April 18, 2014
12:15 p.m.

This Week at the State Capitol

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


April 16, 2014
12:20 a.m.

General Assembly’s 2014 session ends

 

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2014 regular session has reached its end, capping off a session in which lawmakers approved the state’s next two-year budget and measures that will impact people throughout the state.

 

Since the session’s start in early January, lawmakers have approved measures to allow medical use of cannabis oil, create an adult abuse registry, prevent children from buying electronic cigarettes, establish a two-year plan for road and bridge construction, improve the juvenile justice system, and establish legal protections for victims of human trafficking.

 

Most new laws – all that don’t come from legislation with emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will go into effect in 90 days.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

April 14, 2014
6:46 p.m.

Juvenile justice bill heading to governor’s desk

 

The General Assembly passed a measure today that would update the state’s juvenile justice system.

 

Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, is the result of work by the bi-partisan Unified Juvenile Code Task Force.  It would increase and strengthen evidence-based early intervention programs and services provided to offenders of certain non-violent crimes, such as truancy.  It would also increase education and training of certain employees in the juvenile justice system.

 

SB 200 would require data collection and reporting to measure the effectiveness of programs and policies, and would create a committee to oversee implementation of the legislation, monitor effectiveness and make recommendations for improvements based on outcomes.

 

According to Westerfield, the measure could save $24 million in the next five years.  It would also help identify and address underlying issues facing juvenile offenders, he said.

 

“It is a step towards getting better outcomes for our kids and doing so for less taxpayer money,” Westerfield said.

 

Changes made to the bill by the House include provisions that would allow school boards to collaborate with stakeholders in identifying and using truancy diversion and other early intervention programs.  House changes would also increase reporting requirements of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Administrative Office of the Courts to the Juvenile Justice Oversight Council.

 

The amended measure cleared the House by an 84-15 vote on March 27.  The Senate passed the bill 30-8 today.

 

Senate Bill 200 now goes to the governor’s desk.



 

April 4, 2014
4:30 p.m.

This Week at the State Capitol

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

March 31, 2014
8:30 p.m.

 

Budget, revenue bills go to governor’s desk

 

The Kentucky General Assembly today approved a two-year spending plan that authorizes $20.3 billion in spending for education, public safety, Medicaid, and other state government services while cutting spending in many state agencies by 5 percent through fiscal year 2016.

 

House Bill 235, sponsored by House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand, D-Bedford, was granted final passage by a vote of 89-11 in the House. It had passed the Senate by a vote of 37-1 earlier in the day. The bill now goes to the governor to be signed into law.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

2:45 p.m.

Legislature gives final approval to cannabis oil bill

 

The Senate today agreed to final passage of the bipartisan legislation that would allow medical use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions, including pediatric epilepsy.

 

The bill allows the procurement of cannabis oil through a research university under the supervision of a physician.

 

In a number of cases the results of using the oil are “nothing short of a miracle,” said Rep. John Tilley, who carried the bill in the House. “It relieves their suffering. It relieves the seizures they encounter every day.”

 

Senate Bill 124 is sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville and passed both chambers without dissent.

 

“This is most directly being presented to assist those who have, sometimes, hundreds of seizures a day,” Sen. Denton said earlier this month when the Senate considered the bill.

 

Today, the Senate concurred with a House amendment that simply renames the bill for Clara Madeline Gilliam, a Kentucky baby that has experienced the type of seizures that medical cannabis oil is meant to treat.

 

The bill also allows the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville medical schools to conduct studies of the oil which can be derived from industrial hemp or marijuana plants, but legislators stressed that the legislation does not legalize marijuana use.

 

“We know that folks suffering from epilepsy will gain hope from this substance,” Rep. Tilley said.

 

SB 124 now goes to the governor’s office to become law.

 


 

March 28, 2014
5:30 p.m.

This Week at the State Capitol

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 

 


 

 

5:20 p.m.

 

School ‘snow days’ bill receives final passage

 

The Kentucky House gave final passage today to the so-called “snow days” bill that would give school districts until June 6 to make up instructional time lost due to this winter’s snow, ice, and cold.

 

House Bill 211 was the result of an agreement between the House and Senate. It passed the Senate by a vote of 36-1 on Thursday, and was given final passage in the House this afternoon by a vote of 97-1.

 

Under HB 211, school districts will have until June 6 to complete all 1,062 instructional hours required by the state per school year. Districts may choose to extend school instructional time for the remainder of the school year to make up the lost time, as long as instructional time does not exceed seven hours a day. Districts that are unable to meet all 1,062 hours before June 6 must request assistance from the Kentucky Commissioner of Education no later than May 1 for help to reach the requirement, per the bill.  

 

If the school districts still cannot complete the 1,062 required hours by June 6 after consulting with the commissioner, HB 211 allows a waiver of any remaining instructional hours that are required.

 

Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, who served on the House and Senate conference committee that reached agreement on the bill, said school districts will be required to make “a good faith effort to get in all hours.”

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 26, 2014
5:55 p.m.

Senate approves state road plan bills

 

The Kentucky Senate approved two-year and six-year road plans today that would direct transportation projects across the state.

 

House Bill 237 was approved on a 28-0 vote, with 10 lawmakers passing.  As amended by the Senate, it would authorize $5.4 billion worth of road and bridge projects and improvements in the upcoming biennium.  Included in the plan is the Louisville bridges project, West Kentucky bridges project, Brent Spence Bridge project in Northern Kentucky, as well as work on I-65, I-69, the Mountain Parkway, and many others.

 

According to Senate Transportation Chair Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, the Senate version of the bill cut or moved some projects to the six-year Road Plan to reduce “over programming” and eliminate the need for a motor fuels tax increase.

 

“The plan we are submitting today is balanced,” he said. 

 

House Joint Resolution 62, which includes the last four years of the six-year road plan, was approved by a vote of 29-0.  Nine lawmakers passed on that vote.

 

Senate Democratic Floor Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, said he was casting a pass vote because he did not have time to review the entire bill and was disappointed at the exclusion of the Eastern Bypass project in his district.  “That gives me great concern.  So I cannot do anything other than pass at this time,” he said.

 

The House of Representatives did not agree with changes to the measures made in the Senate.  The Senate has appointed members to a conference committee to work with House members in ironing out differences in the proposals.

 

The measure that would fund the transportation projects in the two-year Road Plan, House Bill 236, was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today.  It will now go to the full Senate for further action.

 


 

 

5:50 p.m.

 

 

Anti-bullying bill heading to Governor

 

The House has unanimously passed a bill designating October as Anti-Bullying Month in Kentucky.

 

Senate Bill 20, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, also designates a purple and yellow ribbon as the symbol for anti-bullying awareness.

 

“We know that bullying is a major problem,” said Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond. “We’ve had several bills in committee related to bullying, and this bill will just create an awareness to help us someday end this problem that we have in our society.”

 

The idea for the legislation was proposed by students at Madison Middle School, located in Madison County where both Carpenter and Smart reside.

 

The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.

 


 

4:42 p.m.

Senate panel approves public-private partnership bill

 

The Senate Transportation Committee approved a measure today that would provide oversight and regulations to public-private partnerships, so-called P3s, in the Commonwealth.

 

House Bill 407, sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, and House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly, D-Paris, would allow state and local governments to partner with private companies to complete infrastructure, transportation and other projects.  Supporters of the measure say it would allow government agencies to consider projects that wouldn’t be financially feasible without such a partnership.

 

A change made in the committee would limit P3 highway projects to $100 million.

 

“I think that we will see a lot of wonderful projects over our tenure here that will come out of this new coalition,” said Senate Majority Whip Brandon Smith, R-Hazard.

 

The bill now goes to the full Senate for further action.

 


 

March 25, 2014
5:59 p.m.

Revenue measure clears Senate

 

A day after approving a state budget plan, the Kentucky Senate amended and passed a measure that would increase general fund revenues by more than $20 million in the next biennium.

 

Most of the revenue increases would come from provisions relating to waste tire fees and the sale of abandoned property that were also included in the House-approved plan.  House Bill 208, as amended in the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, also adds a revenue-generating provision that would allow the state Treasurer to take ownership of and redeem old U.S. savings bonds currently in the state’s custody. 

 

The Senate version does not include a motor fuel tax increase that was part of the House-approved plan.  It also doesn’t include $3 million the House had assumed would come from increased lottery ticket sales if the lottery is allowed to advertise that its earnings help fund education.

 

Other changes in the Senate plan would remove the sunset provision on the film industry tax credit.  Under the Senate plan, that credit would not be capped. 

 

Instead of a blended instant racing tax as proposed by the House, the Senate version would impose a flat 1.5 percent retroactively and going forward.  It would provide full distribution to the Thoroughbred Development Fund and would keep instant racing and pari-mutuel tax distributions to other funds at current levels.

 

House Bill 208 was approved by a vote of 30-0 with seven legislators passing.  It now goes back to the House of Representatives for consideration of the changes.

 


 

5:55 p.m.

 

E-search warrants bill receives final passage

 

A bill that would allow electronic search warrants to be used in Kentucky has received final passage in the state House by a vote of 80-8.

