FRANKFORT — After an additional week in session, the Kentucky General Assembly finally put into place the two final pieces left over from its regular session puzzle, while one of the bills was signed into law this week.
Two of the most hotly debated bills of the regular session were the budget and House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s House Bill 4, also know as the pill mill bill. While the budget had already passed during the regular session, the plan for the $4.5 billion set aside for roads had not, and while the pill mill bill had made it in to the final stages of passage in the Senate time expired for both bills.
The one bill entered into the special session was the pill mill bill’s reincarnated version, known as the KASPER Bill. The KASPER bill seeks to accomplish the same goals to help stop the spread of prescription pills in the commonwealth.
Pain clinics seek to treat people with chronic pain by using several methods though not all patients and doctors are simply working toward pain management. The KASPER bill had originally focused on trying to move KASPER, or Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting program, to the Attorney General’s office from the Cabinet of Health and Family Resources where it would be made more widely available to law enforcement and prosecutors. Along with this, the bill would make it mandatory for physicians to register all prescriptions and reasons for prescribing them with KASPER.
By making these mandatory it would be easier to track if a patient is doctor shopping to obtain additional pills, or if a doctor is over prescribing.
Some legislators feared that moving KASPER to the Attorney General’s office would put too much pressure on legitimate physicians. Because of this, an amendment was made keeping the KASPER system with the Cabinet of Health and Family Services but making the system mandatory.
The bill passed on Friday afternoon after only five days in the legislature. Early Tuesday morning Gov. Beshear signed the bill into law, adding that the bill is critical to the state.
Beshear has been in support of this bill since it’s initial filing before the regular session began. He said in a press release on Tuesday that this bill is an agressive step towards helping to save lives. Several legislators that had been working towards the passage of this bill were with Gov. Beshear as he signed the bill including Senator Robert Stivers.
“Earlier this year, I pledged to do everything I could to help keep another family from having to bury a loved one who died from prescription drug abuse,” said Sen. Stivers. “The passage of House Bill 1 last week is a step in the right direction. It makes sure that people in pain can get the treatment they need and it provides oversight for doctors that overprescribe.”
The other bill discussed in the special session was the road plan. The plan had passed both houses during the regular session, but received several line item vetoes when it was sent off to the governor’s office. After receiving the vetoes, time expired before the bill was able to be passed.
Without a plan passed, this money was not allocated for any projects. According to a press release from the General Assembly, legislators feared that passing a budget without a road plan was like writing a blank check for $4.5 billion to the state government.
The road plan was entered into special session and passed in the minimum time possible, just five days. This passage means that counties across the state can and will see large road improvements with such a high amount of money being dedicated to road construction.