Week 3 of the 2023 Legislative Session
The 2023 Legislative Session is moving along, with Senate committees approving numerous measures for the full chamber's consideration. Several bills have cleared the chamber and have made their way over the state House of Representatives.
Here are some of the bills clearing the state Senate in week three:
- Senate Bill 24 — Expands homeschooled students' access to Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship funds. KEES provides money to high school students mainly based on GPA and ACT scores. Homeschooled students are currently only eligible for 20 percent of available KEES money because they don't have a traditional GPA. The bill will allow the KEES base to be calculated by an equivalent GPA determined by the homeschooled student's ACT score.
- Senate Bill 25 —A clean-up bill from the previous session's Senate Bill 59. It clarifies the distinction between articulation and dual college credit for school accountability purposes.
- Senate Bill 49 — Seeks to alleviate teacher workforce challenges by extending how long a provisional teacher certificate lasts. This bill provides more time for candidates with baccalaureate degrees to complete alternate teacher certification.
For those with baccalaureate degrees who seek alternative teacher certification through Options 6 and 7, this bill revises the provisional certification period from three years to five years.
Kentucky, like all states, is facing multi-industry workforce challenges. The same is true in public education. According to recent reporting by the Louisville Courier-Journal using figures from the Kentucky Department of Education, the state is short approximately 1,700 classroom educators. This is vastly lower than the 11,000 figure oft-cited by Governor Andy Beshear but is nonetheless an issue lawmakers are committed to addressing.
- Senate Bill 150 — Strengthens parental engagement and communication within public schools by ensuring school curriculum transparency regarding the subject of human sexuality and requiring notifications of health services offered and recommended by schools. Additionally the bill provides First Amendment protections to both staff and students. This bill was expectedly targeted by misinformation and lumped into reporting alongside other bills not even filed in the Senate chamber.
The next bill I want to inform you about requires some background.Looking back to September 2021, you may recall that Governor Beshear, citing security recommendations from the Secret Service and Kentucky State Police, closing the portion of Capital Avenue in Frankfort between the State Capitol and the Capitol Annex.
The Governor's roadway closure to vehicular traffic came nearly one year after he spent over $300,000 on a security fence to be placed around the Governor's Mansion and the complete closure of the State Capitol to visitors from March 2020 to July 2021. Since the route's closure, there has been a tremendous increase in vehicular traffic through the Capitol Annex parking lot, and many are concerned about an increased risk of pedestrian injury.
- Senate Bill 11, sponsored by my fellow northern Kentucky delegation member, Senator John Schickel, cleared the Senate in week 3 and is now with the House for consideration. It would reopen that portion of Capital Avenue, once more providing access to the beautiful campus to residents and out-of-state tourists. The bill allows emergency responders and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to temporarily stop the flow of traffic while fulfilling any duties they may have on State Capitol grounds.
This past Thursday was the 7th Annual Military Kids Day event at the state Capitol. Initiated by Senator Jimmy Higdon, this year's event was the most successful yet.
We had over 100 military kids take part in the legislative process and witness their state government in action. When you added parents and others supporting the day's events, your legislature hosted nearly 200 people.
Kids served as Senate pages, were honored during a committee meeting and in the House and Senate chambers and were treated to lunch where they heard from special guest speakers, many in the military themselves.
As Senate Majority Floor Leader, it was great to welcome the kids into the chamber, where they were introduced at the front of the chamber and received a roaring ovation.
You can follow bill status at legislature.ky.gov and watch live legislative activity at KET/org/legislature. You can also track the status of other legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181.