Bills Still Moving as 2019 Session Winds Down
by Rep. Michael Meredith:
The 2019 session is coming to a close as we finish up passing bills and move toward the veto recess. The 10-day veto period is an opportunity for the Governor to either sign bills into law or veto them, and is followed by a two-day “override” period where we have an opportunity to override any bills he may veto.
At this point in the legislative process, two bills have been signed into law by the Governor. Senate Bill 4 requires candidates for public office to file their campaign finance reports online, which will help the public access information in a much more timely matter. Meanwhile, Senate Bill 77 expands Kentucky’s organ donor registry in order to combat any decline in registration based on new timetables for renewing driver’s licenses. Individuals can now register to be organ donor when they log into the Kentucky Online Gateway, a website utilized by many to sign up for state services.
Conference Committees have been appointed to negotiate final agreements on a tax cleanup measure, House Bill 354, and legislation modifying the current state budget, House Bill 268. A conference committee includes members of leadership from both the House and Senate, and is tasked with compromising on bills passed by both legislative chambers that are related to each other, but have some key differences.
Among the bills passed by the House and sent to the Senate this week is HB 61, a workforce development bill that I was proud to support. House Bill 61 would allow Kentucky students who have received a scholarship through the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship Program (KEES) to apply the scholarship towards a qualifying apprenticeship or qualified workforce training program. Qualified programs include those that are in one of Kentucky’s top five high-demand work sectors. We are expanding the use of an effective tool to prepare our individual students for beneficial, well-paying careers while creating a skilled, prepared workforce for economic development purposes.
In other news, the House Judiciary Committee recently passed Senate Bill 97, which would create a tracking system for sexual assault forensic evidence kits. This measure would put into place a tracking process creating a public portal for victims to access the system, with the information also being submitted to the Kentucky State Police. SB 97 will now come before the full House for consideration.
I expect us to soon take up a measure which has already passed the House Economic Development Committee, and would provide more opportunities for beginning farmers. SB 246 would create a farmer small business tax credit underneath existing small business tax incentive programs, and would allow a farmer to receive a credit for selling their farm to a beginning farmer. The maximum credit for each year is $25,000, and $100,000 for a lifetime.
I also would like to provide you with a brief update on legislation I am personally working on. HB 311, which prohibits lab grown meat from being labeled as real meat, was passed by the Senate and is heading to the Governor’s desk for his signature. I was proud to carry this measure in strong support of our cattle farmers and agriculture community, as consumers deserve to know where their meat comes from. House Bill 132 also passed through a Senate Committee, which is legislation I’m sponsoring to stiffen prison sentences for individuals convicted of murdering EMS personnel. This legislation amends existing protections for firefighters and peace officers to also cover our dedicated emergency service workers, sending a message that our society does not tolerate the murder of any first responder.
We are in session for a few days this week to sort through some final bills before sending them onto the Governor’s desk. While our work during this session may be nearly complete, there are still some major issues remaining. Please feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and ideas on other critical issues before us as we wrap up this session.
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.gov