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Sen. Higdon offers update on legislation heading to Gov. Bevin’s desk

By JIMMY HIGDON
14th District State Senator

Friday, March 8, 2019 — The pace of activity in the Capitol is picking up as we rapidly approach the end of the 153rd Regular Session. With only a few days left to pass bills, the Kentucky General Assembly has been working in overdrive to develop the best legislative policy for the Commonwealth.

SEN. JIMMY HIGDON

Many big issues have been addressed in this 30-day short session. This was one of our busiest weeks yet as bills concerning abortion, medical marijuana, and education had Frankfort buzzing with visitors to attend rallies and committee meetings.

Policy relating to the use of e-cigarettes or “vaping” was also addressed. Senate Bill 218, would establish an anonymous reporting system for students to report vaping and would encourage school boards to inform teachers and students of the dangers of e-cigarette use and nicotine addiction.

The major legislative priority, tax reform, was addressed this week as the Senate took up the tax overhaul bill, House Bill 354. Amended by a Senate committee substitute, HB 354 would exempt nonprofits from collecting and remitting sales tax on admissions to charity events in addition to making it clear in statute that one-time fundraising events are not subject to the sales tax. HB 354 is now before a free conference committee, a joint committee of Senators and Representatives directed to reach agreement on legislation on which the two chambers are unable to agree.

House Bill 158, known as the “foster child bill of rights,” passed the Senate by a 36-0 vote before going on to receive final passage.

A key component of HB 158 is a list of 16 statutory rights for children in out-of-home placement in Kentucky. Those rights would include adequate food, clothing and shelter; a safe, secure, and stable family; and freedom from physical, sexual, or emotional injury or exploitation. HB 158 would also shorten timeframes concerning consent to a child’s adoption and searches of Kentucky’s “putative father” registry – a state registry created under House Bill 1 of 2018 for men who want parental rights to a child they claim to have fathered.

Supporters said HB 158 would also bring Kentucky in compliance with the federal Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018. That act seeks to curtail the use of group care for children and instead places a new emphasis on family foster homes. They also said it would align Kentucky’s standards with many other states.

HB 158 will now go to the governor’s desk.

The first bills of the session were signed into law by Governor Bevin during the sixth week of session. They include Senate Bill 77, a measure that would allow people to join Kentucky’s organ donor registry via a single sign on system, and Senate Bill 4, legislation requires mandatory electronic filing of all candidates’ campaign finance reports.

In a recent calendar revision, the General Assembly will begin its veto recess on March 15 and final adjournment of the 2019 Regular Session is now scheduled for on March 28. The revised session calendar can be found online at www.legislature.ky.gov.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate Senator-elect Phillip Wheeler on his recent special election victory. The Senate Republican Caucus is proud to welcome him and know he will represent the 31st Senate district well.

Thank you for reaching out with your questions and concerns. It is an honor to represent you in Frankfort.

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.legislature.ky.gov.

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