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Not Handicapped But Using the Parking Privileges? Lawmakers Are Coming for You

State senators moved last week to crack down on able-bodied drivers who use parking placards intended for those with disabilities.

By a 35-0 vote, senators approved Senate Bill 61 to curtail what was described as nothing short of an explosion in the number of the placards being issued. Kentucky saw a 506 percent increase in the number of the placards in 2009 when fees for the item were dropped. Kentucky went from issuing 33,000 in 2008 to issuing more than 200,000 the following year.

“This bill addresses the abuse and fraud that has happened over the years,” said Sen. Ernie Harris (R-Prospect) who sponsored the bill. “Last year, the state issued just over 283,000 placards.”

In a Senate Transportation Committee meeting chaired by Harris earlier this week, a disabled person testified about difficulty in trying to find accessible spaces. He recounted how his van was vandalized when he had to double park in order to have enough space to extend his wheelchair ramp at a Kentucky mall during the busy Christmas holiday.

Harris said SB 61 would allow the issuance of one placard per person that could be transferable between vehicles. The bill also would take the responsibility of determining if someone legitimately needs a placard out of county clerk hands by requiring a doctor’s note.

Permanent blue-colored placards would cost $10 while temporary red-colored placards would be half that amount, Harris said. The placards would be valid for six years instead of the current two years.

SB 61 also calls for transportation cabinet officials to monitor state-issued death certificates to ensure able-bodies drivers do not use placards issued to the dead.

Sen. Julian M. Carroll (D-Frankfort) said he really gets irked when he sees drivers with the placards who spring out of their cars like spring chickens at his local convenience store.

“It’s time to tighten the law up some,” Carroll said. “This bill does it and I ask you to vote for it.”

The measure now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

Santoro's "slow down to get around" bill advances

Representative Sal Santoro (R-Florence) saw the House take action on his legislation known as the “Slow Down to Get Around Law,” which is aimed to create a safe work environment for Kentucky’s solid waste collection industry.

“I am so thankful that the House took action on this incredibly important measure that will literally save lives,” said Santoro. “Every Kentuckian deserves the peace of mind to go to work each day and not fear for their safety.”

More specifically, Rep. Santoro’s House Bill 144 will require motorists approaching a solid waste collection vehicle to yield the right-of-way by slowing to a safe speed and proceeding with care.

“Recently, a hardworking Kentuckian was struck by a vehicle and killed while working as a solid waste collector,” added Santoro. “This bill will hopefully put an end that type of tragedy.”

House Bill 144 will now head to the Senate for review. Rep. Santoro sits on the committees of Licensing, Occupations, & Admin Regulations, Transportation, Appropriations and Revenue, and Chairs the BR Subcommittee on Transportation.

From the Legislative Research Commission