Floor votes, committee hearings, and spirited debate highlighted an action-packed second week of session in the Kentucky Senate. Guests from all corners of the Commonwealth were welcomed to Frankfort to speak on behalf of various bills.
The Senate began passing bills on January 14, headlined by Senate Bill (SB) 9, a measure to repeal the prevailing wage requirement on public school projects with a cost of over $250,000. Passage of this priority legislation will reduce construction costs on large-scale school projects, thus providing additional funding for education. In our region, where we are trying to build new facilities in an economic downturn, this will allow our dollars to stretch further. It is critical that when it comes to education, we make every dollar count.
On January 14 we were visited by hundreds of young and energetic faces celebrating Children’s Advocacy Day, sponsored by Kentucky Youth Advocates. I was honored to be joined by some bright young students from the PALs organization who represented Appalachia with pride and maturity. Thanks to Tracy Counts, John Epperson and all the leaders who escorted these young people.
From Senate committee meetings last week, two of our priority bills—SB 4 and SB 10—were reported favorably. SB 4 would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure as a measure to help further promote the value of life. SB 10 would move statewide elections to even-numbered years, thus promoting greater voter turnout and saving the Commonwealth money.
Senate Bill 56, which would extend the look-back window for DUI’s from five years to 10, and SB 60, which would add further protections for vulnerable victims of sex crimes, were both reported out of the Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 72, which clarifies when the Executive Branch must come before the legislature to make appropriations and protects the separation of powers in state government, also passed out of the Licensing and Occupation Committee last week.
In the Education Committee, SB 52 passed, which would allow veterans to receive a provisional teaching certificate after meeting certain criteria. The same committee also passed SB 81, which would require the Department of Education to create a system identifying students with military parents or families.
I was proud to file SB 106, nicknamed the Charlie Brown Bill, which would allow children to perform plays in their original content. Many of you remember the controversy that arose this past December when one objecting parent forced the removal of the reading of a bible verse from the iconic Charlie Brown Christmas play at an Eastern Kentucky school. As a Christian father, I feel strongly that these actions were unnecessary. The Charlie Brown Bill will ensure freedom of speech in the future.
As we look forward to another busy week of session, I am proud of the bipartisan demeanor displayed thus far in the Senate and I will continue to commit myself to legislation that will move our Commonwealth forward.
If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Brandon.Smith@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.