Kentucky P3 bill passes House, heads to Senate

After failed attempts in both 2014 and 2015, the Kentucky public-private partnerships (P3) bill is inching toward passage. The Kentucky House on Thursday approved House Bill 309, which would allow collaborative efforts between state and local governments and the private sector for major public projects and services as well as some qualifying transportation projects.

Photo of the Kentucky State Capitol by Mark Geobel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo of the Kentucky State Capitol by Mark Geobel is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Kentucky P3 bill, which was passed out of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee on Tuesday, is now headed to the Senate for its consideration.

One of the major sticking points in the previous versions of the bill that left it mired in controversy and one of the key reasons for the bill’s demise in 2015 related to tolling authority on P3 projects. Opponents of the bill worried that projects like the $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge replacement project would be tolled. The bill that passed the House this week specifically prohibits tolling for any project in the interstate highway system that connects the Commonwealth of Kentucky with the state of Ohio, which includes the Brent Spence Bridge. The new bill, according to House sponsors, also includes protections for both taxpayers and tax dollars and promotes transparency.

If the Kentucky P3 bill passes in the Senate and is signed into law by the governor, Kentucky would join nearly three-dozen other states that have some form of P3 enabling legislation that has passed, resulting in either broad or limited/project-specific P3 authority.

P3 authorization would mean another option for Kentucky government entities seeking major projects and services, which is of particular importance to local governments because of the financial constraints they continue to face. Kentucky legislators, like those in many other states, are beginning to see the advantages and benefits of collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors.