2020 General Assembly

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A legislative committee has passed a bill that would strip the governor’s power to reorganize the Kentucky Human Rights Commission by executive order while the legislature isn’t in session.

The measure is one of several bills to limit Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s powers making their way through the Republican-led legislature.

Supporters of the bill say the commission needs continuity amidst a backlog of cases and in the wake of a whistleblower complaint involving management misconduct.

Alma Randolph, the commission’s chair, argued that the current board needs to stay in place.

Lisa Autry

As medical marijuana legislation inches closer toward approval in the Kentucky General Assembly, one group is urging lawmakers to consider the risk to public health. 

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky hasn’t taken a position on the issue because of what it says is a lack of science behind the effectiveness and potential dangers of medical marijuana.  However, a poll released last month by the group found that 90 percent of Kentucky adults support legalizing medical marijuana.

Foundation President Ben Chandler says there are lessons to be learned from the 33 states that already allow the drug to be used in various forms.


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Kentucky is one of many states facing overcrowded jails and surging costs for holding those inmates. State lawmakers are considering some minor efforts to reform the commonwealth’s criminal justice system.

One bill in the Kentucky General Assembly would make it easier to transfer state prisoners to jails that are at, or below, 150 percent capacity.

 

Ashley Spalding, a research director for the left-leaning Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said while the transfer bill could bring down overcrowding at different times, it doesn’t address the true causes of the problem.


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State lawmakers have proposed changing Kentucky’s new 5-star school rating system.

bill filed by Sen. David Givens (R-Greensburg) proposes changes to graduation requirements, grading metrics and how schools are identified for turnarounds. Givens said the bill is an “update” to the 2017 legislation that created the accountability system.

“This continues to refine that in very positive ways,” he said. “And that’s the motivation for the bill.”

Ryland Barton

A legislative committee has passed a bill that would make it a crime to share personal information about minors if the intent is to intimidate, abuse, threaten, harass or frighten them.

The legislation comes after the controversial video last year of students from Covington Catholic High School wearing “Make America Great Again” hats shouting near a Native American man playing a drum in Washington D.C.

Family members of one of the students in that video, Nick Sandmann, has said that they endured threats and insults after the video went viral last year.


Kentucky LRC

bill filed by Kentucky Senate president Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) would take away the power of the governor to reorganize the state board of education. The bill would likely prevent future wholesale ousters of board members, like the one carried out by Gov. Andy Beshear.

When Beshear took office, one of his first acts as governor was to dissolve the Kentucky Board of Education. The board’s members were all appointed by Beshear’s political rival, former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Beshear replaced the Bevin-appointees with his own, and now the dueling boards are duking it out in the courts.

Mental Health Bill Aims to Help Homeless Youth

Feb 24, 2020
Coalition for the Homeless

A bill under consideration in the General Assembly would give more homeless youth in Kentucky access to mental health services. 

Under House Bill 213, unaccompanied children age 16 and older would not need permission from a parent or guardian for mental health services.  Rep. Joni Jenkins (D-Louisville) is sponsoring the bill and says it could help 3,000 young people in Kentucky. 

Coalition for the Homeless Director of Communications Catherine McGeeney says many homeless youth are unable to get guardians’ permission for much-needed mental health care.

J. Tyler Franklin

Governor Andy Beshear has signed a bill into law requiring all Kentucky school resource officers, or SROs, to carry a gun.

“The threats to our children in our schools is very real,” Beshear said, citing incidents where guns were found on school campuses, a thwarted school shooting plot in Shelby County, and the 2018 shooting in Marshall County.

“I simply cannot ask a school resource officer to stop an armed gunman entering a school without them having the ability to not only achieve this mission, but also to protect themselves,” he said.

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The Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana in limited ways. This is the furthest an effort to legalize any form of marijuana has ever gone.

Sixty-five lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, while 30 voted against it. It was the first time a medical marijuana bill passed a chamber of the General Assembly.

The House Judiciary Committee passed HB 136 last week, with a vote of 17 to 1. The bill has 51 cosponsors. It will head next to the Senate, which like the House is Republican-led.

Jess Clark | WFPL

In 19 Kentucky school districts, when a student misbehaves, teachers or principals can still use a paddle to spank students on the behind. Last year, educators used paddling to discipline students at least 284 times — mostly in Eastern and South-Central Kentucky. The state keeps track of how often schools use it, and on who.

Kentucky is one of 19 states where corporal punishment is legal in public schools. That means it’s legal for educators in public schools to inflict pain as a form of discipline, usually through spanking. But state lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban the practice.

 


J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

A bill that would penalize law enforcement agencies that fail to report how much cash and property they seize through asset forfeiture is moving through the state legislature.

The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill on Wednesday, despite concerns from law enforcement advocates that the legislation would bring undue financial and workload burdens on local agencies.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Savannah Maddox from Dry Ridge and Rep. Jerry Miller from Louisville, both Republicans. If passed, it would prohibit law enforcement agencies from spending their forfeiture proceeds if they don’t file required annual reports to the state detailing their seizures. The bill also imposes a $500 fine for agencies that fail to report each year.

Lawmakers Renew Support for Insulin Price Bill

Feb 18, 2020
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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, legislators and advocates on Tuesday urged passage of House Bill 12, which would limit how much insurers can charge for a month’s-worth of insulin medication. 

The bill would limit commercial health insurers to $100 in copay for a 30-day supply of insulin, and would forbid insurers from reducing or eliminating health coverage in response to the proposed law. It is one of a handful of bills filed this year that would try to cap insulin costs and pharmacy services.

“Something more must be done to help those suffering from diabetes so that they can afford the life-saving medication that they require,” Beshear said. “While the disease is not partisan, it is a health epidemic here in Kentucky.”

Beshear Calls For “New Tone In Frankfort”

Feb 18, 2020
Rachel Collins | WKMS

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear made several stops in western Kentucky Monday hoping to garner support for his proposed budget, which is currently under review with the General Assembly.

His stops included Murray State University, where he highlighted several education initiatives, and Murray Middle School where he spoke extensively of the need for “a new tone in Frankfort.”

“Maybe the most important thing that could come out of this session is a change in the tone in Frankfort; it’s time that we started treating each other the way that everyone is supposed to treat each other in a business or in a school...that we don’t call each other names and if we disagree, we disagree civilly so we can come together the next day,” he said.

 


Ryland Barton

Gun safety advocates rallied in the state Capitol on Thursday in an attempt to put pressure on the Republican-led legislature to pass gun control measures.

The event held by Moms Demand Action comes weeks after armed gun rights advocates rallied in the state Capitol to protest proposals like a “red flag” law.

Such measures allow courts to temporarily take guns away from people determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

Anita Franklin is a gun control advocate from Lexington whose son was shot in 2014 while playing basketball. She said Kentuckians need to elect officials who will support common sense gun laws.


Ryland Barton

A bill that would legalize marijuana for medical use passed out of a Kentucky legislative committee on Wednesday.

The bill would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for several medical conditions and create a regulatory system for the growth, sale and use of marijuana products. The legislation would not allow the marijuana plant to be smoked.

Eric Crawford, an advocate for the bill, says he uses marijuana to ease painful symptoms he suffers as the result of a car accident more than twenty years ago.

 


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