WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Brett Guthrie (KY-02) today announced applications are open for the annual Second District Congressional Art Competition.
“The Second District Congressional Art Competition is officially underway, and I encourage high school students to show off their talent in this fun competition,” said Guthrie. “Each spring, I enjoy holding this district-wide event to see the extraordinary artwork students create. This competition is judged by an independent panel, and there’s also a ‘Facebook Favorite’ competition judged by the public. I’m proud to feature several of the winning artworks in my district office and display the overall winner’s artwork in the U.S. Capitol among other art competition winners from across the country.”
The Congressional Art Competition is an art contest for high school students across the country and sponsored by Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in their respective congressional districts.
High school students in the Second District are welcome to turn in artwork for this competition. Please submit the artwork digitally in .jpg or .pdf with the application in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 26, 2021. Please put “2021 Art Competition” in the subject line of the email.
Art professors from colleges and universities in Kentucky’s Second District make up the independent panel that determines first place overall as well as other winners and honorable mentions. The first-place overall winner’s artwork will be placed in the U.S. Capitol for the remainder of the year, and the artwork from the second and third place overall winners will be displayed in Congressman Guthrie’s district office.
The Second District Congressional Art Competition also features a “Facebook Favorite” competition. Members of the public can vote for their favorite artwork from all the competition’s participants on Congressman Guthrie’s official Facebook page from April 28-30, 2021. The winner’s artwork will also be displayed in Congressman Guthrie’s district office.
Congressional Art Competition winners will be announced on Congressman Guthrie’s official website on May 7, 2021.
The 2021 Art Competition flyer as well as the rules and guidelines and can found by clicking HERE and HERE, respectively. If school faculty or students have questions, please call Congressman Guthrie’s Bowling Green District Office at 270-842-9896.
by Britney Franich, Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Edmonson County Schools:
Eight seventh and eighth grade students from Edmonson County Middle School attended YMCA’s Kentucky United Nations Assembly, in a virtual format, on March 22nd and 23rd. This program allows students to participate in a mock United Nations process which includes writing a resolution and presenting the resolution to student-led committees. The following students participated in the virtual experience: Lilly Carroll, Preston Doyle, Alivia Higgins, Abigail Hogg, Brayden Johnson, Olivia Madison, Emma Claire Skaggs, and Carson Sowders.
On the final day of the conference, during the closing awards ceremony, ECMS received a Delegation of Excellence certificate for participating in all parts of the conference and Alivia Higgins received an Outstanding Ambassador award.
The Edmonson County Enrichment Initiative funded the entire cost of the conference for these eight students.
DATE CHANGE: This sale has been changed from March 26th-27th to April 16th-17th due to illness.
by: Senator Steve Meredith
This week’s 30-day Regular Session activity ended with over 100 bills on the Governor’s desk.
We’ve now entered into the veto recess period, which means this week was the last opportunity for lawmakers to pass bills and still have the opportunity to override any gubernatorial vetoes before the final day of the legislative session. The Governor has 10 days to sign a bill, let it become law without his signature, or veto it.
The Kentucky General Assembly approved the second half of the state’s 24-month spending plan this week after uncertainties from COVID-19 cut budget negotiation short nearly a year ago.
The executive budget, contained in House Bill 192, is as a near continuation budget from the previous fiscal year with necessary modifications. In addition to making structural changes that would ensure the road fund was spent on roads, the executive budget would put $134 million into the rainy day fund this year and another $609 million next year. This budget also addresses Kentucky’s severely outdated unemployment insurance system.
This spending plan includes the return coal severance money, or the tax revenue from mining coal, back to coal-producing counties at record percentages.
An essential aspect of the budget is it maintains legislative authority on the allocation of funds, as required by the Constitution of Kentucky. The bill stipulates that the General Assembly must authorize the use of these monies. $37 million in federal dollars will go towards grants to detect, diagnose, trace and monitor COVID-19 infections in congregate and vulnerable populations. Additionally, $10 million in state dollars will go to the School Facilities Construction Commission for schools recently damaged by flooding.
A critical element in the economic growth of our state is access to reliable internet services for Kentuckians. Reliable broadband can be the difference in companies determining to locate into our communities. With the reliance on virtual learning our students have had this past year; it is evident how lack of reliable internet access only exacerbates Kentucky students’ struggles. While COVID-19 forced us to rely on more virtual services, we have also seen growth in telehealth services. Securing reliable internet access to areas currently without it can help our economy, education and even improve health outcomes.