 

Senate Bill 45 is sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville. The legislation would allow Kentucky’s courts to authorize the use of electronic or e-search warrants where constitutional. It also requires that a paper copy of a search warrant be produced at the time the warrant is served.

 

House Judiciary Chair Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said case law makes electronic search warrants possible by allowing the orders to be issued outside the presence of a judge.

 

“There is case law on the books that says (the warrant does not have to be sworn) in the presence of a judge. It can be done electronically and can be in the presence of a notary and not the judge,” Tilley said. 

 

SB 45 now goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

 

 


 

3:30 p.m.

  

Bill to clear human trafficking victims’ records advances

 

The House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation that would allow a person’s record to be cleared of a non-violent offense if a judge determines the offense resulted from being a victim of human trafficking.

 

Senate Bill 184 is sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, and Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville.

 

“This allows a victim to move on with their life, to go on and hopefully lead a constructive life,” Sen. McGarvey said.  “Part of it, of course, is recognizing that so many times in human trafficking, that’s what we’re dealing with; We are dealing with victims.”

 

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

 


 

March 24, 2014
6:50 p.m.

 

Senate-amended budget plans head to House

 

The state’s biennial budget plans are one step closer to becoming law after being amended and approved by the Kentucky Senate today.

 

Many of the changes made by the Senate to House Bill 235 -- the operational budget for the executive branch -- were aimed at reducing the state’s level of debt.  The Senate’s version of the bill would authorize $263 million in general fund debt, compared to more than a billion dollars in the House-approved version.  Proposed agency bonds were cut by more than $700 million to $270 million over the biennium.  Any debt restructuring during that time would be prohibited.

 

The plan would not authorize the Rupp Arena and Lexington Convention Center renovation project, nor the Kentucky International Convention Center expansion in Louisville. 

 

As amended, the Budget Reserve Trust – or “rainy day” – Fund would increase to $125.2 million.  Any unexpended debt service authorized by the measure would also be transferred to the fund.

 

“The result of the strategies in the Senate budget do a number of positive things,” Senate Appropriations and Revenue Chair Bob Leeper, I-Paducah, said.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 21, 2014

This Week at the State Capitol

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

3:45 p.m.

Pipeline bill passes House, heads to Senate

 

Eminent domain could not be used to build pipelines that transport natural gas liquids through the Commonwealth under a bill that cleared the House today, 75-16.

 

House Bill 31, as amended, would work by excluding natural gas liquids, or NGLs--including ethane, propane, butane, isobutene, pentane, or any combination of those liquids--from the definition of oil or gas and oil or gas products under current law. Use of eminent domain, or the taking of private property for public use, is allowed under Kentucky law for construction of oil or gas pipelines.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 20, 2014
3:05 p.m.

Adult abuse registry passes House panel

 

The House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously passed a bill today to establish an adult abuse registry.

 

Senate Bill 98 sponsor  Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, said the registry would allow employers in the adult care profession to determine if a prospective employee has a previous history of substantiated adult abuse, neglect or exploitation.

 

“Currently employers do not have the ability to do that,” Gregory said. “There is no way to know if a person has a history of having committed adult abuse offenses.”

 

Other provisions include requiring that providers check the registry on a prospective employee before making a hiring decision and making the information available to people hiring private caregivers.

 

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

 


 

March 19, 2013
4:30 p.m.

Legislative calendar bill moves to House

 

A measure that would let voters decide on proposed changes to the legislative session calendar of the Kentucky General Assembly was approved by the Senate today.

 

Senate Bill 195, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, proposes an amendment to the State Constitution that would reduce the number of working days during regular legislative sessions.  Regular sessions during even-numbered years would be reduced by 25 percent to 45 working days.  Final adjournment would be required as it is currently, by April 15.  Odd-numbered year regular sessions would be cut from 30 working days to five. 

 

Under the bill, an additional ten legislative days could be used to extend an odd-numbered year regular session, or for a special session called by legislative leaders anytime during the biennium.  Currently special sessions can only be called by the governor.

 

As amended, the proposal would require the Senate President, House Speaker and minority floor leaders in both chambers be involved in determining a legislative call for special session.  The Governor could still call special sessions without time limits.

 

According to Stivers, the measure is an attempt to reflect the original Constitutional intent of a citizen legislature by making legislative offices more accessible to Kentuckians with work, family and other time constraints.

 

“It truly opens up the system, it saves money and it gives us the ability that we do not lose our (legislative) influence within the process,” he said.

 

SB 195 was approved 34-3 and now goes to the House of Representatives for further action.  If the measure becomes law, the question will be posed to voters for final ratification in the 2014 general election in November.

 


 

9:55 a.m.

Road Plan heads to Senate

 

The House voted yesterday to approve a two-year state Road Plan and nearly $5 billion to fund the plans projects and state Transportation Cabinet operations and needs over the next two years. 

 

The House voted 52-43 to approve House Bill 236, the funding bill that would pay for the $4.5 billion 2014-2016 Road Plan found in HB 237, which was amended and passed by the House by a 51-43 vote.  HB 236 would also fund administrative and capital project needs of the Cabinet over the biennium.

 

Additionally, the House voted to pass House Joint Resolution 62 which includes the last four years of the state’s six-year road plan, or 2016 through 2020. That legislation passed the House on a 51-44 vote.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 18, 2013
1:25 p.m.

Sunday sales at small farm wineries pass committee

 

The Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee unanimously passed a bill that would allow small farm wineries to sell alcohol on Sunday.

 

“As most people should realize, with a small farm winery it’s kind of a tourist attraction also,” said bill sponsor Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville. Weekend visitors can purchase wine on Saturdays, “but on Sunday, believe it or not, which is the other expectant big day for tourism, they cannot sell their product to those who may tour their winery,”

 

Senate Bill 213 allows the county where the small farm winery is located to authorize the sale by a fiscal court vote or a local option election.

 

“This is an excellent example of how government should get out of the way, let commerce thrive,” said Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown. “It’s long past time to take the shackles off the small farm winery industry and let them open on Sunday.”

 

The bill now goes to the full Senate for further action.

 


 

11:45 a.m.

Senate panel approves preschool “Books for Brains” bill

 

FRANKFORT -- A bill that would create a statewide reading program for preschoolers was approved by the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee today.

 

House Bill 341, sponsored by Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would establish a public-private partnership to provide age-appropriate books to Kentucky children age five and under. 

 

“Books for Brains” – as the project is called – would be based on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.  Directed through the Department of Library and Archives, partners in counties across the state would help coordinate local initiatives.

 

The measure does not appropriate funds for the program, but would rely on private donations and grants.  HB 341 would provide a statewide framework and support successful implementation methods for interested community partners, Tilley said.

 

According to Tilley, several dozen counties are already involved with this type of initiative, including Trigg County which has already distributed 20,000 books.  Kindergarten readiness scores have increased ten to 15 percent annually since the project started in that county, he said.

 

Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz told lawmakers his son benefited from books through the program in Trigg County before entering kindergarten.

 

“We feel excited about the opportunity to have this program across the state,” he said.

 

HB 341 now goes to the full Senate for further action.

 


 

March 17, 2014
6:45 p.m.

 

Senate approves school calendar bill

 

A measure that would give local districts flexibility in making up missed school days unanimously cleared the Kentucky Senate today.

 

House Bill 211, as amended by the Senate, would allow local school boards to adjust their calendars by extending remaining school days by 30 minutes or more to complete 1,062 instructional hours. The bill would also allow school districts to schedule classes on the primary election day if no school buildings in the district are used as polling centers.

 

“It’s a rapid, quick check off of an amended calendar for districts than can meet that standard,” Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, told lawmakers.

 

According to Givens, some districts would be unable to complete the mandated hours even after calendar amendments.  The bill would allow the Department of Education the flexibility to approve waivers for those districts on a case-by-case basis, he said.

 

HB 211 now goes back to the House of Representatives for further action on changes made by the Senate.  The proposal includes an emergency clause and would become effective immediately upon becoming law.

 


 

6:20 p.m.

 

Misdemeanor expungement bill goes to Senate

 

Kentucky courts could erase some minor crimes or violations from a person’s criminal record under legislation that cleared the House today.

 

House Bill 355 would allow a series of unrelated crimes or violations to be expunged at the courts’ discretion at least five years after penalties for those offenses are paid. Current law only allows for minor crimes or violations related to a single incident to be erased from someone’s record after five years’ time.

 

HB 355 passed the House on a 67-24 vote. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville.

 

“The ability of people to move past these paid-for offenses allows them to compete for jobs, higher education scholarships, graduate school positions, and a host of other life-critical things,” said Wilson, adding that expungement is entirely up to the courts.

 

“The expungement could be denied for any number of reasons,” he said.

 

Misdemeanor sex crimes or crimes against a child—neither which are eligible for expungement under current state law—would not be eligible for expungement under the proposal. Neither would expungement sought by convicted felons or by someone who has been charged or convicted of a crime since their last offense, in keeping with current statutes. 

 

HB 355 now goes to the Senate.

 


 

           

Kentucky House OKs public-private partnership bill

 

Legislation to allow the use of public-private partnerships to finance major government projects in the Commonwealth has cleared the House by a vote of 82-7.

 

The bill would give public agencies more flexibility to work with private industry on capital projects and services by allowing new projects to move forward without state-appropriated funds, said Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, sponsor of House Bill 407.

