A Legislative Perspective on the Kentucky General Assembly with State Representative Rick Rand
FRANKFORT – With March the last full month of this year’s legislative session, the Kentucky House and Senate are nearing the point where they will focus less on their own legislation and more on finding common ground with the other chamber.
While the House is still finalizing several of its key bills, my fellow representatives and I have already passed a productive list for the Senate to consider.
In education, that includes adding more transparency and oversight of school-district spending; calling on high schools to include basic CPR training and financial literacy in their curriculum; helping college students in coal counties obtain their four-year degree close to home; and giving our public universities the authority to pursue construction projects as long as they have the funding.
Economically, some of the bills sent to the Senate would do such things as boost the minimum wage five years after the last increase; track the cost and status of the state’s tax-incentive programs; and give businesses the chance to become public benefit corporations, a worldwide initiative that uses private enterprise to improve the public good.
In criminal-justice matters, one of the House’s top priorities is giving voters a chance in November to approve a constitutional amendment that would automatically restore voting rights for most felons after they have completed their sentence. This would align Kentucky with nearly every other state if it passes.
In health-related legislation, the House voted last Tuesday to have the Cabinet for Health and Family Services take their criminal background checks nationwide for prospective employees and volunteers who either work for or inspect long-term care providers. This would greatly expand the current background check that is only statewide and does not include fingerprinting.
Two other bills tied to healthcare are among the first to pass both the House and Senate. Senate Bill 7, which is now law, gives Advanced Practice Registered Nurses more prescribing authority. This legislation codifies a joint agreement between physicians and these nurses and should increase access to care for many Kentuckians.
House Bill 98 is just a step behind while it waits to be signed by Governor Beshear. This will help students who have diabetes by making it possible for trained and authorized school personnel – or the students themselves – to administer medicine; a similar provision is included to let these employees help students with seizures as well. Prior to this bill, these actions were limited to licensed healthcare providers and family members.
Other legislation making it through the House would:
· Require state and local governments to make people aware if personal information held by an agency has been breached, something already required in most other states;
· Call on the governor to try to achieve gender equity when making appointments to the state’s various boards and commissions; and
· Increase fines for vehicles parking on state-maintained highway ramps, in an effort to better deter this activity. The legislation was filed in response to a fatal accident last year in which a vehicle ran into the back of a truck parked on a highway ramp.
Another transportation-related bill cleared the House on Friday. This would double the fine for texting while driving plus prohibit drivers from entering by hand a telephone number or name into their phone while driving through active zones marked for schools or highway work. There would be exceptions for hands-free devices.
These bills, and many others, have already generated thousands of calls, emails, and visits, but it is not too late if you would like to let me know where you stand on the issues facing the General Assembly.
You can always write to me at Room 366B, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601; or you can email me at [email protected]
To leave a message for me or for any legislator by phone, please call 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.
I hope to hear from you soon.