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Legislation Soon to Impact Kentuckians' Lives

When the final gavel falls on a legislative session, it’s often seen as a time to start looking back – a chance to review what passed, what failed, who won and who lost.

We’ve had a few days for such assessments since the 2014 Kentucky General Assembly adjourned. So, now, let’s turn our gaze forward and see the ways lawmakers’ recent work will touch Kentuckians’ lives in the days and years to come.

School kids across the commonwealth will be attending better-funded schools, thanks to a two-year state budget that provides increases the funding schools get for each student. Students will also see improvements from increased funding for education technology. Teachers will get raises, too.

On university and college campuses, students will see physical improvements since many capital construction projects were authorized to go forward. The postsecondary schools’ operating budgets, however, might still feel tight since the schools will experience 1.5 percent budget cuts. Whether this could have a future effect on tuition prices remains to be seen.

Senior centers and others who provide services to elderly citizens will be better safeguarded against those who aren’t suitable to work in the adult care industry. An adult abuse registry will be created so that these employers can better vet potential employees and ensure they don’t have a history of adult abuse or neglect.

Children with uncontrollable seizures may have a promising new treatment within reach since doctors at UK and U of L will be allowed to prescribe cannabis oil for medical purposes. Researchers at the schools will also be able to learn more about the oil and its potential to alleviate medical problems since they will now have authority to conduct research on the product.

Domestic abuse victims who feel like they need to better protect themselves will have quicker access to concealed deadly weapons permits. A change to state law 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 will undergo the same background checks and application requirements as other applicants but will have up to 45 days to complete the necessary training for full concealed carry licenses.

Residents near some state park lodges and golf courses in counties where alcohol sales currently aren’t allowed now might get to vote on whether by-the-drink alcohol sales should be allowed at the facilities.

Tax cheats will have a new reason to worry: It will soon be 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.

Kentucky’s small farm wineries might soon be able to lure in more weekend visitors and sell their products on Sundays. By mid-summer, Sunday alcohol sales at small farm wineries could be authorized by a fiscal court vote or a local option election.

Parents will be in the loop if their children are caught driving in an unsafe manner. The parents will now be notified and expected to appear in court if a child under 18 receives a traffic violation.

Just as children aren’t able to buy cigarettes, they soon won’t be able to buy electronic cigarettes that are growing in popularity. A change in state law will make it illegal for retailers to see e-cigarettes to those under 18.

There may be a bit less kudzu and other invasive plants along Kentucky roads in the days ahead. The list of plants targeted by the state for eradication from public right-of-ways is set to grow to include these and other nuisance plants.

Victims of the underground crime of human trafficking will have a little more help from the state when they come forward. A new law will ensure the victims can have their records cleared of a non-violent offense if a judge determines the offense resulted from being a victim of human trafficking.

Those served by the juvenile justice system also have reason to expect better results. The state is now on track to increase and strengthen evidence-based early intervention programs and services provided to young offenders of certain non-violent crimes, such as truancy. Recently approved legislation will also increase education and training of certain employees in the juvenile justice system and data collection that will help point out areas for future improvements.

While the impact of lawmakers’ work this year will be felt across the state for years to come, the 2014 session – like all sessions – left some issues unresolved. Many of those issues will no doubt continue to be discussed in the days ahead and may again be proposed in the form of a bill in a future legislative session.

From the Legislative Research Commission