 

The bill was amended by the House to prohibit tolls on interstate projects linking Kentucky and Ohio, and to clarify which entities could take part in projects approved by the quasi-governmental Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority.

 

HB 407 now goes to the Senate.

 


 

March 14, 2014
4:25 p.m.

This Week at the State Capitol

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

3:00 p.m.

Snow day waiver bill clears House, 82-8

 

School districts would be allowed to excuse up to 10 instructional days missed this school year under legislation that today passed the Kentucky House.

 

House Bill 410, sponsored by Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty, would take effect immediately upon becoming law. Although students would be excused on the waived school days, teachers and other school employees would still work.

 

Many of the state’s 173 public school districts have missed over 10 days of school this winter due to snow, ice, or bitter cold.

 

“HB 410 is simply the bill that allows some relief for our struggling school districts after the disastrous winter that we’ve had,” Stacy said. “It allows them to go ahead and plan the remainder of their school year.”

 

To read more, click here.

 

 


 

 

3:00 p.m.

 

Roofing bill heads to Senate on 52-37 vote

 

Roofing contractors would be required to be licensed, permitted, insured, bonded, and knowledgeable of roofing issues under legislation that has cleared the Kentucky House.

 

The legislation would “make the industry more professional by licensing and requiring some education of the proper way to do roofing,” said Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, the sponsor of the proposal, House Bill 207. He said shoddy roofing construction has become and problem in the state.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 13, 2014
8:50 p.m.

House passes state budget, revenue bill

 

The Kentucky House today gave approval to a proposed new state budget that would authorize over $20 billion in spending for education, public health, state universities and other needs between 2014 and 2016 while implementing nearly $100 million in cuts across state government.

 

House Bill 235, sponsored by House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand, D-Bedford, was amended and passed by a vote of 53-46. It now goes to the Senate.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

8:15 a.m.

HPV vaccination bill heads to Senate

 

Legislation aimed at getting more children vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) was amended yesterday so that children would only receive the vaccinations if their parents or guardians took steps to indicate their approval.

 

Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, said his amendment, which was adopted on a 50-45 vote, “simply adds language that requires the school district to send home information on the HPV vaccine … and it requires a parent to opt-in” if a child's vaccination is desired.

 

Prior to being amended, HB 311 called for vaccinations for children unless their parents or guardians provided a written statement opting out. HB 311 is sponsored by Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, and Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville.

 

Adults who received HPV vaccinations as children have a lower risk of becoming infected with the virus, which can spread through sexual contact and cause cervical cancer and other diseases.

 

As amended, HB 311 requires that parents received information on the HPV virus from their children’s schools upon a child’s enrollment in sixth grade. It further states that “a parent or legal guardian of a child shall always be privileged to decide whether he or she wants his or her child to be immunized against human papillomavirus, and shall only be requested to opt-in to a vaccination program...”

 

In opposing the amendment to his bill, Watkins emphasized that his original proposal would provide parents a chance to opt children out of the vaccinations. “I feel this amendment is intrusive (and) adds additional burden to all our school systems which already are burdened by too much expense,” he said.

 

HB 311 passed the House on a 60-37 vote. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

 


 

March 12, 2014
6:30 p.m.

Senate approves cannabis oil bill

 

The Kentucky Senate unanimously approved a bill today that would allow research and limited medical use of cannabis oil.

 

Senate Bill 124, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would allow doctors at the state’s two university research hospitals to prescribe cannabis oil to patients.  The bill also would allow the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville medical schools to conduct studies of the oil which can be derived from industrial hemp or marijuana plants.

 

Supporters of the measure say it is an effective treatment for certain medical conditions, including pediatric epilepsy.

 

“This bill is designed to be one more tool in the toolbox for those children to help preserve their quality of life and help preserve their life,” Denton said.

 

SB 124 now goes to the House of Representatives for further action. 

 


 

3:30 p.m

Legislative calendar bill clears Senate committee

 

The Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously approved a bill today that would let voters decide on a proposed change to the Kentucky General Assembly’s annual legislative session calendars.

 

Senate Bill 195, sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, proposes an amendment to the State Constitution that would reduce the number of working days during regular legislative sessions.

 

Under the proposal, regular legislative sessions during even-numbered years would be reduced from 60 to 45 working days.  Final adjournment would be required as it is currently, by April 15.  The bill also proposes cutting odd-numbered year regular sessions from 30 working days to five working days.  An additional ten legislative days could be used to extend an odd-numbered year regular session, or for a special session called by legislative leaders anytime during the biennium.

 

According to the bill’s sponsor, the governor’s authority to call a special session without time limits would not be affected by this legislation.

 

The bill would save up to $7 million dollars annually and is an attempt to make legislative offices more accessible to Kentuckians unable to get involved in the process due to work, family or other time constraints, Stivers said.

 

“This is an attempt, I believe, to return us back to what the framers of our Constitution believed our role should be.  And that is of a citizen legislature,” he said.

 

SB 195 now goes to the full Senate for further action.  If the measure becomes law, the question will be posed to voters for final ratification in the 2014 general election in November.

 


 

March 11, 2014
3:50 p.m.

Proposals targeting invasive plants advance

 

More poisonous weeds and invasive plants would be targeted for eradication from state right-of-ways under two bills approved in legislative committees today.

 

While House Bill 434 and Senate Bill 170 differ on specifics, both proposals agree that more unwanted plants – including kudzu and poison hemlock – should be targeted for removal.

 

House Bill 434, sponsored by Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, and Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, was approved by the House Transportation Committee and sent to the House chamber for further action.

 

“In many of our communities, now we have so many new subdivisions that have been built where farmland was,” Smart said. “And with the landscaping there are a number of different plants that seem to be getting into the highways and right-of-ways.”

 

Senate Bill 170, sponsored by Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, and Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, not only adds to the list of plants the state should be eliminating, but also would give the Department of Highways authority to regularly review and make changes to its list of unwanted plants.

 

“What’s happened is there are weeds on the list that aren’t really problems anymore and there are weeds out there that are very common, but aren’t on the list,” Sen. Parrett said.

 

SB 170 was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee and sent to the full chamber for consideration.

 


 

3:50 p.m.

House budget committee passes budget proposal

 

The House budget committee today gave its approval to a nearly $20.3 billion two-year state budget proposal that would trim funding for most of state government, leave some areas untouched, and offer modest increases for foster parents and private child care providers.

 

Most of the spending in House Bill 235, sponsored by House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Chairman Rick Rand, D-Bedford, closely mirrors the budget proposed by the governor in January. Like that budget, the House proposal would ensure an additional $189 million in guaranteed base per pupil funding (or SEEK funds) for schools, protect Medicaid, and provide nearly $1 billion in new General Fund-supported debt for capital construction while fully funding required contributions to the state’s pension system. HB 235 also would expand preschool for over 5,000 more four-year-olds, and increase funding school textbooks, though at levels lower than originally proposed in the governor’s spending plan.

 

The House also proposes five percent cuts across most of state government —leading to cumulative cuts of 41.5 percent for some agencies since 2008—with lesser cuts of 2.5 percent for the universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the Kentucky State Police. At the same time, teachers and state employees would receive pay raises over the biennium with higher amounts given to lower-paid state workers in 2015.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 10, 2014
6:10 p.m.

Breast cancer information bill clears House, 95-0

 

Information about breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, surgery, and reconstructive options would be published on a state website under a bill that has cleared the House today

 

The information would be published on the Department for Public Health’s website by this Dec. 31 if House Bill 123 becomes law. The bill would also require physicians to provide information about the website to breast cancer patients.

 

“There’s so much out there in the techniques, and in the procedures that can help aid these women, both in their surgery, and also in their reconstruction surgery,” said Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Mt. Sterling, the sponsor of HB 123.

 

The bill passed the House by a vote of 95-0, with many lawmakers casting their vote in honor or memory of someone who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

The bill now goes to the Senate.

 

 


6:10 p.m.

 

Consumer security breach bill heads to Senate

 

A bill designed to protect Kentucky consumers from attacks on their personal and financial information following 2013’s massive Target security breach passed the House today 75-16.

 

House Bill 232, sponsored by Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, would require businesses, corporations, and state or local government entities to notify their consumers immediately of any unauthorized acquisition of a consumer’s personal or financial information.

 

In the case of a massive breach like the one that affected Target’s customers, the proposal would also require that the company contact all consumer reporting agencies and credit bureaus that maintain files on consumers nationwide. Notification could only be delayed “if a law enforcement agency determines that the notification will impede a criminal investigation,” according to the legislation.

 

The legislation would not apply to HIPAA-related information, or in cases where there is a breach of personal information subject to the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act—a federal law that applies to commercial banks, investment banks, securities, and insurance companies.

 

The bill now goes to the Senate.

 


 

March 7, 2014
3:00 p.m.

This Week at the State Capitol

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

March 6, 2014
5:05 p.m.

End-of-life care bill heads to Senate

 

An end-of-life order known as “medical order for scope of treatment” would be allowed in Kentucky under a bill that passed the Kentucky House today on an 86-7 vote.

 

Medical orders for scope of treatment spell out a patient’s wishes for their end-of-life care. Unlike advance directives, the orders are considered to be physician’s orders and are signed by both the patient or patient’s legal surrogate, and the patient’s physician.

