FRANKFORT— The big moment has arrived: the Kentucky General Assembly has reached the midpoint of this 60-day legislative session and has passed the deadline to have any new bills drafted.
We marked the occasion with business as usual—finishing up work in our House budget review subcommittees on the next two-year Executive Branch budget, hearing a first round of testimony on eminent domain issues related to the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline natural gas liquids project, and moving legislation (House Bill 64) through the House and on to the Senate by a 79-21 vote that would give one-time, low-level felons a chance to have their felony records erased.
Commercial use of jail booking photographs was also addressed this week when the House voted 55-45 on Wednesday to pass an amended version of HB 51 on to the Senate. That bill, which received considerable debate from supporters and opponents of the measure in the House, would make it a Class D felony for websites or publications that use booking photos—which are public records—for commercial purposes to charge a fee to remove the photos from public view. Use of booking photographs by newspapers, periodicals, radio or TV station programs, or for specific court proceedings would be excluded from the definition of “commercial purpose” under the bill.
Bills and resolutions making their way to the Senate this week without opposition in the House included:
• HB 323, which cleared the House 94-0 on Tuesday, would clean up state law dealing with the state Public Pension Oversight Board. It would essentially put the state legislators’ retirement plan, state judicial retirement plan, and Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System under oversight of the Board, and clarify membership terms and eligibility for Board members.
• House Resolution 51, which also cleared the House on a 94-0 vote on Tuesday, would urge the Kentucky State Police, city police, sheriff’s departments, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel in cities with a population of 25,000 or more to have one hour of training per year on Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
Receiving final passage on a near unanimous vote of 96-2 in the House on Thursday was HB 98, now on its way to the Governor for his signature. The bill would require schools to have at least one trained school employee on hand to administer—or assist with self-administration—of insulin or other diabetes drugs and epilepsy medication among the school’s students. School employees would not be required to be trained to provide the health services but could volunteer to do so, the bill clarifies. The drugs could only be administered with written permission of the parent or guardian and authorization of the child’s health care provider.
Moving through House committees this week were a number of bills, including HB 309, which would allow electronic cigarettes to be regulated as tobacco products under Kentucky law. It would also make the products off limits to anyone under age 18. The bill moved from the House Licensing and Occupations Committee to the full House on Wednesday.
Then there was HB 277, which was cleared by the House Health and Welfare Committee on Thursday and is designed to crack down on abuse in long-term care facilities or those working with long-term care providers.
HB 277 would require those applying for work in long-term care facilities (hospitals excepted) or with long-term care providers to be fingerprinted as part of a national and state background check program established in Kentucky by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The legislation would apply both to those seeking jobs in the facilities or with long-term care providers and those seeking work with state agencies that inspect long-term care settings. It would also mandate registry checks and checks of professional licensure information. The program would be overseen by the state.
HB 277 additionally specifies funding for the proposal. It now returns to the full House for further action.
Please continue to stay in tune with all legislative action of interest to you throughout the 2014 Regular Session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650. To comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181.