Legislative Update – March 6, 2020

We kicked off week nine of the 2020 Regular Session with a visit from two special guests in the Senate chamber, Save the Children Action Network President Mark Shriver and award-winning actress Jennifer Garner. Many may not know that Jennifer Garner grew up in West Virginia where she witnessed the effects of generational poverty on children, similar to those we see in parts of rural Kentucky. With the help of local advocates, Ms. Garner and President Shriver are working to preserve funding for Save the Children’s early childhood education and literacy programs, which serve more than 12,000 children throughout the Commonwealth. It was an honor to welcome them to Frankfort. 

The Kentucky General Assembly crossed another milestone this week by reaching the deadline to file new bills. Slightly less than 1,000 bills were filed—286 Senate bills and 647 House bills. With the bill filing deadline on March 4 behind us, we now have a more complete view of the issues lawmakers will take up this year. There are sure to be tough decisions made, along with some compromises in the final weeks ahead.

Senate Bill (SB) 2, the Senate’s proposed voter ID requirement, passed in the House on Tuesday with new provisions. The Senate does not concur with these changes, and is therefore asking the House to recede from its changes to the bill. If an agreement is not reached, SB 2 will then move to a conference committee for further discussion.

A House measure relating to medicinal marijuana research passed in the Senate this week. House Concurrent Resolution 5 urges national drug organizations, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to expedite research into the potential therapeutic benefits and risks of using marijuana for health purposes.

Women represented 40 percent of the computer science workforce in 1995. Today, that number is less than 25 percent. SB 193 establishes a goal of increasing participation in computer science courses by underrepresented groups, including females, minorities, students with disabilities, English language learners, and students whose families are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. SB 193 includes the number of computer science courses or programs offered in each school, as well as the nature of those courses or programs, and the number of instructors required. I am proud to support this bill and hope to see an increase in computer science in the future. 

A bill that would criminalize the “doxing” of minors, SB 182, also passed. By definition, doxing is the act of publicly identifying or publishing private information about someone, especially as a form of punishment, intimidation, or revenge. This legislation was brought after a Northern Kentucky student was doxed following the posting of a video of him with a Native American protester in Washington D.C. SB 182 is a commonsense step to address the growing problem of cyber harassment in today’s digital-driven era, and would protect the privacy of minors.

Other bills passing this week include:

SB 21 allows veterinarians to report the abuse of animals under their care. Currently, veterinarians are prohibited by law from reporting abuse of animals under their care unless they have the permission of the owner or are under a court order. 

SB 136 requires home health aides who have not provided services to clients who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia to complete four hours of approved dementia training. 

SB 159 sets regulations for the operation and maintenance of splash pads and to establish their separation from those of swimming pools.

Thank you for staying engaged in the legislative process. It is an honor to serve you in Frankfort.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Damon.Thayer@LRC.ky.gov.  You can also review the Legislature’s work online atwww.legislature.ky.gov

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