The National Council for Public Private Partnerships (NCPPP) and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce recently concluded on October 28 a very well-attended two day conference in Lexington, Kentucky on the Commonwealth’s new public-private partnership (P3) enabling legislation, the so-called “HB-309.” HB-309’s chief drafter, Rep. Leslie Combs, was on-hand, participating in nearly every panel discussion, either as a panelist or from the audience. Rep. Combs reflected on HB-309 “as if she were a proud mama,” and her and fellow Kentuckians’ enthusiasm for its flexibility and broad applicability was evident. Secretary Don Parkinson, of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and heritage Cabinet, noted in lunchtime remarks that Kentucky’s border states each had enabling legislation for P3s, and that the time had come for Kentucky to consider this procurement tool as a means by which to grow Kentucky’s economy and solve some of Kentucky’s challenges.

The conference, subtitled “Opportunities and Obstacles,” indeed identified and discussed both. At once a primer on P3s and collection of government decision-makers revealing their plans, the conference gathered people from all over the country to learn about P3 opportunities in the Commonwealth. With over 200 participants, representatives from the architects/engineers, construction, development, banking, university, legal and municipal/county communities engaged in active discussions about P3s, what they are, how they work and most critically, how a P3 comes to be in Kentucky. Active social media participation during the conference (#kyp3) recounts many discussions, insights and perspectives relevant to Kentucky.

HB-309 affords state and local governments in the Commonwealth both to initiate P3 procurements and to entertain unsolicited proposals for P3 projects. A series of processes within the legislation are drafted to support transparency in the process. The Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet recently promulgated amended proposed regulations to implement the law. On a notable panel, the general counsels from the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet discussed candidly their respective Cabinet’s efforts to create internal infrastructure capable of handling unsolicited P3 proposals and organizing for possible P3 procurements.

The Kentucky Chamber and NCPPP anticipate working together to continue to educate interested parties and citizens in the Commonwealth about P3s.