Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations was held on Thursday, June 18, 2015, at 3:00 PM, at the METS Center, 3861 Olympic Blvd, Erlanger, KY. Senator John Schickel, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator John Schickel, Co-Chair; Representative Dennis Keene, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Julian M. Carroll, Denise Harper Angel, Jimmy Higdon, Paul Hornback, Christian McDaniel, Dan "Malano" Seum, and Damon Thayer; Representatives Tom Burch, Denver Butler, Adam Koenig, Brad Montell, David Osborne, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Sal Santoro, Arnold Simpson, and Diane St. Onge.
Guests: Lindsey Flora, Deputy Director, Marc Guilfoil, Director of Racing, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission; Steve Humphress, General Counsel, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; Joe Baer President, Chris Bartley, Legislative Chairman, Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association; Dr. Francesca Litow, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health; Ronnie Day, Executive Director, Kentucky Fire Commission; David McCrady, Firefighter/cancer survivor; Scott and Jennifer Benningfield, The Thirsty Pedaler.
Approval of minutes for November 14, 2014 meeting
A motion to approve the minutes of the November 14, 2014 meeting was made by Senator Carroll and seconded by Senator Buford. The motion carried by voice vote.
Consideration of Executive Reorganization Order 2015-354.
Lindsey Flora, Deputy Executive Director, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said the purpose of the reorganization was to clear up confusion regarding the number of employees on staff at the commission. The Board of Commissioners of the racing commission would no longer be listed as staff employees. A director’s office has been created, a division of stewards, a division for pari-mutuel wagering, an incentives and developmental division, and a division of veterinary services. The licensing enforcement section was previously two divisions but is now one division with a director that supervises both.
In response to a question from Senator Thayer, Mr. Flora said the order would not increase the number of employees the commission is allowed to hire. He added that since the commission had taken over the race day lasix testing it was necessary to hire more veterinarians. It is also possible, with summer racing, that a licensing clerk and an enforcement clerk may be added. However, the commission will stay within the budgeted 35 employee cap.
There was a motion from Senator Buford, seconded by Representative Palumbo, to approve Executive Order 2015-354. The motion carried by voice vote.
HB 156 AN ACT relating to firefighters.
Chris Bartley, Legislative Chairman for Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association, said that HB 156 passed the House in the 2015 regular session of the General Assembly but did not clear the Senate. Thirty-five states have enacted bills similar to this that create some type of cancer presumption for firefighter cancers, most recently Michigan and Arkansas. HB 156 includes restrictive coverage not found in all states, including limiting the scope of the bill to active firefighters or former firefighters for a period of five years after leaving service; individuals must be tobacco free for 10 years to be covered and the coverage only applies to bladder, brain, colon, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney, liver, testicular and cancer associated with lymphatic or hematopoietic cancer. Coverage includes paid and volunteer firefighters.
This bill is supported by the Kentucky Professional Firefighters, the Kentucky Fire Chiefs Association, the Kentucky Fire Association, the Kentucky League of Cities and the Kentucky Fire Commission. This bill will provide coverage to approximately 4,000 paid firefighters reducing cost to cities throughout the state. Claims would be paid through the Kentucky Fire Commission.
Francesca Litow, MD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health told the committee that firefighters are exposed to a wide range of cancer causing chemicals, putting them at an increased risk to develop cancer, and that a change in the workers compensation will make a dramatic difference in the lives of firefighters who develop work related cancer. Typically, it is clear when an employee is hurt at work. For example, people witness a fall with a defined time frame of the incident. The challenge for an occupational illness such as cancers related to occupational exposure is to determine exactly when the incident happened. The burden of proof is on the person filing the claim. The legislative intent of HB 156 is to allow a firefighter to submit a claim if all criteria are met; not smoking for 10 years, being on the job for a least five years or five year post employment.
In most work places occupational exposures have declined in the past two decades through improved work-place conditions. However, firefighters have not benefited from these improvements. Studies of chemicals in the smoke that firefighters commonly encounter have documented concern of exposures. Wood, coal and diesel fuel are considered known or probable carcinogens. In a Harvard study the carcinogen Benzene was detected in 92 percent of samples at a level more than 200 times the OSHA limit. Personal protective equipment such as respirators and turn out gear is last in the hierarchy of controls. Firefighters commonly note soot on their skin after working major fires. Also, respirators removed during overhaul is common in order to better detect areas that could reignite resulting in inhalation of carcinogens.
A 2006 LeMaster study used a meta-analysis technique to determine an increased risk for certain types of cancer identified in 13 studies that supports the association between firefighting and the particular cancers studies. In 2013 a study by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health included data from 30 thousand career firefighters showing significant increases in diagnosis and death from multiple cancers. Studies also show that cancer develops after multiple exposures to carcinogens, resulting in imitation, promotion and progression of a cancer after the body’s natural repair defenses are overwhelmed. A period of latency between the start of exposure and the development is generally 5 to 10 years and as long as 30 to 40 years to form into a detectable tumor or cause adverse health effects. This latency period varies, therefore symptoms may not begin until long after a firefighters employment ends.
The small numbers of firefighters affected by individual cancers decreases the ability to detect increases in risks. Firefighters comprise a small occupational group, and the large number of different cancers makes it challenging to diagnose cancer as a result of their job. With the absence of presumptive legislation, the burden of proof is on the firefighter to show that the cancer is job related. When these occupationally induced cancers are not covered by workers compensation, firefighters use leave time and personal savings to cover the medical cost when their insurance coverage reaches its maximum. Firefighter exposures are dramatically different than the rest of the U.S. workforce.
