First Week Of 2019 General Assembly: School Safety, Other Bills Discussed
by Senator Steve Meredith:
The first week of the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2019 Regular Session is in the books. We had a productive few days in Frankfort and leave in good spirits about what is to come this session.
This week, the Senate’s activity involved some procedural measures. We welcomed everyone back to Frankfort to swear in members and confirm the Senate Leadership. Senator Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) will remain the Senate President and Senator David Givens (R-Greensburg) will serve as the new Senate President Pro Tempore. We were also thrilled to officially welcome Senator Matt Castlen (R-Owensboro) and Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson) as our newest members. Other tasks included confirming new committee appointments and adopting the Senate rules for the 2019 session.
Additionally, the Senate introduced legislation regarding electronic campaign filing, a constitutional amendment moving the statewide election date, and school safety.
Bills must be presented at a public committee meeting and passed with a majority vote before heading back to the Senate to be voted on by the entire Senate body. Once the Senate approves a Senate bill, it heads to the Kentucky House of Representatives where the same process occurs. The Senate has to agree to any changes the House makes to the bill before it is submitted to the Governor for his approval and is finally signed into law.
We have listened to the feedback of our constituents and the Senate majority has several priority bills that we would like to see ratified during the 2019 Regular Session. Following the tragic 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School, legislators formed the bipartisan School Safety Working Group for the purpose of developing a solution to better ensure the safety of our schools in Kentucky. Senate Bill 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act, sponsored by Senator Max Wise (R-Campbellsville), was drafted as a result of the findings of the working group. The Senate Majority is encouraged by the overwhelming support of this proposed legislation and we look forward to continuing discussion with the House on how to address this critical issue.
The Senate was able to pass five bills out of chamber in the initial week of session. By the third day, Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Taylor Mill) was passed out of the chamber by a 31-4 vote. This bill is a proposed amendment to the Kentucky Constitution to move the elections of statewide constitutional offices to even-numbered years. Several bills were voted on Friday morning. Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) requires candidates to file all campaign finance reports electronically. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson), relates to the reporting of prescriptions designed to induce an abortion. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Steve West (R-Paris), relates to the quality of teacher tribunal hearings by requiring the chair to be a trained attorney in teacher employment law. Lastly, we passed Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Senator John Schickel (R-Union). This measure, also known as School Board Decision Making (SBDM) reform, redefines the minimum parent teacher representation on school councils and grants superintendents the ability to hire principals.
Due to a constitutional requirement, the General Assembly will adjourn for 3 weeks following the conclusion of the first part of session. The Senate will return to session on February 5th. In the meantime, we will continue to discuss legislative issues in committee meetings.
Bill summaries, amendments and resolutions, in addition to the next day’s committee-meeting schedule and agendas, are updated daily on the Kentucky Legislature’s home page at www.lrc.ky.gov throughout the session, with final adjournment scheduled for March 29.
If you have any questions or comments about the issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Stephen.Meredith@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.