Category Archives: KY LEGISLATURE

2017 Kentucky Marijuana Legalization Vote: Key Dates To Watch


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Above:  Unfortunately the above picture was not taken in Kentucky!

 

Have you been trying to follow Kentucky marijuana legalization news online and find you cannot figure out if it is legalized or if the bill died in the Kentucky State Senate?

Current Kentucky medical marijuana laws were introduced in late 2016 by Kentucky state senator, Perry Clark. This particular senator has introduced similar laws in the past, but the one that was due to be voted on in 2017 by Kentucky state lawmakers is called The Cannabis Compassion Act, and it was filed as BR409.

While there were plenty of fans that were excited about this news in early 2017, after the bills for Kentucky legal marijuana were filed, no one seemed to know when anything was going to happen next. It was not really clear to many Kentuckians if lawmakers had denied or confirmed a bill to legalize marijuana.

Worse, the Kentucky State Senate closed their main legislative session on March 31, and there was no news about where the legal marijuana bill was going. In order to get a few facts straight, some careful online sleuthing was done to get all of the right information in the right place.

Medical marijuana touted by supporters to Trump.Protesters organized in January to tell Donald Trump they wanted support for medical marijuana. [Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Kentucky did not pass medical marijuana in early 2017. The confusion was caused when several articles were published in February that quoted a news source that had misinformation on the topic.

Instead, the bill to pass medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky is actually two different bills. The names of these bills are SB76 and SB57.

When information is reviewed about Kentucky’s medical marijuana bills that are being proposed in 2017, it shows on the SB76 and SB57 websites that they have been “assigned” to various committees for review — and are therefore still in progress.

SB57 is currently assigned to Health and Welfare, while SB76 is with Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations.

Regardless, what these pages do not clearly indicate is whether or not these bills are still being considered, when they will be considered, or when they will be voted on.

Thankfully, by cross-referencing with the 2017 interim calendar for the Kentucky State Senate, there is helpful information about approximate dates to expect Kentucky marijuana legalization news.

Rand Paul Kentucky is pro-marijuana.Kentucky U.S. Senator, Rand Paul, is pro-marijuana legalization, but he is not a voting member for the Kentucky State Senate. [Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

As far as SB76 goes, Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations will meet the second Friday of each month between June and October. In November, Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations will meet on the 17th.

For SB57, Health and Welfare meet the third Wednesday of each month during the June-November Kentucky State Senate interim calendar.

With the basic information needed to target key dates to listen out for the legalization of marijuana in Kentucky, the next question is whether or not the state senators will actually vote for it.

Although there have been many supporters of the medical marijuana bill in Kentucky, there have also been a few opponents.

For example, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, they reported that a retired Kentucky state trooper, Ed Shemelya, is the director of the National Marijuana Initiative, according to WXOW. In La Crosse, Shemelya is educating attendants of his talks about how “marijuana is one of the most dangerous drugs due to what we do not yet know about its effects.”

As an anti-weed advocate, Ed Shemelya has also visited Glasgow, Kentucky, with a similar message.

This time, instead of children, Glasgow Daily Times stated that Shemelya’s audience for his anti-marijuana message was comprised of “law enforcement officials, and others ranged from health educators to youth service and family resource center coordinators.”

Countering anti-weed messages like Ed Shemelya’s are multiple medical marijuana town hall meetings that have been scheduled throughout Kentucky.

According to WSAZ, Justin Lewandoski, a member of the town hall in Paintsville, Kentucky, says the medical marijuana meeting planned for April 20 was meant to educate people by letting people speak about their “experiences with medical marijuana and the relief it provided them.”

While Kentucky is still in the process of potentially voting for medical marijuana, the state continues to prosecute buyers, growers, and distributors. Naturally, keeping marijuana illegal means that budget-strapped Kentucky must pay law enforcement and jails for marijuana arrests.

In addition to the arrests of marijuana growers that know they have THC in their crops, WKYT says that authorities are so overzealous about the illegality of marijuana in Kentucky that they recently burned a crop of commercial hemp because it allegedly had “too much THC.”

