It was an honor to serve you and our district at the Capitol during the 2019 Regular Session. I, along with my colleagues in the Senate and the House, were proud to stand with Kentuckians as we passed historic legislation throughout our thirty days in Frankfort.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed almost 200 bills, making the 153rd Regular Session one of the busiest to date. Education, safety, pro-life measures, Second Amendment rights, business, and good government were among the high profile issues addressed.

Most new laws – those that come from legislation that do not contain emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will go into effect Thursday, June 27, 2019, since 90 full days will then have passed after final adjournment on March 28.

Pro-Education

The final week of session was one to remember, as the Kentucky General Assembly witnessed the ceremonial signing of a monumental school safety bill, and honored those who have been affected by school violence.

Senate Bill 1, also known as the School Safety and Resiliency Act, was the pivotal measure to enhance safety in Kentucky schools. Developed in remembrance of the Marshall County High School shooting, this bipartisan effort is widely considered as the highest legislative priority of the 2019 Regular Session.

After months of immense discussion and research, this collaborative bill was the product of a specially formed committee called the School Safety Working Group. The goal of SB 1 was to improve student safety by:

Boosting safety and prevention training

Promoting the assignment of a school resource officer to every school

Increasing awareness of suicide prevention efforts

Encouraging collaboration with law enforcement personnel

Hiring more counselors in school districts

While no legislation is perfect, when it concerns the well-being of our students, inaction is not an option. SB 1 is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to addressing these school safety provisions further in the 2020 Regular Session, during which a biennial budget is created.

Additional pro-education bills passed this session include:

Senate Bill 162, which will allow school districts to hire retired sworn law enforcement officers as school security officers without the burden of benefit contributions.

Senate Bill 175, is a measure that relates to high school graduation requirements. Upon being signed into law, SB 175 re-establishes the Standards and Assessments Process Review Committee, which will assist the Kentucky Board of Education in developing graduation requirements and other high school assessment regulations.

House Bill 254, ensures the protection of freedom of speech by requiring state public universities to establish and publish specific free speech policies for students and staff, and prohibits suppression of speech because it is deemed offensive, unwise, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, or radical.

House Bill 46, requires each public elementary and secondary school to display the national motto, In God We Trust, in a prominent location in the school.

Pro-Good Government

Senate Bill 6, a legislative priority for the 2019 Regular Session, relates to executive branch ethics and requires the disclosure of compensation of executive agency lobbyists.

Senate Bill 57, expands the number of Kentuckians eligible to have low-level felonies expunged from their criminal records.

This measure offers discretionary expungement to all Class D felonies with some exceptions for crimes such as stealing in the workplace, abusing children, and sex abuse. SB 57 includes an approximate five-year waiting period to apply and fees.

Senate Bill 4, also a legislative priority, requires all candidates, slates of candidates, committees, and contributing organizations, to e-file all campaign finance reports to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, beginning with the 2020 elections.

Senate Bill 7, allows arbitration, mediation, or alternative dispute resolution agreements to be required by employers as a condition or precondition to employment, along with other provisions.

Senate Bill 60, another piece of legislation concerning elections, changes the dates for filing as a candidate for office in local, regional, and state elections.

Senate Bill 85, strengthens Kentucky’s current ignition interlock device (IID) measure by making these breathalyzer-type devices available to all driving under the influence (DUI) offenders. SB 85 also includes a compliance-based component that incentivizes the use of IID by mandating stiffer penalties for those DUI offenders who choose not to use the device.

Senate Bill 143, prohibits governmental bodies from contracting with anyone who boycotts a person or entity with which Kentucky can enjoy open trade, including Israel.

Senate Bill 214, changes the Franklin Circuit Court to a panel of three Circuit Judges. This measure also establishes procedures for selecting the panel and reviewing challenges.

Pro-Life

Senate Bill 9, bans the ability to receive an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat with the exception of a medical emergency in which the mother’s life is at risk.

