by Representative Michael Meredith:
With only 10 legislative days remaining in the 2023 Regular Session, we have passed common sense and solution-oriented legislation to help all Kentuckians. It is an honor to serve House District 19 this session, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for my constituents and Kentuckians at large. While I do expect some of the legislation passed in the General Assembly to be vetoed by the Governor, we are prepared to override his vetoes in order to pass the policies our commonwealth needs.
In the meantime, I would like to share some of the legislation we passed this week in the House, and I also want to remind you that you can keep up with legislative news by watching livestream coverage of House proceedings provided by Kentucky Educational Television, and live and archived footage of our committee meetings on YouTube @KYLRCCommitteeMeetings.
HB 3: This bill includes language that increases parental accountability, addresses the detention of violent juvenile offenders, expands access to treatment programs, directs disclosing of juvenile records, and initiates the opening of a Jefferson County youth detention center. HB 3 also provides an additional $39 million in funding for juvenile justice, including $17 million for renovating the Louisville detention center, $5.8 million for transportation costs, $9.6 million for DJJ staffing needs, and $4.5 million for renovations at the Lyndon juvenile justice facility. In expectation of the Jefferson County facility being operational during fiscal year 2023-2024, the bill also includes an additional $2 million for operating costs. HB 3 states if a juvenile has committed a violent crime, the juvenile will be detained for up to 48 hours. This will help increase safety for the youth and the community. Here is an example of how HB 3 increases parental accountability: if a child enters into a diversion agreement for truancy and fails to appear for preliminary intake inquiry or complete the agreement due to lack of parental cooperation, a parent or guardian can be charged with an unlawful transaction with a minor, a Class A misdemeanor. Lastly, HB 3 calls for more transparency in some cases and removes confidentiality in court cases where a juvenile has been found guilty of a violent felony offense.
HB 52: This legislation addresses post-traumatic stress disorder and how it is treated after stress injuries in the line of duty, as well as granting reimbursement for services through the Kentucky Fire Commission. This bill grants firefighters the ability to seek the help they need after a traumatic experience in the field, whether it is a fire or losing the life of a victim.
HB 157: This piece of legislation creates the Kentucky Urban Search and Rescue Program. HB 157 will establish two task force teams, one in Louisville and one in central Kentucky, 10 regional teams encompassing a 60-mile radius, and would be funded by grants, gifts, state appropriations, and federal funds administered by the emergency management division. The Kentucky Urban Search and Rescue Program would provide resources, more immediate assistance, and save lives. Our state has a severe shortage of first responders and when disasters strike, such as the floods in eastern Kentucky or the tornadoes of western Kentucky, it may take hours before help is on the way. With the creation of the Kentucky Urban Search and Rescue Program, we could potentially have boots on the ground ready to help within an hour of deployment.
HB 446: As our neighbors to the east and west continue their effort to rebuild their communities after tragic weather events ripped through the regions not so long ago, we were able to act on HB 446. This bill allows money in the Eastern and Western Kentucky SAFE funds to be used as loans for the replacement, renovation, or expansion of police, fire, and ambulance stations affected by the tornadoes and flooding in each region over the last two years.
HB 538: Addresses classroom disruption that impacts learning by providing a framework for local school districts and administrators. The guidelines for restoring order in the classroom include provisions for students to be placed into an alternative setting, such as a resource room, a classroom where the disruption did not occur, or even virtual instruction. 67% of teachers in the commonwealth cite classroom disruptions as a hindrance to their ability to teach, with 13% of teachers feeling unsafe in their classrooms because of threatening pupils. This legislation seeks to alleviate some of these issues because, after all, teachers should feel safe to teach in their classrooms.
As always, I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Michael.Meredith@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information on all of the legislation proposed thus far, please visit the legislature’s website at www.legislature.ky.gov.