With this in mind, the legislature passed House Bill (HB) 320, allocating $250 million of federal money to expand access to broadband connectivity. However, the bills stipulate that no more than $50 million can be spent before April of next year to make sure efforts are deliberate, effective and will go to the areas that need it most. This initial $50 million will get the ball rolling. Legislators will return next January to provide ample opportunity to assess the efforts made between now and then to determine the best path forward. The funding will be targeted to utilize existing infrastructure and the experienced workforce through electric co-ops. In reality, the allocated funds will equate to $500 million because the $250 million will be used as matching funds for the projects.
Other bills passed in both the House and Senate include:
Senate Bill 55, a measure I am proud to sponsor, prohibits copayments or cost-sharing from being paid by any medical assistance recipients. It prohibits deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance requirements for Medicaid telehealth services and copayments charged in the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP). SB 55 applies to Medicaid Services or any Managed Care Organization (MCO) contracted by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
MCOs have long failed to reimburse for medical services. This has placed financial burdens on hospitals and driven up administrative costs. Another bill seeks to mitigate the challenges MCOs have created.
Senate Bill 61, another bill I am sponsoring this session, establishes training standards for the staff of personal services agencies and home health agencies that serve patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. If enacted into law, the bill would improve the care provided to these patients. The hope is that it would also address retention of direct-care staff by better preparing them for job duties—resulting in less stress and dissatisfaction.
House Bill 95 aims to help Kentuckians struggling with diabetes by capping the cost of out-of-pocket insulin at $30 for a 30 day supply. It applies to state-regulated, comprehensive, private health insurance plans and the Kentucky employee health plan. It does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, or self-funded health plans.
For too long, the high cost of insulin has caused patients to ration their supply, resulting in a loss of life. Others have had to make desperate financial decisions to maintain their access to their insulin. Kentucky ranks 8th in the nation in diabetes prevalence and is the 5th highest state in diabetes-related deaths. Between 2000 and 2018, the percentage of Kentuckians diagnosed with diabetes doubled. Diabetes can be associated with heart failure, stroke, blindness, and more.
Senate Bill (SB) 8 provides for opting out of mandatory vaccinations for people with religious or conscientiously held beliefs. The bill maintains employer immunization policies for employees of schools, universities, and health care organizations.
Senate Bill 44 would require insurance companies to treat premium and other cost-sharing payments made by nonprofits on behalf of someone as if those payments came from that individual.
Senate Bill 45 would require health insurance companies to apply the value of drug coupons to their enrollees’ deductibles, also known as copay accumulators. SB 45 generally wouldn’t apply if a generic drug were available.
House Joint Resolution 77 extends certain COVID-19 and regulations an additional 60 days. This joint resolution, which can carry the force of law, will be effective only if the court ultimately rules in favor of the legislature on pending litigation. The governor is challenging HB 1 and SBs 1 and 2. Those three bills, if upheld, provide the legislature a seat at the table as life-altering executive decisions are made. It is worth noting that Kentucky is the exception to executive authority rule during a state of emergency. The bills being challenged by the governor would merely bring Kentucky more in line with other states in regards to oversight of executive authority during times like these.
House Bill 328 would re-establish the state’s regulatory authority for roadside billboards after a federal court ruling called the state’s prior regulations into question. One concern had been that Kentucky was at risk of losing as much as $70 million in federal transportation funding for not meeting a federal requirement concerning roadside billboards.
We will return on March 29 and March 30 for the final two days of the session and sine die adjournment.
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 Stephen.Meredith@LRC.ky.gov.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
Community Action of Southern KY hereby announces it will hold a public hearing on the Google Meet platform on Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 6:00pm CST and on Friday, April 9, 2021 at 10:00am CST. Call 270-782-3163 for information about joining the virtual meeting.
The purpose of the hearing is the consideration of an application for Federal Transit Administration funds for Section 5310, 5311, 5339 and RTAP assistance for the period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. Please visit our website: www.casoky.org/transportation.
The descriptions of the projects for CASOKY are as follows: The project will have no significant environmental impact. Regulations regarding persons with disabilities and the elderly will be complied with. Comments may be made in person through written submission within 10 days following hearing at the address above, Attn: Transit.
