Passage of Sweeping School Safety Measure Highlights Week
by Rep. Michael Meredith:
The 2019 session is nearing its ending point, and I am proud to say that the General Assembly accomplished our top legislative priority. Senate Bill 1 – also known as the School Safety & Resiliency Act – is heading to the Governor’s desk after passing both the House and Senate.
SB 1 is a profound step toward both securing our schools and strengthening our students. This legislation is a bold step forward in tackling an issue brought to light by last year’s shooting at Marshall County High School, a tragedy that rocked our commonwealth. The death of two young children highlighted the need for action, and the General Assembly delivered with passage of this transformative measure.
This bill stemmed from the excellent work of the School Safety Working Group in 2018, addressing two major challenges of securing our schools and strengthening our students.
This proactive approach to combatting violence in our schools focuses on increasing physical security, promoting an increased culture of student connection, and increasing oversight and accountability of school safety efforts. This framework sets a state goal of placing more trained law enforcement officers and school counselors in Kentucky schools, steps that will both harden the targets of our school buildings while better addressing the mental health needs of our youth.
A significant point of discussion has been just how new school safety initiatives will be funded. While the exact amount of costs associated with SB 1 will not be known until administrators begin to implement the bill, I am committed to prioritizing increased funding to support the major initiative we just passed. We will craft the new state budget next year, and it is critical that we appropriate enough funding to bring our school safety efforts to fruition. When 2020 comes, we will have a better idea of what kind of funding will be necessary to support the School Safety and Resiliency Act.
Also last week, the House passed a measure to protect the unborn against unjust discrimination. The bill, HB 5, would prohibit abortion providers from performing an abortion based on gender, race, national origin or disability. Under the bill’s provisions, anyone who performs or induces an abortion knowing that the mother wants the abortion based, at least in part, on the sex, race, color, national origin or disability of her unborn child would face a felony charge carrying up to five years in prison and revocation of their license to practice in Kentucky. Exceptions would only be made in a medical emergency involving the mother. This measure is a necessary step in ensuring that unborn children have equal protections under the law and are not unjustly discriminated against based on protected classifications.
I was also extremely happy to support HB 21, legislation that would allow Family Resource and Youth Service Centers to accept private donations. FRYSCs are among the great stories of public education in Kentucky, as they provide necessary resources for all of our children, but particularly those in need. They are currently funded through the school’s budget, but HB 21 would allow them to accept private donations for operation and maintenance. This measure comes on the heels of an increase in FRYSC funding that the legislature was able to include in last year’s budget.
Members of the Kentucky House also voted 93-1 to approve my legislation that would ensure Kentucky consumers are aware of how the meat they are eating was raised. The legislation, HB 311, would prohibit cultured animal meat, which is produced in a lab, from being labeled as meat. Instead, it would bear the appropriate label that informs consumers of how it was created. As a strong advocate for our agriculture community and beef farmers, I was proud to sponsor this legislation and look forward to pushing for its passage in the Senate.
With school safety legislation behind us for this session, I am now looking ahead to other potential issues as this session begins to wind down. Please reach out to me with your thoughts and ideas on the critical issues remaining before us, as I would like to represent each of you in Frankfort to the best of my ability.
Rep. Michael Lee Meredith represents the 19th House District, which includes Edmonson County and part of Warren County. Contact him with any questions, concerns, or advice. He can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or via e-mail at Michael.Meredith@lrc.ky.govby Rep. Michael Meredith: