This Week in Frankfort

This Week at the State Capitol
Week Ending February 12-16, 2018


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This Week at the State Capitol
February 12-16, 2018

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2018 session reached its halfway point this week. While several bills have already been delivered to the governor to be signed in to law, much of lawmakers’ work so far has focused on laying the foundation for what’s to come in the second half of the session.

Hundreds of bills are under consideration in the legislative committee system, which gives lawmakers a chance study bills and hear testimony from people across the state on how proposed changes to state law will affect them. At the same time, budget subcommittees have been extensively digging into details of the proposed state spending plan they received from the governor last month and are considering which changes they should make to the spending plan before it is finalized.

More than 20 bills received approval from either the full Senate or House this week while many more received favorable votes from committees. Legislation that advanced this week includes bills on the following topics:

· Jail security. House Bill 92 would allow jail canteen profits to be used for the enhancement of jail safety and security. With an 89-0 vote in the House to show agreement to the addition of an emergency clause to the legislation, the bill now goes to the governor for his signature. It would take effect immediately upon being signed.

· Hemp. House Concurrent Resolution 35 requests that Congress remove hemp from the definition of marijuana in the federal Controlled Substances Act. By allowing Kentucky farmers to use hemp to its full advantage as an agricultural crop, HCR 35 intends to benefit Kentucky’s economy. Passing the House by a vote of 93-2, it now goes to the Senate for consideration.

· Police protection. House Bill 193 would make it a felony to intentionally expose a law enforcement officer to bodily fluids or bodily waste. The legislation would carry stiffer penalties if the bodily fluids or waste carry—or could carry—a communicable disease. Both crimes would be considered felonies under the proposal. After being approved by the House Judiciary Committee this week, the bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

· Eye care. House Bill 191 would require that online eye exams and prescriptions offered in Kentucky be accompanied by a real-time visit with a Kentucky eye care provider. The bill was passed by the House with a 90-7 vote and is headed for the Senate for consideration.

· Organ donation. House Bill 84 would require coroners or medical examiners to release identifying and other relevant information about a deceased person to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates if the person’s wish to be an organ donor is known and the body is suitable for medical transplant or therapy. In hopes to save many lives, House Bill 84 has received final passage with a 30-0 vote. It now goes to the Governor for his signature.

· Alcohol. Senate Bill 110 would preserve the status quo in determining how many liquor licenses are issued in individual cities and counties throughout Kentucky. This measure limits the number of licenses available for retail package liquor stores and by-the-drink sales of liquor. Passing through a Senate committee meeting this week, it now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

If you’d like to offer feedback to state lawmakers on issues under consideration, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.



This Week in Frankfort
February 5-9, 2018

FRANKFORT — It has been a reoccurring theme in recent years. In each legislative session, lawmakers take aim at the latest challenges posed by the state’s opioid epidemic. The ever-evolving nature of this crisis means that every time lawmakers meet there are emerging issues to consider as our state puts new laws on the books to keep drugs off the streets, support a strained criminal justice system, provide treatment to those who need it, and repair the damage caused to families and communities across the state.

This year, lawmakers are considering increased spending to target the opioid crisis. While the budget plan proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin would prompt cuts to many parts of government, it would provide a $34 million spending increase to fight the state’s opioid addiction epidemic. Members of the Kentucky House of Representatives are currently considering the entire spending plan.

In addition to addressing the drug crisis through the budget, lawmakers are also studying bills that would help keep drugs off the streets, improve treatment opportunities, and offer more drug-prevention education.

One of those measures took a step forward this week. House Bill 148 would help keep controlled substances like liquid morphine and fentanyl patches out of the hands of drug abusers by requiring the safe disposal of controlled substances by hospice providers or those providing palliative care or end-of-life service upon a patient’s death. The bill was approved by the House this week and has been delivered to the Senate for its consideration.

Bills on other issues that advanced this week include the following:

· House Bill 3 would require K-12 schools to incorporate basic workplace etiquette and skills into their curriculum beginning with the 2019-2020 school year. After being approved by the House Education Committee this week, it now goes to the full House for consideration.

· House Bill 128 would require public middle and high schools in Kentucky to teach students about the Holocaust. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

· House Bill 169 would crack down on the growing recruitment of criminal gang members in the state by making it a felony for adults to engage in criminal gang recruitment. Criminal gang recruitment by a minor would be a misdemeanor for a first offense but would rise to felony level for all other offenses under the bill. The bill was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

· Senate Bill 38 would modify current statutes regarding pregnant and nursing women in the workforce. With modified job options, frequent breaks and a private space for breastfeeding in the workplace, the goal of SB 38 is to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunities on the job. With a 9-0 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, the bill now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.

· Senate Bill 106 would create a limited license for beauty salons to provide only blow-drying and styling services. Currently in Kentucky, these types of businesses must obtain a full salon license and employ only trained cosmetologists. With hopes to reduce regulations and increase opportunities, the bill has passed the Senate and has been sent to the House for consideration.

· Senate Bill 91 would strengthen an existing law that requires Kentucky cities to have yearly audits by allowing the state to withhold money from a city that does not comply. Passing the Senate by a 37-0 vote, it now goes to the House for further consideration.

