With only six legislative days remaining in the 2013 Regular Session, the chance for bills to be enacted into law during this short session is narrowing.
Any bill that has not already passed the first house of the legislature is effectively dead for the 2013 Regular Session.
Seven of the bills that I have sponsored have passed the House and are under consideration in the Senate.
Public-pension reform moved closer to some sort of resolution in the House this week as the chamber approved its version of a pension overhaul bill.
The options are limited as any changes may only be made to what is offered to new employees. Current employees and retirees have a contract with the State and no changes may be made to their benefits.
Both proposals require full funding for the retirement system, but differ on how those funds will be raised.
The Senate plan will require the funding to come from existing revenues, while the House proposal (which I did not support), would raise money from expanding the Lottery and Instant Racing at the race tracks. I personally support funding the system from existing revenues and not from raising taxes or increasing gambling.
While I do not think either the Senate or the House’s version completely solves the problem we face, a resolution is closer with the bill now going to conference, where leaders from the House and the Senate will try to hammer out their differences and reach an agreement before we adjourn.
Neither of these actions would affect teachers as they are under a different retirement system.
What have been called “unintended consequences” of the so-called “pill mill bill”, or HB 1, passed during the 2012 special legislative session were also addressed with House unanimously passing HB 217.
The Senate committee also passed the bill to the full Senate last week.
HB 217 would alleviate some regulatory burdens of the mandatory controlled substance reporting law on providers and patients.
Mandatory reporting to KASPER (Kentucky All-Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system) would be lifted for hospitals and long-term care facilities, which typically provide one or two doses or “unit” dosing at set times, and exemptions would be made for post-surgery patients, end-of-life patients, and some other patients who may need increased pain management.
A bill that would set new safety requirements for Kentucky public schools to prevent tragedies like the December school shooting that left 20 children and six school workers dead in Newtown, Conn., has also passed the House and gone to the Senate.
HB 354, which passed the House by a 96 -0 margin, is largely based on the work of the House Subcommittee on School Safety formed earlier this year.
It would codify several new school safety requirements, including adoption of school emergency plans for disasters and lockdowns, additional emergency drills, access to school floor and emergency plans by first responders, and visible numbering of windows, door and hallways in each school.
And finally, the efforts to realign the districts for the House and Senate continues to be debated in the House.
Necessary changes (due to the loss of population and not being able to split small counties) to the districts in Eastern Kentucky continue to complicate the question. Hopefully House Leadership will present their plan this week.
Every plan I have seen splits Jessamine County into only two districts.
There are long days and nights ahead as we head into the final days of the session and I will continue to keep you updated on our work.
You can stay informed of legislative action on any bill of interest by using the legislature’s web site at www.lrc.ky.gov.