In response to a question from Senator Seum, Ronnie Day, Executive Director, Kentucky Fire Commission, said the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program, created in the 1980s, is funded from a 1.5 percent insurance surcharge. Four years ago the surcharge was increased to 1.8 percent. The money is used as an educational incentive for police and firefighters. The workers comp fund is currently at $20 million. There are about 17 thousand volunteer firefighters that are receiving workers compensation benefits which equal about $4 million per year. However, payments have dropped in the last two years to approximately $2.7 million. This lower payment is the result of a health and wellness program and a new drivers training program. Cities and counties purchase insurance policies for their paid firefighters thorough insurance companies. If legislation similar to HB 156 is enacted in 2017, with $4 million for cancer presumption and workers compensation, the final cash balance at the end of 2020 will be $16.2 million.
Mr. Day added that the cost of workers’ compensation will be shifted to the Fire Commission through the insurance surcharge program but the training/education incentive program will not be affected.
In response to a question from Senator Schickel, Joe Baer, President, Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association responded that state workers compensation pays based on the previous three years experience if purchased through a third party.
In response to a question from Senator Buford, Ronnie Day said that cities and counties will no longer pay in. The fire commission will pick up the cost with funds through the insurance surcharge. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System manages the fire commission’s budget. Chris Bartley added that with the policy barring those who use tobacco, about 40 to 50 percent of firefighters will not be eligible for the program.
David McCrady, retired Battalion Chief from the Owensboro Fire Department, said that on December 27, 2013 he was told he had a mass on his brain. The next day doctors remove 99 percent of a Stage 4 GlioBlastoma Multiforme followed by radiation, chemo therapy and trail drugs. There is no known cure. After the procedure, his right arm was not functional. He returned to work in March, however, due to his medical condition he was forced to retire in 2014. Cancer has affected his family and his fire department family.
Steve Humphress, General Counsel, Department for Alcoholic Beverage Control, informed the committee that Powdered Alcohol has been receiving national attention. Powdered Alcohol is similar to cool-aid or tang, a powder that, when mixed with water, becomes an instant alcoholic beverage drink. The developer of the product is calling it Palcohol. The palcohol is currently in production. A website states that is will be for sale by the end of summer 2015. Mixed with 6 ounces of water the product becomes ten percent alcohol by volume and comes in assorted flavors. The palcohol container is a foil type with a zipper to open similar to Capri Sun packets. The original concept for the product was to use during outdoor activities because of its ease in packing. Health officials are concerned about the potential for abuse and marketing that could attract underage drinking.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau initially approved powdered alcohol products. However, due to public health concerns, the approval was rescinded in April of 2014. Then in March of 2015, the TTB granted approval of the product again. Currently 39 states have proposed legislation to ban the product. U. S. Senator Chuck Schumer has filed legislation to ban powdered alcohol at the federal level.
In response to a question from Senator Schickel, Mr. Humphress said there are public health officials concerned that youth would abuse the product.
In response to a question from Representative Koenig, Mr. Humphress said this product was part of the legislative package that failed to pass last year, and both the department and the industry agreed that is should be brought forward during the coming session.
In response to a question from Senator Buford, Mr. Humphress said that once a product is purchased, its use is outside the regulation of his department.
In response to a question from Representative Keene, Mr. Humphress said the product is new and currently unavailable. States are trying to stop the product from being sold.
The Thirsty Pedaler
Jennifer and Scott Benningfield, owners of The Thirsty Pedaler, said they book two hour tours in downtown Louisville and Lexington for events such as birthday parties and bachelorette/bachelor parties. The tour stops include restaurants, bars and museums. Each bike carries up to 15 passengers. The bike travels at approximately three miles per hour. There are head lights, tail lights, and three drum brakes and two disc brakes. There is a sober driver that steers the bike along a specific route. There are rules in place to keep the bike safe.
There are three bikes in Louisville and one currently in Lexington. However, they feel they could expand the business if statutes would allow passengers to bring their own beverages to imbibe on the bike while going from one stop to another. There are nine other states that allow this measure. The bike generates revenue at each stop it makes. Patrons spend money at each stop for food and beverages. Restaurants and bars have increased revenue from bike stops. More bikes would mean more revenue at a variety of stops along the route and additional sales tax.
In response to Senator Schickel, Scott Benningfield said at this time no one can drink on the bike. Currently they have happy hour specials or food specials worked out with the businesses on the stops they go to, but there is no imbibing on the bike.
In response to a question from Representative Palumbo, Mr. Benningfield said tours are prebooked. A private tour on a Friday or Saturday evening costs $375. Weekend public tours are $30 per seat. In Lexington the bike is located near the Pavilion, going from Rupp Arena to West 6th Brewery, Atomic Café and Natasha’s. The bike stays away from the UK campus.
Senator Higdon commented that ABC has worked to get legislation for the 2016 General Assembly’s consideration.
In response to Representative St. Onge, Mr. Benningfield there would be no glass allowed on the bike and there would be a cap on the number of alcoholic beverages allowed per patron.
Representative Montell commented that the Benningfield’s have worked to accommodate requirements to have safe legislation passed and encouraged members to stop by the bike parked out front.
There being no further business to come before the committee, with a motion and second, the meeting was adjourned at 4:05 PM.