Community Action of Southern Ky. Is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities and Limited English Proficiency will be made upon request by Friday, April 2, 2021.
Darren Doyle, story and photos:
Kayaks & More, a new canoe, kayak, and fishing supply store celebrated their grand opening today with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Edmonson County Chamber of Commerce.
The retail store is located at 7910 KY HWY 259 North in Bee Spring and owned by Tony and Kim Polson.
"We're only two miles from the lake and five miles from Mammoth Cave National Park, and we see all the kayaks, boats, and campers that travel through here all the time, and other than the big box stores, there was no one here to service that business locally, especially a mom and pop shop," said Mr. Polson. "We've sold a lot more kayaks than we ever thought we would before we even opened."
"Plus, we don't want to just sell you a kayak then never see you again," he added. "We want to take care of all your needs here. We can provide parts and accessories of all kinds and we're an Old Town and Ocean Kayak dealer. We realize that some of these are more expensive boats but they're made in the USA and that means a lot to us."
Kayaks & More carries a full line of Malone accessories and they are also authorized Garmin dealers. They also carry a large line of fishing gear and tackle as well as kayaks and canoes of different sizes and configurations, along with all the accessories to go with them.
They're open Tuesday – Thursday, 9am – 6:30pm, Friday – Saturday, 7am – 7pm, closed Sunday and Monday.
Edmonson Chamber Director Greg Hudson said the word was already getting out about the products and services offered at Kayaks & More.
"They're already selling to customers out-of-state," he said. "They carry some hard-to-find items and people are taking notice. This is great for our county and our local business community. The weather was super for today's ribbon cutting and we wish them all the best."
You can call Kayaks & More at 270-286-7001 or visit their website at http://kayaksandmoreonline.com/ or you can visit their Facebook Page by clicking here.
Local emergency personnel are reminding Edmonson County residents that spring burning regulations are in effect until April 30th.
EDMONSON COUNTY FISCAL COURT
NOTICE OF REGULAR AUDIO/VIDEO TELECONFERENCE MEETING
In accordance with KRS 61.823, KRS 61.826, Executive Order 2020-243, OAG 20-05, 2020 Senate Bill 150 and the March 31 Attorney General Advisory, the Edmonson County Fiscal Court will meet in session at 9:00 a.m. on March 22, 2021 to consider the following Agenda. The meeting will take place via audio teleconference due to the current public health situation with the fiscal court not meeting in person. The public may attend via audio by dialing: 1-312-626-6799, meeting ID 886 0900 5610, password 816994.
or by going to the following link:
I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call
III. Approval of today’s Agenda
IV. Approval of March 8, 2021 Fiscal Court Minutes
VI. Appropriation Budget Transfers
VII. New Business
IX. Judge Executive:
XI. Next Fiscal Court Meeting will be April 12, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. via audio/video teleconference.
EDMONSON COUNTY JUDGE EXECUTIVE
by Dwight Kidder, NAQT:
The move to social distancing caused many changes for students, but the changes also brought about new opportunities to shine on an international stage. Brody Johnson, a 10th-grader from Edmonson County High School, was one of 111 high school students competing online in Buzzword this season. But unlike their normal Quick Recall competitions, in which teams play face-to-face, Brody played from home as an individual.
Brody finished fifth in Season 4 Level A in the High School Division.
Buzzword is a web-based academic competition with divisions for middle school, high school, and college competitors. Players listen to recordings of questions being read and buzz in as soon as they think they know the answer. Correct answers are scored, with extra points are given for earlier buzzes. National Academic Quiz Tournaments created Buzzword to allow academic competitions to continue during social distancing. NAQT had to cancel most of its 2020 quiz bowl national championships, which collectively would have brought about 10,000 people together. Buzzword also has an Open Division for the general public.
If you are interested in playing Buzzword, whether you're a student or not, try a sample game and register at naqt.com/buzzword.
National Academic Quiz Tournaments, founded in 1996, organizes the premier middle school, high school, and college quiz bowl championships in North America. In addition to its national championships, NAQT provides questions to invitational tournaments, league championships, and television shows throughout the year. NAQT operates out of the Twin Cities and Kansas City, but its members mentor coaches, host tournaments, volunteer their services, and share their expertise across the United States.
Edmonson County Fiscal Court is currently accepting applications for part time Dog Control Officer. Applications are due by April 5th, 2021.
