It has been said that a legislative session is a marathon, not a sprint. That is an important adage to keep in mind as we pass the 13.1 mile mark in this year’s journey. Thirty days in, progress is being made on some of the biggest issues before this General Assembly – drug abuse, the budget, and redistricting.
Drug abuse (especially ‘pill mills’ and ‘meth labs’) is a scourge in our State. On both sides of the aisle, on both ends of the Capitol, we all agree on that. It is an issue the legislature is taking very seriously, and one we have pledged to address.
We are considering legislation to tackle drug abuse in a number of ways – enhancing our KASPER prescription-drug monitoring program, strengthening licensing requirements for pain management facilities, and limiting access to required ingredients for meth.
We have heard from drug-enforcement professionals from across the State and nation, as well as from researchers, counselors, and citizens concerned both with the drug epidemic as well as their own rights and freedoms.
This is a complex issue that requires thoughtful, multi-faceted solutions. That is what we are hoping for – and working toward achieving – before the session’s final gavel falls in April.
The Governor’s biennial budget plan is currently being considered by House members. Multiple budget subcommittees are reviewing the details of his proposal and hearing from State agencies about their budgetary needs and concerns.
It will still be a few weeks before the budget comes to us in the Senate for our consideration. The process can seem long and tedious at times, but lawmakers do not take budgeting the Commonwealth’s $19-billion biennial General Fund lightly. We want to ensure we are spending your hard-earned money in the best way possible. And in years like this one, when most all State agencies are facing painful cuts, we want to make sure that the services Kentuckians truly need and deserve are given the highest priority, and your dollars are spent wisely.
Congressional redistricting was completed late last week after long negotiations between both chambers. House Bill 302, which contains the new lines for Kentucky’s six congressional districts, cleared the Senate on a 29-7 vote.
However, the new State House and Senate district lines made law in January were overturned last week in Franklin Circuit Court. That decision was appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court this week. Whether we will ultimately be running in our old districts or the ones the General Assembly approved in January is not yet known. For now, we are operating under a court order to run in the old ones, but that is part of the appeal.
Several bills received Senate approval this week as well.
Some of the forms required by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for couples seeking a divorce would become available online under the provisions of Senate Bill 57. Supporters of the bill say that it will save money and make the process less burdensome.
Senate Bill 90 lays out a process for jailors to return money from an inmate’s personal canteen account after release. If funds have not been claimed after one year, they would then be available for the jail’s account.
Senate Bill 114, which would allow medical practitioners to request an override of the ‘fail-first protocol’ some insurers require in treatment of certain illnesses, also cleared the Senate this week.
All of these bills now go to the House for consideration.
House Bill 121, which would require that any Prisoners of War/Missing in Action flags purchased or displayed by public agencies in Kentucky be made in the USA, was approved by the Senate. It now awaits the governor’s signature.
The following is a list of legislation that I have filed as the primary sponsor and the current status of those bills:
SB 36 — Relating to missing children. Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair is Senator Tom Jensen.
SB 37 – Relating to fingerprint background checks of long-term care employees. Assigned to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Chair is Senator Julie Denton.
SB 39 – Relating to school collection of data on body mass index, height, and weight. Assigned to the Senate Education Committee, Chair is Senator Ken Winters.
**Note: The State Board of Education recently approved a proposal that would require schools to calculate and record a child’s body mass index (BMI), which relates to body fat. Kentucky’s new regulation would go into effect in the 2012-13 school year and the BMI screenings would be made during a student’s annual exam in grades preschool through five and at least once in middle and high school. I am very glad to see the state taking this action. Thank you for your support of this bill.
SB 44 – Relating to dating violence. Relating to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair is Senator Tom Jensen.
SB 93 – Relating to brain impaired missing persons. Assigned to the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee, Chair is Senator Jack Westwood.
SB 104 – Relating to the protection of adults – an adult abuse registry. Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair is Senator Tom Jenson.
SB 128 – Relating to the imposition of tolls or fees on existing federal interstate highways. Assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee, Chair is Senator Ernie Harris.
SB 156 – Relating to collecting bargaining rights for police and firefighters in second class cities. Introduced in Senate this week.
If you support my legislation, you can assist me in getting these bills moving by calling the chairman of the respective committees to ask that a committee hearing be given.
Legislation may seem slow moving at times, but the vetting process is long and hard, as it should be. We want to make sure that the laws created by our work in Frankfort are best for the people we serve – that they can go the distance, so to speak. We also want to make sure you have the chance for your voice to be heard. Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and concerns on this or any other legislation impacting you.
To learn more about the Kentucky General Assembly and the work of the 2012 Regular Session, visit our home page, www.lrc.ky.gov. You can also call 1-800-633-9650 for a taped message containing information on legislative committee meetings. To check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. To leave a message for me, or any legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. People who prefer to offer their feedback in Spanish can call the General Assembly’s Spanish Line at 1-866-840-6574. You can also e-mail me directly at [email protected]