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Ky. Chamber president visits Winchester

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce made a pit stop in Winchester Friday as part of a 2020 legislative preview tour.

Ashli Watts, the new president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, visited Winchester to meet community leaders. She also discussed the business community’s priorities ahead of the 2020 legislative session.

According to a news release, the 2020 legislative preview tour aims to familiarize members of local chambers of commerce with the priorities of the Kentucky Chamber.

There was a full house at the Winchester-Clark County Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus. Community members listened to Watts’ hour-long presentation before asking questions.

Watts presented on several issues facing the business community, which the Kentucky Chamber’s 2020 Legislative Agenda and 2019 Four Pillars for Prosperity report include, according to the release.

The business community’s top priorities for the 2020 session include: investing in Kentucky’s infrastructure, continuing pension reform, enacting sports wagering, curbing tobacco use, preparing the workforce, pro-growth tax reform, reforming the criminal justice system, ensuring patient protection, allowing principal selection, improving early childhood education and improving legal liability climate.

“We survey our membership on their thoughts on all of these issues happening in Frankfort,” Watts said.

Watts said there is a representation of small businesses on the Kentucky Chamber’s board, so the board always tries to keep small businesses in mind.

“I think it’s important to reemphasize one of my goals is to engage our small businesses,” Watts said.

With over 2,000 pieces of legislation being filed every single year, and with having a part-time legislature, Watts said it’s essential for the chamber also to educate policymakers.

“They cannot be expected to know every single thing about every single bill that comes before their desk,” Watts said.” These are complicated issues dealing with taxes and the judicial code and education and energy and environment. So that’s our job.

“That’s our job as chambers, as the business community, as community leaders, to be educators to them, to educate them on why certain things are important to us, our business and our community. That’s why we exist. That’s what we’re here to do. So we have to be a lot very loud and unified voice because there’s a lot of other voices in the room too.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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