Legislative Update – January 26, 2018

Words cannot begin to express the shock and sadness felt throughout the Commonwealth and around the country on Tuesday when an active shooter opened fire at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, taking two innocent students’ lives and injuring 18 others. It was a senseless act of violence committed by another student that we cannot even begin to understand. We can only pray that this act somehow strengthens the Marshall County community and the state of Kentucky as a whole. I offer my sincerest condolences to all the friends, families, teachers, and students of Marshall County in this most difficult time.

Governor Bevin and our colleague, Senator Danny Carroll (who represents Benton and is a graduate of Marshall County High) flew to the scene immediately following the news of Tuesday’s tragedy. We recognized those victims on the Senate floor on Tuesday and Governor Bevin ordered the State Flag to half-staff until Tuesday, January 30, in memory of those students who were tragically lost. Tragedies like this one remind us just how precious the gift of life is, so keep your loved ones close in this time of grieving in the Commonwealth.

We continued to closely monitor the situation in Marshall County as the legislative process continued in Frankfort. Daily agendas were packed for the fourth week of the 2018 Session of the Kentucky General Assembly as we heard bills in committees and passed them on the Senate floor.

This week marked the first bill to be passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 3, also known as Marsy’s Law, was passed by the full House on January 24. The bill, which establishes more protections in the judicial system for victims of crimes, is a constitutional amendment that will be placed on November’s ballot for voters to approve. Through this bill’s legislative journey, members of the Senate and the House heard compelling testimony from advocates and lawmakers alike on the need for this law, and I was proud to vote for it in the Senate. When Marsy’s Law appears on your ballot in November, I encourage you to support the measure.

The Senate passed a number of bills this week beginning with Senate Bill (SB) 71. This bill allows health educators to teach abstinence as the best method to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Opposition to the measure tried to paint this bill as preventing other sex education from being taught, which is simply untrue. Abstinence will be taught alongside other methods of STD and pregnancy prevention, and SB 71 will not inhibit the freedom of educators to teach these other methods. Senate Bill 71 passed the Senate 32-5.

As we continue to pray for Marshall County, I would also like to thank our first responders who put their lives on the line every day to ensure the public’s safety.  Without them, many of these tragic situations could be much worse.