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This week at the Capitol March 18-22

In News, State by OC Monitor Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lawmakers are stacking bills and counting votes as they make a final push to pass legislation out of the chambers and over to the governor’s desk in the remaining days of the 2024 legislation session.

The Kentucky General Assembly is scheduled to gavel out for a veto recess next week. That leaves only four more days to tighten the screws on several prominent bills before lawmakers adjourn for the break.

The House and Senate are still negotiating a $130 billion budget plan for the state executive branch, and a conference committee met Monday to begin working through the details. More action is expected next week.

Meanwhile, a much-discussed measure on adult-oriented businesses stepped closer to passage Tuesday after clearing a vote in the House Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection.

Senate Bill 147 would prevent adult-oriented businesses from operating near areas where minors might congregate, such as schools, churches, childcare facilities and parks. Such businesses would also be required to ensure that minors are not exposed to explicit performances.

The bill now heads to the House floor along with another major bill on youth gun violence that won support in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 20 would clear the way for juveniles to stand trial as adults if they are at least 15 years old and they use a firearm in the commission of certain felonies.

Thursday was by far the busiest day of the week as lawmakers advanced dozens of bills from 14 different committees, including measures on child abuse, vaping, teacher misconduct and civics education.

The attention turned to health care in the early evening as the Senate Committee on Health Services approved a priority measure dubbed the “momnibus bill.”

The legislation – House Bill 10 – aims to support maternal and infant health and reduce the high mortality rate for mothers in Kentucky. It would require health plans to cover pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care along with in-home treatment for substance use disorder.

HB 10 also calls on plans to cover labor and delivery costs and all services and supplies related to breastfeeding. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

The Senate Health Services Committee also passed a bill on youth medical records and a separate measure on vaccines Thursday.

House Bill 174 seeks to ensure that parents have access to their child’s medical records. Right now, children ages 13 and older must sign a waiver for parents to have access.

Under Senate Bill 295, COVID-19 vaccines cannot be required as a condition of student enrollment, employment, professional licensing or obtaining healthcare services

Both bills now head to the full Senate.

Many other bills were moving closer to passage this week. Here’s a look at some of those measures:

Emissions Standards: Senate Bill 215 would forbid state agencies from adopting or enforcing California’s emission standards on motor vehicles. The House Transportation Committee passed the measure Tuesday.

Sex Offenders and Social Media: Senate Bill 249 would require sex offenders who have been convicted of abusing a minor to use their legal name on social media platforms. The bill cleared the House Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection on Tuesday.

Cursive Handwriting: Senate Bill 167 calls for elementary schools to teach cursive handwriting and ensure that students are proficient in cursive by the end of the fifth grade. The House Education Committee passed the legislation Tuesday.

Legislative Vacancies: Under House Bill 622, vacant seats in the U.S. Senate would be filled through a special election rather than an appointment by the governor. The Senate State and Local Government Committee advanced the bill Wednesday.

Sanctuary State: House Joint Resolution 121 declares that Kentucky is a sanctuary state from federal regulations on fossil fuel-fired power plants. The House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy passed the bill Thursday.

Child Abuse: House Bill 278 would ramp up the criminal penalties for offenders who sexually abuse, assault or exploit children. The bill also seeks to prevent people convicted of sex crimes or violent felonies from working in public schools. The bill cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Vaping in Schools: House Bill 142 would ban all tobacco, alternative nicotine and vapor products in Kentucky public schools. It would also require school districts to adopt disciplinary procedures for students who violate the bans. The Senate Education Committee advanced the bill Thursday.

Teacher Misconduct: House Bill 275 would require school districts to fully investigate teacher misconduct even if the teacher resigns before the investigation is complete. It would also require teacher applicants to disclose recent disciplinary issues when applying for a new job. HB 275 moved out of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.

Civics Education: House Bill 535 calls on the Kentucky Board of Education to create academic standards for civic literacy in high schools. That would include lessons on America’s founding, the U.S. Constitution, principles of government and civil liberties, among others. The Senate Education Committee passed the measure on Thursday.

Breast Exams: House Bill 115 seeks to eliminate co-pays and cost-sharing requirements for high-risk individuals who need follow-up diagnostic imaging to rule out breast cancer. The measure cleared the Senate Health Services Committee on Thursday.

Kratom: House Bill 293 aims to regulate kratom, an herbal drug frequently sold online and in convenience stores. The bill would prohibit sales to people under 21 and provide guidelines for manufacturing and labeling the product. The Senate Health Services Committee passed the bill Thursday.

Kindergarten Readiness: House Bill 695 would establish an adaptive kindergarten readiness pilot project within the Kentucky Department of Education. The program will offer reading, math and science instruction through an online platform. The House passed the legislation Thursday.

Vaping Product Regulations: Senate Bill 344 would create a regulatory framework to combat underage use of vaping products. It calls on vaping manufacturers to register with the state and certify that products comply with federal regulations. SB 344 received support in the Senate on Thursday.

Conscientious Objections in Health Care: Senate Bill 239 would create new protections for healthcare professionals who decline to participate in certain medical services due to conscientious objections. The bill would protect such professionals from discrimination and civil, criminal or administrative liabilities. The Senate passed the bill Thursday.

Adoption Records: House Bill 87 would allow certain adult family members to inspect adoption records after both birth parents or adoptee have passed away. The bill cleared the Senate floor on Thursday.

Nuclear Energy: Senate Bill 198 would establish the Kentucky Nuclear Energy Development Authority to support and facilitate the development of a nuclear energy ecosystem across the state. The House passed the measure Friday.

Speech Therapy: Senate Bill 111 would eliminate some insurance coverage limits on speech therapy for stuttering. It won approval in the House on Friday.

Aerospace Industry: Senate Bill 127 seeks to support Kentucky’s aerospace and aviation industries by fostering public-private partnerships and enhancing workforce development across the state. The House passed the bill Friday.

Veteran Suicide Prevention: House Bill 30 calls for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to create a suicide prevention program for service members, veterans and their families. The Senate passed the measure Friday.

Lawmakers will return Monday for day 55 of the 60-day session.

Kentuckians can track the action through the Legislative Record webpage, which allows users to read bills and follow their progression through the chambers. Capitol observers can also track budget bills on the 2024 Budget Bills webpage.

Citizens can also share their views on issues with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.