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Public benefit corporation bill heads to Senate

FRANKFORT--The Kentucky House has voted 78-17 for a bill that would allow public benefit corporations to do business in the Commonwealth.

Should House Bill 35 become law, Kentucky would become one of more than 31 states that allow for the creation of public benefit corporations-- companies that make investments in a public benefit, or public good, part of their corporate philosophy while maximizing profits, said HB 35 sponsor Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville.

Miller said "value investments" made by public benefit corporations totaled around $4 billion in 2012 alone.

"This is something that Kentucky needs," Miller said. "Public benefits that currently have to be provided by government can be met by public benefit corporations that are interested in creating long term value and in serving the public."

There are now Kentucky companies that have an interest in becoming public benefit corporations, he told the House, including software company MobileServe in Louisville, Victory Hemp in Campbellsburg and others. The bill may even bring companies back to Kentucky that are now in other states, he said. Rubicon Global, a full-service Atlanta-based waste and recycling company founded by Kentuckian Nate Morris, could be one of those companies, Miller explained.

Morris "has recently become very active in the Gatton School at the University of Kentucky, and I hope that if we pass this legislation, companies like Rubicon Global and others will bring their business here," said Miller.

Concerns about the bill were raised by Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, who asked Miller how it is determined that a corporation's values are a public benefit. Miller said those values are laid out in the company's bylaws and articles of incorporation and can cover a variety of goals.

Gooch said he still doesn't understand the necessity for the legislation. "We're setting up a totally different type of corporation here, maybe even before we determine what the public benefit is."

HB 35 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.


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