 

A standard form for the orders would be developed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for use statewide, according to the bill, House Bill 145.

 

“As a physician, I want to help people live and have a quality of life as long as they can,” said Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, the bill’s sponsor. “But I sure don’t want to prolong suffering and agony … it’s our duty to make sure we keep our people in the final hours and final days of their life as comfortable as possible, and also to follow their wishes as close to the letter of the law as we can.”

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

5:05 p.m.

Senate approves e-cigarette bill

 

A bill that would limit the sale of electronic cigarettes cleared the Kentucky Senate by a 36-2 vote today.

 

Senate Bill 109, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine to minors.  The measure would put the electronic devices and alternative nicotine products under the same rules and regulations as tobacco products.  Retailers would face the same fines and penalties for selling e-cigarettes to anyone less than 18 years old as they would for selling tobacco products to minors.

 

E-cigarettes have a battery, electric circuit, or other component that allows them to produce vaporized or aerosol nicotine.

 

“Since the FDA hasn’t taken a stance on these e-cigarettes and other types of vapors that are being used by a lot of people these days, this (would) protect our youth,” Hornback said.

 

SB 109 now goes to the House of Representatives for further action.

 

Legislation that would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, House Bill 309, was approved by the House last month.

 


 

12:25 p.m.

 

Panel OKs public-private partnership bill

 

A bill that would allow the use of public-private partnerships, or P3s, to finance major government projects in the Commonwealth has cleared the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee.

 

P3s are public services or private ventures financed through partnerships between the public sector and one or more private companies.

 

House Bill 407 would impact a wide range of government projects, said Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, who sponsors the legislation with House Majority Caucus Chair Sannie Overly, D-Paris.

 

“It’s intended to do things all over the Commonwealth of Kentucky in several different areas,” which may include higher education and transportation projects, Combs said.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

March 5, 2014
5:00 p.m.

Concealed carry bills gain Senate approval

 

Two bills that would affect the application process for licenses to carry concealed deadly weapons in the state were approved by the Kentucky Senate today.

 

Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, would create an electronic application for the concealed carry license.  It would require the applications to be processed within 14 days.  Currently, paper applications must be processed within 60 days.

 

According to Gregory, the electronic application would not change any training or licensing requirements but would modernize and expedite the process.

 

Senate Bill 106, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, would utilize the electronic application process to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional concealed carry permit in one business day.

 

Under the bill, these petitioners would undergo the same background checks and application requirements as other applicants but would have up to 45 days to complete the necessary training for a full concealed carry license.

 

“I think this expedites the process, protects the victims in these situations (and) also protects the public,” Carpenter said.

 

Both bills were approved unanimously and now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 


 

4:35 p.m.

Panel approves bill to crack down on dog fighting

 

The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill today that would give law enforcement more leeway to curb dog fighting in the Commonwealth.

 

House Bill 408, co-sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, and Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would enable law enforcement to charge more individuals involved in dog fighting with animal cruelty in the first degree, which is a felony. Those who could be charged include dog owners who know, or should know, that their animal is being used to fight other animals for pleasure or profit, those who help to organize the fights, and those who train, breed, or otherwise keep animals and their offspring for fighting. 

 

Jenkins explained that HB 408 would allow law enforcement officers to consider dog fighting paraphernalia, such as weights and sticks typically used for dogs trained to fight, as evidence in an animal cruelty cases. Now, according to committee testimony, law enforcement can only pursue charges once a dog fight has taken place.

 

“It’s very secretive,” Jenkins said. “The actual fights are hard to know about and to investigate.”

 

The legislation would not apply to police dogs, dogs involved in field trials, guard dogs or other working dogs trained to attack under specific circumstances, although some lawmakers indicated they may file floor amendments to clarify that point.

 

HB 408 now goes to the full House for consideration.

 


 

March 3, 2014
10:50 a.m.

Kentucky Senate and House will not meet in session today

 

FRANKFORT – Due to inclement weather and concerns about hazardous road conditions, the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives will not convene today.

 

Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene tomorrow (Tuesday, March 4.) The Senate is scheduled to go into session at 2 p.m. and the House will reconvene at 4 p.m.

 


 

February 28, 2014
3: 15 p.m.
 

House approves driver safety bill

 

Making phone calls when driving through highway work zones or school zones with flashing school-zone lights would be outlawed by a bill that cleared the House today, 62-32.

 

House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Terry Mills, would add the proposed offense—which would include reading, selecting, or entering names or phone numbers into a device to make a phone call—to the state’s no-texting-while-driving law. It would also increase fines from $25 to $50 for a first offense and from $50 to $100 for each subsequent offense for anyone violating the law.

 

The bill was amended by the House to exempt drivers with hands-free communications devices like Bluetooth from HB 33’s requirements. Drivers of emergency or public safety vehicles would also be exempt.

 

“The evidence is clear: distracted driving kills and injures too many people on our roadways,” said Mills, D-Lebanon.  He said the number of deaths caused by distracted driving now exceeds deaths from accidents caused by DUIs.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 27, 2014
3:10 p.m.

Medical marijuana bill passes House committee

 

A bill that would allow the use of medical marijuana by Kentuckians with certain medical conditions has cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee on a 9-5 vote.

 

If House Bill 350 becomes law, the use, distribution, and cultivation of medical marijuana would be permitted under Kentucky law to alleviate the symptoms of patients diagnosed by a medical provider with a debilitating medical condition. A licensing and registration system to allow the use, growth, and distribution of the drug would be established through protocols set out in HB 350, which is sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 26, 2014
3:30 p.m.

 

Pipeline legislation clears House Judiciary

 

Private property could not be taken by eminent domain for the transport of natural gas liquids under a bill approved today by the House Judiciary Committee.

 

The committee substitute to House Bill 31 approved by the committee would prohibit the taking of private land by eminent domain for the construction of a natural gas liquids pipeline, such as the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline that could possibly run through 13 Kentucky counties.

 

HB 31 is sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and Rep. David Floyd, D-Bardstown.

 

“I think there are multiple reasons why there is legal justification and common sense justification” for excluding natural gas liquids from eminent domain powers, Tilley said. “The most overriding factor is that the statutes have never contemplated natural gas liquids. We have a new player in the game, essentially.”

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

1:20 p.m.

 

Cannabis oil bill passes Senate committee  

 

A measure that would legalize limited medical use of cannabis oil was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee today.

 

Senate Bill 124, sponsored by Committee Chair Julie Denton, R-Louisville, and Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would allow doctors at the state’s two university research hospitals to prescribe cannabis oil to patients.

 

Advocates of cannabis oil use say it is effective at treating certain health conditions, including epilepsy.

 

“This is going to open the door for some first steps on this issue,” Denton said.

 

SB 124 now goes to the full Senate for further action. 

 


 

1:15 p.m.

 

School calendar bill clears House committee

 

School districts would have more flexibility in dealing with snow days and other events that require changes to the school calendar under legislation approved yesterday by the House Education Committee.

 

House Bill 383, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, would maintain the same requirement for 1,062 instructional hours annually that schools have now. The minimum number of student instructional days would go from 175 to 170 annually, but school boards that have to to amend school calendars would be given the flexibility to adjust school days by 30 minutes or more if needed to ensure that they are meeting state requirements on student instruction.

 

“It does not diminish or take away the 1,062 instructional hours that we require…but allows (districts) flexibility in planning their school calendar,” Wuchner said.

 

The minimum school term of 185 days—including student attendance days, teacher professional days, and school holidays – would not change if HB 383 becomes law.

 

Wuchner and others testifying on the bill said the legislation would help schools that have lost student attendance days this winter due to bad weather.

 

HB 383 would also prohibit a district from scheduling a student attendance day on election days.

 

The bill would also clarify that the commissioner of education can waive up to 10 days from a school calendar when bad weather or other emergencies cause a district to create an approved alternate instructional plan “so that no education is lost during that process,” Wuchner said.

 

The bill now goes to the full House for further action. It would take effect immediately if it passes both the House and Senate and becomes law.

 


 

1:15 p.m.

School, work zone safety bill advances

 

Making phone calls while driving through state highway work zones when workers are present or in school zones when lights are flashing would be prohibited under a bill that cleared the House Transportation Committee yesterday.

 

House Bill 33, sponsored by Rep. Terry Mills, D-Lebanon, also would increase fines for anyone violating the state’s no-texting-while texting law from $25 to $50 for a first offense and from $50 to $100 for each subsequent offense.

 

“We are here with this bill for one reason. And that is that distracted driving kills,” Rep. Mills said.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 21, 2014
2:45 p.m.

Preschool book bill goes to Senate

 

Kentucky would launch a statewide initiative to foster an appreciation for books among its preschoolers under a bill that cleared the House today by a vote of 97-0.

 

House Bill 341, sponsored by Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would create the “Books for Brains” program to provide age-appropriate books for children age five and under who are registered to receive the books through an arrangement with a private nonprofit. The nonprofit would be in charge of book selection and mailing, while local partners in Kentucky counties would help coordinate the program.

 

The program—which would be governed by a seven-member board appointed by the Governor—would be based on the popular Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, which provides books to preschool age children in the U.S. and other countries.

