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Higdon: Senate continues to pass bills as General Assembly session nears close

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Monday, March 12, 2018 — Now that the General Assembly is in the home stretch of the current legislative session, activity in the legislative committee system is in overdrive. There are only a couple of weeks left in the 2018 Session. The pace of activity in the Capitol is sure to continue increasing in the days ahead as the Senate continues work on the Commonwealth’s budget proposal.

SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

We continued to pass a number of bills this week beginning with Senate Bill 133. This criminal justice reform bill is pro-woman, pro-family, and pro-life. It ensures incarcerated women are treated with dignity and respect, especially while carrying unborn children. Senate Bill 133 would also prohibit women from being shackled while in labor, creating a safer environment for both the woman and unborn child.

Another bill we passed to protect Kentucky families was SB 48. This legislation that would set 18 as the legal age to get married in Kentucky. Under the plan, 17-year-olds could also get married, but only with a judge’s permission. Current law allows 16- and 17-year-olds to be married with parental consent, and allows a district judge to approve the marriage of a child below the age of 16 if the girl is pregnant. There have been over 10,000 child marriages in Kentucky since 2000, and only seven percent of those marriages involved two teenagers. We hope this bill will keep young children from being exploited and abused and protect the integrity of our future generations.

We also passed SB 19, which increases penalties for sex crimes against a victim who is a person with an intellectual disability. Senate Bill 95, another bill that passed with bipartisan support, establishes that any health benefit plan issued or renewed in the Commonwealth that provides coverage for hospital, medical, or surgical expenses, will include coverage for standard fertility preservation services when a necessary medical treatment may directly or indirectly cause infertility. Senate Bill 95 is also known as “Melissa’s Law,” named after the brave woman who shared her infertility journey and championed the legislation from the beginning.

Senate Bill 149 passed unanimously and establishes the Palliative Care Interdisciplinary Advisory Council within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Palliative care is an underrated step in a person’s terminal illness journey, offering supportive services and comfort. I hope this bill will continue to raise awareness about palliative care in the Commonwealth.

Senate Bill 142 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, requiring emergency operators to be trained in high-quality telephone cardiopulmonary resuscitation (T-CPR). Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 218 passed unanimously and encourages state agencies to conduct self-studies to examine practices that contribute to food waste and identify new practices that would reduce food waste and increase food donations to charitable feeding agencies.

It is an honor represent you in Frankfort. Thank you for your calls, emails, and visits to our State Capitol. With the end of the legislative session in sight, our main focus will continue to be on the state budget and road plan as we lay out the Commonwealth’s financial path for the next two years.

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, on my home phone at 270-692-6945, or email me at Jimmy.Higdon@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

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