House Passes Road Plan, Moves Forward on Other Critical Issues
by Rep. Michael Lee Meredith:
A week after passing a responsible budget prioritizing education and pensions, the House has now also passed a two year funding package for Kentucky’s roads and bridges. The biennial road plan passed with bipartisan support, and with a focus on improving safety, better maintaining our current roads and bridges, and promoting economic development.
Our road plan was crafted in a responsible manner, in that it makes critical investments in our state’s infrastructure while also taking a realistic approach to allocating dollars. Generally, the road plan that passes and is signed into law is over-programmed, meaning more dollars are allocated than are actually available in the road fund. The plan we sent to the Senate does not do that; unlike in 2016, our plan is just 7% over-programmed, an approach that will provide greater certainty in completing projects. The House road plan commits significant money to both the pavement and resurfacing of roads, as well as repairing Kentucky’s growing list of structurally deficient bridges.
This past week, the House also passed legislation aimed at rooting out fraud and abuse within the Medicaid and Food Stamp programs. House Bill 363 would make the process of reviewing and tracking information regarding eligibility more efficient, in order to root out fraud and ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are prioritized when it comes to receiving public assistance.
This measure does not change eligibility requirements for any safety net program. It simply ensures that only the truly needy are receiving benefits, and that those that do not qualify or are abusing the system are removed. HB 363 also allows us to work with other states to prevent recipients from receiving benefits from multiple states.
On another note, I was proud to see the House unanimously pass my legislation dealing with the price of prescription drugs. House Bill 463 ensures that Kentuckians pay cheapest amount possible for their prescription drugs by prohibiting insurance companies from forcing patients to pay a cost-sharing amount that is higher than the drug’s cash price. It also removes contractual gag orders that prohibit their pharmacist from sharing the information with them. The measure now heads to the Senate for approval.
Many of you have reached out to me regarding certain bills that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. This issue is receiving due consideration from the Legislature, as the House Judiciary Committee has met multiple times to review the proposed legislation and listen to testimony from all sides. I believe that we should continue to await further research on this issue before making any sudden decisions, which is why I supported House Concurrent Resolution 34 earlier this session. This bipartisan resolution urges the federal government to expedite research on the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana, so we can receive sound research so that we can make a truly informed decision.
I am honored to serve as your voice in Frankfort. In the weeks to come as the Senate reviews our budget and road plan and makes their modifications, I will have more information to provide on both fronts. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns that you may have.