Full Job Description-Dog Control Officer
UNDER GENERAL SUPERVISION
Please apply at the Judge Executive’s Office in person at Edmonson County Courthouse during normal business hours Monday thru Friday 7:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m., or request an application via email at: email@example.com. Please call Tammi Willhite at 270-597-1079 with any questions.
Event Hopeful To Be Rescheduled This Year
Darren Doyle, story:
The annual countywide cleanup event for 2021 has been postponed, according to event coordinator Mike Clubb.
The event sponsored by Edmonson County Fiscal Court and Scott Waste is normally held in the spring each year; however, this year's event is being postponed due to statewide COVID restrictions that are still in place.
Clubb said the restrictions won't allow workers from the jail to assist with the program, which is crucial to the event in Edmonson County. Due to the overwhelming response that the event draws each year, the event cannot be held until these restrictions are lifted.
Clubb also said that he hoped the event will be rescheduled later in the year.
Donald and Imogene Minton will celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary on March 24th.
Donald and the former Imogene Frogge were married by the late Rev. John White Davis on March 24, 1956. They have four children, Freda (Larry) Lewis, Don (Sherri) Minton, Anita (Robert) Myers and Carolyn Green; four grandchildren, Joy (Benton) Jolly, Kim (Scott) Wrye, Justin Green, and Scott Minton, as well as five great-grandchildren, Maddie Cline, Macy Wrye, Emma Kate Jolly, Braxton and KJ Green.
Donald and Imogene also have the loving memories of two grandsons, Adam and Greg Minton.
They will celebrate with their family on Easter Sunday.
by Senator Steve Meredith:
With the end of the 2021 Regular Session in sight, fellow lawmakers and I are wrapping up legislative efforts by passing a variety of bills and finalizing the state’s annual budget.
The General Assembly needs to pass most bills by Tuesday, March 16, to consider any veto overrides that may be necessary.
Why so soon? The legislature will recess on Tuesday, March 16 and will reconvene on Monday, March 29. During the recess period, the Governor will have time to consider bills that have arrived on his desk. Upon returning to the Capitol at the end of the month, the legislature will only have 2 days remaining to pass additional legislation and override any vetoes. Therefore, any legislation sent to the governor during those final days will not be eligible for a veto override, as we are constitutionally required to conclude Regular Session business before April 1 in odd numbered years.
The House and Senate have overridden the Governor’s vetoes on Senate Bill (SB) 3 and House Bill (HB) 6. Since both of these measures contain what’s known as an emergency clause, the bills go into effect immediately upon becoming law rather than 90 days after adjournment.
Senate Bill 3 moves the Office of Agricultural Policy under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner’s Office. Moving these critical boards under the authority of the Commissioner of Agriculture streamlines our efforts to strengthen Kentucky agriculture and help our farmers. The office’s official role is the promotion of interests of agriculture and horticulture, agricultural revenues, and the protection of Kentucky’s livestock industries.
House Bill 6 strengthens an already existing legislative committee which, with the passing of this bill, would become the Legislative Oversight and Investigations Committee. It codifies subpoena powers, gives the committee the ability to maintain the confidentiality of investigative documents, and imposes fines on those in non-compliance with the committee’s efforts.
Several bills are now with the Governor for consideration including:
Senate Bill 102 expands the Kentucky Proud agricultural marketing program to allow products produced from Asian carp, paddlefish, or sturgeon to be qualified to use the Kentucky Proud logo on packaging as long as the fish were harvested from a body of water in Kentucky.
House Bill 312 limits the ability of people who do not live, work, or conduct business in Kentucky to obtain records through the state’s open records law. These restrictions would not apply, however, to out-of-state journalists. A second section of HB 312 would explicitly allow open records requests to be made via email. A third would provide a standardized form for the request but not require that it be used. Under this bill, the time to comply with requests would also be lengthened to five days from three.
House Bill 518 would change the makeup of the Kentucky State Fair Board and clarify how it operates. Not only does the fair board operate the Kentucky Exposition Center where the state fair is held, but it also operates the Kentucky International Convention Center in downtown Louisville. The two properties have an annual $500 million economic impact and generate $40 million in taxes.
