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Simpson Gets Amendments, Excludes Tolls on Brent Spence in Bill Passed Monday

Legislation to allow the use of public-private partnerships to finance major government projects in the Commonwealth has cleared the House by a vote of 82-7.

The bill would give public agencies more flexibility to work with private industry on capital projects and services by allowing new projects to move forward without state-appropriated funds, said Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, sponsor of House Bill 407.

The bill was amended by the House to prohibit tolls on interstate projects linking Kentucky and Ohio like the Brent Spence Bridge project, and to clarify which entities could take part in projects approved by the quasi-governmental Kentucky Public Transportation Infrastructure Authority. Those amendments were offered by Covington Democrat Arnold Simpson.

Simpson told The River City News on Saturday, after his amendments were charactertized as "the Simpson Shutdown" of the Brent Spence Bridge project, "If this amendment passes, it doesn't mean we just sit on our hands. We must continue these dialogues. We must assure ourselves that when the time is right, we are prepared to bring about all the parts and make this a reality."

HB 407 now goes to the Senate.

Senate approves school calendar bill

A measure that would give local districts flexibility in making up missed school days unanimously cleared the Kentucky Senate today.

House Bill 211, as amended by the Senate, would allow local school boards to adjust their calendars by extending remaining school days by 30 minutes or more to complete 1,062 instructional hours. The bill would also allow school districts to schedule classes on the primary election day if no school buildings in the district are used as polling centers.

“It’s a rapid, quick check off of an amended calendar for districts than can meet that standard,” Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, told lawmakers.

According to Givens, some districts would be unable to complete the mandated hours even after calendar amendments.  The bill would allow the Department of Education the flexibility to approve waivers for those districts on a case-by-case basis, he said.

HB 211 now goes back to the House of Representatives for further action on changes made by the Senate.  The proposal includes an emergency clause and would become effective immediately upon becoming law.

Misdemeanor expungement bill goes to Senate

Kentucky courts could erase some minor crimes or violations from a person’s criminal record under legislation that cleared the House today.

House Bill 355 would allow a series of unrelated crimes or violations to be expunged at the courts’ discretion at least five years after penalties for those offenses are paid. Current law only allows for minor crimes or violations related to a single incident to be erased from someone’s record after five years’ time.

HB 355 passed the House on a 67-24 vote. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville.

“The ability of people to move past these paid-for offenses allows them to compete for jobs, higher education scholarships, graduate school positions, and a host of other life-critical things,” said Wilson, adding that expungement is entirely up to the courts.

“The expungement could be denied for any number of reasons,” he said.

Misdemeanor sex crimes or crimes against a child—neither which are eligible for expungement under current state law—would not be eligible for expungement under the proposal. Neither would expungement sought by convicted felons or by someone who has been charged or convicted of a crime since their last offense, in keeping with current statutes. 

HB 355 now goes to the Senate.

From the Legislative Research Commission and RCN staff reports

Photo: Arnold Simpson