Not having legal marijuana in Kentucky also means that the state is targeted for trafficking from outsiders. For example, WKMS reports on April 19 that Kentucky state police arrested a man from Washington state that was trafficking 75-pounds of marijuana through Lyon County.

Kentucky also continues to prosecute marijuana grower John Robert “Johnny” Boone, allegedly the “Godfather” of the Cornbread Mafia. After eluding authorities for almost 10 years, John Boone was finally isolated and captured in 2017.

When John Boone was arrested and convicted in 1988, he went to jail for a decade for having one of the biggest marijuana growing syndicates of all time that had farming operations in almost 30 states, according to U.S. News & World Report.

About the reasons he grew marijuana, John Boone stated the following in federal court when he was sentenced in the late 1980s.

“With the poverty at home [in Kentucky], marijuana is sometimes one of the things that puts bread on the table. We were working with our hands on earth God gave us.”

Updates on Kentucky’s medical marijuana bills can be followed on Legiscan.

CONTINUE READING…

(KY) Senate Week in Review


 

Submitted By Reginald Thomas

FRANKFORT— It may have been a “short session” in the number of days, but the 2017 Legislative Session was not “short” on important public policy changes. Last week, we completed the 29th and 30th days of the session by voting on significant issues in the areas of education, criminal justice reform, and government accountability.

Some bills were passed and others were defeated in the last two legislative days. The General Assembly had a major victory when we were able to move forward with important legislation that the Governor attempted to halt. We voted to override the Governor’s vetoes – all four of them. In my time in Frankfort, overriding all of a Governor’s vetoes is something that had not happened before.

The Governor’s four vetoes dealt with court-ordered treatment for mentally ill people with a history of involuntary hospitalization (known as Tim’s Law), the regulation of drones, the manner of disbursing funds from a multimillion-dollar legal settlement with Volkswagen, and the naming of roads in various parts of the state. All four of these vetoes were successfully overridden in the Senate and House by wide margins.

With time waning, some new bills did pass and were delivered to the Governor’s desk, including a wide-reaching education reform policy that would change how our public schools are held accountable for student progress and how teachers are evaluated. Among other goals, Senate Bill 1 is designed to place more control and accountability in the hands of local school districts, enabling them to have a stronger voice in how to improve performance by both students and teachers, and will hopefully help school districts to turn their low-performing schools around.

Other bills that passed last week, which will become law when signed by the Governor, include:

· Senate Bill 120 is a criminal justice reform bill that will help people leaving prison successfully rejoin society by providing them with employable skills. The measure includes provisions to remove licensing restrictions that make it harder for felons to find jobs. It also makes improvements in reentry substance abuse supervision.

· House Bill 253 will help protect abused children by allowing unannounced visits by state social services workers to the residences where child abuse or neglect has occurred. The unannounced visits will continue until the welfare of a child has been safeguarded.

· House Bill 524 attempts to help fight human trafficking by requiring public schools to display the National Human Trafficking Reporting Hotline information, and also will require the hotline number to be posted at rest areas. The measure will also provide for enhanced penalties for promoting human trafficking that involves commercial sexual activity making it a criminal offense against a minor if the victim is under 18.

· House Bill 309 enables tenants who are victims of domestic violence to terminate a lease with 30 days’ notice to their landlords without penalties. It also prevents abuse victims from being denied a lease because of their history as domestic violence victims.

Sometimes defeating a bill is a victory as we saw in the last hours of the last day of the session. House Bill 281 would have stripped the power of Attorney General Andy Beshear and future attorney generals to file civil lawsuits or appeals on behalf of the state. That power would transfer to the governor.  No other attorney general in the country would be as weak. For example, HB 281 would have prohibited the attorney general from suing to challenge Governor Bevin’s cuts to public universities. In addition to forfeiting the checks and balances on the governor, HB 281 would have narrowed the avenues for the Commonwealth to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Attorney General is the people’s attorney and this bill would have been a threat to the state and our people.

