Outlook bad for public-private partnership bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- The bill allowing the state to contract with private companies to finance major road and bridge projects appears it may be stalled for the duration of the 2015 legislative session.

House Bill 443 - a top priority of Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce - was referred to the Senate Economic Devemopment, Tourism and Labor Committee last week. But Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, who chairs that committee, said she does not plan to hear the bill before legislators adjourn.

"Anything can happen, but right now I would say that bill is dead...It is not the consensus of the caucus to take it up," said Kerr, a Lexington Republican.

One key opponent to the bill is Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, who said Monday, "I would say that bill is in jeopardy."

Thayer said he and other legislators from Northern Kentucky are concerned that the bill could lead to the use of tolls as a way to finance the $2.6 billion plan to build a new Brent Spence Bridge linking Covington and Cincinnati.

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