FRANKFORT — It was a busy time for the Kentucky General Assembly as many bills were considered, and ultimately 137 of them became law during the recently concluded 2016 legislative session.
Bills addressing the state’s drug addiction epidemic, law enforcement needs and the needs of our military families were among those passed into law. More information about those bills and others you may find interesting are outlined below. The effective date of these bills — or the day bills passed into law are actually implemented — is July 15, unless the bill had an emergency clause or special effective date noted below.
• House Bill 4 provides increased penalties for trafficking or possession of synthetic drugs. The bill had an emergency clause and took effective immediately upon being signed into law in April.
• House Bill 40 is the felony expungement bill. The bill will allow those convicted of a Class D felony under any of 61 specific criminal statutes, or who were charged but not formally indicted, to seek expungement of that conviction or charge five years after they have completed their sentence or probation. Expungement means the charges are vacated and dismissed by the courts.
— Those convicted of a sex crime, a crime against a child, or who have criminal proceedings or violations pending against them would not be eligible for expungement.
— Courts would have the discretion to expunge Class D felonies of those with previous Class D felony convictions unless the previous conviction was for one of the offenses ineligible for expungement or the person has a case pending against him or her.
HB 40 doesn’t go into effect until July 15, 2016, so individuals cannot file for an expungement until July 15 and after. You will find information about applying for expungement here: http://courts.ky.gov/felonyexpungement/Pages/default.aspx
• House Bill 124 allows funds from the sale of confiscated firearms to be used to buy body cameras for law enforcement and establishes guidelines for the process.
• House Bill 111 requires every public school in the state to post the Kentucky child abuse hotline number. The bill took effective immediately after becoming law in April.
• House Bill 183 creates a disabled veteran-owned business certification program. The bill defines what a disabled veteran-owned business is and provides for the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Contract Compliance to oversee a program that provides certification of disabled veteran-owned businesses in order to encourage growth among businesses owned by disabled veterans within Kentucky. It also gives assistance to disabled veteran-owned businesses in competing for work in other states that require certification by a statewide body.
Senate bills passed last session that you might find of interest include the following. (All were signed into law by the Governor except for Senate Bill 195 which became law without the governor’s signature):
• Senate Bill 4, known as the Informed Consent Bill, was the first piece of legislation passed out of the General Assembly this year and signed by the governor. It outlines how a woman seeking an abortion must receive medical information at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure. According to the bill, the information must be delivered either during an in-person, face-to-face meeting or via a real-time video conference. When SB 4 goes into effect this summer, recorded telephone messages currently used will not suffice for delivering the required medical information.
• Senate Bill 20 gives Kentucky’s medical providers a pathway to external, independent appeals of denied Medicaid managed-care claims. In other words, it allows medical providers to receive an independent third-party review of claims denied by Medicaid managed care organizations, known as MCOs. Current law requires that appeals be made directly to the MCOs, which serve around 1.1 million Kentuckians.
• Senate Bill 33 requires high school students be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation by an emergency medical professional. The life-saving measure is to be taught as part of the students’ physical education or health class, or as part of ROTC training. The training is provided free of charge to schools. Twenty-seven other states have similar laws. Each year nearly 424,000 people will have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital and only 10 percent of those victims will survive. When a CPR trained bystander is nearby, these victims’ survival rates double or triple.
• Senate Bill 43 gives families of emergency medical services personnel killed in the line of duty the same $80,000 state death benefit now provided to families of fallen police and firefighters. SB 43 was filed following the death of Jessamine County paramedic John Mackey last November. Mackey was struck by a car while on ambulance duty.
• Senate Bill 117 provides Kentucky pharmacists some relief from improper reimbursements from pharmacy benefit managers, known as PBMs. It gives some relief to pharmacies who are losing money due to being reimbursed under what they paid for the medications. The bill also requires the PBMs to maintain and regularly update a comprehensive Maximum
Allowable Cost (MAC) list. These changes and the licensure requirement gives Department of Insurance (DOI) the clear authority to enforce SB 117.
• Senate Bill 195 extends government-paid survivor benefits to the families of cancer-stricken firefighters – both professional and volunteer. The firefighter would have to be 65 or younger at the time of their passing and had been on the job for at least five consecutive years. Their cancer also could not be attributed to a preexisting condition or tobacco.
Three bills that passed the House but died due to inaction by the Senate were:
• House Bill 137, which would have made criminal attempt to murder a law enforcement officer or firefighter an offense requiring 85 percent of a sentence served before the offender could be eligible for probation or parole.
• House Bill 202 would have allowed coal mining or processing companies to potentially qualify for tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act and the Kentucky Business Investment Act, and directed the Economic Development Cabinet to work with various agencies, trade partners and the coal industry to promote exports of Kentucky coal.
• House Bill 458 would have prohibited insurance companies from requiring policy holders to use mail-order pharmacies. This bill would have helped our local pharmacies and kept local monies in our community. Unfortunately, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has taken credit for this bill not becoming law.
Two bills that were vetoed by the governor are:
• House Bill 150, had it been allowed to become law, would have allowed workers whose military spouse is reassigned to a location 100 miles or more from the worker’s home to be considered eligible for unemployment benefits.
• House Bill 225 would have allowed military training to be used to obtained professional licenses or certificates within two years of a service member’s honorable discharge if the training could “reasonably be expected” to provide necessary experience and skills. Training would not have been able to be substituted for a college degree or a specific exam where those are required. The House voted to override the veto on HB 225; the Senate did not.
You can find more detailed information about all the bills passed last session on the Legislative Research Commission web site at www.lrc.ky.gov.
It is an honor to serve the citizens of the 87th Kentucky House District in Harlan and Bell counties. If you need to reach me with a comment or concern, please call me directly at 606-248-8828 or send an email to [email protected]