 

“Print-rich environments are a good thing,” Tilley said. “In fact, one particular study says that kids from print-rich environments enter school with seven times the vocabulary of kids who don’t have books in the home.”

 

HB 341 would also create a restricted fund to be administered by the state. No funds have yet been appropriated for the program, said Tilley, who pushed an amendment through the House that clarifies the Board would only be required to provide funding for the program as private donations, grants and other funds become available.

 

Rep. Kenny Imes, R-Murray, who, like Tilley, represents part of Trigg County where a similar program is underway, said “it is just truly awesome the effect (this program) has on the community, on kids, and if we’re serious about education this is a foundational plate that I think we’d start with.”

 


 

February 20, 2014
5:10 p.m.

School insulin bill heading to governor’s desk

 

A bill that would require schools to have an employee on duty to administer insulin and epilepsy medication to students is on its way to the governor’s desk.

 

House Bill 98, sponsored by Rep. Robert Damron, D-Nicholasville, received final passage today in the House by a vote of 96-2. The bill would require that a licensed health worker, non-licensed health technician, or trained school employee be on duty at schools to administer or help with self-administration of insulin, other approved diabetes drugs, and seizure rescue drugs approved by the federal government.

 

Written permission from a child’s parent or guardian and instructions from the child’s health care provider would be required before any of the medications could be administered, according to HB 98. The legislation states that schools would have to implement the training requirements in the bill beginning this July 15.

 

Damron said Kentucky is poised to become the 34th state to adopt legislation similar to HB 98.

 

The legislation would also allow children to perform their own blood glucose checks and self-administer insulin at school upon written request of their parents or guardians and authorization by a child’s health provider.

 

 HB 98 includes an emergency clause that would make the bill effective upon being signed into law.

 


 

5:10 p.m.

Adult abuse registry bill heads to House

 

The Kentucky Senate approved a measure today that would create an adult abuse registry in the state.

 

Senate Bill 98, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, would direct the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to maintain the adult abuse registry of substantiated cases of abuse or neglect by paid caregivers.  The bill would require personal care agencies, including nursing home facilities, to check the registry as part of the background check process prior to hiring an individual.

 

SB 98 would create due process protections for individuals accused of abuse or neglect and would allow them to appeal their cases to civil court.  The bill would also permit individuals to provide their registry information to families or others seeking to hire a personal caregiver.

 

“It is about protecting those elderly and disabled, vulnerable adults who are not in a position to be able to protect themselves,” Gregory said.

 

SB 98 was approved unanimously and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 


 

5:10 p.m.

Senate passes concealed weapon bill

 

The Senate passed a bill, 30-4, today that would make changes to the concealed carry law in Kentucky.

 

Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, would allow those with concealed carry permits to bring their guns into bars as long as they do not consume alcohol. 

 

The legislation allows Kentuckians with concealed carry permits to “legally defend themselves in a setting where they may have to do that,” Schickel said.

 

The measure would also allow firearms safety instructors to issue certificates of completion, rather than the Department of Criminal Justice Training.  This would help expedite the permit process, Schickel said.

 

Another provision of the bill would eliminate the requirement that applicants clean their weapon during the concealed carry class and replace it with a demonstration of proper weapon cleaning techniques by the instructor. 

 

Lawmakers opposing the bill cited concerns about permitting concealed loaded weapons at drinking establishments.

 

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

2:50 p.m.

Bill on long-term care provider background checks advances

 

Those applying to work in long-term care facilities or with long-term care providers in Kentucky would be fingerprinted as part of a national and state background check under legislation passed today by the House Health and Welfare committee.

 

House Bill 277, sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, would mandate the fingerprint checks, registry checks and a check of professional licensure board information as part of a National and State Background Check Program mandated by the bill. That program would be overseen by the state, with hospitals exempt from the legislation.

 

“We believe that this is going to be a great improvement over the name-based check,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services representative Eric Friedlander, whose Cabinet would establish the program. “We believe that we should get a response time of (24 to) 48 hours.”

 

The fingerprint checks required by HB 277 would be performed by the Kentucky State Police and the FBI, according to the bill.

 

Those who appear on a registry, whose professional license is not in good standing, or who are otherwise disqualified based on the state’s determination would be prohibited from working with long-term care facilities and providers or from performing state inspections of such workplaces, according to the legislation.

 

The bill now returns to the House chamber for further action.

 


 

February 19, 2014
6:35 p.m.

Senate approves felon voting rights bill

 

The Senate approved a measure today that would allow Kentuckians to vote on the next general election ballot on whether or not to restore voting rights of some convicted felons.

 

House Bill 70, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, and House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, proposes an amendment to the state Constitution that would restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have completed their sentence, probation or parole and paid any restitution required.

 

Currently, convicted felons in Kentucky can appeal to the Governor for an executive branch pardon that would restore their voting rights.

 

HB 70 would provide a “second path” for voting right restoration, Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, said.

 

A committee substitute on the bill, approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee, would require felons to wait five years after completing all terms of their sentences before being allowed to vote. Anyone convicted of an additional crime during the waiting period would become ineligible for the restoration of voting rights without a pardon from the governor, as would those convicted of multiple felonies.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 19, 2014
5:25 p.m.

Felony expungement bill heading to Senate

 

A bill that would allow low-level, one-time Kentucky felons to ask the courts to erase—or “expunge”—their felony records cleared the House today on a 79-21 vote.

 

House Bill 64, sponsored by Rep. Darryl T. Owens, D-Louisville, and Rep. David Floyd, R-Bardstown, would apply to a Class D felon whose conviction was not based on a sex crime, elder abuse, or a crime against a child; who completed a sentence or probation at least five years prior; and who has not been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or violation since the felony conviction they want erased. It would also apply to those whose felony charges did not result in an indictment.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

10:40 p.m.

E-cigarette bill clears House panel

 

Electronic cigarettes would be regulated as tobacco products in Kentucky under legislation that passed the House Licensing and Occupations Committee today.

 

House Bill 309, sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, would include the relatively new product among cigarettes, cigars, and other types of tobacco products that are state regulated. It would also make e-cigarettes off limits to anyone under age 18.

 

E-cigarettes have a battery, electric circuit, or other component that allows them to produce vaporized or aerosol nicotine.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 18, 2014
4:25 p.m.

 

‘Books for Brains’ legislation advances

 

The House Education Committee today passed a bill that would establish a statewide “Books for Brains” program to encourage reading among Kentucky’s preschoolers.

 

The program, which would be created with passage of House Bill 341, sponsored by Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would provide age-appropriate books to children age 5 and under statewide through an arrangement with a private nonprofit that would select and mail the books. The program would be based on the popular Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program, which partners locally to provide books to preschool age children in the U.S. and other countries.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 14, 2014
3:25 p.m.

 

Early childhood bill clears House on 79-11 vote

 

A bill that spells out how, and who, will play a role in developing a quality-based early child care and education rating system with help from around $44 million in federal grant funds passed the Kentucky House today, 79-11.

 

House Bill 332, sponsored by Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, and Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, sets out that early care and education providers would work with the state, family resource centers, Head Start, and others statewide to develop a quality-based graduated early care and education program rating system for licensed child care and certified family child-care homes, state-funded preschool, and Head Start.  Full implementation of the rating system for those entities would be required under the bill by the end of June 2017.

 

The $44.3 million in federal funds to carry out HB 332, Graham said, would come from the federal “Race to the Top” early learning challenge fund grant that Kentucky received after being allowed to compete for the grant with the approval of the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 13, 2014
4:45 p.m.

Senate approves school data and standards bill

 

A bill that would strengthen digital privacy protections for Kentucky public school students was unanimously approved by the State Senate today.

 

Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, would prohibit the use of student data for any type of non-educational purpose by the Department of Education or public school districts.  The bill would also prohibit the sale or marketing of student data and require school districts to inform parents of the types of student information given to third-party web-based service providers.

 

Another provision of SB 89 would allow local school districts to adopt academic standards that exceed standards approved by the state board.

 

This would keep control at the local level and allow “students to push further than state board standards” if school districts choose to adopt more rigorous standards, Higdon said.

 

SB 89 now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

4:45 p.m.

Booster seat bill passes House 65-32

 

Children under age nine who are between 3 feet three inches and 4 ¾ feet tall would be required to use booster seats in automobiles under a bill is on its way to the Senate.

 

House Bill 199, sponsored by Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, and Rep. Richard Henderson, D-Mt. Sterling, passed the House today by a 65-32 vote. The measure would change the state’s current requirement of booster seats for children under age 7 who are between 40 and 50 inches tall.

 

Any child—no matter his or her age—who is over 57 inches tall would be allowed to ride in an automobile without using a booster seat if HB 199 becomes law.

 

Passage of HB 199 would put Kentucky in line with 32 states that currently have the requirements it proposes, including the seven states surrounding the Commonwealth, Hall said. He added that 70 percent of traffic-related child injuries fall in the seven-to eight-year-old age group based on a report from a University of Kentucky trauma specialist.

 

“This legislation would protect our children. If you believe the words of Lincoln, that our greatest resource is our children, then it’s our duty to protect them,” he told the House. 

 

HB 199 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

 


 

February 11, 2014
4:45 p.m.