Soon the dust will settle and the 2017 session will be another for the books. There are some major issues still looming over us and the Governor has said he will call us back to session to address tax reform and pensions. Those are two very complex issues, and, at least in my opinion, for the General Assembly to successfully address them will require the House and Senate Republicans to find a plan agreeable to both.  That hasn’t happened yet. 

In the meantime, I urge you to stay in touch. You can always leave a message on the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181. You can e-mail me directly at reginald.thomas@lrc.ky.gov.

2017 Rice Leach Public Health Hero Award

On a different and a more personal note, I am honored to be selected as recipient of the 2017 Rice Leach Public Health Hero Award from the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Board of Health. I will be recognized at the April 27 Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting and honored at the May 8 Board of Health meeting.

Previously known as the Public Health Hero Award, the Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in memory of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach, Lexington’s former Commissioner of Health who spent more than 50 years as a public health physician. Leach died April 1, 2016. It is very humbling to receive an award named for Dr. Leach. If you would like to read more about this award, follow this link: http://www.kyforward.com/lexington-attorney-state-senator-thomas-named-rice-leach-public-health-hero-for-2017/.

Prepared by LRC Staff

(KY) This Week at the State Capitol


March 31, 2017

This Week at the State Capitol

2017 Legislative session draws to a close

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky General Assembly wrapped up its 2017 legislative session on Thursday night after a final swirl of meetings, debate and eleventh-hour votes. After leaving Frankfort for a nearly-two-week veto recess, members of the House and Senate returned this week for two final days during which several major pieces of legislation achieved final passage and seem poised to become law.

One of the most closely-watched measures was Senate Bill 1, which makes sweeping changes to public education in Kentucky by changing how students, teachers, and schools are evaluated and held accountable. The bill is designed to return more control to local school districts, giving them a stronger voice in measuring and improving performance, including that of schools that are struggling.

Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, Kentucky schools would review and revise academic standards with recommendations from educators and suggestions invited from members of the public. Local school boards would also be responsible for evaluating teachers, the amount of paperwork now required of teachers and administrators would be reduced, and new locally-controlled accountability measures would be enacted for success indicators such as graduation rates and college admissions. The bill had widespread support from education groups and easily passed both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 1 comes on the heels of another major change for education in the Commonwealth – the passage of the charter schools bill earlier in March. House Bill 520 passed both chambers, clearing the way for local school boards to authorize and operate charter schools in Kentucky. Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, such schools can be established by contract and governed by independent school boards, providing students with programs that meet or exceed student performance standards adopted by the state’s Board of Education.

A third measure affecting Kentucky schools was House Bill 128, which establishes a method for allowing public high schools to offer courses in Bible literacy. The classes, which would be voluntary for schools to offer and elective for students to take, would be part of a school’s social studies curriculum. The bill passed the Senate on Wednesday after being cleared earlier by the House, so it is now in the hands of Gov. Matt Bevin.

Also achieving final passage this week was Senate Bill 120, which is designed to give convicted felons an easier path to successfully re-enter society. The bill would enable prisoners to gain work experience while still incarcerated, reduce probation and parole times for certain offenders, and prevent defendants from being jailed for inability to pay their court costs.

One of the week’s more vigorously-debated measures was House Bill 333, which would prevent physicians from prescribing more than a three-day supply of opioid painkillers such as fentanyl and carfentanil, with some exceptions allowed. The bill, which is now in the hands of Gov. Bevin, also increases penalties for trafficking in opioids and authorizes the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General to investigate trends in drug usage and trafficking in a further effort to tackle the state’s increasing problem with painkiller addiction.

Also achieving final passage this week were:

· House Bill 524, a measure to prevent and reduce human trafficking, including sexual and labor exploitation, in Kentucky. The bill requires public schools and highway rest areas to post hotline phone numbers for reporting human trafficking.

