Last updated: February 11. 2014 10:21AM - 627 Views
Sen. Johnny Ray Turner

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This week saw two milestones of the 2014 Regular Session: The first third of the session completed and the first bill to receive final passage of the entire General Assembly.

Senate Bill 7 is an important measure aimed at increasing accessibility to health care in Kentucky. It will allow experienced nurse practitioners to independently prescribe routine medicines, but not controlled substances. This comes after years of dedicated effort between lawmakers and medical professionals, and we are proud that the first bill to land on the Governor’s desk this year is one that will ease the burden on patients and their practitioners.

Many other bills earned the Senate’s stamp of approval this week and were sent to the other end of the Capitol’s third floor to the House.

Among them, Senate Bill 87 would allow high school juniors and seniors to use Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money to pay for up to six dual-credit hours at colleges and universities in the state. The bill would also allow these students to use the scholarship money in high school to begin career or technical education toward professional licensures or certificates.

One of our goals has always been to provide Kentucky students with the best educational opportunities possible and to prepare them for fulfilling careers. That is what this bill does. The earlier students become engaged in post-secondary education, the more likely they are to succeed. This would give students a jump start on college and is another option for students to best utilize their hard-earned KEES money.

While we spend much time and focus each year crafting proposals to benefit our children, sometimes they are the ones to come to us with effective and needed legislation. Such was the case with Senate Bill 20, passed on Tuesday. A result of work by middle school students in Madison County, this measure would recognize October as Anti-Bullying Month in the Commonwealth and establish the purple and gold ribbon as a symbol of bullying awareness. Bullying behavior, especially online, has sadly become a hard and sometimes tragic reality for many of our students. This will help raise awareness and, we hope, prevent this type of peer abuse in the future.

This week, Governor Beshear released his tax modernization plan, which he says would create jobs, expand existing industry, and ensure a healthier workforce and economy. His plan, which is based on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform, is designed to update the tax system and make our state more competitive. In the coming days, the General Assembly will vet the governor’s plan and will add ideas of our own. We may not be in complete agreement on the whole package, but the fact is we have not had comprehensive tax reform in Kentucky since the 1950s. We need changes to our tax system to boost our economy and to create new jobs. I hope everyone comes to the table to seriously discuss this issue that has not gotten the full attention it needs in over 60 years.

This is just a quick snapshot of the work this week. There are many other issues being discussed in Frankfort and I encourage you to join in those discussions. Our representative form of government was designed to give the people of Kentucky a voice. You have a big say in the laws affecting you.

A taped message containing information on legislative committee meetings is updated daily at 800-633-9650. To check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. To leave a message for me, or any legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at 800-372-7181. You can also e-mail me at johnnyray.turner@lrc.ky.gov.

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