But Buford said he doesn’t think tax reforms will be addressed during the 30-day session. Instead, he believes the governor will call a special session to address it.
“I don't know that in the 2013 session that there is enough time to deal with this,” Buford said.
If legislators were to pass the commission’s recommendations, it would increase revenue by nearly $659 million every year.
Buford said the tax reforms revolve around services such as automobile repair and purchase of a newspaper.
One reason Buford said it would be difficult to pass tax reforms is the short-session rules.
“In this 30-day session, a tax increase would require a super majority (two-thirds) of each chamber, which makes it highly unlikely that tax reform will be accomplished in this session,” Buford said.
Statewide smoking ban
Another topic of discussion in Frankfort will be the idea of a statewide smoking ban. Buford feels discussions will take place, but in the end, the topic will be pushed to the 2014 session.
“I don’t think that a statewide smoking ban will come from this session,” Buford said. “The legislation will start in the House of Representatives, and it will be quite interesting how it matures down there.”
A statewide smoking ban would affect public places such as restaurants.
Buford also said a statewide ban could adversely affect local governments who already have bans in place.
“Some cities that currently have smoking bans, this may weaken their particular issues,” Buford said. “Some of them don't allow smoking out on the street in front of the restaurants and on the sidewalks, so it could undermine some of the local smoking bans that have been passed statewide already.”
Buford also expects education issues such as the school dropout age to be tossed around by the General Assembly.
“It’s still a concern for the governor, and I think that the House Democrats will try again to pass the bill raising the dropout age to 18,” Buford said.
Currently, the dropout age is set at 16.
Juvenile-justice reforms may also make their way to the forefront, Buford said.
“It seems like leaders in both parties are coming around to realize that placing teens in detention centers for these nonviolent offenses is pretty costly, and it can be counterproductive,” he said. “They get blended in with a group of individuals and it leads to probably more problems.”
Buford said underage problems such as drinking, smoking and skipping school have also directly or indirectly led to juveniles being taken to detention centers.
“We are looking into ways to find a better solution for this, and I think some of these ideas could surface in this session,” Buford said.