McCoy: House bills on charter schools, REAL ID awaiting Senate for approval
By CHAD MCCOY
50th District State Representative
Friday, March 10, 2017, 11 a.m. — We are in the final stretch of the Regular Session and the House has been hard at work to better Kentucky, not only on bills from our own chamber, but reviewing Senate bills as well. With just a few legislative days remaining, the brisk pace can be expected right up until the clock runs out. We passed several measures this week, dealing with multiple issues facing the Commonwealth.
REAL ID. House Bill 410 passed the House, which aims to modernize our state’s driver’s license program. This measure would ensure that Kentuckians are able to keep their standard driver’s license while also allowing an individual to receive a federally compliant ID. This was a necessary piece of legislation to make sure Kentucky complies with federal law. The bill provides the means for those who want or need a federally vetted ID to obtain one, while protecting people who do not want a federally vetted driver’s license. The travel ID allows individuals to get onto TSA controlled airplanes without a passport, and into federal base installations. I supported this measure as it directly impacts every Kentuckian who wants to fly, and also the military installments of Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. I want to stress that this new travel ID is completely optional, but available to any Kentuckian that seeks to apply for it.
CHARTER SCHOOLS. Education also was at the forefront of House business this past week with our passage of charter schools legislation. Now awaiting action in the Senate, House Bill 520 would allow local school boards and the mayors of Louisville and Lexington to authorize the creation of public charter schools—public schools governed by independent boards instead of local school districts—beginning next school year. Forty three states now allow charter schools, which some say drain public education dollars while others praise the schools for helping to close the student achievement gap.
SCHOOL SCHEDULES. Giving public schools more leeway in deciding how many instructional days will be on their schools calendar was the purpose of another education bill that progressed this past week. SB 50, which received final passage and now goes to the Governor for his signature, would allow school districts to use a “variable student instructional year” that would require the same hours of instruction now required by law but allow for fewer school days than the minimum of 170 days that the law requires. Districts could instead use the variable schedule beginning with the 2018-19 school year if their first day of instruction is on or after the Monday closest to Aug. 26.
The following is a list of other bills progressing through the final days:
SB 218. SB 218 is this industrial hemp bill designed to improve the industrial hemp production program in Kentucky, first established in Kentucky in 2013. The legislation passed four years ago authorized industrial hemp research programs at the state level. State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said this year marks Kentucky’s largest industrial hemp crop under the program, with over 12,000 acres approved for production. The bill was sent to the Governor on March 8 after passing the House by a vote of 88-3 on Tuesday.
SB 79. SB 79 would allow patients to enter into contracts with their primary care provider that spell out primary care services to be provided for an agreed-upon fee over a specific period of time. The “direct primary care membership agreement” would not require a patient to forfeit private insurance or Medicaid coverage. SB 79 passed the House 85-6 on Monday. It received final passage on Tuesday by a Senate vote of 37-1 and is now before the Governor for his signature.
HB 323. HB 323 would allow anyone who was a Kentucky resident when they enlisted for active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or Reserves or the National Guard to pay the Kentucky resident rate for Kentucky hunting and fishing licenses and permits. HB 323 passed the House on a 92-0 vote on Monday and is now awaiting action in the Senate.
I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues impacting our Commonwealth during the 2017 Regular Session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.