Visits from advocacy groups, a ceremonial bill signing, and rallies in the Capitol
Rotunda, along with the bipartisan passage of bills, marked a busy Week Four of the
2017 Legislative Session. We were excited to welcome the children of Kentucky
National Guard members from across the state for the First Annual Kentucky Military
Kids Day. It was an honor to host these families who have sacrificed so much to
serve our state and our country.
On February 20 we observed President’s Day, also celebrated as President George
Washington’s birthday. Governor Matt Bevin ceremonially signed Senate Bill (SB) 3
this week. The bill, which easily passed both chambers during the first week of
January, provides transparency for taxpayers by making legislative pensions public.
In addition to all these events, we spent a significant amount of time in committees
and passing bills on the floor. Friday marked day 18 of 30 of the 2017 Session, so
the window of time to pass legislation is closing. We passed quite a few important
bills through the Senate, including:
* SB 8 defunds organizations that fund abortions, such as Planned Parenthood;
* SB 21 allows for the use of experimental treatments not yet approved by the
FDA if the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness;
* SB 31, a bill I sponsored, makes permanent the increase in the training
stipend given to police and professional firefighters approved in last year’s
budget. The bill also increases the allocation to volunteer fire departments from
$8,500 to $11,000;
* SB 107 gives the General Assembly a check-and-balance means of ensuring
balanced boards of postsecondary institutions. This is another step to ensure the
leadership at our state universities follow the law and act in the best interest
of the students.
* SB 120, the Criminal Justice Reform bill, address various areas of the
criminal justice system. It is designed to further efforts to rehabilitate and
reduce recidivism rates. This is the bill I have struggled with the most this
session, and although I was not initially in support of the bill, I voted “yes”
after changes were made to the bill at my request.
* SB 122 establishes a Gold Star Sons and Gold Star Daughters special license
plate for children of the armed forces who were killed overseas;
* SB 150, another bill I sponsored, would require law firms to publish complete
information related to governmental surveys of long-term care facilities when
publishing ads that include survey information. This bill does in no way restrict
civil recourse or lessen accountability for long-term care facilities. It simply
relates to truth in advertising;
* SB 153 establishes a comprehensive funding model for the allocation of state
funds to public universities based on student success, course completion, and
other components. This bill encourages universities to focus on the long-term
success and preparedness of their students;
* SB 159 requires all public high school students to pass a civics test in order
to receive a regular diploma. This passing score would be a minimum of 60 percent
and the questions would be pulled from the test required of all people seeking to
become U.S. citizens. I was surprised to learn that a few folks had concerns about
this bill. The information students would be tested on is basic civics that, as
citizens of this country, we should all know.
This week I had the honor of celebrating the life of Ms. Betty Ormes with a
Resolution heard on the Senate floor. Betty was a beloved member of the Paducah
community and will be missed by many. I want to thank her son and my friend, Michael
Ormes, for making the trip to Frankfort for this occasion.
I was very pleased to introduce the “Sunny Page” Program on the Senate floor this
week. This program is a bipartisan effort Senator Dennis Parrett, LRC staff, Senate
staff, and I initiated in the State Senate. The program encourages special needs
students from across the state to page in the Senate and be a part of the
legislative process. We chose the name “Sunny Pages” simply because these kids
brighten up everyone’s day by their presence. We will be promoting the program
throughout the state and, in time, we hope to expand it to the State House. Senator
Parrett and I created this program in honor of our daughters who have special needs.
Finally, I want to thank all of you who traveled from our region this week to visit
with me and share your concerns related to various issues. I especially want to
thank the group of teachers who came up from Marshall and McCracken Counties to
discuss charter schools and education issues. I also want to thank McCracken County
High School student Bailynn Peeler who served as my page on Thursday.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, and your
ideas for the future of our commonwealth. It is an honor to represent you in the
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
email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>. You can also review the
Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov<http://www.lrc.ky.gov/>.