 

Law enforcement fingerprinting bill goes to Senate

 

A bill that authorizes the Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement to charge fees for fingerprinting and photography requests has passed the Kentucky House by a vote of 74-24.

 

Under House Bill 105, sponsored by Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah, a fee of $10 per set of fingerprints and $5 per photo taken or copied could be charged by the State Police or by sheriff’s offices, city police, or other local law enforcement agencies for services requested for individual business, professional, or personal use.

 

Watkins said the legislation has the support of law enforcement statewide.

 

“It sets in statute the charges that sheriffs, state police, local law enforcement may charge,” Watkins said. “If the actual cost rises above those amounts, the Kentucky State Police can adjust those charges.”

 

The State Police could adjust the fees by administrative regulation if the actual cost of fingerprinting or photographic services exceeds the existing fee structure, according to HB 105. Local governments would be allowed to then increase their fees based on the new regulation.

 

HB 105 now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

 


 

February 10, 2014
5:55 p.m.

  

Coal county scholarship bill passes House

 

Students from Kentucky coal counties who are trying to complete their bachelor’s degree would have access to the state’s Coal County College Completion Scholarship program under a bill that passed the House today, 92-0.

 

House Bill 2, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, would expand and put into law the KCCCC pilot program implemented by the Executive Branch for nine Eastern Kentucky counties in 2012. The scholarships would be expanded to students in the state’s 34 coal counties in both east and west Kentucky under HB 2.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

February 7, 2014
1:45 p.m.

Financial literacy measure heads to Senate

 

The House voted 94-0 today to create a state commission that would guide the development and implementation of financial literacy programs in Kentucky.

 

The 11-member Kentucky Financial Literacy Commission that would be created by House Bill 223, sponsored by Rep. Jim Glenn, D-Owensboro, would fund, develop, implement, and promote financial literacy programs for Kentuckians from elementary school through retirement age.

 

“I have been teaching personal finance for over 20 years in the community college system. I wrote my doctoral dissertation in finance,” Glenn said. “It’s really a problem inside this state.”

 

Duties of the group, the bill states, would include offering grants and awards for financial literacy education, distributing financial literacy information, and creating and maintaining an online “clearinghouse” where people could find information on financial literacy publications, grants, and other news. All funds raised by the commission would be placed in a “financial literacy fund” established by the bill.

 

An amendment to the bill sponsored by Rep. Bart Rowland, R-Tompkinsville, and approved by the House and would add the Independent Insurance Agents of Kentucky to a list of associations that could recommend commission appointees to the Governor. 

 

HB 223 now goes to the Senate.

 

 


 

Bill regulating auto ‘tent sales’ clears House

 

New motor vehicle dealers would have to be licensed and insured if they conduct temporary “tent sales” in another dealer’s market area under a bill that passed the House 92-1 today.

 

Under House Bill 169, sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Hubert Collins, D-Wittensville, and passed 94-0, new motor vehicle dealers can hold tent sales in that market area if they are licensed, bonded, and insured in the temporary location, Collins said. Dealers who are self-insured would be exempt from the proposed insurance requirements in the bill, he said.

 

Used motor vehicle dealers would be allowed to hold tent sales in those counties where they are licensed “with no problem,” Collins said.

 

“For a long time, the automobile dealers have had a problem with dealers coming from other areas and having what they call ‘tent sales’… leaving the dealers there to take care of the warranties and the problems that they caused,” Collins said. “So we are trying to fix that.”

 

HB 169 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

 


 

February 6, 2014
7:00 p.m.

 

 Senate Bill 1 advances to House

The Kentucky Senate approved a measure today that would let Kentuckians vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to prohibit the adoption of administrative regulations it finds deficient.

Currently, when the General Assembly isn’t in session, lawmakers on a review panel can vote to find administrative regulations deficient. The executive branch can choose to enact the administrative regulations anyway.

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, proposes amending the State Constitution to give the General Assembly the authority to block those regulations it finds lacking.

To read more, click here.

 


 

7:00 p.m.

 

Minimum wage increase bills pass House

 

FRANKFORT—The state’s hourly minimum wage would increase for the first time since 2009 under a bill that passed the House today by a 54-44 vote.

 

Under House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, Kentucky’s minimum wage would increase in increments from the current rate of $7.25 up to $10.10. The bill calls for the minimum wage to rise to $8.20 an hour this year, then to $9.15 an hour in July 2015, before ending at $10.10 an hour in 2016. It would also require Kentucky workers be paid equal wages for equal work, regardless of sex, race, or national origin, with a few exceptions.

 

The bill was amended by the House to exempt employees of what Stumbo called “mom-and-pop businesses” with average annual gross sales of $500,000 or less for the last five years (excluding excise tax) from the proposed wage increase.

 

To read more, click here.

 


 

7:00 p.m.

 

House committee passed smoking prohibition

 

A bill that would prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment passed the House Health and Welfare Committee today.

 

“I do think that it’s an issue that shows Kentucky is making progress towards living healthier lives and opening their economic development to new opportunities,” said Rep. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, who is cosponsoring the legislation with Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington.

 

Some opponents of the legislation say they consider it a governmental overreach. “I think this is too far reaching and impacts people’s liberty and freedom to do something that is still legal,” said Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown.

 

The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

 


 

February 5, 2014
4:15 p.m.

 

Senate approves KEES award bill

 

A bill that would allow students to use Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money during high school was unanimously approved by the Senate today.

 

Senate Bill 87, sponsored by Sen. Stan Humphries, R-Cadiz, would allow Kentucky juniors and seniors to use KEES money they have already earned to pay for six dual-credit hours at colleges and universities in the state.  The bill would also allow these students to use the scholarship money in high school to begin career or technical education toward certificates or professional licensures.

 

“This is an opportunity for students to become engaged (in post-secondary education) early,” Humphries told lawmakers.

 

The maximum KEES award would be reduced proportionally during undergraduate studies for students choosing to use the scholarship in high school.

 

SB 87 now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

3:45 p.m.

 

Ultrasound bill clears Senate

 

The Kentucky Senate passed a bill today that would change the informed consent process required prior to abortion procedures.

 

Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would add an ultrasound to the informed consent requirement for abortions performed in Kentucky.  The bill would require physicians to verbally describe the ultrasound images.  The woman could choose not to look at the images.

 

“This is about informed consent.  It is about being informed before making a procedure decision,” Westerfield said.

 

The bill was approved 33-5 and will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 


 

2:45 p.m.

 

Missed appointment bill passes committee

 

A bill that seeks to create a missed appointment fee pilot program for Medicaid patients was approved today by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

 

Senate Bill 52, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, would require the state to seek a waiver from Medicaid to start a pilot program in Jefferson, Letcher and Pike counties permitting health care providers to charge a $10 missed appointment fee.

 

“The biggest complaint that providers have and the biggest reason they drop out of Medicaid is because of the high no-show rate amongst that population of patient,” Denton said.

 

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

February 4, 2014
4:20 p.m.

 

Anti-bullying measure advances

 

A bill that would recognize October as Anti-Bullying Month in the state was approved in the Kentucky Senate today.

 

Senate Bill 20, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, would also make the purple and yellow ribbon a symbol of anti-bullying awareness.

 

“As a father of two young children and an uncle of middle school and high school students, I can see how [bullying] affects their lives,” Carpenter said. 

 

The measure was a result of two years of work by Madison Middle School Students.

 


2:20 p.m.

Bill to abolish Treasurer’s office clears Senate

 

The Kentucky State Senate approved a measure, 23-15, today that would abolish the state office of Treasurer.

 

Senate Bill 58, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, would amend the state constitution to dissolve the State Treasurer’s office at the end of the current term.

 

McDaniel told lawmakers the office has become obsolete. “Today, the office performs very few functions that are not also performed by the Governor’s Finance Administration Cabinet,” he said.

 

McDaniel said the duties would be transferred to the Finance Cabinet and state Auditor’s Office.

 

Those opposing the bill included Senate Democratic Floor Leader Sen. R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, who said the Treasurer’s Office provides a needed check and balance for the state’s finances.

 

If the measure becomes law, the question will be posed to voters for final ratification in the 2014 general election in November.

 

SB 58 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

 


 

2:10 p.m.

 

Coal county scholarship and grant bill heads to House

 

Legislation that would help college students from Kentucky’s coal counties complete four-year degrees in their home areas with help from a “Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarship” has cleared the House Education Committee.

 

House Bill 2, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, and Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, would fund scholarships mostly for students living and attending school in the state’s coal-producing counties in both Eastern and Western Kentucky. The bill would provide five percent of total scholarship funds for students who want to attend an approved program outside of those coal counties, according to the bill.

 

Scholarships available to eligible students under HB 2 for the 2014-15 academic year would total a maximum of $6,800 per academic year for students attending an independent college or university in the coal counties, $2,300 per year for students of a public extension campus or regional postsecondary center in those counties, or $3,400 per year for those students eligible to attend a program located in Kentucky but outside the coal counties. 

 

The legislation would also create student services grants for Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges located in the coal regions. Grant amounts would total $150,000 per institution per year, according to HB 2.

To read more, click here.

 


 

January 31, 2014
11:15 a.m.

