KYs reputation as national P3 leader continues to grow, state Rep. Leslie Combs says

Rep. Leslie Combs
Rep. Leslie Combs

State Rep. Leslie Combs, the sponsor of Kentuckys new public-private partnership (P3) law, said that interest in what has become model legislation continues to grow, both around the commonwealth and across the country.

In addition to speaking during several national conferences this past spring and summer, she is poised to be featured at several others this fall, and has recently addressed or soon will meetings hosted by local government officials and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

I knew this law would be well-regarded, but Im still surprised by just how many people want to know how we passed it after several years of trying, how that process improved the law ultimately enacted and how we plan to make it the success the citizens of Kentucky deserve, said Rep. Combs, D-Pikeville. While more than two dozen states have P3, Im pleased that we are now at the forefront of a movement that is making it possible for governments to tackle the big projects like our country used to. What makes P3 even better than before is that it maximizes tax dollars while boosting economic development at the same time.

Shortly after the General Assembly approved P3 this past spring to make it easier for governments to partner with businesses for projects and services the governments couldnt do as easily on their own, Rep. Combs began receiving a number of invitations from around the country. That included being asked to take a leading role on a year-long steering committee the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) formed to help educate legislators and other elected leaders about the concept.

In recent weeks, she has either spoken at or been invited to events hosted by the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo); the Kentucky League of Cites (KLC); and the Governors Local Issues Conference. She said she is using that time to explain how the law could benefit cities and counties alike and do it in a way that maintains a high level of transparency and accountability.

Theyre really interested in seeing how P3 can help them do their job better, she said. This law encourages a lot of creativity while setting safeguards to ensure these governments dont take on more than they can handle. Based on the feedback I have gotten so far, I expect there to be a number of local P3 proposals in the months ahead.

Between now and the end of October, Rep. Combs will also be a speaker at three other conferences: The 4th Annual P3 Summit in San Francisco (P3summit.com); the Florida Council for Public-Private Partnerships (fcp3.org); and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerces P3 Conference, which will be held in Lexington toward the end of October. (kychamber.com/events/p3conf)

The P3 Summit in California will focus on how public-private partnerships can bridge the infrastructure gap facing the United States from utilities to highways and how it can be used to build high-speed rail projects and to help colleges and universities modernize their campuses. Rep. Combs, one of the four featured speakers, will highlight potential political obstacles, using Kentuckys experience as a guide. The summit says she will provide a rare look behind the legislative curtain, which would help public-sector attendees be more aware of political and policy implications.

The Kentucky House was an early and strong supporter of P3, as was the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, KACo and KLC, which certainly helped, Rep. Combs said. By working together, we were able to overcome concerns others had and come up with a bill that was better than what we originally had. That collaborative process is vital, which is why I urge proponents in other states to sit down with the opposition and find common ground, because theyll need their support if they want P3 to be more than just words on a page.

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