Legislation Assures the Integrity of a Community’s Vote On a Plan for Unified Government
Elizabethtown, Kentucky (March 27, 2012) – Hardin County United (HCU) today announced that the Kentucky State Senate passed House Bill 189 by a vote of 36 – 0. House Bill 189, which was introduced by State Representative Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown), and was supported by State Sen. Dennis Parrett (D-Elizabethtown) was passed earlier by the House of Representatives by a vote of 93 – 0. The language of House Bill 190, which had been previously introduced by Rep. Lee was rolled into the broader HB 189 which includes provisions pertaining to both unified government and charter government.
HB 189 was supported by Hardin County United and the Kentucky League of Cities.
Following-up on concerns initially expressed by several local elected officials, HCU pledged to work with the General Assembly to both clarify and strengthen existing statutory language pertaining to how a county can unify with one or more cities located within the county. Highlights of HB 189 include:
HB 189 strengthens the language and gives voters considering a plan of unified government the assurance that the integrity of their vote will be respected; if a majority of a city’s voters vote NO, then that city remains a free-standing city as before, even if the other cities’ voters vote to unify
HB 189 also specifies that the majority of voters in the unincorporated area of a county must also vote YES in order for merger to occur
HB 189 also calls for merger to occur only when the county and the largest city in the county agree to merger, or, the county and a combination of cities which represent at least 50% of the municipal population agree to merger
HB 189 provides protection for ALL voters
“I am pleased that the General Assembly agreed with our position on the need to strengthen and clarify the language,” said State Sen. Dennis Parrett. “HB 189 achieves all of the goals that we set at the beginning of the session on this issue. Voters can rest assured that if they are asked to consider and vote on a proposed plan of unified government that the wishes of the majority of voters in their community will be respected, regardless of the overall outcome,” said Parrett.
“Hardin County is growing and this legislation provides a path forward for the community to enter into a careful and deliberate dialogue about the potential benefits that unified government might provide,” said State Rep. Jimmie Lee.
“Each legislator that I met with on this issue quickly understood the need and the importance of protecting the integrity of any vote which might occur on unified government, not only in Hardin County, but throughout the Commonwealth,” said Luke B. Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC and consultant to HCU. “This legislation will have a positive impact across Kentucky,” said Schmidt.
Speaking for Hardin County United’s Governance Subcommittee, Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard thanked legislators for their leadership on this issue, “In addition to Rep. Lee and Sen. Parrett, HCU appreciates the support of Rep. Tim Moore (R-Elizabethtown), Rep. Jeff Greer (D-Brandenburg), Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville), Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington), and, Sen. Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon).”
Hardin County United (HCU) was established for the purpose of examining the various strategic goals which were established by the Hardin County Vision Project in 2010. The intent of HCU is to prioritize the goals and to develop implementation strategies. HCU’s leadership team includes Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry who chairs the Steering Committee; Hardin County Chamber of Commerce President Brad Richardson, who chairs the Community Development Subcommittee; North Central Education Foundation President/CEO Al Rider, who chairs the Education Subcommittee; and Hardin Circuit Court Judge Ken Howard who chairs the Governance Subcommittee. Luke Schmidt, President of L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, provides management and consulting services to HCU.