The General Assembly took significant steps regarding the one-year State Budget this past week. Biennial budgets, or two-year budgets, are traditionally enacted in even-numbered years. As the budget was being crafted last year amid the pandemic's onset, legislators did not know what the economic outlook, and therefore, what state revenues would be. Out of an abundance of caution, it was determined to pass only a one-year budget, then return to the 30-day session this year to pass another. This year’s budget will essentially be a continuing budget and will look similar to last year’s.
The budget conference committee met to publicly review and discuss decisions regarding the budget proposals from the Governor, the House, and the Senate. This committee consists of Majority and Minority Leadership and Appropriation and Revenue Committee Chairmen from both chambers. You can find the archived video of budget conference committee meetings by visiting www.ket.org/legislature/archives.
I continue to keep those impacted by recent weather events in my prayers. It has been inspiring to see communities and the whole state come together to support those in need. Please remain patient as assessments of damage are done by the state to determine our unmet needs. Once preliminary damage assessments are conducted by federal, state, and local officials, the Governor can submit a declaration request to the regional FEMA administrator. The president can decide whether or not to grant it.
Stay up to date on committee meetings and bill activity by visiting the LRC’s website at www.legislature.ky.gov. Additionally, you can stream live legislative coverage by logging onto www.ket.org/legislature.
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 Stephen.Meredith@LRC.ky.gov.
The Edmonson County Chamber of Commerce has announced that the ribbon cutting scheduled for Monday, March 15th at 11:00 for Creations Café is being postponed.
"The weather forecast is not cooperating with us," said Chamber Director Greg Hudson. "We will reschedule and get you the new date as soon as possible."
The Cookies Are Coming!!!
Girl Scout Cookies will be making their 2021 debut in Edmonson County this week! Girl Scout Troop #313 will be hosting drive thru booth sales at Chalybeate Volunteer Fire Department starting Saturday, February 27th (see schedule below). Come out and get your cookies while supplies last!
Edmonson County's Scout Pack 597 participated with Pack 208 Morgantown and Pack 600 Smiths Grove in the Pinewood Derby this past Saturday, March 6th.
Pack 597 was represented by 4 scouts: Nick Miles, Karston Miller, Lyndon Barrett, and Colton Miller. Nick Miles had the fastest time of all three packs with a 2.6 second run.
by Representative Michael Lee Meredith:
As I work on this week’s column, only six days stand between the legislature and the end of this year’s session. While a handful of bills sponsored by House members are still up for a vote, we have moved on to considering Senate bills. In this week’s column I want to share just a few of the bills passed out of the House this week that I believe will help make Kentucky an even better place to live.
As you know, so many of our fellow Kentuckians are hurting as they try to provide for their families during this pandemic. They have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, but many have been met with silence when they seek unemployment benefits. That is why one of our top legislative priorities this year has been to address the deficiencies that led to the state’s unemployment crisis. HB 367 increases access to unemployment insurance benefits by mandating public employment offices be open and operational in specified locations across the state anytime the unemployment rate in a local workforce area increases to above five percent. This bill also would require a biannual review of area unemployment rates and makes technical changes to ensure that the resources invested are still being used wisely. We also passed legislation that establishes criteria and procedures in which the repayment of an unemployment overpayment can be waived when a recipient is overpaid or receives unemployment benefits for which they did not qualify. HB 468 would require the secretary of the Labor Cabinet to waive unemployment insurance overpayment debts if the overpayment is due to an employer or agency error and not the result of fraud or misconduct by the recipient.
Education and our children is always a priority in the Kentucky General Assembly. HB 184 relates to the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships (KEES). It would allow a student who attends an out of state high school or Department of Defense school due to a parent's military transfer to earn a KEES award if the student earned a base amount in a previous year at a Kentucky high school. We also approved HB 384, which would permit the administrator of a school that participates in the Federal School Breakfast Program to authorize up to 15 minutes of the school day to provide the opportunity for children to eat breakfast during instructional time and would allow an educator to give a child extra time at another time in the day to eat a meal if needed.
During the pandemic, we have all become keenly aware of the lack of adequate internet service in many areas of our state. This lack of access has made virtual education and working from home a huge challenge. This week we passed a bill that would provide incentives to deliver broadband service to households and businesses in hard to reach areas referred to as the “last mile.” The measure, HB 320, would allow electric cooperatives regulated by the Public Service Commission to leverage their assets for broadband projects and would make financial assistance up to $250 million available for projects available through the Broadband Development Fund.
