“Creating Kentucky jobs and strengthening Kentucky families” – this is how our caucus defined the overall goals of the Senate this session, and I’m proud to report that four of our priority bills to accomplish those objectives passed the Senate in our first week, and are now on the way to the House.
As the Senate has done in previous sessions under the direction of Senate President Robert Stivers, members of leadership were elected prior to the start of session so when the 2015 General Assembly convened, we were able to get straight to business.
Legislation addressing the heroin epidemic passed unanimously on only the third day of session. Senate Bill 5, which was sponsored by Senator Chris McDaniel (and which I was proud to co-sponsor), provides for an additional $13.3 million for heroin treatment programs and requires increased reporting so that the effectiveness of the programs can be monitored. Other provisions will allow first responders to administer naloxone, a medication which can sometimes prevent death from a heroin overdose; will allow law enforcement to waive certain charges against suspects who voluntarily warn officers that they are carrying needles; and will require convicted trafficking offenders to serve 50 percent of their sentences before being eligible for parole.
Immediately upon the passage of the Heroin Bill, the Senate took up Senate Bill 1, or “right-to-work” legislation. After discussion on the floor, the Senate passed the bill, giving Kentucky another tool when recruiting industries to locate in the Commonwealth and create jobs. As the law stands now, Kentucky is often eliminated in the first round by a large majority of businesses because they will not set up or even consider locating in a state that is not “right-to-work.”
Friday, the Senate passed two more bills. The first of which being Senate Bill 2, which addresses a current imbalance of power regarding regulations that can be implemented by the executive branch without legislative oversight. This bill would establish a system for legislators to have oversight on executive administrative regulations and ensure that they are in keeping with Kentucky statutes. If it passes this session, Kentucky voters will have the opportunity to cast their votes on the issue since it would be an amendment to the Kentucky constitution.
The other measure passed was Senate Bill 4, which would establish a face-to-face consultation with a physician, or “informed consent” between the patient and physician, take place before a medical procedure to perform an abortion can occur.
Our first week of action emphasizes that this Senate is determined to deliver progress and make changes by providing legislation that helps create jobs and strengthens Kentucky families.
I would encourage you to follow these bills closely, along with any other legislation you may be interested in. Your input is not only valued and appreciated, it can ensure that legislators are aware of your particular interest and concerns and can make a difference in the process. I encourage you to follow the Senate bills which we pass and call members of the House and urge them to pass the bills as well.
In particular, we ask that you voice your support of Senate Bill 5: Kentuckians are dying in growing numbers due to the current epidemic of Heroin Addiction; the House failed to act on this bill last session, and your phone call can ensure that address this matter this session. We need legislative action to provide our first responders, law enforcement, and medical community the resources necessary to break the hold heroin has on our state. You can express your support for Senate Bill 5 by calling 1-800-372-7181 and asking that the House pass this life-saving measure quickly.
There are several ways to follow legislative action throughout the 2015 Session, including attending any of the sessions in person. Senate Committee Meetings are also open to the public.
The Kentucky Legislature Home Page (www.lrc.ky.gov) is updated daily to provide the latest legislative information. Web surfers can view the issues before lawmakers by browsing through bill summaries, amendments, and resolutions. The website is regularly updated to indicate each bill’s status in the legislative process, as well as the next day’s committee-meeting schedule and agendas.
In addition to general information about the legislative process, the website also provides information on each of Kentucky’s senators and representatives, including their phone numbers, addresses, and legislative committee assignments.
As I mentioned before, the Kentucky General Assembly maintains toll-free phone lines to help everyone follow legislative action. If you wish to offer your feedback or opinion on any issue, you can call the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181. Those who prefer to offer their feedback in Spanish can call the General Assembly’s Spanish Line at (866) 840-6574. Citizens with hearing impairments can use the TTY Message Line at (800) 896-0305.
A taped message containing information on the daily schedule for legislative committee meetings is available by calling the Legislative Calendar Line at (800) 633-9650.