Friday, March 6, 2020
This Week at the State Capitol: March 2 - 6
FRANKFORT – A nearly complete view of the issues lawmakers will consider this year has arrived now that the bill-filing deadlines have passed in the Senate and House.
Of course, “nearly” is a key word. There’s always the possibility of twists and turns as lawmakers continue receiving testimony and contemplating changes to bills in the form of amendments. But now that the General Assembly has passed the point where any more bills can be filed, Capitol observers have a fairly comprehensive view of the matters that could be voted on in the remaining days of this year’s legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude on April 15.
This year’s complete tally shows that 286 bills were filed for consideration the Senate and 647 bills were introduced in the House.
The bill widely regarded as the most far-reaching of them all – the state budget proposal – took a big step forward this week when it was approved by members of the House 86-10 on Friday.
House members have been working on the budget since receiving the two-year spending proposal from Gov. Andy Beshear in January. Among the difference between the spending plan approved by the House and the original plan submitted by the governor is that the plan no longer relies on additional revenue from the possibility of sports betting or increased business taxes in Kentucky, though it does anticipate revenue from a proposed tax on vaping products and a proposed increase on certain tobacco products.
The $23.4 billion plan approved by the House on Friday would offer teachers, school district employees, and state workers a 1 percent raise in each of the next two years.
It would also increase spending to improve the health and safety of Kentuckians with funding to hire 100 additional state social workers. And it provides $18 million for school facility upgrades and $49 million to hire more school counselors in support of major school safety laws approved last year.
It fully funds the state’s pension obligations and would maintain $392.4 million in the state’s “rainy day” fund. And it would provide more than $63 million over the next two years for a performance-based funding pool for postsecondary schools.
The budget proposal now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Dozens of other bills also advanced during the just-completed ninth week of the 2020 session. Among the measures that moved forward this week are bills on the following topics:
Senate Bill 21 would allow veterinarians to make a report to authorities if they find that an animal under their care has been abused. The bill was approved by the Senate 35-0 on Thursday and now goes to the House.
House Bill 44 would strengthen security for critical infrastructure across Kentucky by specifying that above-ground natural gas and petroleum pipelines and certain cable television facilities aren’t suitable areas for drone flights. The legislation also defines tampering with the assets as felony criminal mischief. The bill was approved by the Senate 31-4 on Thursday and will be sent to the governor’s desk.
House Bill 298 would require law enforcement agencies across the state to establish policies on vehicle pursuits, including criteria on when to begin and end such chases. The bill passed the House 34-8 on Wednesday and has been sent to the Senate.
Senate Bill 159 would require the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services to set standards for the safe and sanitary operation of splash pads, water-based playgrounds with little or no standing water. The bill passed the Senate 36-0 on Monday and has been referred to a House committee for further consideration.
Senate Bill 182 would make it illegal to post personally identifying information about a minor online with the intent to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass, or frighten the child. The bill was approved by the Senate 30-6 and now awaits consideration from a House committee.
For a complete look at the issues under consideration this year, check out the online Legislative Record: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/20rs/record.html. Under the “Miscellaneous” heading, click on “Bill and Amendment Index Heading” to see the list of subjects covered by proposed bills. Once you click on one of the topics that interests you, you’ll see links to each of the bills that falls under that heading.
You can also share feedback with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.