses within the established area.
- Redesign the Kentucky Business Incentive and Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act incentives to be more attractive for business services and non-capital-intensive projects.
- Add a 15-year, by-right property tax abatement for new residential units, or units that have been substantial improved, within the Central Business District.
- Modify the Kentucky Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program by increasing the project cap, expanding eligible taxes Historic Tax Credits can offset, and extending the phasing of development projects.
- Allow flexibility in the state building code to allow for higher standards for energy efficiency in new construction, allowances for “solar ready” buildings, inclusion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in commercial and multi-family developments.
- Incentivize electric vehicles by providing rebates in addition to federal incentives, building out EV charging infrastructure focused on major transportation routes and urban areas, and supporting electrification of fleets including local municipalities and state government.
The city’s list of road plan requests includes Reimaging Ninth Street, a transformative project designed to promote safety and connectivity between downtown and west Louisville, and Broadway All the Way, a complete retrofit meant to create a safe, vibrant, multimodal corridor that serves as a robust catalyst for economic development.
Also included: widening US 60 near Eastwood, to improve intersection safety and accommodate a JCPS middle school under construction near there; conversion of multiple one-way streets to two-way in the urban core, increasing pedestrian safety and commercial activity; a connection over Interstate 64 near Oxmoor that creates another connection between the Shelbyville and Taylorsville Road corridors; as well as realignment of the Interstate 65 southbound ramp to Brook Street, which is one of the county’s highest crash intersections.
The Mayor said the city also is seeking to expand existing tools to support the growth and revitalization of downtown Louisville, which includes working to redesign business incentives to be more attractive for more kinds of businesses; and incentivizing urban residency. “When our downtown is thriving, our entire state reaps the benefits,” he said.
The Mayor also noted that Louisville leaders will be working closely with state officials as they develop the biennial budget, allocate remaining American Rescue Plan funds and manage incoming Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs. “Our team will be working closely with the executive and legislative branches to align capital priorities in this historic moment for the sake of our roads, bridges, broadband, and more,” he said.
“I’m glad the Mayor and his team worked together to create this state legislative agenda to help improve the quality of life for all our residents,” said Council President David James, D-6.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to approach the State Legislature in a bipartisan effort to address the many needs that are unique to Louisville. While the legislative agenda is not exclusively representative of solutions that I would recommend, there are many statutory changes that I believe are important. I am looking forward to working together with the Mayor and others to raise awareness of these needs; among them efforts to reduce violent crimes, the need for tax modernization, and funding for infrastructure projects, which includes important spending outside of I-264,” said Councilman Kevin Kramer, D-11.
“Moving our city forward from both the perspective of economic development and gun violence reduction requires partnership from the state. I hope that our local representatives will work with the Administration and Metro Council and focus on finding common ground solutions that improve the lives of all of our residents,” said Markus Winker, D-17.
“This year’s legislative agenda includes many areas of bipartisan support. The Republican Caucus appreciates the Mayor’s collaboration on these topics. Some areas that are critically important include tax modernization, improved juvenile Justice, and road investment particularly in the rapidly growing areas of the city. I look forward to collaborating with our state partners in achieving those legislative priorities that we all agree on,” Councilman Anthony Piagentini, D-19.
In closing, Mayor Fischer spoke again of the unity seen in the wake of the western Kentucky tornadoes, as people worked together “under the saddest and most trying of circumstances.”
“We recognized our common humanity, and exercised our ability to help each other, regardless of where we live and who we vote for, because it was the good and right thing to do, and because people are not served by the forever stoking of differences,” he said, adding that in working together during the upcoming General Assembly, state and city officials can “transform our state together. Let us all dedicate ourselves to such a transformation in 2022.”