Time is growing short for the 2019 Kentucky General Assembly. Wednesday was the 25th day of a session that can meet no more than 30 days.
The legislative process requires a bill to be passed by a committee and full chamber in both the House and Senate. If a bill has not advanced well into that process yet, it needs to move quickly to have a chance.
Here’s a look at where 25 highprofile bills stood this week:
What Kentucky bills have passed?
Senate Bill 1, Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville. Sets goals for hiring more resource officers, counselors and mental health workers at schools; mandates suicide prevention training for teachers and staff; and establishes the statewide position of “school security marshal.” But it provides no money, only an intention to provide the money next year. Passed Senate and House, sent to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature.
Weaken gun control
Senate Bill 150, Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, would let Kentuckians carry concealed weapons without a permit or training or background check. Passed Senate and House.
What bills are still in play?
Teachers’ retirement system board
House Bill 525, Rep. Ken Upchurch, R-Monticello, would revamp teachers’ retirement board in a way that reduces influence of teachers and Kentucky Education Association. Amended by House State Government Committee and sent to the House floor where further amendment is likely.
House Bill 354, Rep. Steven Rudy, R-Paducah. Would restore and expand exemption for sales of nonprofits of admission tickets including tickets to university sporting events. More than a simple fix of last year’s tax bill, it also adds tax breaks for several types of corporations and was amended Friday to restore policy of taxing only net gambling winnings rather than gross gambling winnings. Passed House and passed Senate budget committee, awaiting vote on Senate floor.
Private school tax break
House Bill 205, House Majority leader John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville. Would offer tax credit to those who donate to groups that provide private school scholarships. Advocates say it would give at-risk kids access to education tailored to their needs, but opponents — including teachers’ unions — say it hurts public schools. Has been idle in committee for a month, but House leaders gave it a reading Friday — a step indicating it might move fast.
Borrowing to revamp parks
House Bill 268, Rep. Steven Rudy, would borrow $50 million to improve state parks – the first phase of a Bevin administration plan to ultimately borrow $150 million for parks improvements. Bill also includes a few other smaller new spending items. Passed House and is in Senate budget committee.
House Bill 175, Rep Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger, would legalize gambling on sporting events at racetracks, Kentucky Speedway, and on mobile apps. The bill cleared a House committee and a House floor vote has been delayed. But it has some powerful backers and remains alive.
Slash Grindle salary
House Bill 499, Rep. John “Bam” Carney, R-Campbellsville. Would roll back a raise of $215,000 that Bevin gave to Kentucky chief technology official Charles Grindle. That put Grindle’s annual salary at $375,000. The bill would put it at the highest salary paid to a state technology officer in a neighboring state – or about $210,000. Bill passed the House 99-0 and is now in the Senate.
Senate Bill 9, Sen. Matt Castlen, R- Owensboro, would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy. Passed the Senate, approved by House committee and awaiting a vote on the House floor.
Senate Bill 227, Sen Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville. Requires doctors and nurses to take “appropriate and reason- able steps” to preserve the life of newborns even if they are born mortally ill and parents ask only for comfort care. Passed Senate, now in a House committee.(Other bills restricting access to abortion are also in play.)
Restrict open records
House Bill 387 Rep. Jason Petrie, R-Elkton. Would block out-ofstate people from using Kentucky Open Records Law, allow no court appeal if legislative leaders refuse to release legislative records, and restrict access to public records in other ways. Passed House committee and is awaiting House floor vote.
The Judge Shepherd Bypass
Senate Bill 2, Senate President Robert Stivers. Would allow state officials and agencies to get a special judge appointed rather than go to Franklin Circuit Court. Many Republicans are mad about Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling striking down last year’s pension law — a ruling that was upheld in a 7-0 by the Kentucky Supreme Court. Passed Senate and is now before the House Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 100, Sen Brandon Smith, R-Hazard. A utility-backed priority to replace current “net metering” system. People who install solar panels in the future would not get the benefit of a current law where utilities credit them on a one-to-one basis for excess energy they generate for the electric grid, but would have their credit determined by the Public Service Commission. Passed Senate, amended by House it to make it friendlier to solar customers. Senate rejected House amendment. Awaiting House vote on whether to go back and accept the original Senate Bill.
Senate Bill 250, Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville. Would give the Jefferson County Public Schools superintendent more authority including power to select principals and approve larger expenditures. Proponents, including a controversial group of Louisville business and civic leaders, say the superintendent needs more authority to manage problems that have plagued the district. Opponents say it conflicts with the 1990 education reform law that created site-based decision-making councils with the power to select principals. Bill passed the Senate and is now in the House Local Government Committee.
Cut jobless benefits
House Bill 317, Rep. Russell Webber, R-Shepherdsville. A measure supported by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce as an incentive to get people back to work sooner, would cut unemployment insurance coverage from 26 to 20 weeks and readjust how benefits are paid. Approved by House committee and awaiting vote on House floor.
‘In God We Trust’
House Bill 46, Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville, would require public schools to display the national motto. Passed House 72-25 and awaiting action in the Senate.
These bills are not looking so good:
House Bill 504, Rep. Scott Lewis, R-Hartford, would raise retirement age for full benefits to 55 and slightly reduce benefits – but only for future teachers. Touted as the compromise that could be a breakthrough on pension reform, the bill would save little money and has sat idle in the House State Government Committee.
House Bill 136, Rep. Diane St. Onge, R-Fort Wright, would legalize marijuana for medical purposes for patients who have obtained a recommendation from a health practitioner registered to administer controlled substances and meet certain requirements. Bill still in a House committee. If it can pass in the House, it faces apparent insurmountable opposition in Senate.
House Bill 11, Rep. Kimberly Moser, R-Independence. Would ban the use of tobacco products and on school property and at all school events. Approved by a House committee, but that was a month ago, and it’s not yet been called for a House floor vote.
House Bill 3, House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, would make sweeping changes in Kentucky’s system of public benefits including Medicaid, food stamps and temporary cash aid for the poor — adding work requirements, drug tests and benefit cuts. Bill has yet to be heard by a House committee.
Child abuse cases
Senate Bill 205, Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill. Would overhaul the system of providing courtappointed lawyers for poor children and their parents in child abuse and neglect cases. Passed the Senate, and is now in House Judiciary Committee where its chances appear doubtful because many lawmakers say more time may be needed to consider such sweeping changes.
Restoration of voting rights
House Bill 91, Rep. George Brown Jr., D-Lexington. Proposed constitutional amendment would restore the voting rights of most convicted felons after they have completed all terms of their sentence. (Other bills have been filed proposing a similar amendment.)
Has yet to get a vote in committee.
Funding Kinship Care
House Bill 68, Rep. Chris Fugate, R-Chavies. Would fund monthly payments to grandparents or other relatives who take in children removed from homes. These payments were closed to new applicants in 2013. Bill has been withdrawn.
Funding charter schools
While some lawmakers considered this a priority, no bill was filed to fund charter schools this session.