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Legislative Update – January 15, 2016

Floor votes, committee hearings, and spirited debate highlighted an action-packed, second week of session in the Kentucky Senate. Guests from all corners of the Commonwealth were welcomed to Frankfort to speak on behalf of various bills.The Senate began passing bills on Thursday, headlined by Senate Bill (SB) 9, a measure to repeal the prevailing wage requirement on public school projects with a cost of over $250,000. Passage of this priority legislation will reduce construction costs on large-scale school projects, thus providing additional funding for education.

Senate Bill 11 also passed helping bourbon distilleries, wineries, and breweries across Kentucky. SB 11 would allow bourbon distilleries to offer by-the-drink sales to visitors, sell more bourbon on-site, and offer slightly larger quantities of free samples to better accommodate the hundreds of thousands of tourists attracted to Kentucky distilleries each year. Additionally, SB 11 would allow expanded production for local small farm wineries and microbreweries.

On Wednesday, I participated in a legislative panel discussion for the Kentucky Cable Association with Senator Ralph Alvarado and two House Democrat members. It was a great way to spark dialogue between parties and my main message was that, although bipartisan collaboration will be needed to pass significant bills in this session, the Senate Republican Majority Caucus does not plan on compromising our core conservative values.

From Senate committee meetings this week, two of our priority bills—SB 4 and SB 10—were reported favorably. SB 4 would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure as a measure to help further promote the value of life. SB 10 would move statewide elections to even-numbered years, thus promoting greater voter turnout and savings for the Commonwealth and counties. 

Senate Bill 56, which would extend the look-back window for DUI’s from five years to 10, and SB 60, which would add further protections for vulnerable victims of sex crimes, were both reported out of the Judiciary Committee this week.

As we look forward to another busy week of session, I am proud of the bipartisan demeanor displayed thus far in the Senate. I will continue to commit myself to legislation that will move our Commonwealth forward.