As the Senate eagerly awaits a budget proposal from the House of Representatives, we are busy passing bills both out of committee and out of the Senate to send to our House colleagues during the eighth week of the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly.
I was extremely pleased with the favorable reporting of Senate Bill 106, the Charlie Brown bill, of which I am the primary sponsor, from the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protections Committee. Each committee member was very receptive and supportive of the right to perform religious dramatic arts. The Bible verse from the famous Charlie Brown play in public school productions is a perfect example. The matter now moves before the entire Senate for consideration. Freedom of religion is a constitutional right for which I will continue to fight.
Several meaningful bills passed the Senate last week and will now move on for consideration in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill (SB) 43 was one of the most prominent bills to pass this week. SB 43 would create death benefits for Emergency Medical Service personnel killed in the line of duty. This bill was introduced in honor of John Mackey, a paramedic from Jessamine County who was killed in the line of duty last year. We were honored to have his wife, Janine Mackey, join us as we passed this bill through committee and off the Senate floor.
We passed a similar bill in SB 195, which would create death benefits for firefighters who died from cancer presumed to be caused from their duties. Senate Bill (SB) 114 would update regulations on the medical authority of advanced practice registered nurses. SB 154 would clarify laws relating to physician assistants, and SB 155 would amend current statute to correct the office location of the Statewide Independent Living Council.
We also passed SB 115, which restores punishments for first-offense heroin traffickers to the previous level of a Class C felony. The Senate voted 31-6 to approve SB 115. Kentucky lowered penalties for some heroin dealers in 2011. Since then heroin use has increased significantly and overdose deaths have soared, which prompted the Senate to pass this legislation.
Senate Bill 169 is what we often call a “cleanup bill.” It updates regulations pertaining to elections and duties of county clerks in order to create a more efficient and effective electoral process.
We also passed Senate Bill 182, which would change the license renewal date for grain storage businesses and for grain dealers from August 1 to July 1 of each year in addition to revising penalties relating to grain storage violations. Another passed agriculture-related bill is SB191 which would reorganize the State Fair Board. SB 191 also mandates the state fair board meet at least 10 times per year. It would require the state fair board to hold an annual fair on the state fairgrounds and operate the Kentucky State Fair and World’s Championship Horse Show and the National Farm Machinery Show.
We also passed our first House Bill (HB) this week, HB 175. HB 175 would protect the power given to Federal Peace Officers under current law and update Kentucky statues to reflect the change.
The last day to introduce new Senate bills is March 3. We hope to move all bills originating in the Senate over the next two weeks, and after that we will begin considering more House bills.
If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at [email protected] You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.
Sen. Brandon Smith (R-Hazard) represents the 30th District including Bell, Breathitt, Johnson, Leslie, Magoffin and Perry counties. He is the vice-chair of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee and the Transportation Committee; and a member of Appropriations and Revenue Committee. He is a member of the Federal Environmental Reg. Impact Assessment Task Force Special Committee.