We are also focused on eliminating unnecessary burdens to expanding access to health care. Among the bills we passed this week is HB 48, would allow pharmacists to receive reimbursement for additional services and procedures they provide. Pharmacists collaborate with healthcare professionals, such as physicians and nurse practitioners and are often the health care provider Kentuckians see most frequently.
Pro-life legislation continues to receive attention and this week I was proud to vote for legislation aimed at saving newborn lives by providing a safe surrender option. HB 155 would define and allow the use of a "newborn safety device" related to the anonymous surrendering of a newborn infant in the Commonwealth at a participating staffed police station, fire station, or hospital. Pro-life means supporting parents and children before and after birth. This bill provides parents who may be at the end of their rope a safe option to save the life of their child.
Another bill that protects innocent life is HB 254. This measure, if enacted into law, would raise the penalty for possessing, viewing or distributing matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor under the age of 12 years to a class C felony. Offenders will be charged with a class C felony for the first offense, and a class B felony for each subsequent offense.
Again, these are just a few of the measures passed this week in the House that I believe will help continue to make Kentucky a place where people want to work and live and raise their families. I hope to update you on more next week and provide an end of session review in the coming days. In the meantime, I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. If you would like more information please visit the legislature's website at www.legislature.ky.gov or you can email me directly at Michael.Meredith@lrc.ly.gov.
by Senator Steve Meredith:
Another week of the 2021 Regular Session is in the books. With only have six legislative days left, robust discussion on critical issues is as prominent as ever.
While crafting the state budget remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we are staying the course to uphold our other legislative obligations as members of the General Assembly by passing bills that include specific reforms and amendments to keep the Commonwealth moving forward.
Activity from the Senate Chamber this week includes passage of another Senate priority bill, Senate Bill (SB) 5. Among numerous other measures, it is a bill that works to mitigate the negative impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on Kentucky’s economy and infrastructure. In this case, notably to support and provide reassurance to various sectors of our society trying to reopen or continue operation.
If made law, SB 5 would provide liability protections for premises owners or leaseholders, including places of worship, schools, restaurants, medical facilities, and more. It would also establish essential services protections for food suppliers, manufacturers, distributors of personal protective equipment, child care service providers, and other businesses deemed essential. The measure, however, would not protect entities that act in a malicious or grossly negligent way to ignore safety orders during a state of emergency. As a sponsor of SB 5, I was pleased to see its passage this week.
Senate Bill 122 is another bill I am sponsoring that passed this week. This measure would prohibit a state contract from being awarded to a business if it was already awarded the same or similar contract and if a contract was awarded through an executive agency lobbyist who was convicted of a crime related to contracts. It also prohibits a person associated with an agency from participating in a contract procurement for one year after termination.
Other bills passing the Senate include:
Senate Bill 53 allows a part-time adjunct instructor for the Kentucky Fire Commission to begin drawing benefits from the County Employees Retirement System without having to resign from that position, so long as the instructor has not previously participated in the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.
Senate Bill 79 builds on the success of a bill that passed a couple of years ago that began automatically enrolling new state employees into Kentucky Deferred Compensation, but providing an opt-out option. SB 79 would do the same for legislators and judges. Deferred compensation serves as a savings account in which a certain portion of an employee's income is set aside to be paid later. Since the passage of the legislation related to state employees, 90 percent of new hires have remained in deferred comp, which stands to benefit them in the long run.
Senate Bill 99 authorizes the construction of certain facilities without the supervision of a licensed architect or professional engineer, provided the work is performed consistent with the United States Department of Defense Building Code.
Senate Bill 105 establishes guidelines for filing and serving a petition for the appointment of a person responsible for the possession, repair, and preservation of an abandoned and unsafe property. The bill also outlines the procedure for hearing a petition, defines the powers and duties of a conservator, and puts in place standards for the termination of a conservatorship.
Senate Bill 128 provides any student enrolled in a Kentucky public school in grades K-12 during the 2020-21 school year the opportunity to request to participate in a temporary program during the 2021-22 school year to retake or supplement the courses or grades the student has already taken. The ultimate decision of providing this opportunity will be left to local school districts, which must decide to accept all student's requests or none at all.
