By John Cheves
The 2017 General Assembly enters its final phase Monday as Republican leaders prepare for Gov. Matt Bevin a stack of legislation on university funding, religious expression, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation and many other subjects.
The Kentucky House and Senate are scheduled to continue passing bills through Wednesday, then recess until March 14, when they will return for two days of voting on “concurrence” — deciding whether or not to agree with any changes that have been made to their bills by the other chamber.
Next, Bevin, a Republican, will get two weeks to veto legislation if he chooses. Lawmakers return to the Capitol on March 29 and 30 to act on Bevin’s vetoes, if there are any, and conclude their 30-day session.
Here is where some noteworthy bills that have passed at least one chamber stood on Friday:
House Bill 14, which would extend the state’s hate crimes law to include criminal acts committed against police officers and other emergency workers, awaits a final vote on the Senate floor.
House Bill 72, which would let judges set an expensive bond for parties who appeal a zone change case from circuit court, awaits a Senate floor vote. A Senate committee changed the bill, removing an exception for churches that appeal a case and adding an exception for anyone challenging a landfill, so the House would have to agree to that.
House Bill 128, which would allow school districts to offer elective Bible study classes, awaits a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
House Bill 151 would permit children to attend the school nearest their home, causing concern in Louisville, where a racial desegregation plan involves moving some children outside of their neighborhoods to create greater classroom diversity. It awaits a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.
House Bill 222, which would prohibit shock probation for drunken drivers convicted of manslaughter or vehicular homicide, awaits a final vote on the Senate floor.
House Bill 281, which would set limits on how much the state’s attorney general could pay the outside lawyers he hires to handle complex litigation, awaits a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 296 would reduce the expenses paid by Kentucky’s workers’ compensation program at the request of insurers and businesses, angering worker advocates, who say labor was left out of the bill. It awaits a hearing in the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee.
Senate Bill 1, which would establish a new process for intervening in low-performing schools and reviewing classroom academic standards, awaits a hearing in the House Education Committee.
Senate Bill 4, which would create medical review panels comprised of medical professionals to decide the merits of malpractice and neglect claims before they could proceed as lawsuits, was given final passage by the Senate on Friday and sent to the governor for his signature.
Senate Bill 8, which would bump Planned Parenthood to the back of the line for about $300,000 a year in federal family planning funds, awaits a vote on the House floor. A House committee made changes to the bill, so the Senate would have to agree with those.
Senate Bill 17, which details the right of public students to express religious viewpoints in school, awaits a final vote on the House floor.
Senate Bill 75, which would double the amount that donors can contribute to state political campaigns and then allow additional increases tied to inflation, awaits a hearing in the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs.
Senate Bill 107 would grant sweeping powers to the governor to abolish every public educational governing board in Kentucky, including those at state universities, the Kentucky Board of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Education. It awaits a hearing in the House State Government Committee.
Senate Bill 120, an expansive plan to make it easier for felons to get work experience while incarcerated and smoothly re-enter society after their release, awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
Senate Bill 153, which would create a new method of funding higher education, funneling $1 billion to state universities based on their graduation rates and other performance measures, awaits a hearing in the House budget committee.