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Capitol Notes: Dog Fighting, E-Cigarette, Concealed Carry Bills Advance

End-of-life care bill heads to Senate

An end-of-life order known as “medical order for scope of treatment” would be allowed in Kentucky under a bill that passed the Kentucky House Thursday by an 86-7 vote.

Medical orders for scope of treatment spell out a patient’s wishes for their end-of-life care. Unlike advance directives, the orders are considered to be physician’s orders and are signed by both the patient or patient’s legal surrogate, and the patient’s physician.

A standard form for the orders would be developed by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure for use statewide, according to the bill, House Bill 145.

“As a physician, I want to help people live and have a quality of life as long as they can,” said Rep. David Watkins, D-Henderson, the bill’s sponsor. “But I sure don’t want to prolong suffering and agony … it’s our duty to make sure we keep our people in the final hours and final days of their life as comfortable as possible, and also to follow their wishes as close to the letter of the law as we can.”

Senate approves e-cigarette bill

A bill that would limit the sale of electronic cigarettes cleared the Kentucky Senate by a 36-2 vote Thursday.

Senate Bill 109, sponsored by Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine to minors.  The measure would put the electronic devices and alternative nicotine products under the same rules and regulations as tobacco products.  Retailers would face the same fines and penalties for selling e-cigarettes to anyone less than 18 years old as they would for selling tobacco products to minors.

E-cigarettes have a battery, electric circuit, or other component that allows them to produce vaporized or aerosol nicotine.

“Since the FDA hasn’t taken a stance on these e-cigarettes and other types of vapors that are being used by a lot of people these days, this (would) protect our youth,” Hornback said.

SB 109 now goes to the House of Representatives for further action.

Legislation that would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, House Bill 309, was approved by the House last month.

Concealed carry bills gain Senate approval

Two bills that would affect the application process for licenses to carry concealed deadly weapons in the state were approved by the Kentucky Senate Wednesday.

Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, would create an electronic application for the concealed carry license.  It would require the applications to be processed within 14 days.  Currently, paper applications must be processed within 60 days.

According to Gregory, the electronic application would not change any training or licensing requirements but would modernize and expedite the process.

Senate Bill 106, sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter, R-Berea, would utilize the electronic application process to allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional concealed carry permit in one business day.

Under the bill, these petitioners would undergo the same background checks and application requirements as other applicants but would have up to 45 days to complete the necessary training for a full concealed carry license.

“I think this expedites the process, protects the victims in these situations (and) also protects the public,” Carpenter said.

Both bills were approved unanimously and now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Panel approves bill to crack down on dog fighting

The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would give law enforcement more leeway to curb dog fighting in the Commonwealth.

House Bill 408, co-sponsored by Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, and Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, would enable law enforcement to charge more individuals involved in dog fighting with animal cruelty in the first degree, which is a felony. Those who could be charged include dog owners who know, or should know, that their animal is being used to fight other animals for pleasure or profit, those who help to organize the fights, and those who train, breed, or otherwise keep animals and their offspring for fighting. 

Jenkins explained that HB 408 would allow law enforcement officers to consider dog fighting paraphernalia, such as weights and sticks typically used for dogs trained to fight, as evidence in an animal cruelty cases. Now, according to committee testimony, law enforcement can only pursue charges once a dog fight has taken place.

“It’s very secretive,” Jenkins said. “The actual fights are hard to know about and to investigate.”

The legislation would not apply to police dogs, dogs involved in field trials, guard dogs or other working dogs trained to attack under specific circumstances, although some lawmakers indicated they may file floor amendments to clarify that point.

HB 408 now goes to the full House for consideration.

From the Legislative Research Commission

Photo: Kentucky State Capitol