Week 5 of the 2022 Legislative Session

The fifth week of the 2022 legislative session concluded with inclement weather moving into the commonwealth on Thursday. I hope you and your loved ones were not adversely impacted and remained safe and warm.

The Senate has officially begun the thorough process of reviewing the Governor and state House of Representatives’ budget proposals. I will keep you informed on significant budget developments from the Senate in the weeks ahead.

Legislative measures passing in the Senate in week five included:

Senate Bill (SB) 8 is one of the most consequential bills passed thus far. It was initially filed during Child Advocacy Week, then made its way to the Senate floor this week.

Kentucky has led the nation three years in a row in child abuse and neglect rates, and passage of SB 8 in the Senate comes after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Journalism shone light on the backlog of cases regarding suspicious child deaths.

This bill expands the opportunity for family preservation services to keep children safe and families united and provide additional resources and support for Kentucky’s child advocacy centers. It broadens the scope and membership of the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board to include all forms of child abuse and neglect. One of the most critical facets of the bill is that it distinguishes poverty and neglect. Lastly, it updates the Foster Youth Bill of Rights by enabling those aging out of foster care to maintain access to resources while transitioning into adult life.

SB 23 updates Kentucky’s mail theft statute, which currently only covers mail packages delivered by the United States Postal Service. If enacted, the bill will put packages delivered by common carriers such as UPS and FedEx under that same legal umbrella, making ‘porch pirates’ susceptible to more significant criminal charges.

SB 60 maximizes education funds and services for as many at-risk four-year-olds as possible by making the commissioner of education a mediator between school district superintendents and local Head Start directors to determine when a local Head Start program has maximized the number of children it can serve. Determination of the full utilization of a local Head Start program is needed for a local school district certifying preschool programs and receiving grant funding to support them.

SB 64 allows public safety agencies to establish a peer support counseling program. This enables those within the same field to use personal experiences to help colleagues deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill will include emergency dispatchers, often the first line of communication for individuals in crisis, distress or trauma, and other first responders.

SB 66, also known as ‘Nathan’s Law,’ takes the necessary step to give greater consideration to the grieving process of families by implementing requirements on how the news of a loved one’s death must be delivered. Within three years of assuming office, it requires coroners and deputy coroners to complete a minimum four-hour course that includes instruction of the grieving process and best practices for providing death notice to a spouse or next of kin. The bill also stipulates that news of the death must be delivered verbally and respectfully and requires a follow-up with the family member within 48 hours. Additionally, the bill would require emergency responders to be on standby.

The state House of Representatives is now considering these bills.

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