Visits from advocacy groups, a ceremonial bill signing, and rallies in the Capitol Rotunda, along with the bipartisan passage of bills, marked a busy Week Four of the 2017 Legislative Session. We were excited to welcome the children of Kentucky National Guard members from across the state for the First Annual Kentucky Military Kids Day. It was an honor to host these families who have sacrificed so much to serve our state and our country.
On February 20 we observed President’s Day, also celebrated as President George Washington’s birthday. Governor Matt Bevin ceremonially signed Senate Bill (SB) 3 this week. The bill, which easily passed both chambers during the first week of January, provides transparency for taxpayers by making legislative pensions public. We also introduced the “Sunny Page” Program this week, which encourages special needs students from across the state to page in the Senate and be a part of the legislative process.
In addition to all these events, we spent a large amount of time in committees and passing bills on the floor. Friday marked day 18 of 30 of the 2017 Session, so the window of time to pass legislation is closing. We passed quite a few important bills through the Senate, including:
- Senate Bill 8 defunds organizations that fund abortions, such as Planned Parenthood;
- Senate Bill 21 allows for the use of experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA if the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness;
- Senate Bill 107 gives the General Assembly a check-and-balance means of ensuring balanced boards of postsecondary institutions. This is another step to ensure the leadership at our state universities follow the law and act in the best interest of the students.
- Senate Bill 122 establishes a Gold Star Sons and Gold Star Daughters special license plate for children of the armed forces who were killed overseas;
- Senate Bill 153 establishes a comprehensive funding model for the allocation of state funds to public universities based on student success, course completion, and other components. This bill encourages universities to focus on the long-term success and preparedness of their students.
- Senate Bill 159 requires all public high school students to pass a civics test in order to receive a regular diploma. This passing score would be a minimum of 60 percent and the questions would be pulled from the test required of all people seeking to become U.S. citizens.
Additionally, I am working on an anti-littering bill titled “A Clean Commonwealth” that incorporates heavy fines and stiffer penalties for those who trash our state, while raising awareness on the issue. This legislation would also include creating a state-of-the-art app to allow the better reporting and identifying of illegal dumping.
I was pleased to welcome the Perry County Central High School JROTC Color Guard Cadets who presented the colors on the Senate floor on Thursday and Friday: Dakota Shepherd, Kelly Arredondo, Dalton Baker, Waylon Fugate, Jacob Boggs, Jessica Brewer, Rebecca Browning, Autumn Black, Cheyenne Williams, and Dalton Collins. I also welcomed a special intern, Rev. Amundsen’s son Jordyn Amundsen, who is a student at Leslie County High School.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, and your ideas for the future of our commonwealth. It is an honor to represent you in the State Senate.
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.
Senator 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.