· House Bill 253, legislation to require unannounced welfare checks on children who have been the subject of reported child abuse or neglect. Such visits would continue until the child’s safety has been ascertained, and schools would be unable to deny access to a child who is the subject of an investigation.

· House Bill 309, which enables tenants who are victims of domestic violence to terminate a lease  with 30 days’ notice to their landlords and prevent abuse victims from being denied a lease because of their history as domestic violence victims.

Finally, the General Assembly voted this week to override Gov. Bevin’s vetoes on four pieces of legislation that had been approved by the legislature earlier in the session:

· Senate Bill 91, which will allow court-ordered outpatient treatment for certain mentally ill people and hospitalization in some cases after getting a petition from loved ones, legal guardians, law enforcement or medical professionals.

· Senate Joint Resolution 57, which will designate honorary names and sign placements on Kentucky roads.

· House Bill 540, which will create state regulations for drones.

· House Bill 471, which will create funding for public charter schools. The governor’s line-item veto on this bill would not have affected charter school funding, though. It only targeted a portion of the bill dealing with the disbursement of funds from a multimillion dollar legal settlement with Volkswagen

Although the legislative session has concluded, constituents are still encouraged to contact their Representatives and Senators to voice their opinions about issues of interest. If you’d like to share your thoughts and ideas with state lawmakers, please call the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at (800) 372-7181, or find contact information for individual legislators at www.lrc.ky.gov.

–END–

Kentucky congressman says ‘Hell No’ to Obamacare replacement bill


Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., listened during a committee session in 2013.

By Fernando Alfonso III

falfonso@herald-leader.com

A tweet from a Northern Kentucky congressman went viral Wednesday afternoon after he used his voting card to double down on his disdain for the American Health Care Act, the Republicans’ attempt to replace Obamacare.

Rep. Thomas Massie’s tweet features a photo of his “new” voting card and the words “HELL NO” on it. Within two hours after sending the message, Massie, who manages his own Twitter account, could not believe it had collected more than 8,200 likes and 3,000 retweets.

“I didn’t expect it to go viral. I thought maybe we’d get 5 percent of that,” Massie said over the phone in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon. “It’s another version of Obamacare, in my opinion, and it’s not as well thought out. We need to leave the socialism to the socialists. If I thought the bill were a glass half full proposition, better than the status quo, I’d vote for it. But I think it will make insurance premiums go up.”


Sen. Rand Paul predicts House will vote down GOP health plan

“It’s important for Republicans to understand that once we pass something, we will own it,” Sen. Rand Paul said of the GOP health care plan. “If what we pass is not going to work, it’s a bad thing to own.”

jbrammer@herald-leader.com


The AHCA would replace the subsidies in Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, with a flat tax credit that would not account for income or local insurance prices. The new law would also allow insurers to charge older people five times what they charge younger customers, compared to three times under Obama’s health care law, according to the Associated Press.

Massie, a Republican, has made his displeasure over AHCA clear on Twitter over the past week through hashtags like #sassywithmassie.

“(The proposal) just won’t work and Republicans will get blamed for escalating health insurance costs,” Massie said. “The bill doesn’t do enough to reduce the cost of health care. I feel the momentum is against the bill. I don’t see any of my colleagues changing their votes and they’ve had 24 hours to switch people from a no to a yes to no avail.”

Angry constituents confront U.S. Rep. Andy Barr about GOP health care bill

U.S. Rep Andy Barr faced angry constituents in Richmond, Ky., during a town hall on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Barr was defending the Republican proposal to replace the federal Affordable Care Act.

Daniel Desrochers ddesrochers@herald-leader.com

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

Related content

5 things to know about the CBO’s report on Paul Ryan’s ACA replacement

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO!

(KY) Senate approves bill to tighten reporting of toxicology screenings


For Immediate Release

March 14, 2017 

Senate approves bill to tighten reporting of toxicology screenings

FRANKFORT — A bill to tighten the reporting of toxicology screenings by Kentucky hospitals passed the state Senate today, clearing its way to become law pending the signature of Gov. Matt Bevin. 

