Week 6 of the 2021 Regular Session

Severe winter weather forced the Kentucky
General Assembly to pause Regular Session activity during the week of February
15. My colleagues and I returned to Frankfort on Monday to resume legislative
work on your behalf.

Upon returning to Frankfort, the House and Senate got back to
work on legislative business with robust committee meeting agendas and policy
discussions on the floor, each passing several bills out of their respective
chambers this week. 

Bills that are deemed as "priority" seek to address
the state's most immediate challenges or focus on areas of the law that are of
importance to Kentuckians. Several priority measures relate to the COVID-19
pandemic and its impact on the Commonwealth. Some seek to apply practical
solutions to unemployment insurance issues and the economy, while others
promote stronger legislative oversight to improve government transparency,
among other topics. 

Several priority bills continued through the legislative process
this week. They included Senate Bill's 4, 6 and 10. 

Senate Bill 4 is a bipartisan measure that I am proud to be sponsoring this
session. If passed, this legislation would create
procedures and requirements for the issuance of both search warrants and arrest
warrants that authorize entry without notice, commonly known as no-knock
warrants. They would be allowed for instances where someone was believed to be
in immediate danger, such as kidnapping cases. The no-knock warrants would also
be allowed when sought in connection to cases involving certain violent crimes,
terrorism or weapons of mass destruction.

An officer seeking a no-knock warrant would have to get approval
from supervisors and certify the warrant application hadn’t been “shopped,” the
practice of trying to find a receptive judge. The bill would also make clear
that an officer’s false statement in a warrant application constitutes felony
perjury. And the approving judge’s signature would have to be legible.

SB 4 serves to make potentially dangerous circumstances safer
for both law enforcement and the public while also strengthening the public
trust in agencies. 

Senate Bill 6 enacts new safeguards to ensure ethical behavior within the
executive branch, particularly regarding members of gubernatorial transition
teams' actions and behaviors. Transition teams consist of people who help a
Governor-Elect transition from candidate to the official office. They will help
select individuals who will serve in the various positions within the
Governor-Elect's administration and help determine policy goals and the new
administration's general framework. 

Senate Bill 10 also passed the Senate. I feel that this measure can lead to
meaningful dialogue and create a conducive environment for considering
solutions for challenges facing communities across the Commonwealth. If passed,
SB 10 would establish a Commission on Race & Access to Opportunity within
the legislative branch to conduct studies and research where disparities may
exist across sectors of educational equity, healthcare, economic opportunity,
criminal justice, and more. The Commission established would have the authority
to hold monthly meetings, seek comment and testimony from various individuals
and organizations, and provide research to recommend data-driven policy

Countless hours of robust discussion
went into crafting the final language of this measure. During this time of
divisiveness, I think it's essential we consider the benefit of sitting with
others in honest, open conversation with the intent to listen. No, that will
not always lead to an agreement on policy, but it will lead to better
understanding and rapport. While we all come from unique backgrounds, endeavors
like SB 10 promote better pathways. As a sponsor of this measure, I was pleased
to see its passage in the Senate this week.

As you can see, the General Assembly is not taking any time for
granted. We are now past the halfway point of the 2021 Regular Session, with
much work left to do. I will continue to provide weekly legislative updates in
the weeks ahead.

you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public
policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me [email protected]. You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov.

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