pruntyBELTON, Ky. (2/10/20) —  At the close of Friday’s session, we had completed Day 23 of our 60-Day Session. The week was filled with committee meetings, office meetings and other events both in the Capitol and in and around Frankfort.

While coming to consensus on the next two-year budget is the primary goal of a 60-day Session, work on other important issues takes place simultaneously. Some of the budget review subcommittees are looking at the governor’s proposed budget for the particular section of the budget they are responsible to help create and oversee. Once all of those subcommittee meetings complete their work, the entire House budget will be considered by the full membership. It will be a few more weeks until that is completed.

In the meantime, we passed several pieces of significant legislation this week; a list of a few highlights follows:

HB 22 would eliminate corporal punishment in all schools in Kentucky. The definition of corporal punishment was clarified as the intentional infliction of severe physical pain but would not eliminate consequences for bad behavior. It also does not include reasonable actions taken by either athletic coaches or military trainers using such things as running laps to be considered corporal punishment.

The bill was proposed by a student from Louisville when he was a Kentucky Youth Assembly participant. He has advocated for the issue these past four years. He, along with others who supported his efforts, was in the gallery to observe its passage.

HB 53 would allow for the installation of stop arm cameras on school buses by local school districts. They can negotiate contracts with vendors so that there is no cost to the local district because payment for the cameras would come from the collection of violation fees from those who pass the buses illegally.

Once the cost of the cameras is covered, a percentage of the fees collected after that point could potentially be sources of revenue for the district. Knowing that buses have cameras would hopefully serve as a deterrent from passing a school bus while stopped and ultimately provide for the safety of our children. Again, this is optional and not mandatory for school districts to do.

HB 59 would designate the third Wednesday of September as “Farmer Suicide Prevention Day” every year. The primary goal is to raise awareness of the growing number of farmer suicides and encourage the identification and treatment so as to prevent them.

HB 266 would allow students who are children of military parents to enroll in a school district ahead of an upcoming reassignment that would include the transitioning into civilian life. It would allow them to temporarily live outside the district if their permanent housing was not available when school started and would prevent them from having to change districts midstream when they know their permanent residence is going to be inside that particular school district once their permanent housing is available.

HB 135 outlines prescriptive privileges for Schedule II-V medications of physician assistants that will ultimately help with the care of patients throughout the Commonwealth, especially in rural areas where there are provider shortages. This is an issue that has been worked on for several years and took all parties involved to come to an agreement on what makes sense with respect to the educational levels and experience of those involved on the healthcare team.

HB 236, the Hemp Bill, aligning state regulations with federal guidelines and allowing for the University of Kentucky lab to allow other qualified labs to help with testing, especially since there currently is a backlog, came back from the Senate for concurrence (or agreement with the bill as passed out of the Senate). It is now headed to the Governor’s desk for his consideration to sign into law or veto.

HB 313, if it becomes statute, would add the National Insurance Crime Bureau to the list of groups and organizations that the Department of Insurance Commissioner can report to and receive information from related to insurance fraud. It would also provide immunity for reporting insurance fraud and require insurance companies to provide a discount on motor vehicle insurance when the vehicle is equipped with anti-theft devices when specific requirements are met.
HCR 49 was adopted that would establish a Severe Mental Illness Task Force. The Task Force, when created, would evaluate mental health services that are available or not to adults. It would meet monthly over the interim and make a report of both findings and recommendations in December of 2020 prior to the next legislative session.

HCR 53 passed, which urges the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to allow states the ability to adopt permanent Daylight Savings Time. If this is an issue you are interested in, contact our federal representation in Washington, D.C. https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

Two Senate bills were passed and sent back to the Senate for concurrence (their agreement with the bill as it passed out of the House). They include:
SB 8 is a follow-up bill from the School Safety Bill passed last session. It is a comprehensive bill that covers aspects of personnel, systems and structures, student connection and accountability.

It would require SROs (School Resource Officers) to be armed, would give flexibility to have one SRO per school campus rather than building if that is deemed sufficient, and would make SROs eligible for in the line-of-duty death benefits.

The responsibility of active shooter training would be moved from the Kentucky Department of Education to the KY Department of Criminal Justice Training. It would establish the goal of having a ratio of one counselor to 250 students and expand counselors to include any previously defined school-based mental health workers employed by the district.

There was a long passionate debate on the House floor, particularly about SROs being armed. The conclusion by the majority voting felt it important not to put an SRO in a school and not let them be able to protect themselves or the students they are there to protect in case of an active shooter incidence.

SB 94 would amend the requirements for the sale of gasoline containing up to 10 percent ethanol to 15 percent-plus in order to line up with federal guidelines. I will provide more information regarding this issue as it moves forward.

Throughout the week I met with various groups advocating for being included in the budget or for particular pieces of legislation that might be considered for a vote. Several folks from the district were among them.

On Wednesday, I testified at the Board of Pharmacy meeting held in their office in Frankfort. I attended in support of the administration and pharmacy staff of Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital in their request for a waiver for pharmacy services offered in their Long-Term Care Facility. Since it is physically located within the acute care hospital, it is a unique situation that pertains to only 1% of long-term care facilities in the state. Gratefully, the waiver was granted. The Pharmacy Board is going to work on changing the regulation permanently to reflect the waiver language that will apply to all similar long-term care facilities in the state.

On Thursday, I spoke at the Black History Month Rally for Life sponsored by the Sisters for Life out of Louisville. I shared about hearing Ryan Bomberger at the KY Right to Life Banquet last year. He was the product of rape but was grateful to his birth mother because she had him and allowed him to be adopted. If we are going to be pro-life, we must be open to adoption.

I also shared that I had asked in committee how a Cabinet (the Health and Family Services Cabinet) who is supposed to be all about children and allowing them to live to their full potential, issue licenses to abortion clinics. The reply was that they were following policy and upholding the current law. We are looking into how to change the law so that they will not be compelled to do so in the future.

Friday evening, upon returning to the district, I attended the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce 7th Annual Evening of Stars at the Ballard Convention Center in Madisonville, of which I was a proud sponsor. The event honors both businesses and individuals of varying categories for their contributions to the community. It was good to see familiar faces and get input on various issues constituents are facing. This year’s event was presented by Baptist Health.

As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100 Ext. 686, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation by watching live on KET or through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.legislature.ky.gov.

Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District serving Muhlenberg and southeast Hopkins counties which includes White Plains, Morton’s Gap, Anton as well as sections of Nortonville, Earlington and SE Madisonville. She is Vice-Chair of the Health & Family Services Committee as well as the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Health & Family Services. She serves as a member on, the Appropriations & Revenue, Medicaid Oversight and Advisory, Education, and Natural Resources & Energy Committees as well as the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Advisory Committee. http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ColonCancer.htm.

 

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