House Bill 314, which was approved by the House of Representatives late last month, requires certain hospitals to report positive drug screenings to the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, including results from newborn babies who might have been exposed to controlled substances by their mothers prior to birth.  The measure is part of an ongoing effort to fight prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. 

The bill also permits federal prosecutors and medical professionals, including pharmacists, to use the state’s KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) database containing reports of misuse of controlled substances. 

“For the KASPER system to be effective,  we need to stay on top of it,” said Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah. “We need every tool available to us.”

The bill passed the Senate 33-3 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.

–END–

HB 314 :

AN ACT relating to controlled substance monitoring.
     Amend KRS 218A.202 to require certain hospitals to report positive toxicology screens to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; permit federal prosecutors and agents to use KASPER; permit practitioners or pharmacists to review KASPER reports of birth mothers of potentially drug-exposed infants; remove a pilot program relating to real-time electronic monitoring; make other technical corrections; amend KRS 218A.240 to conform.

Charter school bill passes, goes to governor


For Immediate Release

March 15, 2017


Charter school bill passes, goes to governor

FRANKFORT—The Kentucky Senate and House each voted today in favor of legislation to allow publicly funded charter schools to operate in Kentucky. The bill now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin, a supporter of charter schools, to be signed into law.

House Bill 520, sponsored by House Education Committee Chairman and public school teacher John Carney, R-Campbellsville, HB 520 would allow local school boards to authorize public charter schools in their school districts beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. The schools would established by contract and governed by independent boards to provide Kentucky residents with nonsectarian educational programs that “meet or exceed student performance standards adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education,” according to the bill.

The Senate voted 23-15 this afternoon in favor of the bill. The House, which already approved a version of the legislation earlier this month, cast a 53-43 vote this evening officially accepting changes made to the bill by the Senate.

Changes to the bill approved by the Senate and the House would allow the state school board to override a local school board’s decision regarding authorization of charter schools and allow for judicial review of the state board’s decision. It would also allow mayors of the state’s two largest cities (Louisville and Lexington) to be authorizers of charter schools upon their request, and emphasize that only certified teachers and administrators approved by the Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board could be hired to teach at the schools.

Other approved changes would allow, not require, charter schools to give enrollment preference to lower-income students, and would allow charter school students who cannot participate in state-sanctioned school athletics at their school to participate in sports at the traditional public school in their district, along with a few other changes.

Kentucky is one of seven states that do not already allow public charter schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Latonia, read from a Presidential Proclamation issued by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to make the case in support of charter schools in the Senate this afternoon. McDaniel quoted Obama’s proclamation as saying: “Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country.  These institutions give educators the freedom to cultivate new teaching models and develop creative methods to meet students’ needs.”

In a House debate this evening, Carney said that that public charter schools will give Kentuckians a choice in public education.

“The reality is we have a system that does not work for every child in Kentucky. We teach to the middle,” he said. “Too many folks are being left behind.”

Among those voting against HB 520 was former House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. Richards said that charter schools would be money-making ventures governed by what he described as “for-profit” companies. 

“If you believe it’s unfair for a for-profit management company to take money away from your school system, you can’t vote for this bill. And it will. These management companies have to make money, folks,” said Richards.

Following passage of HB 520, the House voted 61-34 for final passage of House Bill 471, sponsored by House Appropriations and Revenue Chair Steven Rudy, R-Paducah. That bill would amend the 2016-2018 executive branch budget to create a funding mechanism for charter schools created under HB 520.

Bills to allow charter schools in Kentucky have been filed for consideration in the Kentucky General Assembly since 2008. No charter school bills have passed the House until this year.

–END–

(KY) Who is this legislature working for?


March 14, 2017

As this session of the General Assembly winds down, its recurring theme has been the transfer of power to those who already have it.

The dramatic rush of legislation in early January produced the new Republican majority’s crown jewel, a right-to-work law weakening the labor unions that represent Kentucky workers.

