Legislative Update – 3/16/18

As we draw closer to the end of the 2018 Regular Session, there has been no shortage of movement on significant bills in Frankfort this week. The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee has spent several days and some late nights working on the Senate’s budget proposal, which we expect to go before the committee soon. I have been participating in these meetings as we craft Kentucky’s $22 billion two-year state budget.

The first bill to pass the Senate during week 11 of the 2018 Session was House Bill (HB) 33, which adds protection for bicyclists on the road by requiring drivers to pass bicyclists at a distance of at least three feet. A Senate amendment provides that bicycle operators shall not ride more than two abreast in a highway lane unless the roadway is marked exclusively for bicycle use in order to ensure vehicles have ample room to pass bicyclists.

We also passed Senate Bill (SB) 137, which updates the Kentucky Rules of Evidence to clarify statutes pertaining to hearsay out-of-court statements made by a child that may be the victim of sexual assault. Senate Bill 152, which passed unanimously, allows school districts to provide additional compensation for classroom teachers in a school identified as being in targeted or comprehensive support and improvement status. Senate Bill 237, which passed with bipartisan support, requires public colleges and universities to adopt policies ensuring the protection of freedom of speech and expression by students and faculty on campus.

Another bill that passed with bipartisan support was SB 210, increasing the penalties for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. House Bill 191, which passed with bipartisan support, provides consumer protection in eye care by increasing the standards through which prescription lenses are obtained. House Bill 213, which passed unanimously, relates to data-sharing of prescription drug monitoring information, allowing KASPER data-sharing agreements with different types of jurisdictions. A bill that lifts financial burdens from non-profit organizations, SB 205, also passed unanimously from the Senate.

Senate Bill 6 takes aim at Kentucky’s growing opioid crisis by requiring pharmacies to provide, when prescribing opioids, a safe disposal method that can be utilized at home. Opioid abuse most often starts from family medicine cabinets, and we hope this disposal tool helps Kentuckians safely discard controlled substances.

After the Senate grants passage to its version of the budget bill, a conference committee likely will be formed between the Senate and House to finalize budget negotiations. I appreciate your input, questions, and comments, and I look forward to representing our district in the final stages of the 2018 Session.

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