House Bill 5, prohibits abortion on the basis of discrimination by making it a felony to abort a pregnancy due to a decision based on the unborn child’s gender, race, color, national origin, or disability. These bills contained emergency clauses, meaning they would become law as soon as they were signed by the Governor. However, a federal judge in Louisville has issued a temporary order blocking enforcement of both SB 9 and HB 5 until further notice.

Senate Bill 50, establishes a chemical abortion database and mandates that any time an abortion-inducing drug is dispensed, a report must be made to the office of Vital Statistics within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The House made a change to SB 50 to include a requirement that any physician who prescribes an abortion-inducing drug to also provide information on how the drug can be reversed.

House Bill 148, provides that if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, or an amendment is adopted to the U.S. Constitution that restores state authority to prohibit abortions, it would automatically become illegal to perform an abortion in Kentucky.

House Bill 158, cited as the Kentucky Foster Child Bill of Rights, HB 158 grants 16 rights for children who are in out-of-home placement.

These include rights to:

Adequate food, clothing, and shelter

A safe, secure, and stable family

Freedom from physical, sexual, or emotional injury or exploitation

Senate Bill 77, expands Kentucky’s current organ donor registration list by allowing donors to designate consent through an easily accessible sign-on system. SB 77 becomes effective January 1, 2020.

Senate Bill 84, statutorily recognizes, certifies, and regulates home-birth midwives in Kentucky.

Pro-Business

Senate Bill 100, is legislation to reform Kentucky’s current private solar net metering policy. This controversial measure included changes to how much credit owners of solar power systems are reimbursed for electricity they add to the power grid by allowing the Public Service Commission to set the new compensation rate.

However, language in SB 100 also includes a grandfathering component for those already participating in the current net metering structure. This legislation becomes effective Jan. 1, 2020.

House Bill 135, concerns state government contracts and prohibits public agencies from requiring their contractors on public works projects to have agreements with labor organizations.

House Bill 197, expands the legal definition of hemp to include the seeds of industrial hemp, derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, and isomers.

House Bill 354, provides tax relief to banks and nonprofits in addition to strengthening Kentucky’s ability to collect sales tax on online purchases.

The measure will transition the taxation of Kentucky-chartered banks from a franchise tax to state corporate income tax in an attempt to curb the takeover of community banks by banks from states with lower tax rates. HB 354 also provides relief to nonprofits by exempting those groups from collecting and remitting sales tax on admissions to charity events in addition to making it clear in statute that sales from one-time fundraising events are not subject to the sales tax.

Lastly, HB 354 will increase tax revenue by requiring online marketplace providers to collect and remit sales tax for sales made using their platform.

Pro-Second Amendment

Senate Bill 150, known as the ‘constitutional carry bill’, makes Kentucky the 16th state to allow concealed firearms to be carried without a concealed carry permit.

This legislation allows those aged 21 and older, who are legally eligible to possess a firearm, to carry a concealed weapon without a license. SB150 grants these individuals the right to carry the weapon in the same locations as people with valid state-issued licenses. However, permitless carry will not be allowed where prohibited by federal law or otherwise prohibited.

It is clear that the 2019 Regular Session was one for the history books. We fought for more transparency to uphold the integrity of government, and defended the constitutional rights of Kentuckians. We kept our commitment to Kentucky families by establishing rights for minors of the state, and developed a pivotal school safety measure. We strengthened laws on discrimination in the workplace, expanded the organ donation registry, and advanced laws to protect unborn children. With the Kentucky Senate, House, and Governor working together, we delivered for the people of our great Commonwealth.

Although the session has come to an end, there is still much to do. Interim joint committees will begin meeting in June and discussing various policy topics that affect our Commonwealth. There has also been much discussion about a special legislative session to further address our failing pension system. I look forward to continuing those conversations in the coming months.

It is an honor to represent you and our district in Frankfort and I thank you for engaging in the Legislative process. If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181, or email me at (email). You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.