Since then, there’s been a steady redistribution of power and influence to those who already enjoy power and influence, from those who have much less of both.

Victims of nursing-home negligence and medical malpractice lost power to the nursing home and medical industries and will now have to go through “medical review panels” before taking their complaints to court.

Neighborhoods lost power to developers who were given a weapon in the form of a costly bond requirement to take disputes over zoning decisions to the Court of Appeals.

Coal miners are losing to the operators of unsafe mines as a bill progresses that would result in fewer state mine-safety inspections.

Workers in chain restaurants lost to corporations that are being relieved of responsibility for wage, hour, health, safety and other violations affecting their franchises’ employees.

Kentuckians will lose part of the public highways to longer, heavier trucks as a favor to the poultry, aluminum and trucking industries (though Kentucky’s short-line railroad industry is also losing).

School districts will be allowed to employ certain relatives of school-board members as lawmakers dismantle historic anti-nepotism rules piecemeal.

And women — especially low-income and rural women — will have less access to safe, legal abortions as a male-dominated legislature imposes even more constitutionally questionable barriers. At the same time, bipartisan legislation that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations, such as breaks or unpaid time off, to pregnant or breastfeeding workers got nowhere.

The legislature’s new Republican majority is making Kentucky a guinea pig to test the theory that lowering wages and taking away Kentuckians’ rights will produce a better, more prosperous state.

In doing so, the new Republican majority is also carrying out the agenda of an organization founded and funded by the Koch brothers (who have plenty of power, influence and money) that opened shop in Kentucky in 2014. Americans for Prosperity does not report how it spends its money or where its money comes from. It does not give directly to candidates, but there’s no doubt its independent spending was a factor in last fall’s elections when Republicans won the House for the first time in almost a century and also in Gov. Matt Bevin’s victory in 2015.

Kentucky’s legislature and governors have long been captive to monied interests, most notably road builders and other state contractors.

This session is the first in which lawmakers have owed so much to out-of-state interests.

This session’s redistribution of power eventually will manifest itself in lawmakers’ hometowns and across their districts. They can pat themselves on the backs if, indeed, their constituents become more prosperous, healthy and safe as a result of their actions. If that’s not how it works out, however, voters will have to make a strong statement to be heard above the siren song of dark money.

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(3/10/17) Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens Week in Review


Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

A flurry of activity stemming from committee meetings and the passage of bills marked a short but intense Week 6 of the Kentucky General Assembly. Although the Senate was only in session from Monday to Wednesday of this week, committee meetings still met during the later part of the week to give final hearings to a few select bills.

Quite a few pieces of legislation have already made it to Governor Bevin’s desk to await his signature. Senate Bill 17, relating to student rights to political and religious speech, was given final passage by the House this week. Senate Bill 101 would allow pharmacists to administer more immunizations to children, and Senate Bill 117, allowing veterans who meet certain criteria to obtain special teaching certificates, were also finally passed by the House.

The Senate also enrolled House bills to be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature, including: House Bill 14, which makes committing an offense against a first responder a hate crime; House Bill 93, strengthening penalties for assaulting a law enforcement animal, also known as “Ernie’s Law”; and House Bill 189, increasing transparency within area development districts.

Senate Bill 50 would allow school districts that choose to start the school year no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 to follow a “variable student instructional year.” Schools which start the school year a little later in August than other schools, would not have to meet a 170-day requirement for the school year, as long as students still receive 1,062 hours of instruction each year, which is considered the equivalent of 170 school days. Senate Bill 50 was passed by the Senate 33-1 on February 9 and approved 77-18 by the House on March 8. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Senate legislation that would allow medical review panels to review medical malpractice lawsuits before they go to court was also sent to the Governor last week.  Senate Bill 4 would establish a process for medical review panels to review cases and issue opinions that could be used as evidence in court if a case proceeds. It does not prevent any citizen’s access to the courts. The bill was approved by the Senate 23-13 on January 5 and approved 51-45 by the House on March 1. It was delivered to the Governor on March 6.