 

This Week in Frankfort

 

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

January 30, 2014
3:20 p.m.

 

Minimum wage measures move to full House

 

Legislation that would raise the state’s minimum hourly wage of $7.25 to $10.10 by July 2016 has cleared the House Labor and Industry Committee.

 

The wage would be increased incrementally to $8.10 an hour this July, $9.15 per hour in July 2015, and $10.10 an hour the following July under House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

To read more, click here.

 


 

Panel approves informed consent bill

 

A measure that would change the informed consent process for the abortion procedure in Kentucky was approved by the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee today.

 

Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would require an ultrasound prior to informed consent being given for an abortion.

 

Under provisions of the bill, the physician would be required to display the ultrasound images and provide a medical description of the images. A woman would not be required to look at the images if she prefers not to, according to the legislation.

 

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

January 29, 2014
5:10 p.m.

School finance bill clears House, 58-41

 

A House bill that would require certification of  Kentucky school finance officers, change annual in-service training requirements for school board members and superintendents, and require both monthly and yearly public financial reports from districts has passed its first major hurdle.

 

House Bill 154, sponsored by Rep. Mike Denham, D-Maysville, cleared the House by a 58-41 vote today. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

 

New annual in-service training for school board members required by the bill would be 12 hours for members with up to 8 years of board service and 8 hours for members with more than 8 years’ service.  All board members would be required to have two hours of school finance training, two hours ethics training, and two hours superintendent evaluation training annually. Superintendents would have to complete at least three hours’ annual training in school finance and at least three hours of ethics training annually.

 

Annual district financial reports would be required by the state within six months of the close of the fiscal year, and would be required by local school boards on a monthly basis. Both the monthly reports and yearly reports would be posted online.

 

The state Department of Education would be required to review each district’s annual financial report and, within two months, respond to the local board of education with a written report on the financial status of that district.

 


 

4:35 p.m.

Senate Bill 1 passes Senate committee

 

A Senate committee today approve legislation that would allow voters to decide on a proposed amendment to the state constitution to allow the General Assembly to prohibit the adoption of administrative regulations it finds deficient.

 

Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, was approved by members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee on a 7-4 vote.

 

“It is important because it preserves the basic tenants of a democratic form of government— that being a balance of power, a system of checks and balances,” Bowen said of the legislation.

 

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

3:25 p.m.

Felony expungement bill clears committee

 

A bill that would allow low-level one-time Kentucky felons to ask the courts to seal—or “expunge”—their felony record has passed the House Judiciary Committee.

 

House Bill 64, sponsored by Rep. Darryl T. Owens, D-Louisville, would apply to “Class D” felons whose conviction was not based on a sex offense, crime against the elderly, or crime against child; who completed their sentence or probation at least five years prior; and who was not convicted of a felony before their conviction and has not been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor, or violation since. It would also apply to those for whom felony charges did not result in an indictment, and would provide discrimination protection for felons whose records have been expunged.

 

The bill would apply to any eligible felon, regardless of how many decades have passed since their conviction. As many as 94,000 individuals could be eligible for expungement under the legislation, according to Owens.

 

Current Kentucky law only allows expungement in misdemeanor cases.

 


 

January 28, 2014
3:20 p.m.

 

Electronic warrant bill heads to House

 

The Senate unanimously approved a measure today that would allow search warrants to be completed electronically.

 

Senate Bill 45, sponsored by Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would expand the state’s electronic arrest warrant program to include search warrants.  The bill would require a person being served any search warrant to be provided a paper copy.

 

According to Westerfield, the electronic process is “identical” to the traditional process.

 

“In addition to preserving the Constitutional safeguards, it also makes government more efficient,” he said.

 

SB 45 now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

2:25 p.m.

Dog owner definition bill clears Senate panel

 

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a bill today that would amend the state’s legal definition of a dog owner.

 

According to Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, who sponsored Senate Bill 78, the bill would prohibit rental property owners from being held liable for attacks by dogs owned by their tenants.  The current definition of a dog owner includes landlords that allow the pets on their properties, he said.

 

“This is a common sense personal responsibility issue.  Individuals should be responsible for their own pets.  A landlord or property owner should not be held liable for another person’s dog,” Girdler said.

 

SB 78 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

January 27, 2014
5:20 p.m.

School insulin bill clears House, 91-0

 

The Kentucky House voted 91-0 today to make Kentucky one of over 30 states that allows non-licensed school employees to be trained to administer insulin to students.

 

House Bill 98, sponsored by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, would allow school personnel trained per guidelines developed by the American Diabetes Association to administer insulin to students or help students self-administer insulin.

 

Currently, only medically-licensed school employees—i.e., school nurses—may administer insulin to students in schools under Kentucky law.

 

“It provides a mechanism to where children can receive their insulin in a school setting—especially their neighborhood school setting—from trained school personnel that are able to give insulin,” said Damron.

 

Parents or guardians would be required to give written permission and provide written authorization by the student’s health care provider before insulin could be administered by staff or self-administered by a student at school, according to HB 98.

 

The bill would also clarify that diabetes or a seizure disorder shall not keep a student from attending one school over another. 

 

Similar legislation, Senate Bill 30, sponsored by Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, has been filed in the Senate for consideration. HB 98 now goes to the Senate for consideration.  

 


 

January 24, 2014
3:20 p.m.

This Week in Frankfort

 

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

3:15 p.m.

Bill to outlaw “tax zappers”  heads to state Senate

FRANKFORT—Legislation cleared the Kentucky House this week that would make it a felony to possess automated retail sales tax evasion devices—commonly known as tax zappers or phantom-ware—anywhere in the Commonwealth.

House Bill 69, sponsored by Rep. Denver Butler, D-Louisville, would make the possession of the devices a Class D felony, which carries a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years. It would also allow for a 10-year revocation of the state sales tax permit of someone found to have used one of the devices to violate state sales tax law.

The automated devices run software into retail business point-of-sale systems, altering sales records and allowing business owners to report fewer transactions than have actually occurred.

HB 69 passed the House by a vote of 96-0 and is now before the Senate for its consideration.

 


 

3:10 p.m.

Measure on economic incentives transparency advances

A bill that would require the state to keep a searchable electronic database of its economic development incentives, and the jobs those incentives have created, has passed the House and is on its way to the Senate.

House Bill 17, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, D-Louisville, would require the database to include information on Economic Development Cabinet projects that have been approved, incentives awarded and claimed, jobs created, and the location of those projects. Clark said it would also allow lawmakers to track state investments.

“It’s all about accountability, transparency, and return on our investment,” Clark said.

The legislation is based on a study of the Cabinet performed in 2012 by The Anderson Group. That study was directed by House Joint Resolution 5, which was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2011.

HB 17 passed the House 96-0 and is now before the Senate for consideration.


 

3:10 p.m.

 

Egg bill passes House, heads to Senate

 

A bill that would allow broken eggs in a consumer-labeled carton to be replaced with eggs of the same type, source, size, and sell-by date has passed the Kentucky House, 91-0.

 

“The bill will eliminate unnecessary waste in our food chain and our egg distribution system,” said House Bill 181’s primary co-sponsor House Agriculture and Small Business Committee Chair Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana. The bill’s other primary co-sponsor is Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville.

 

The process of replacing eggs is called “lot consolidation” and would be performed by someone registered with the Department of Agriculture and trained in a department-approved course, said McKee.

 

HB 181 now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 


 

January 23, 2014
1:20 p.m.

 

Bill to establish state anti-bullying month advances

 

A bill that would designate October as Anti-Bullying Month in Kentucky has passed the state   House unanimously.

 

October is currently National Anti-Bullying Month. HB 40, sponsored by Rep. Rita Smart, D-Richmond, was the idea of students at Madison Middle who wanted to play a role in creating a state designation.

 

“The school colors at Madison Middle are purple and yellow,” Smart said. “With this, they also included that they would be the official colors of Anti-Bullying Month.

 

“Purple would represent the victims of domestic violence and yellow would represent victims of suicide,” said Smart.

 

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

 


 

 

1:20 p.m.

 

Legislative pension bill heads to House

 

The Kentucky Senate approved a bill today that would limit some legislative pensions.

 

Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, would permit lawmakers to opt-out of a 2005 law that allows legislative pension calculations to include other, possibly higher-paying, government jobs.

 

“This is a fundamental matter of trust with voters who send us here to be public servants, who expect us to utilize their tax dollars wisely,” McDaniel said.

 

The measure could save the state up to $6.1 million, he said.

 

SB 4 was passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

4:20 p.m.

 

Senate panel approves electronic warrant bill

 

A bill that would allow search warrants to be completed electronically cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee today.

 

Senate Bill 45, sponsored by Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would expand the state’s electronic arrest warrant program to also include search warrants.

 

Westerfield told committee members the electronic system would be more convenient and secure for police officers, prosecutors and judges.  A person being served a search warrant would still receive a paper copy, he said.

 

SB 45 now goes to the full Senate for consideration. 

 


Programming language bill clears Senate committee

 

The Senate Education Committee approved a measure today that aims to increase participation in computer programming language courses in high schools across the state.

 

Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, would make programming language courses eligible to meet the foreign language requirement in high school courses of study and for admission to postsecondary schools in Kentucky.

