What Went Down Last Week at the Kentucky State Capitol
Capitol observers have been tuned in for months to find out what form lawmakers’ public pension reform plans might take and how legislators would cast their first votes on the issue.
They got some answers as Senate Bill 1 advanced through a Senate committee last week.
On Wednesday, the latest version of proposed pension was approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee on a 7-4 vote. By week’s end, though, the legislation had taken an uncertain turn as it was recommitted back to the committee for further review rather than coming up for a vote in the full Senate.
In looking at the issue, lawmakers are striving to establish sound financial footing for ailing pension systems that are estimated to have unfunded liabilities between $40 billion and $60 billion. Additional funding for pension systems is part of the budget proposal that is moving through the legislature. Senate Bill 1 proposes changes to the system that would help reduce unfunded liabilities in a number of ways, such as by reducing the cost-of-living adjustments for retired teachers pensions from 1.5 percent to 1 percent until the teachers’ system is 90 percent funded.
While much of the focus was on the pension bill, a number of bills on other issues also moved through the legislative process:
Disabled Parking Permit. House Bill 81 would limit eligible individuals or organizations to one free permanent or temporary disabled parking placard while requiring $10 for each additional placard. The measure, which is meant to limit the misuse of disabled parking permit placards, passed the House by an 85-10 vote. It now goes to the Senate for its consideration.
Bicycle-safety. House Bill 33 would require drivers to keep vehicles at least three feet away from bicyclists during an attempt to pass. If that much space isn’t available, the driver must use “reasonable caution” when passing cyclists. In hopes to increase roadway safety, HB 33 passed a Senate committee this week and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Pregnant Inmates. Senate Bill 133 would improve outcomes for pregnant inmates by limiting shackling during childbirth and by allowing access to substance abuse treatment. The bill is intended to ensure pregnant women are receiving proper nutrition behind bars, adequate sanitary items, and undergarments. SB 133 has passed the Senate and now goes to the House for further consideration.
Fertility Treatment. Senate Bill 95 would require health insurers of cancer patients to cover fertility preservation, the process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have biological children in the future. To give hope to men and women facing infertility caused by cancer treatments, SB 95 has been approved by the Senate and now goes to the House for further consideration.
Abortion. House Bill 454 would ban an abortion procedure known as a “D & E” for women who are at least 11 weeks into their pregnancy except in medical emergencies. The measure would not result in a complete ban of all abortions after 11 weeks but would solely target D & E procedures described as an “intentional dismemberment procedure.” Passing a House committee this week, HB 454 now goes to the full House for consideration.
Road Plan. House Bill 202 would create a two-year state Road Plan that would authorize over $2.4 billion for bridges, repaving and other road and highway projects statewide through 2020. The plan focuses on road safety as well as economic development for Kentucky. Passing the House this week with a 66-25 vote, HB 202 now goes to the Senate or its consideration.
Holocaust Education. House Bill 128 would require public middle and high schools across Kentucky to teach their students about the Holocaust and other internationally-recognized acts of genocide. To ensure that students are being given Holocaust curriculum based in fact, HB 128 passed the House by a vote of 93-1 and now goes to the Senate.
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From the Legislative Research Commission