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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Senator Katie Stine: Legislative Update

Thursday, the 45th day of the legislative session, the House passed its budget bill. This leaves us in the Senate 13 days to work on the budget, present it in a committee, and vote on a Senate version.


We passed Senate Bill 159 this week, which would allow nonprofit mobile dental clinics to provide care in schools for uninsured and underinsured children, as well as those covered by Medicaid. Statistics show that 42 percent of children in Kentucky under the age of five show signs of advanced tooth decay. Expanding access to dental care fulfills a fundamental need and positively affects the general health, school attendance, self respect and future success of our children. The bill passed unanimously and a similar outcome is hoped for in the House.

Senate Bill 108 also passed the Senate this week. The Act would provide that a person convicted of a felony offense of rape in which a child was born as a result of the offense shall lose parental rights with respect to that child; provide for an exception at the request of the mother; and provide that a court shall impose an obligation of child support against the offender unless waived by the mother and, if applicable, a public agency supporting the child.

A bill that would allow more openness in some juvenile court proceedings was also among the measures approved by the Senate and sent to the House this week. SB 157 calls for a pilot program to encourage transparency in certain juvenile court proceedings by allowing in members of the public. Those viewing the proceedings would not be allowed to share with others the identity of children involved in court cases.

Members of the Senate also gave approval this week to a resolution that would direct the staff of the Legislative Research Commission to study family care-giving and long-term services. With a growing aging population, the demand for services that allow seniors to receive assistance in their homes and communities will continue to increase. SCR 102 is intended to provide policymakers with better information about the programs available and ideas about innovative and creative ways that the state can support those who provide in-home assistance to older adults.

The Senate also approved legislation that would allow more poisonous weeds and invasive plants to be targeted for eradication from state right-of-ways. Supporters of the legislation, SB 170, note that some plants that no longer pose a major threat are on the list for eradication while noxious plants that cause bigger problems are not on the list. In addition to targeting plants like kudzu and poison hemlock for removal from roadsides and other areas, the legislation also would give the Department of Highways authority to regularly review and make changes to its list of unwanted plants.

Other Senate action included Senate Bill 81. The bill would define terms regarding employment, specifically “contractor”, “person”, “prime contractor” and “subcontractor.” Under the bill, anyone determined to be an  independent contractor is not eligible for employee benefits or wages and the bill allows for an appeal process to circuit court in the county where the person resides or where the person has his principal office.

Senate Bill 83 will tighten up alcoholic beverage control law that received an overhaul in 2013. It also classified cider that is less that 7% alcohol as malt beverages It also helps small craft distillers to get a more reasonable license fee that is in line with their level of production. This will promote the growth of small businesses. Senate Bill 123 puts sewerage corporations on the same playing field as other public utilities allowing them to post rate changes in newspapers. House Bill 197 also passed, and addressed some needs from House Bill 1 from the 2013 session.

Senate Bill 36 reduces the time period for the right of redemption of real property from one year to six months. After researching the issue, no cases of redemption after six months could be found. This legislation helps buyers rehabilitate and sell these properties rather than leaving them empty and vulnerable to crime, vandalism and other destructive occurrences.

Two bills regarding the carrying of concealed deadly weapon licenses also received passage. Senate Bill 100 speeds up licensing by a simple measure, allowing electronic applications for the licenses and renewals that will speed up the process and make it more efficient. The convenience of the measure will cost the application ten more dollars, but if the applicant does not want to pay that, the paper application remains  the same cost.

Senate Bill 106 addresses personal protection. It would permit a person protected by an emergency protective order EPO or domestic violence order DVO to be issued a temporary concealed weapon license for the period of the protective order. A background check by the State Police will have to be conducted, and the recipient will have to receive training within 45 days in order for the provisional to convert to a full CCDW permit.

The Education Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 224, which would prohibit the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards from being implemented  and require new standards to be created for Kentucky. The reason I supported this legislation is that the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards do not provide adequate rigor to meet the educational needs of all Kentucky students. Courses  such as geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus, chemistry, and physics are not required to be offered, preventing students who are more advanced to be prepared for college studies centered in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). My goal is to ensure that all Kentucky students have the opportunity to take STEM supporting courses, no matter where in Kentucky they live. No vote was taken in the committee hearing, but a great deal of information was heard, and it is my hope that misunderstandings about Common Core were clarified and that Kentucky students have every opportunity to follow their dreams.

If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or toll free at 1-800-372-7181.  I appreciate your time and input.
 
Your thoughts and comments are always welcome. Please contact me through the Legislative Research Commission’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. Also, you can follow the work of the General Assembly at www.lrc.ky.gov.

Note: Senator Katie Stine (R-Southgate) serves as the President Pro-Tem of the State Senate.  She is the vice chair of the Committee on Committees, the Rules Committee, and the Judiciary Committee. She also serves on the Enrollment Committee, the Education Committee, and the Health and Welfare Committee. She is a member of the Special Subcommittee on Energy. She represents the 24th District including Bracken, Campbell, and Pendleton counties.

Source: Press Release

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