If you’d like to offer feedback to state lawmakers on issues under consideration, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.



This Week at the State Capitol

FRANKFORT – As legislators enter the second month of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2018 session, action already has been taken on a number of fronts that could have impacts across the state.

Lawmakers have approved a measure to allow Kentuckians to vote in November on a proposed state constitutional amendment to create what’s been referred to as a “bill of rights” for crime victims.

Budget subcommittees are digging into the details of the governor’s proposed spending plan to fully understand the potential impact of proposed cuts, as well as certain areas where spending increases are proposed. In the coming weeks, lawmakers will begin weighing which parts of the budget plan they want to adjust to make sure the final plan is one that matches their priorities for the state.

Meanwhile, almost 300 bills have been introduced for consideration in the Senate and House. The amount of legislation moving through the process will continue growing each day up as more bills are filed and shepherded through the legislative committee system.

Bills that took steps forward this week include:

· Senate Bill 37 would allow some nonviolent federal prisoners to get driver’s licenses so they can work outside of prison walls. SB 37 would also amend current law to included federal prisoners under existing regulations that allow state prisoners to receive driver’s licenses or identification cards upon release. SB 37 passed the Senate by a 36-0 vote. The measure now goes to the House for further consideration.

· House Bill 52 would require any child under age 12 to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. While the bill does not impose fines for not wearing a helmet, the intent is to increase safety for children while cycling. After passing the House Transportation Committee, HB 52 now goes to the full House for consideration.

· Under House Bill 84, coroners or medical examiners would be required to verify the organ and tissue donation wishes of a deceased person in their care. Such information is now released by coroners and medical examiners to Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates upon the group’s request, but the intent of this bill is to increase urgency in this process. HB 84 passed the House by a vote of 88-0 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

· Senate Bill 68 would clarify that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay divorce costs of a spouse locked up for crimes against the petitioner. Under current state law, someone seeking a divorce against an incarcerated person can be held responsible for paying the incarcerated person’s court-appointed lawyer, even when the imprisonment is the result of spousal abuse. This bill was passed by the Senate this week by a 37-0 vote and has been delivered to the House.

· House Bill 132 would require Kentucky public high school students to fulfill a financial literacy requirement to graduate. The bill was approved this week by a vote of 68-24 in the state House and now goes to the Senate.

· ­Senate Bill 72 would curtail the naming of state buildings, roads and bridges after living politicians in Kentucky with the intent to take the politics out of these naming decisions. Passing with a 35-3 vote in the Senate, it now goes to the state House for further consideration.

Legislators are eager to receive feedback on the issues confronting our state. To share your thoughts and ideas with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at (800) 372-7181.





The first bill passed by both chambers of the General Assembly this year is a measure that will allow voters to decide on a “bill of rights” for crime victims.

Senate Bill 3, more commonly known as Marsy’s Law, proposes adding a section to the Kentucky Constitution to give crime victims constitutional rights similar to those afforded to the convicted or accused.

The right to notice of proceedings, the right to reasonable protection from the accused, and the right to legal “standing,” which would give victims the constitutional right to assert their rights in court, are some of the rights included in Marsy’s Law.

Kentucky currently has crime victims’ rights listed in statute, but not in the state’s constitution.

Whether Kentucky amends the state constitution to join at least 6 other states that have adopted Marsy’s Law will ultimately be left up to the voters this fall.

Other bills and resolutions that advanced in the General Assembly this week include:

· SB 71 would require the inclusion of abstinence education in any sexual education curriculum offered by schools. The bill would not limit sex education to an abstinence-only curriculum. The measure was approved by the Senate on Jan. 24 by a 32-5 vote and has been sent to the House for further consideration.

· House Concurrent Resolution 34 asks the federal drug control agencies to accelerate research on the “safety and effectiveness” of medical marijuana. HCR 34 passed the House 73-5 on Jan. 24 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. If approved by both chambers, the resolution would be sent to the FDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Drug Enforcement Administration.

· SB 37, which was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Jan. 24, would allow some federal and state prisoners to get driver’s licenses so they could participate in work programs or re-entry initiatives outside of prison walls. The bill now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.

· SB 68 was approved to clarify that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay the legal fees of a spouse in a divorce action when the spouse is incarcerated for crimes against the petitioner. Under current state law, someone seeking a divorce against an incarcerated person can be held responsible for paying the incarcerated person’s court-appointed lawyer, even when the imprisonment is the result of spousal abuse. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 25 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

· House Bill 75, which would give local governments more ways to increase revenue, is on its way to the Senate after passing the House by 95-0 vote on Jan. 23. The bill would allow cities and counties to pursue more aggressive investment through mutual, closed-end and exchange-traded funds and high-quality corporate bonds, all within certain limits and under the guidance of a professional investment adviser.

· SB 72 would curtail the time-honored tradition of naming state buildings and roads after living politicians in Kentucky. The legislation would specifically prohibit the naming of any state building, transportation project, program or initiative after a living statewide current or former constitutional officer, state legislator, state judge or state employee. SB 72 was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Jan. 24 and now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.