Quite simply, our students have missed their teachers, friends, and vital emotional and social experiences they deserve. SB 128 will provide local school districts with the ability to do right by students and families determining it is in their best interest to take advantage of a supplemental year of education. It will ensure participating seniors' preparedness for whatever their next chapter in life is, and all students the peace of mind knowing the pandemic will not cause them to be left behind.
Senate Bill 146 establishes a requirement of a national and state criminal background check, via fingerprint analysis by the state police and the FBI, for every prospective and current employee of the Labor Cabinet or its agencies.
Senate Bill 159 reorganizes the Kentucky Department of Military affairs by abolishing defunct offices and realigning others within the "Office of the Adjutant General." It also attaches the Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board to the Division of Emergency Management and alters its membership.
Senate Bill 165 requires the link to a legal advertisement or notice website that the local government electronically publishes to be no more than 30 characters in length and in easy-to-understand terms.
Senate Bill 172 requires persons who damage underground utility facilities, such as pipelines and telecommunications lines during demolition or excavation, to cease activity and notify the operator of the underground facility.
Senate Bill 181 is a companion bill to House Bill (HB) 4, a bill that made final passage this week. HB 4 is a constitutional amendment bill, so it does not require the governor's signature. Instead, it will go before you, the voters, on the next general election ballot. If supported by a majority of voters, HB 4 would provide the General Assembly with the ability to call itself back into session. SB 181 would establish the Senate President's and House Speaker's power to reconvene the General Assembly for up to twelve additional legislative days via joint proclamation. Additionally, it would allow for any bills filed by the deadline of the close of a Regular Session to survive until December 31 of that same year.
Senate Bill 212, also known as the "Kara Beth Adair Wilson Act," requires the various Kentucky retirement systems to develop an electronic method to which future changes to beneficiary designations for all members and new member forms, including beneficiary designation forms, must be submitted.
Senate Bill 228 would reform how a U.S. Senator of Kentucky is replaced should a vacancy occur. The bill would establish that the departing senator's state party would nominate three people from which the governor would select. That individual would serve out the remainder of the term. Additionally, it sets stipulations about how long a replacement can serve before voters get to elect someone to take over that seat and establishes provisions about how such elections should be held.
Senate Bill 255 relates to an emerging industry of commercial mining of cryptocurrency, as it provides incentives for this new and advanced technology in the Commonwealth by allowing a minimum investment of $1 million dollars to qualify for incentives.
Bills headed to the governor's desk for consideration include:
House Bill 7 establishes a Recovery Ready Community council and program for cities and counties that want to demonstrate their addiction recovery commitment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 83,000 people died in the twelve months ending in July 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened addiction. The state has worked hard over the years to combat the scourge of drug addiction. Although the challenge is difficult, we must continue efforts to address the abuse of opioids and other narcotics. HB 7 is one more step in saving lives.
House Bill 8 allows quasi-governmental organizations, such as local health departments and mental health centers, to pay back unfunded liabilities owed to the Kentucky Retirement Systems for Employees using a liability based system instead of a percent of payroll. By changing to a liability based contribution method, HB 8 provides assurance for accurate payment assumptions, allowing these agencies to adequately plan each fiscal year therefore reducing the risk of having to cut back on staff and services. HB 8 also establishes an intent that the general assembly will pay the increased cost associated with this bill for the first year.
House Bill 50 provides that health insurance plans offered in Kentucky comply with a federal law designed to ensure the equal treatment of mental health conditions and substance use disorders by strengthening Kentucky’s implementation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. That means health plans’ co-payments, deductibles, and limits on visits to health care providers are not more restrictive or less generous for mental health benefits than for medical and surgical benefits. An average of six people die of drug overdoses and suicides every day in Kentucky. It is vital that our state does not limit access or coverage to mental health care.
House Bill 208 addresses the issue of getting our students back into schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Under this bill, local school districts MUST offer, at least, a hybrid schedule where all students are able to attend in-person classes a minimum of two days a week by March 29, 2021. Districts would still be able to offer virtual or remote learning for students whose Parents/Guardians provide written requests due to COVID-19 concerns. As a society, we have figured out a way to safely open restaurants, shopping malls, and movie theaters. It is time we finally do the same for Kentucky’s youth by prioritizing a pathway to normalcy for our schools.
You can learn more about these bills and others by visiting www.legislature.ky.gov. Thank you for staying engaged in the legislative process. It is an honor to serve you in Frankfort.
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 Stephen.Meredith@LRC.ky.gov.