Reviewing the 2017 legislative session

The biggest news at Saturday’s Legislative Review wasn’t a law passed, it was authorization for Gov. Matt Bevin to issue up to $15 million in bonds for an unspecified, $1.3 billion  economic development project in Eastern Kentucky.

“We were not told what company that would be,” said Sen. Tom Buford, who, along with Rep. Kim King,  met with constituents over breakfast at the Mercer County Extension Office to review the 2017 legislative session.

All eyes have been on Frankfort as the Republican-controlled General Assembly—the first since 1921—considered bills dealing with everything from  charter schools to right-to-work laws.

Buford and King would not reveal the identity of the mystery company Kentucky is pursuing, but they said the project could generate about 1,000 construction jobs.

House

Representative Kim King was the primary sponsor of six pieces of legislation. “Every single one of them was rooted in a local concern,” King said.

• House Bill 23 required pawnbrokers to record daily transactions online, including  photo identification of anyone pawning items as well as the pawned items be photographed. HB23 did not pass the senate but will be reintroduced next year, King said.

• HB33 requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to inform school districts of persons authorized to contact a child or remove the child from school grounds if there has been a change in the student’s custody status. King said this bill has been introduced five years in a row. It was  delivered to Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29 and is still awaiting his signature.

• HB34 proposed amending the state constitution to prohibit members of the General Assembly from being paid for special sessions called because the regular session adjourned without  a budget being passed. Died in committee.

King noted there would be a special session this fall to consider reforms of the state’s tax and pension systems.

“I am not opposed to that,” King said.

• HB38 prohibits registered sex offenders from visiting publicly owned playgrounds without written permission from a local legislative body. Signed into law on March 21.

• HB39, which requires roll call votes on state fiscal measures, and HB40, which says the rights of individual under the state and federal constitutions take precedence over foreign law in judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings. The bills were never brought to vote.

Senate

Senator Tom Buford was the primary sponsor of 17 pieces of legislation.

“We had some bills that made it and some bills that didn’t,” Buford said.

• Senate Bill 9, which would have rearranged the judicial circuits and districts and reallocated the number of judges relative to population and caseload; SB55, which would have permitted physician assistants to prescribe certain controlled substances under a physician’s supervision, and SB74, which would have made social service workers eligible to receive benefits for death in the line of duty. These bills never passed out of committee.

• SB83 requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources to minimize the risk posed by deer and elk to agriculture and public safety through special hunts and issuance of more  doe tags. Signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 27.

Buford said the issue was brought to his attention by the Kentucky Farm Bureau, who pay out $25 million a year for car accidents caused by deer.

“Everyone wins—even the deer,” joked Leon Mayo, agency manager for Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance, Mercer County.

• SB97, which would have changed the definition of “pastoral counseling” so that no person could engage in pastoral counseling unless licensed, and SB98, which would have attached the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services to the Public Protection Cabinet. Neither bill made it out of committee.

• SB105 would have established licensure for midwives. Never brought to a full vote in the senate.

• SB124 would have added gender-neutral language to state law concerning financial institutions while SB125 would have amended state law to conform with the executive branch reorganization. Neither made it out of the committee.

• SB135 establishes alternative criteria for the determination of member or subscriber dues for nonprofit hospital, medical-surgical, dental, or other health service plans. Signed into law on March 27.

• SB136 allows any active member of the Kentucky National Guard to receive tuition rates charged to Kentucky residents. Signed into law on March 27.

• SB148 would have prohibited the distribution of sexually explicit images without consent. Never made it out of committee.

• SB174, relating to health care cost transparency to the insured; SB179, which would have required health benefit plans to  provide coverage for medically necessary fertility preservation services, and SB180, which defined the qualified community development entities that could receive and invest state and federal  new markets development program tax credits. None of these bills made it out of committee.

• SB189 mandates that state driver’s licenses indicate the operator of the vehicle may be deaf or hard of hearing. Signed into law on March 21.

• SB219 would have established the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Recreational Therapy. Delivered to the governor on Mar 30.

Other Legislation

• SB120 would  make it easier for felons to re-enter society, including forbidding imprisonment for nonpayment of fines or court costs unless the defendant’s failure was willful and not due to an inability to pay and raising the daily credit against fines or court costs for time served to $75 per day or $150 per day if the defendant works at a community service or community labor program. The bill is waiting to be signed by the governor.

“It seems to have worked in some other states and we’re going to try it here,” Buford said.

The breakfast was sponsored by the Mercer County Farm Bureau and the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.

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