by Representative Michael Lee Meredith:
The most significant legislative session in modern Kentucky history has officially come to an end. Although it was just a short, 30-day session, the General Assembly has accomplished more in 2017 than in any recent 60-day session.
Last November, when Republicans took control of the Kentucky House, Speaker Jeff Hoover made it clear that the House would finally be a functioning institution. He was adamant that the day’s work would start on time, we would do the people’s business, and then return home to our communities after passing significant legislation to better Kentucky. Promises were made, and those promises were kept.
In the last few days of the 2017 session, the House and Senate worked together on a multitude of bills that address serious issues in our Commonwealth.
The drug epidemic, and specifically the rise of opioid prescription painkiller abuse across Kentucky, has been the subject of much legislation. We closed out this session by passing a modified version of House Bill 333, which limits the amount of schedule II controlled substances prescribed in Kentucky to a 3-day limit. This measure provides numerous exemptions for patients in cases where a prescription lasting longer than three days is medically necessary. House Bill 333 also increases penalties for those who traffic fentanyl and heroin in our communities, who deserve to face the full brunt of the law. Kentucky is at the epicenter of our nation’s drug crisis, and the measure we passed makes our state a leader in combating this serious epidemic.
In keeping with our focus all session of increasing economic opportunity and jobs for Kentuckians, we passed legislation on the final day of session to approve $15 million in bonding for a potential $1 billion economic development project in eastern Kentucky. This amendment to House Bill 482 is the direct result of an opportunity that presented itself as a result of Governor Bevin and the Economic Development Cabinet seeking out new businesses to come to Kentucky – businesses that employ our citizens, many of whom are struggling just to get by. According to the Bevin Administration, Kentucky is competing with one other state for this opportunity, and our passage of this bonding will give the company assurances of to our ability to help finance this project.
If Kentucky is chosen, this project will provide 1,000 construction jobs, as well as 500 full-time positions with an average annual salary of $75,000. This is the type of economic opportunity that we have been working toward, and is a direct result of the Legislature’s and the Governor’s shared goal of making Kentucky more business-friendly. It is my hope that positive economic news like this will spread all over the Commonwealth so that our rural areas can prosper again.
When you take into consideration the important work that we did earlier this session to protect life, create jobs, and save taxpayer dollars, it is easy to see how significant this session was. We accomplished a great deal on behalf of the citizens of Kentucky, and I look forward to continuing the work that makes our state the very best version of itself.
It is a great honor to serve as your voice in Frankfort. As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues impacting our Commonwealth, even while we are not in session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at Michael.Meredith@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.