As February draws to a close, the Kentucky House of Representatives is gearing up for what will be, by far, the busiest month of the year for the General Assembly.
By next week, the House should finalize its work on state government’s two-year budget and send it on to the Senate, which will then spend much of March working on its proposal. We are on track for a vote on a compromise by the first of April.
It is looking like the House plan will not differ significantly from what Governor Beshear presented to lawmakers last month in his Budget Address, because we also believe that it is important to put more money toward education and to give our postsecondary schools the tools they need to expand and improve their campuses. Other major projects expected to gain House approval include long-overdue improvements to the Mountain Parkway and $100 million for an innovative plan to increase broadband access.
As the budget process moves forward, the House spent much of its time last week focusing on other legislation that, in a variety of ways, focused on protecting Kentuckians.
That includes House Bill 205, which would call on our high schools to include basic CPR training as part of their health classes. Many already do this, but we want to make sure that all students have a better understanding of how they can help save a life when someone has a cardiac event.
It’s estimated that this strikes nearly 360,000 people a year nationwide outside of a hospital setting. Unfortunately, almost 90 percent do not survive, and a key reason is because they do not receive CPR or other medical care in time.
This legislation is part of an initiative sponsored by the American Heart Association, which says that if every state enacts this law, our country would add a million newly trained rescuers every few years.
House Bill 98, meanwhile, is now set to become one of the first laws signed this legislative session. It would allow diabetic students to be able to administer their own insulin or to receive it from properly trained school personnel.
This change updates a law that only allowed licensed health professionals to carry out this task. This has caused some parents to travel repeatedly to their child’s school when a nurse was not readily available.
In another health-related matter, I was proud to join with Governor Beshear and other legislators on Thursday last week to announce support for an adult-abuse registry, something that more than 20 other states already have.
This legislation has been through the House in the past, and a version cleared the Senate just hours after the press conference. Assuming a compromise between both chambers can be reached, the registry can be created quickly, since money has already been set aside in the budget adopted two years ago.
Once the law is passed, adult service providers will be able to check the background of current and prospective employees to see if their record includes a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect. This will help keep those who would harm some of our most vulnerable Kentuckians from being able to hurt someone else in their care.
Another priority of the House passed on Wednesday with significant bipartisan support. This proposal would make it possible for many convicted of a Class D felony to have their record expunged a period of time after they completed their sentence. Exceptions include felonies tied to abuse or neglect or if there have been other felonies in the applicant’s past. This bill also would ensure that expunged criminal records can be inspected when required by federal or state law or regulation.
This legislation is principally for those who have paid their debt to society but are finding it difficult to get a job. It would build on current law that already allows violations and misdemeanors to be expunged from a person’s record.
In a related matter, the House that day also voted for House Bill 51, which would mostly target websites that use booking photographs for commercial purposes. These shady websites charge high fees to take the mug shots down, putting an unnecessary financial burden on those whose arrest may have happened years if not decades earlier. This legislation would not affect such reputable businesses as traditional media.
With a little more than four full weeks of work remaining, time is drawing short to let me know your views or concerns. I want to thank those who have already contacted me, and if you would like to join them, you can email me at 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.