If you’d like to share feedback on issues under consideration with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.



January 19
This Week at the State Capitol

Budget work advances as lawmakers receive governor’s spending plan

FRANKFORT — Returning to the Capitol after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, state lawmakers quickly zeroed in on the biggest item on this year’s agenda as they gathered in a joint session to hear Gov. Matt Bevin lay out his proposed budget for the next two years of state spending.

The governor said his budget priorities were represented in the acronym PIE: Protection, Infrastructure, and Education. His spending plan proposes new funds to address the state’s opioid crisis, improve hiring and pay for social workers, improve workforce development efforts, and hire more public advocates, as well as county and commonwealth attorneys. Still, he noted that his proposed budget was a tight one that included significant cuts in other areas. “These are the times that try men’s souls,” he said, quoting Thomas Paine.

Some had wondered in the days leading up to the governor’s speech whether he would propose a cut in SEEK, the state’s per-pupil spending formula. He didn’t, keeping the funding level at the current $3,981 per student. School districts would, however, be challenged to reduce administrative costs and find funds to make up for a reduction in state spending on school transportation costs.

The days leading up to the governor’s speech also included speculation on the possibility of double-digit, across-the-board spending cuts. There are proposed cuts, but they differ from what some expected. The governor’s plan calls for a targeted approach that would eliminate funding for 70 programs and implement 6.25 percent spending cuts for most other parts of state government.

Also noteworthy: The governor’s proposal would fully fund state pension plans with $3.3 billion in accordance with actuarially required contributions (ARC.)

While receiving the governor’s budget proposal is a big step, it’s the first step of many that will be undertaken before the final version of the budget is crafted by lawmakers. Lawmakers typically make a number of changes in the budget as it works its way through the legislative process to make sure the final document is one that reflects their own priorities for the state.

While the budget was a major focus of the week, a number of other pieces of legislation advanced in the legislative committee system, as well as in the Senate and House chambers.

Animal protection legislation was approved by the Senate on Wednesday and sent to the House for consideration. Senate Bill 8 would provide civil immunity for damaging a vehicle if a person enters the vehicle in a good-faith effort to rescue a dog or cat if the animal is in danger of death if not removed.

In the House, representatives approved a measure that takes aim at child pornography. House Bill 70 would prohibit registered sex offenders from purposely using cell phones and other electronic communications to solicit, communicate with or collect information about a minor. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Citizens are encouraged to share thoughts and ideas with state lawmakers and can do so by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at (800) 372-7181. Contact information for legislators is also available at the Kentucky Legislature Home Page: www.lrc.ky.gov.



January 8

The General Assembly’s 2018 session passed one of its early milestones this week as the first bill to clear a chamber this year was approved by the Kentucky Senate on Wednesday.

The legislation, known as Senate Bill 3, brought back an issue lawmakers have considered before: adding language to the state constitution that specifies certain rights that should be afforded to crime victims. These rights would include notice of all criminal court proceedings involving the accused, reasonable protection from the accused, timely notice of the release or escape of the accused and the right to full restitution to be paid by the convicted.

If Senate Bill 3 is approved by lawmakers, then Kentucky voters would get to decide whether this change is made to the state constitution.

The legislation is part of a national movement to establish Marsy’s Laws, named in memory of Marsy Nicholas, who was killed in the 1980s by her ex-boyfriend in California.

Another top issue this week focused on the possibility of moving the election of Kentucky’s governor and other statewide officers to even-numbered years. Supporters say this would save the state money on election costs and increase voter turnout. A House Committee has approved House Bill 23 on this matter, while the full Senate has approved similar legislation, Senate Bill 4.

If either bill is approved by both chambers, a proposed constitutional amendment on the matter would be decided on by Kentucky voters.

Other bills that took steps forward this week include:

· Senate Bill 7, which would establish the Kentucky Rare Disease Advisory Council and Trust Fund to promote research, treatment and education on rare diseases. The bill was approved by the Senate on Thursday and sent to the House for consideration.

· House Bill 88, approved by the House State Government Committee on Thursday, would allow unclaimed state property to be the only source of funding for operation of the Office of the State Treasurer. The measure is aimed at giving some relief to the state budget. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

· HB 84 would improve efforts to accommodate the wishes of people who want to be organ and tissue donors. The bill would require coroners and medical examiners to contact the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates if a deceased person’s body is suitable for organ or tissue donation. The bill was approved Wednesday by the House Licensing, Occupations & Administrative Regulations Committee and now goes to the House for consideration.

· Senate Bill 8 would provide civil immunity for damaging a vehicle if a person enters the vehicle with the reasonable, good-faith belief that a dog or cat is in immediate danger of death if not removed. The legislation passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday and now heads to the full senate for consideration.

The Senate and House will not convene on Monday, January 15th in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol on Tuesday, January 16. That same day the governor will give his State of the Commonwealth address in which he is expected to lay out details on his proposed budget. The biennial budget is a top priority this session and once the governor hands over his proposal, the House and Senate will begin making changes so that the final budget proposal reflects their priorities.

If you’d like to share feedback on issues under consideration with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.