by: Senator Steve Meredith
A flurry of activity stemming from committee meetings and the passage of bills marked a short but intense Week 6 of the Kentucky General Assembly. Although the Senate was only in session from Monday to Wednesday of this week, committee meetings still met during the later part of the week to give final hearings to a few select bills.
A bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 205, has passed the Senate and was approved by the House Health & Family Services Committee on March 9 and now moves to the House for final approval. The legislation allows pharmacists, with the agreement of the patient but without having to contact their physician, to fill prescriptions for maintenance drugs such as blood pressure medicine, insulin, and cholesterol medicines for a 90 day amount instead of the customary 30 days. This bill will improve productivity for the health care providers and save the patient time and money.
Quite a few pieces of legislation have already made it to Governor Bevin’s desk to await his signature. Senate Bill 17, relating to student rights to political and religious speech, was given final passage by the House this week. Senate Bill 101 would allow pharmacists to administer any immunization to children, and Senate Bill 117, allowing veterans who meet certain criteria to obtain special teaching certificates, were also finally passed by the House. Senate Bill 50 also passed the House and would give schools more flexibility in choosing their start date to allow for longer summer breaks.
The Senate also enrolled House bills to be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature, including: House Bill 14, which makes committing an offense against a first responder a hate crime; House Bill 93, strengthening penalties for assaulting a law enforcement animal, also known as “Ernie’s Law”; and House Bill 189, increasing transparency within area development districts.
We also passed several bills that are now one step closer to becoming law. Senate Bill 215 establishes the Kentucky Coal Fields Endowment Fund to be used for the purpose of supporting efforts to diversify the economy of the coal fields within Kentucky and allocates $7.5 million a year toward those efforts. House Bill 222 prohibits shock probation if a person is convicted of second-degree manslaughter or reckless homicide stemming from driving under the influence. House Bill 67limits lawful distribution of autopsy photographs, images, video, or audio recordings to specified persons and agencies to help protect families’ privacy.
The General Assembly is now quickly approaching the end of the 2017 Session. We adjourned on March 8, marking day 26 of 30 of the session, and we will reconvene again on March 14 and 15 before going into the veto period. During that period the Governor has the power to veto bills, but the General Assembly can override vetoes on the last two days of session, March 29 and 30. If you have questions about the status of bills, please feel free to contact my office or review the Legislative Record online which can be found at www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/record.htm.
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.