Legislative Update – February 20, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Bitter cold and record-breaking snow accumulation forced us to cancel the legislative session on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. While the House took off for the entire week, the Senate convened Thursday and Friday to do the people’s work. With the session nearing the halfway point, it was a busy couple of days on the Senate floor.

Judicial redistricting was addressed in passage of Senate Bill 49 Thursday. It has been over 60 years since judicial districts in Kentucky have been updated, leaving some courts with overwhelmingly large caseloads, while others have a relatively small number to hear. Senate Bill 49 would require the Supreme Court to adjust the Commonwealth’s judicial circuits and districts based on population changes in the same years as legislative redistricting is required.

Freedom of religious and political expression without the threat of censorship by school administrators is the focus of Senate Bill 71, which we also approved Thursday. This legislation will ensure students and groups with religious or political affiliation have the same access and ability to express themselves as all groups, as long as they abide by the Constitution.

Three bills related to healthcare and the practice of medicine also passed. Senate Bill 44 would set up medical synchronization so pharmacists would have knowledge of a patient’s treatment and afford the best care. This also will save money on premiums through the efficiency resulting from information sharing between doctors and pharmacists. Senate Bill 61 would require medical benefits to cover complete colorectal screenings for early detection of problems and diseases. Finally, Senate Bill 86 was passed which would statutorily recognize the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 78 which permits towing and storage companies to sell property recovered in an abandoned automobile to help recoup costs, and Senate Bill 106, which allows a 10 percent variance on the weight of a truck transporting chickens. This provides a cushion to help agriculture producers of poultry which is now the Kentucky’s leading agriculture product.

On Friday we passed a measure that would benefit education in the Commonwealth. Senate Bill 16 promotes computer science and computer programming classes in our schools, due to the projected future demand for related skills in the job market.

Senate Bill 89 also passed and would allow state employees with government-issued firearms that are being replaced to purchase the firearms from the agency.

In order to promote a better environment for the mentally ill, we also approved Senate Bill 51, which relates to the duty to take precautions against a patient’s violent behavior, to expand the definition of “patient” to include persons currently under the care or treatment of mental health professionals.

All these bills now move to the House for their consideration. If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov