Week 6 of the 2021 Regular Session

Severe winter weather forced the Kentucky General Assembly to pause Regular Session activity during the week of February 15. My colleagues and I returned to Frankfort on Monday to resume legislative work on your behalf.

Upon returning to Frankfort, the House and Senate got back to work on legislative business with robust committee meeting agendas and policy discussions on the floor, each passing several bills out of their respective chambers this week. 

Bills that are deemed as “priority” seek to address the state’s most immediate challenges or focus on areas of the law that are of importance to Kentuckians. Several priority measures relate to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Commonwealth. Some seek to apply practical solutions to unemployment insurance issues and the economy, while others promote stronger legislative oversight to improve government transparency, among other topics. 

Several priority bills continued through the legislative process this week. They included Senate Bill’s 4, 6 and 10. 

Senate Bill 4 is a bipartisan measure that I am proud to be sponsoring this session. If passed, this legislation would create procedures and requirements for the issuance of both search warrants and arrest warrants that authorize entry without notice, commonly known as no-knock warrants. They would be allowed for instances where someone was believed to be in immediate danger, such as kidnapping cases. The no-knock warrants would also be allowed when sought in connection to cases involving certain violent crimes, terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

An officer seeking a no-knock warrant would have to get approval from supervisors and certify the warrant application hadn’t been “shopped,” the practice of trying to find a receptive judge. The bill would also make clear that an officer’s false statement in a warrant application constitutes felony perjury. And the approving judge’s signature would have to be legible.

SB 4 serves to make potentially dangerous circumstances safer for both law enforcement and the public while also strengthening the public trust in agencies. 

Senate Bill 6 enacts new safeguards to ensure ethical behavior within the executive branch, particularly regarding members of gubernatorial transition teams’ actions and behaviors. Transition teams consist of people who help a Governor-Elect transition from candidate to the official office. They will help select individuals who will serve in the various positions within the Governor-Elect’s administration and help determine policy goals and the new administration’s general framework. 

Senate Bill 10 also passed the Senate. I feel that this measure can lead to meaningful dialogue and create a conducive environment for considering solutions for challenges facing communities across the Commonwealth. If passed, SB 10 would establish a Commission on Race & Access to Opportunity within the legislative branch to conduct studies and research where disparities may exist across sectors of educational equity, healthcare, economic opportunity, criminal justice, and more. The Commission established would have the authority to hold monthly meetings, seek comment and testimony from various individuals and organizations, and provide research to recommend data-driven policy initiatives. 

Countless hours of robust discussion went into crafting the final language of this measure. During this time of divisiveness, I think it’s essential we consider the benefit of sitting with others in honest, open conversation with the intent to listen. No, that will not always lead to an agreement on policy, but it will lead to better understanding and rapport. While we all come from unique backgrounds, endeavors like SB 10 promote better pathways. As a sponsor of this measure, I was pleased to see its passage in the Senate this week.

As you can see, the General Assembly is not taking any time for granted. We are now past the halfway point of the 2021 Regular Session, with much work left to do. I will continue to provide weekly legislative updates in the weeks ahead.

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 Damon.Thayer@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.

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