General Assembly Session Ends, Road Bill Passes
The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2014 regular session ended this evening, capping off a session in which lawmakers approved the state’s next two-year budget and measures that will impact people throughout the state.
Since the session’s start in early January, lawmakers have approved measures to allow medical use of cannabis oil, create an adult abuse registry, prevent children from buying electronic cigarettes, establish a two-year plan for road and bridge construction, improve the juvenile justice system, and establish legal protections for victims of human trafficking.
“I thank the General Assembly for passing the Transportation budget and six-year road plan on time, without requiring a costly and unnecessary special session," Gov. Steve Beshear said in a news release. "These bills are a critical part of state government operations, as they provide direction and funding for hundreds of road and bridge maintenance and construction projects in every corner of the Commonwealth.
"I am pleased that the bills provide support for the major infrastructure projects in our state, such as funding for the Ohio River Bridges, I-69, and the four-laning of Mountain Parkway. The budget also supports the day-to-day funding for road maintenance, traffic management, bridge inspections and the many other services Kentuckians depend on for safe travel throughout our state.
"Our state’s economy depends on a reliable, safe and well-maintained transportation network, and the timely passage of these bills is good news for our workers, businesses and taxpayers.”
Most new laws – all that don’t come from legislation with emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will go into effect in 90 days.
Bills approved this year by the General Assembly include measures on the following topics:
Acupuncture. Senate Bill 29 will require acupuncturists to be licensed.
Adult protection. SB 98 will create an adult abuse registry to help employers in the adult care profession determine if a prospective employee has a previous history of substantiated adult abuse, neglect or exploitation.
All terrain vehicles. House Bill 260 will allow an ATV operator 16 years of age or older to cross a public roadway if the speed limit is 45 miles per hour or less without protective headgear in order to get from one ATV trail to another.
Boaters. SB 66, known as the “Boater Freedom Act,” will require boating enforcement officers to have a reasonable suspicion of violation of the state’s boating laws before boarding and inspecting a boat on Kentucky waterways.
Budget. HB 235 is the $20.3 billion budget that will guide state spending for the next two years. Many state agencies will face 5 percent budget cuts, though some critical areas, such as Medicaid, will be protected from reductions. Per pupil school funding at K-12 schools will go up. Funding for universities and community and technical colleges will be cut by 1.5 percent, though plans for bond-funded capital construction can go forward on many campuses. State employees and teachers will get raises and full contributions will be made to the state employee pension system.
Bullying. SB 20 will designate October as Anti-Bullying Month and a purple and yellow ribbon as the symbol for anti-bullying awareness. The bill was the idea of students at Madison Middle School in Richmond.
Cannabis oil. SB 124 will allow doctors at the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville to research and prescribe cannabis oil for medical purposes, such as treatment of pediatric epilepsy.
Child abuse. HB 157 will require more training for doctors on recognizing and preventing abusive head trauma among children.
Concealed weapons. HB 128 will allow anyone who has been granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order to receive a provisional concealed carry permit in one business day. The 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.
Consumer protection. HB 232 requires businesses and other entities to notify consumers if a security breach might have resulted in the unauthorized acquisition of consumers’ personal or financial information.
Cybersecurity. HB 5 will improve electronic safeguards in state agencies and require that people be notified if a security breach occurs on a government computer system.
Diabetes. HB 98 will allow school staff trained by health professionals to assist diabetic students with insulin administration.
Driver safety. HB 90 will require parents or guardians to make a court appearance when a driver under 18 is cited for a traffic violation.
Electronic cigarettes. SB 109 prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18.
Health care. SB 7 will broaden the prescribing authority of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.
Human trafficking. SB 184 will allow a person’s record to be cleared of a non-violent offense if a judge determines the offense resulted from being a victim of human trafficking.
Invasive plants. SB 170 will update and expand the state’s list of invasive and noxious plants, such as kudzu and poison hemlock, targeted for eradication from roadsides and public right-of-ways.
Jobs retention. HB 396 expands eligibility for Kentucky Jobs Retention Act benefits to include manufacturers of appliances. The legislation is expected to help GE invest up to $325 million in its Appliance Park operations in Louisville.
Juvenile justice. SB 200 will increase and strengthen evidence-based early intervention programs and services provided to young offenders of certain non-violent crimes, such as truancy. It will also increase education and training of certain employees in the juvenile justice system. The measure calls for data collection and reporting to measure the effectiveness of programs and policies, and would create a committee to oversee implementation of the legislation, monitor effectiveness and make recommendations for improvements based on outcomes.
Legislative Research Commission. HB 81 will implement an employee suggestion system for employees of the Legislative Research Commission and require that the national motto, “In God We Trust,” be prominently displayed in legislative committee rooms.
Newborn health. SB 7 will require periodic reporting of health statistics relating to drug-addicted or dependent newborns.
Road plan. HB 237 outlines the state’s $5.2 billion plan for road and bridge projects throughout the state for the next two fiscal years.
School calendar. HB 211 gives schools flexibility in adjusting their calendars to make up for the unusually high number of days schools were closed due to snow in recent months. The bill will allow school districts to increase the length of their school days to a maximum of seven hours for the remainder of this school year. Schools that aren’t on track to reach the number of instructional hours required annually by the state by June 6 can ask the commissioner of education to waive the requirement for some of their instructional hours.
State parks. HB 475 will allow residents near state park lodges and golf courses in counties where alcohol sales currently aren’t allowed to vote on whether by-the-drink alcohol sales should be allowed at the facilities.
Tax zappers. HB 69 would make it a Class D felony to possess a “tax zapper,” a device that could be used on a computerized cash register to help a retailer hide sales subject to tax from tax collectors.
Veterans. HB 337 will make it easier for veterans with applicable military experience to become licensed as an HVAC professional.
Voyeurism. SB 225 will update the state’s voyeurism laws to outlaw a practice called “up-skirting” in which a cell phone is used to take pictures underneath a woman’s skirt without her consent.
Wineries. SB 213 will allow Sunday alcohol sales at small farm wineries if authorized by a fiscal court vote or a local option election.
From the Legislative Research Commission