The first week of the General Assembly legislative session is traditionally reserved for ceremonial rituals and tasks that must be done before laws can be passed. Members are sworn in, chamber leaders are elected, rules are adopted, and committee assignments are received. Behind this year’s ceremony, however, was a sense of anticipation as members of the Kentucky Senate took care of those tasks and turned their focus on legislating. Seven wide-ranging bills – many of which had stalled in prior sessions – received final passage. It was an unprecedented pace for the first week of a General Assembly, particularly one with so many freshman members. A pace I feel the voters who demanded more out of their elected officials last November will appreciate.
I am proud to report that Senate Bill (SB) 5, which I sponsored, was not only the first bill passed out of the Senate but also the first to be signed into law by the Governor. SB 5 prohibits the abortion of an unborn baby after it reaches 20 gestational weeks. This bill, entitled “Pain Capable Bill,” protects the smallest among us: viable human life that is capable at this stage of feeling and reacting to pain. SB 5 makes provisions for the health of the mother and the viability of the fetus. This bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House and received Governor Bevin’s signature late Saturday evening. I will continue to stand up for the lives of Kentuckians who cannot speak for themselves.
We passed a legislative pension transparency bill that will make legislators’ retirements available via an open records request. The Paycheck Protection Act, ensuring union workers get to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, also passed this week along with a bill to lay out a path to put the University of Louisville back on track amidst their Board of Trustees’ woes.
The Senate also passed multiple House bills (HB). We passed another piece of pro-life legislation, HB 2, which would require an ultrasound before having an abortion so women have as much information as possible before making such a life-changing decision. Two bills that will make Kentucky more business- and job-friendly, Right-to-Work and repealing prevailing wage on public projects, also successfully passed through the legislature. While I am not convinced Right to Work is a silver bullet for job creation, it is undeniable that Kentucky is losing when we compete to attract industries against states that have passed these laws.
Rest assured, I understand the importance and the good work unions do for our workers. Both my mother and father were union workers. I heard the calls and read the emails from those questioning this bill. I have always voted to protect the union workers and feel strongly that I have done so again. This particular piece of legislation puts the power back in the workers’ hands, allowing them to unionize or not. We have actually seen union growth in some of the 26 other states who have passed Right-to-Work, especially those surrounding Kentucky.
We in the Senate will continue to fight for Kentucky jobs and Kentucky families, and with a new majority in the House and a Republican governor, I truly believe our Commonwealth will see long-overdue growth and prosperity. As always, it is an honor to serve you and our region. With great diligence, study and prayer, I vote with the best intentions for the 30th district. Once the Senate reconvenes in February, we will continue with the legislative process. I look forward to hearing your concerns and ideas for our district and state.
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 chairman of the Natural Resources and Energy Committee and the Transportation Committee; and a member of Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Federal Environmental Reg. Impact Assessment Task Force Special Committee, the Special Subcommittee on Energy, and the Free-Roaming Horse Task Force.