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Legislative update: Work begins for 2020 Session during legislative interim

By CHAD MCCOY
50th District State Representative

Saturday, June 8, 2019 — As a member of the Kentucky House, I am often asked what I do when the legislature is not in session. While we are considered a “part-time” legislature, we are constantly engaged in legislative work, both here at home and in Frankfort. The time between sessions, called the Legislative Interim, allows us to oversee how the laws we have enacted in the past are being implemented. The Interim also gives my colleagues and I a chance to research and study the issues we will be working on when we convene in regular session in January.

REP. CHAD MCCOY

This week we kicked off the formal Interim period with a week’s worth of committee meetings in Frankfort.

On Tuesday, presidents from the state’s two research universities updated members of the Interim Joint Committee (IJC) on Appropriations and Revenue on funding changes that were passed in 2017. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi told committee members that their experience with a higher education funding model that is based on performance is positive. The new model allocates a portion of state funding based on how a university performs in 11 categories. According to the testimony, the University of Kentucky outperformed the average in 10 metric-areas. The University of Louisville outperformed the average in four areas. The model is being phased in at the state’s universities and community colleges.

Appropriations and Revenue Committee members also heard about a University of Kentucky research project aimed at reducing opioid addiction and deaths in 16 Kentucky counties. The university received an $87 million grant for the HEALing Communities Study, which will begin this fall and work to reduce opioid deaths by 40 percent over three years in select counties.

The Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and the Judiciary heard testimony from Justice and Public Safety Secretary John Tilley. According to Tilley, almost 24,000 people are behind bars in Kentucky and an additional 48,000 individuals are on supervised probation or parole. Kentucky is ranked 10th per capita among the states in prisoner growth, and we have the second-highest rate per capita of incarcerated women. The fact that resonated the most with me? More Kentucky children are impacted by incarceration than any other state in the nation. This means that today’s problems will grow.

Cabinet staff also shared that there is an increased focus on job and skills training for inmates so they will be more employable once they complete their sentence. Obviously, those with employment are much less likely to re-offend and return to prison, which would also save taxpayers over the long run.

In other committee news, the director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood updated the IJC on Education. According to testimony, the state is using a $10 million grant from the Every Student Succeeds Act to strengthen early childhood education in both public and private preschool and daycare settings. Studies have consistently linked overall education success with participation in high quality early childhood programs.

Education Committee members also heard a report on homeschooling in Kentucky. Legislative Research Commission staff with the Office of Education Accountability shared that homeschooling is growing in Kentucky and across the nation, but Kentucky’s growth rate is higher than national estimates. They also found that the increase coincided with higher concerns about mental health and safety, as well as a lack of trust in public school systems. Committee members heard testimony that homeschooled students who enroll in Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions show higher levels of academic success than public school counterparts. While everyone appears to recognize that there is a successful, well-respected homeschooling tradition in our state, there are concerns that a small segment of parents are using it to avoid truancy. The OEA staff shared that 82 percent of state pupil personnel directors have observed families they believe are taking advantage of flexibility in home school laws to avoid legal consequences of truancy, the report said.

As I hope you can see, we have been working hard to put the “open for business” sign up in our state, a reality reflected by our low unemployment rate and growing economy. But this is just the beginning and we have more to do in future sessions.

If you would like to share your thoughts on job creation, or any other issue, please reach out to me. I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. If you would like more information, or to e-mail me, please visit the legislature’s website www.legislature.ky.gov.

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