The General Assembly is now quickly approaching the end of the 2017 Session. We adjourned on March 8, marking day 26 of 30 of the session, and we will reconvene again on March 14 and 15 before going into the veto period. During that period the Governor has the power to veto bills, but the General Assembly can override vetoes on the last two days of session, March 29 and 30.  If you have questions about the status of bills, please feel free to contact my office or review the Legislative Record online which can be found at www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/record.htm.

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. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

David Givens

Senate President Pro Tem

Kentucky on verge of lifting nuclear moratorium


Image result for kentucky nuclear waste site

James Bruggers , @jbruggers 10:23 a.m. ET March 8, 2017

Nuclear critic says no nuclear power plants will likely come to Kentucky any time soon because of their costs

A bill that would overturn a three-decade-old law that effectively bars construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky is on the verge of passing the General Assembly and being sent to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature.

Senate Bill 11 would get rid of a mandate that any nuclear power plants have access to a permanent disposal facility for their radioactive wastes, which can remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. They’d only have to have a plan to manage those wastes.

Already successfully through the Senate, Sen. Danny Carroll‘s bill passed a House committee on Tuesday and was sent to the House floor for a vote, where one of its long-time critics, Kentucky Resources Council director Tom FitzGerald, said he expects it will pass.

“We’ve had 15 years of arguing over this,” FitzGerald said Wednesday, observing that his organization withdrew its opposition this year as new wording was added to make sure all costs of nuclear energy would be weighed before allowing any plants to be constructed in Kentucky.

He said there was little chance of a nuclear plant being built in Kentucky anytime soon because they cannot compete economically with other forms of energy such as natural gas, scrubbed coal or renewables.

►MORE:  Bevin, 18 states, call for EPA to back off

Still, Carroll, a Paducah Republican, whose district includes a former nuclear fuel factory in Paducah, said Kentucky needs to be ready to diversify its energy portfolio.

In a news release, he said that U.S. energy demand is expected to increase. “That means the United States will need many new power plants of all types to meet the increased demand and replace older facilities that are retired. To ensure a diverse portfolio, many of these new power plants will have to be nuclear,” he said.

FitzGerarld said it’s more likely that the bill might allow the Paducah facility — which will be in a cleanup mode for many decades — to attract some additional research and development money to Kentucky.

Despite spending billions of dollars over two decades, the U.S. government failed to open a permanent disposal facility for high-level nuclear waste at its Yucca Mountain site in Nevada.

Reach reporter James Bruggers at 502-582-4645 or at jbruggers@courier-journal.com.

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Status

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 3-0)
Status: Engrossed on March 2 2017 – 50% progression
Action: 2017-03-07 – reported favorably, 1st reading, to Calendar
Text: Latest bill text (Draft #2) [PDF]

Summary

Amend KRS 278.600 to require that nuclear power facilities have a plan for the storage of nuclear waste rather than a means of permanent disposal and to add definitions of “storage,” “low-level nuclear waste,” and “mixed nuclear waste”; amend KRS 278.610 to allow certification if the facility and its plans for waste storage are approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; eliminate the requirement that the facility have a plan for disposal of high-level nuclear waste; eliminate the requirement that cost of waste disposal be known; eliminate the requirement that the facility have adequate capacity to contain waste; give the Public Service Commission authority to hire a consultant to perform duties relating to nuclear facility certification; prohibit construction of low-level nuclear waste disposal sites in Kentucky except as provided in KRS 211.852; direct the Energy and Environment Cabinet to review regulations required for permitting nuclear facilities and report to LRC; repeal KRS 278.605, relating to construction of nuclear power facilities.

CONTINUE TO SB11 …

Where key bills stand with seven workdays left in the 2017 General Assembly


The Kentucky House of Representatives voted on bills on Friday, March 3, 2017, at the state Capitol in Frankfort.

By John Cheves

jcheves@herald-leader.com

Frankfort

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.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics

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