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Legislative Update – February 12, 2016

A Hollywood actress, numerous rallies, and winter weather were among the highlights of a busy sixth week of Session in the Kentucky General Assembly. Between a wide variety of guests, packed committee meetings, and plenty of bills passing – it was another productive week in Frankfort.

The national organization Save the Children, which promotes early childhood learning, had its Action Network President Mark Shriver and actress Jennifer Garner testify in Frankfort on behalf of the organization and their work throughout Kentucky. We were pleased to welcome Mr. Shriver, who is the nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, along with Ms. Garner to Frankfort, and we thank them for their efforts in helping children across the state.

We welcomed the Kentucky Right to Life Association to the Capitol and joined it for a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. Governor Matt Bevin held a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill (SB) 4, the first piece of pro-life legislation the Kentucky General Assembly has passed in 12 years. Another pro-life bill, SB 152, passed out of committee this week and would require women to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion. The Senate is still working to pass more pro-life legislation, and we hope to see those bills signed into law by the end of session in April.

I was honored to speak on behalf of the Senate Republican Caucus at the Black History Month celebration that was organized by the Black Legislative Caucus. I also had an opportunity to give an update to several realtors from the 17th District who visited the Capitol this week.

Senate Bill 20, one of our priority bills, passed the Senate this week. SB20, creating an appeals process for Managed Care Organizations (MCO’s), will allow health care providers to appeal a decision relating to the Department of Medicaid. This bill is another step in much-needed health care reform that could ultimately lower costs for consumers.

Protection of children’s identity was embodied in Senate Bill 23. Identity theft isn’t just a problem for adults; children are victims, too. In fact, the sponsor said one in 40 households with children under 18 had at least one child’s information compromised by identity thieves. SB 23 would give parents the right to place a “security freeze” on their child’s credit report if they felt the need. SB 23 also allows guardians of vulnerable citizens to place freezes on those citizens’ credit reports.

I filed SB 200 on Friday to reorganize the Kentucky Horse Park Commission to reduce its membership from 18 to nine to hold those members more accountable. I also encouraged a full state audit to bring some much needed transparency to the financial operations of one of Kentucky’s signature tourist attractions, part of which is located in my district. A March 2015 audit conducted by the state Finance and Administration Cabinet illustrates some areas of concern, such as not making timely payments to vendors, improper registration of vendors and a lack of internal financial controls.

Senate Bill 5, another priority bill, passed out of committee this week. SB 5 would remove the names of county clerks from marriage licenses, a bill crafted after county clerk Kim Davis was faced with criminal charges for standing up for her religious beliefs.

Another priority bill we passed out of committee was SB 1. This bill is bipartisan education reform that would overhaul Common Core standards, allowing Kentucky teachers to teach by removing crippling standards and review programs that only hinder student growth. We had many teachers call and write in support of this bill, and we are proud to move forward with legislation making it easier for our educators to do their job well.