A legislative perspective

Rep. Greg Stumbo Speaker of the House

March 12, 2014

With only about a month left in this year’s legislative session, time is drawing short for the House and Senate to move their legislation on to the other chamber.

As a result, the House covered a good amount of ground last week, with the issues ranging from economic development to streamlining aspects of our judicial system.

Hoping to help the next generation of small business owners get their enterprises off the ground, the House voted unanimously for House Bill 249, which would have the Commission on Small Business Advocacy report on any agency initiatives that benefit entrepreneurs.

Kentucky does especially well when it comes to people willing to strike out on their own and start a business. In fact, Governor Beshear noted in January that Kentucky led the nation in the creation of new businesses, according the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Seeing so many Kentuckians take the risk of starting their own business says a lot about Kentuckians “can-do” attitude and is something that should make us all proud.

The House also took up a bill hoping to improve teen driving, with the chamber voting for House Bill 90, which would make sure that most drivers under 18 attend court with a parent or guardian if the teen received a traffic ticket.

Also on the judicial front, we voted for House Bill 62, which would guarantee that those convicted of first-degree rape will have no parental rights if a child is born as a result of the attack; House Bill 242, which would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who are crime victims and have to take leave to attend court proceedings tied to the crime; and House Bill 418, which would make it possible for siblings to petition a court for visitation rights.

On Thursday, the House put its support behind legislation that could have an impact on every family. House Bill 145 would make sure that both physicians and patients are on the same page when it comes to end-of-life measures. If this becomes law, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure would draft a standardized order form that would determine what steps should be taken medically if the need arises.

Two other bills making it through the chamber last week would allow qualified military training to be used in meeting requirements for working in the heating and air profession, and would help sheriff’s departments save training and retirement costs when hiring retired police officers.

Some of the legislation that received support in committee last week should be ready for a full vote in the House this week. One of those is House Bill 407, which would make it possible for state and local governments to form public-private partnerships to improve their infrastructure, from things as small as water and sewer lines to multi-billion dollar bridges.

House Bill 358, meanwhile, would expand current agricultural opportunities at our correctional facilities. If this passes, it would lower prison costs and improve prisoners’ diets.

While we wait for these bills and others to move forward, the House is set to vote on its proposed two-year budget this week. Our plan will differ relatively little from what Governor Beshear presented in January, meaning the House is on track to significantly shift more money toward elementary and secondary education and approve a large number of construction projects at our public postsecondary schools.

With only about 15 working days left this session, the House and Senate have reached the point where the hours spent working will get longer as the number of remaining days gets shorter.

I want to thank those who have contacted me, and encourage you to join them if you have any thoughts or concerns involving the issues now before us. There is still time.

For those who would like to write, my email address is Greg.Stumbo@lrc.ky.gov. To leave a message for me or for any legislator by phone, please call 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.