by: REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL LEE MEREDITH
As the 2018 session moves into February, key House priorities are moving through the legislative process, and we recently passed multiple bills to enhance the education of our students.
Two key education bills were delivered to the Senate last week including legislation providing information dealing with drug abuse and financial literacy. House Bill 55 calls for a drug abuse prevention curriculum to be developed by the Office of Drug Control Policy, with a focus on teaching K-12 students about the dangers of the prescription drug epidemic, and its relation to other dangerous substances. This legislation is a step towards combatting the opioid epidemic we face in Kentucky.
House Bill 132 requires high school students to take a course on financial literacy in order to graduate. This legislation brings a much-needed focus on personal finances to our schools, many of which currently have no such curriculum. Whether it be student loans, credit cards, or saving for retirement, it is critical for our students to be equipped with basic financial skills.
Also, we passed House Bill 30, which requires suicide prevention training for both administrators and teachers. As more and more research emerges on the growing feelings of anxiety and depression in young people, it is vital that those who spend significant amounts of time with our students are fully prepared to spot the signs of suicidal behavior.
Meanwhile, House Bill 3, which establishes an “essential skills” curriculum in K-12 schools, was filed this week. Far too much of our potential workforce lacks the practical skills necessary to fill many positions, such as passing a drug test, showing up for work on time, and solving basic problems. Under this legislation, students would be required to complete three out of a variety of essential skills requirements, including undergoing random drug testing and participating in a work-based learning program. The lack of soft skills, and in particular the inability to pass a drug test, is a growing concern that I hear about from employers, and is an issue that this bill will make progress toward.
Another piece of priority legislation that was recently filed is House Bill 1, which includes comprehensive reforms to our systems of adoption and foster care. For far too long, many children have been held up in state care, unable to be placed into loving homes due to financial and bureaucratic constraints. This proposal seeks to streamline the placement of children into supportive families, and is the product of months of work done by our House Working Group on Adoption. I look forward to seeing movement on this legislation, which will be good for all parties involved, not the least of which are the children and families affected.
While other bills are moving, we continue working to craft a responsible budget that meets all of our obligations including funding public education. That is the ongoing purpose of our House Budget Review Subcommittees: to evaluate the Governor’s proposal and look for areas where some cuts may need to be restored, while keeping in mind that our top priority is to ensure that we provide full funding to our long-neglected pension systems. I have heard from many of you with your thoughts on the proposed budget, and I hope that you continue reaching out.
I am honored to serve as your voice in Frankfort. In order for me to effectively represent you, it is important that I get your thoughts on the many pressing issues facing our state. You can reach me through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.