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Higdon: Senate approving legislation while work continues on state budget

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Saturday, March 17, 2018 — As we draw closer to the end of the 2018 Regular Session, there has been no shortage of movement on significant bills in Frankfort this week. The Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee has spent several days and some late nights working on the Senate’s budget proposal, which we expect to go before the committee soon.

First, I would like to thank those who have participated in the legislative process whether by phone, letter, email or in person. Several issues have generated much conversation. I commend all those who have contacted me. Unfortunately, some elected officials have made negative comments about those in our public retirement systems. I absolutely do not condone these comments, and I want personally thank each and every one of our teachers and public employees for your dedication to our great Commonwealth.

STATE SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

Besides spending time with visitors from our districts, the Senate was busy passing a number of bills this week. Senate Bill 152, which passed unanimously, allows school districts to provide additional compensation for classroom teachers in a school identified as being in targeted or comprehensive support and improvement status. SB 152 would only apply to schools that the state education department considers to be in “targeted” or “comprehensive support and improvement” status. Local school districts would be in charge of developing the incentive packages that would be received by teachers. The incentives would apply to all teachers within a designated school but wouldn’t apply district-wide.

Senate Bill 228 deals with conduct between student-athletes and sports agents. It would amend an existing law by expanding the legal definition of an agent. An amendment would exempt a parent or guardian from having to register as an agent unless they receive or expect to receive money for acting as an agent. Another provision of SB 228 would expand what must be listed on an agent’s registration application to include their social media accounts. It would also regulate how agents contact students over social media.

We also passed Senate Bill (SB) 137, which updates the Kentucky Rules of Evidence to clarify statutes pertaining to hearsay out-of-court statements made by a child that may have been sexually assaulted. Senate Bill 237, which passed with bipartisan support, requires public colleges and universities to adopt policies ensuring the protection of freedom of speech and expression by students and faculty.

Another bill that passed with bipartisan support was SB 210, increasing the penalties for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. House Bill 191, which passed with bipartisan support, provides consumer protection in eye care by increasing the standards through which prescription lenses are obtained from the internet. House Bill 213, which passed unanimously, relates to data-sharing of prescription drug monitoring information, allowing KASPER data-sharing agreements with different types of jurisdictions. A bill that lifts financial burdens from non-profit organizations, SB 205, also passed unanimously from the Senate.

House Bill (HB) 33 adds protection for bicyclists on the road by requiring drivers to pass bicyclists at a distance of at least three feet. A Senate amendment provides that bicycle operators shall not ride more than two abreast in a highway lane unless the roadway is marked exclusively for bicycle use in order to ensure vehicles have ample room to pass bicyclists.

Senate Bill 6 takes aim at Kentucky’s growing opioid crisis by recommending pharmacies to offer, when prescribing opioids, a safe disposal method that can be utilized at home. Opioid abuse most often starts from family pill cabinets, and we hope this disposal tool helps Kentuckians safely discard controlled substances.

After the Senate grants passage to its version of the budget bill, a conference committee likely will be formed between the Senate and House to finalize budget negotiations. The pension discussion continues as well, as SB 1 was moved back into the Senate State and Local Government Committee. I appreciate your input, questions, and comments, and I look forward to representing our district in the final stages of the 2018 Session.

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 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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