 

Allowing students to use computer programming courses to meet an already-established requirement for graduation will increase participation in the courses and help more students prepare for lucrative and in-demand software programming jobs, Givens said.

 

The measure passed 10-1 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

January 22, 2014
3:55 p.m.

Informed consent bill approved by Senate

 

A bill that would mandate an in-person meeting with a doctor, nurse or social worker at least 24 hours prior to an abortion procedure was approved 33-5 today by the Kentucky Senate.

 

Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, would require the informed consent process mandated prior to abortion procedures occur in face-to-face meetings.

 

According to Gregory, informed consent process is currently sometimes conducted through a pre-recorded phone message.  She said the measure would provide women a more meaningful opportunity to consider information and ask questions prior to the procedure.

 

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

1:45 p.m.

Bill to abolish Treasurer’s office clears Senate panel

 

A bill that would abolish the state constitutional office of Treasurer was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee today.

 

Senate Bill 58, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, would amend the state constitution to dissolve the State Treasurer’s office at the end of the current term.

 

According to McDaniel, most of the office’s duties could be performed by the state’s Finance Cabinet.  He called the measure a “common sense and financially-prudent update to the constitution” that would save the Commonwealth $1.4 million annually.

 

If the measure becomes law, the question will be posed to voters for final ratification in the 2014 general election in November.

 

SB 58 now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

1: 35 p.m.

Egg bill passes House Committee

 

Legislation that would revise Kentucky law governing egg marketing passed the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee unanimously today.

 

House Bill 181, sponsored by House Agriculture and Small Business Committee Chair Tom McKee, D-Cynthiana, and Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, would define “lot consolidation” as removal of damaged eggs from consumer-labeled cartons and replacement of those eggs with products of the same grade, size, brand, lot, and source. It would call for lot consolidation to be performed by someone registered with the Department of Agriculture and trained in a department-approved course.

 

Changes would be overseen by the Kentucky Egg Marketing Program, which performs random inspection of eggs sold in the Commonwealth to protect consumers.

 

State law requires that businesses and shippers of shell eggs and egg products be licensed by the Commonwealth.

 

HB 181 now moves to the full House for consideration.

 


 

January 17, 2014
12:20 p.m.

This Week in Frankfort

 

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


 

January 16, 2014
4: 25 p.m.

Heroin treatment and trafficking bill clears Senate

A bill that would increase treatment options for heroin and other opiate addiction and stiffen penalties for trafficking the drugs passed the Senate today.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, would dedicate to substance abuse recovery programs a quarter of funds saved through correction reforms passed by the legislature in 2011.  The bill would also require Medicaid programs to cover addiction treatment options. 

According to Stine, the bill was prompted by a sharp increase in heroin trafficking, abuse and overdose in Northern Kentucky in recent years but is also a problem in other parts of the state and nation as well.

To read more, click here. 

 


 

4:24 p.m.

Felon voting rights bill clears House, goes to Senate


A bipartisan bill that would allow Kentucky voters to restore voting rights to more than 180,000 nonviolent felons across the Commonwealth has passed its first hurdle this legislative session.

House Bill 70, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, cleared the Kentucky House today by a vote of 82-12. Should it become law, voters will be able to decide by statewide ballot in the next general election (scheduled for Nov. 4) whether or not to approve a state constitutional amendment that would automatically restore the right to vote for Kentucky’s nonviolent felons.

The amendment would apply only to nonviolent felons who have served their sentences or completed the requirements of probation or parole. It would exclude felons convicted of rape, sodomy, intentional murder, or sexual contact with a minor.

To read more, click here.

 


 

4: 21 p.m.

Senate passes APRN prescriptive authority bill

 

A bill that would allow some experienced nurse practitioners to independently prescribe non-scheduled medicines passed the Senate today.

 

Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, and Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, would create a collaborative agreement process between Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and physicians.  The measure would establish an advisory committee for what it calls the “Collaborative Agreement for APRN Prescriptive Authority for Non-Scheduled Drugs” (CAPA-NS).

 

APRNs who have practiced for at least four years would not be required to use the CAPA-NS for commonly-prescribed non-narcotic medications.

 

“If there are no complaints against them in the first four years of having this collaborative agreement, then they can operate without collaborative agreements in prescribing those drugs,” Hornback said.  The measure will increase access to healthcare in medically-underserved portions of the state, he said.

 

The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

 


 

January 16, 2014
12:45 p.m.

Senate panel approves informed consent bill

A bill that would change the informed consent process before abortion procedures passed the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Safety Committee today.

 

Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, would require a woman seeking an abortion to receive information from a medical professional during an in-person, face-to-face meeting rather than over the phone before consenting to the procedure.

 

Gregory said the measure would allow a woman considering an abortion to have a meaningful opportunity to consider the information provided, ask questions, have those questions answered and make a fully-informed decision.

 

The bill passed 8-2 and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

January 14, 2014
1:10 p.m.

Senate panel approves APRN prescriptive authority bill

 

A bill that would allow some Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) to independently prescribe non-scheduled medicines passed the Senate Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations Committee today.

 

Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, and Committee Chair John Schickel, R-Union, would create a “Collaborative Agreement for APRN Prescriptive Authority for Non-Scheduled Drugs” (CAPA-NS) process between APRNs and collaborating physicians.  Under the measure, APRNs who have practiced for at least four years would be allowed to prescribe non-narcotic routine medication without the CAPA-NS form.

 

According to Hornback, the measure will benefit medically-underserved portions of the state.  “I think [the bill] will be the best thing for access to healthcare, for availability, for cost, for making sure we take care of our citizens here in Kentucky,” he said.

 

Other provisions in the bill would establish a six-member joint advisory committee for the CAPA-NS process.  The committee could make recommendations to nursing and medical boards and assist APRNs in finding collaborating physicians to complete the CAPA-NS.

 

The measure now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

 


 

11:45 a.m.

Felon voting rights bill clears committee


A bipartisan bill that would let Kentucky voters decide whether to automatically restore felon voting rights cleared a House committee today.

 

House Bill 70, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, and House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, would place a constitutional amendment on statewide ballot asking voters to approve automatic restoration of voting rights for nonviolent Kentucky felons who have served their sentence or completed probation or parole. The bill does not apply to felons convicted of rape, sodomy, intentional murder, or sexual contact with a minor.

 

Hoover, who has supported Crenshaw’s past attempts at automatic restoration of nonviolent felon voting rights, said HB 70 is “a matter of fairness. I do think that when an individual has completed what the court system has required of him or her…it’s a matter of fairness that they be restored to their right to vote.”

 

HB 70 supporter Father Pat Delahanty of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky said the bill could restore the right to vote for nearly 200,000 felons who must now receive a pardon from the governor before going to the polls.

 

Felons convicted of rape, sodomy, intentional murder, or sexual contact with a minor would still have to seek a pardon to have their voting rights restored since the amendment would not apply to them.

 

Crenshaw, who is retiring from the Kentucky House of Representatives this year after 21 years of service, has filed legislation seeking automatic restoration of voting rights for nonviolent felons for almost a decade. The legislation has passed the House several times, but stalled in the Senate.

 

HB 70 now goes to the full House for its consideration.

 


 

January 10, 2014
11:10 a.m.

This Week in Frankfort

 

To catch up on this week's legislative highlights, click here.

 


January 8, 2014
3:20 p.m.

House Judiciary Committee passes domestic violence bill

 

Legislation that would include dating partners among those allowed to obtain domestic violence protective orders was approved today by the House Judiciary Committee.

 

“I think about Kentucky as the only state that doesn’t offer this type of protection,” said Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, the sponsor of House Bill 8.

 

Carol Jordan, the director of the University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women called upon the legislators to provide this added protection and “strengthen ever-so-slightly the state’s safety net.”

 

Proposals to extending domestic violence protective orders has been introduced during each regular session since 2007.

 

House Bill 8 now moves to the full House for consideration.



1: 15 p.m.

More than 200 bills introduced on session's first day

The 2014 legislative session began yesterday with 55 bills introduced in the Senate and 152 bills introduced in the House of Representatives. If history is a guide, a total of around 1,000 bills could be under consideration by lawmakers once the session is in full swing.

Among the legislation introduced, Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, and Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, would propose to voters a new section of the Kentucky Constitution that would authorize the General Assembly to prohibit the adoption of administrative regulations it finds deficient.  Currently, the legislature cannot change or remove administrative regulations enacted by the executive branch.

House Bill 1, sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, would include a raise on the state minimum wage which currently matches the federal standard of $7.25 per hour. Under this bill, the new minimum wage would be set at $8.10 per hour on July 1, 2014; $9.15 per hour on July 1, 2015 and $10.10 per hour on July 1, 2016. The bill would also amend the Kentucky Revised Statutes to prohibit wage discrimination on the basis of sex, race, or national origin. 

HB 1 and SB 1 designations are typically reserved for measures important to each chamber’s top leaders.

More information on bills filed in the General Assembly can be viewed in the Legislative Record.


January 7, 2014
2:23 p.m.

Legislative leaders to offer reaction to governor’s speech

 

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, will be available in Room 327 of the State Capitol to answer reporters’ questions following Gov. Steve Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth address this evening.

 

The governor’s speech is scheduled to begin in the House chamber at 7 p.m..

 



 

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