A common misconception about the legislative process is that all state laws take effect right after the governor signs them.
While that assumption is understandable, the truth is that most laws are not official until 90 days after the end of a legislative session. This year, that date falls on July 15th.
There are some exceptions. If a law addresses a pressing need – as we saw this spring with the problem many school districts like ours had regarding an excessive number of snow days – the fix the General Assembly passes can take effect immediately.
In other cases, a law may have a specified start date. That includes a measure this year giving state and local government agencies until January to implement more safety precautions to better protect our personal data.
One of the more prominent new laws – reforming our juvenile justice system – has multiple enactment dates. Some sections take effect this month, and many others will be implemented next July; a new Juvenile Justice Oversight Council, meanwhile, has to be appointed by August 1st. Once this law is fully in place, it is expected to save the state about $24 million over a five-year period while providing a more humane response in those cases in which the juvenile’s violation is relatively minor.
Overall, there were more than 130 bills to become law this year, and several of those are focused on improving the health of Kentuckians. That includes making it easier for families to access CBD oil, which is derived from the hemp family and which has been shown to reduce seizures; and increasing the prescribing authority for advanced practice registered nurses. Other changes bar minors from buying electronic cigarettes; call for more medical training to recognize pediatric head trauma; and create an adult-abuse registry to ensure those guilty of hurting a vulnerable adult in their care are not hired for a similar position.
Other new laws affect our criminal justice system. Parents and guardians, for example, will now have to attend court with their children if the underage drivers receive a traffic violation; and the state’s concealed-carry laws have been updated significantly. Those changes include allowing honorably discharged members of the military to bypass training requirements for a license; and those possessing a domestic violence order or emergency protective order will now be able to quickly obtain a temporary concealed-carry permit.
In education, I was proud to sponsor the law that expands a pilot program that was created to help more college students here in the mountains get their four-year degree. This now permanent initiative includes all 34 coal-producing counties, and the budget doubles the available money – which is derived from the coal-severance tax – from $1 million a year to $2 million.
Several new laws focus on economic development. That includes lowering the requirements to qualify for tourism-development tax incentives in distressed counties; letting veterans apply their heating-and-air training in the military when obtaining a private HVAC license; and helping GE and AK Steel expand their operations.
As these new laws take effect, the General Assembly has already begun interim meetings with an eye on what changes may need to be made during next year’s legislative session, which begins in January. If you have any thoughts on what improvements should be made, I would like to know.
You can always reach me by email at Greg.Stumbo@lrc.ky.gov or by leaving me a message, toll-free, at 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305.