Legislative Update – February 2, 2018

This week was the busiest yet in Frankfort with a number of bills moving through committees and onto the Senate and House floors for votes. We were also visited by a number of statewide advocacy groups that championed their causes and rallied in the Capitol Rotunda. Between visiting constituents, committee meetings, and voting on the Senate floor, we continued to discuss the upcoming budget and pension reform.

We passed a number of bills this week including Senate Bill (SB) 12. This bill designates May 1 of every year as “School Bus Driver Day” in Kentucky. Although they do not often receive the accolades they deserve, our school bus drivers are one of the most important parts of our children’s school days. They are the first and last adults our children interact within the school system every day, and we are so grateful for the work they do.

Senate Bill 35 was another bill we passed which would align Kentucky labor laws for seasonal facilities with federal standards. We also passed SB 37, directing the Transportation Cabinet to establish procedures allowing federal inmates on work release to obtain their drivers licenses in order to better integrate into society. Measures such as SB 37 are important in both workforce development and criminal justice reform as we try to help inmates best prepare for reentry into the workforce. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

Another important bill that passed the Senate this week was SB 68. This bill would clarify that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay the legal fees of the abusive spouse in a divorce action when the spouse is jailed for crimes against the victim. During this bill’s committee hearing we heard compelling testimony from survivors of domestic abuse who were forced to pay their abusive spouses’ legal fees. This bill also passed the Senate unanimously, and I was proud to support it.

Senate Bill 85, which passed without opposition, would make it easier for notaries public to change their name without having to undergo the certification process again.  Senate Bill 57 also passed and allows a person injured by an act of terrorism to file a claim for damages against the terrorist. It also establishes a crime of terrorism as a capital offense that will be punished by imprisonment for life without probation or parole and that a person convicted of terrorism cannot be released early. This bill puts in place protections for Kentuckians to hopefully prevent a terror attack on our Commonwealth’s soil.

The Senate also passed SB 72, a government transparency measure which prohibits the naming of state buildings, properties, programs, initiatives, highways, or bridges in honor of any living elected state official or state employee. This bill will help ensure that state elected officials and employees do not use their public positions for personal gain. The bill is not retroactive and will not remove already-named structures.

We wrapped up the week on Friday wearing blue and orange to support Marshall County High School and to show that we are #MarshallStrong. We continue to pray for all those affected, especially the citizens of Marshall County, and they are in our hearts as we continue our work in Frankfort.