Week 5 of the 2023 Legislative Session

During the General Assembly’s fifth week of the 30-day legislative session, March came in like a lion, with over 30 bills clearing the Senate chamber. However, the legislative forecast is not calling for March to go out like a lamb, as plenty of work remains in Frankfort before the final day of session on March 30.

The following bills gained the Senate’s approval and can now be considered by the state House of Representatives:

Senate Bill 4 strengthens electric grid reliability in the Commonwealth and ensures Kentucky residents are not faced with the dangerous and often deadly consequences of power outages. It pushes back against the radical “green new deal” mentalities percolating throughout federal and state executive bureaucracies by prohibiting the Kentucky Public Service Commission from retiring an electric coal-fired generator unless the utility can demonstrate that taking the fossil fueled electric generator offline will not have negative impacts on customer’s costs or energy reliability and resiliency.

Regarding energy reliability, the Senate also approved Senate Joint Resolution 79, which would take a significant step toward Kentucky exploring nuclear energy development.

Senate Bill 43 is a measure to ensure we are considering the holistic good of loved ones in residential facilities. During COVID-19, families were completely closed off from those they loved, and sadly some residents in nursing homes passed away without the comfort of a loved one beside them. This was one of the multitudes of grievances I have with Governor Andy Beshear, who championed shutdowns across the board, from schools to small businesses. The harm done by unilateral edicts will never truly be known. However, the General Assembly corrected much of this, and with Senate Bill 100 from last year’s legislative session, reunited residents of long term care facilities with their loved ones.

Senate Bill 43 expands on the efforts of last year’s bill by increasing exemptions for essential personal care visitors from prohibitions relating to visiting a resident in a community, health facility, mental hospital, or those receiving home or community-based Medicaid waiver services. The bill also exempts essential personal care visitors from visitation prohibitions during infectious disease outbreaks in communities mentioned above, regardless of their communicable disease status. Senate Bill 43 carries an emergency designation, which means it would go into effect immediately upon filing with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s Office.

Senate Bill 104 comes in light of the concerning decision made by the Governor to appoint his active communications director to the governing board over Kentucky Educational Television (KET). I have great concerns about the chilling effect his political move could have on the non-partisan operations of KET. Senate Bill 104 would maintain his ability to appoint five members, but it rightly dismantles the existing board and requires him to start over, and this time, his appointments would require Senate confirmation and he would be prevented from appointing his active staff members. Certain other requirements for the makeup of the board are outlined in the bill also.

Senate Bill 128 — Since 2017, with majority control of the state House of Representatives flipping Republican for the first time in nearly a century, Kentucky’s House and Senate majority lawmakers have prioritized stabilizing state pensions, which includes the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS). Senate Bill 128 is an additional legislative measure to ensure that total teacher benefits costs are accurately factored into the annual analysis. Under Senate Bill 128, each school district must report the sick leave balance annually for each employee and KTRS member to understand the state’s liability accurately.

You can follow the status of bills at legislature.ky.gov and watch live legislative activity at KET/org/legislature. You can also track the status of other legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181.

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