A look into the state legislature

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On the 45th day of the legislative session, the House finally passed its budget bill. This leaves us in the Senate only 13 days to work on the budget, present it in a committee, and vote on a Senate version. Thirteen days, less than two weeks, and if we take 13, our power to veto is lost.

A multibillion-dollar budget that funds education, healthcare services, infrastructure, public safety and so many other critical public services deserves more scrutiny than 13 days. It is unreasonable to leave us this small amount of time to review and make needed changes to the House budget bill. However, that is what we are left with, so we are obligated to make this work.

As we study the House’s proposal, more information will come out regarding our response, priorities and review.

On the floor this week, the Senate passed a bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 153. This would allow pollution prevention fund dollars to match federal funds to provide energy efficiency technical assistance

Also, we passed Senate Bill 159, which would allow nonprofit mobile dental clinics to provide care in schools for uninsured and underinsured children, as well as those covered by Medicaid. Statistics show that 42 percent of children in Kentucky under the age of five show signs of advanced tooth decay. Expanding access to dental care fulfills a fundamental need and positively affects the general health, school attendance, self respect and future success of our children.

Senate Bill 124 would provide legal access to cannabidiol oil which is derived from the hemp plant and used to treat people with epilepsy and seizure disorders. More specifically, the children with this illness in some cases have hundreds of seizures per day. Cannabidiol oil contains an extremely low level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), too low to produce any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. Studies have shown that the oil successfully aids children suffering from seizure disorders when administered orally.

Senate Bill 108 also passed the Senate this week. The Act would provide that a person convicted of a felony offense of rape in which a child was born as a result of the offense shall lose parental rights with respect to that child; provide for an exception at the request of the mother; and provide that a court shall impose an obligation of child support against the offender unless waived by the mother and, if applicable, a public agency supporting the child.

Additionally, a lively debate was had on the subject of core content adopted by Kentucky. Senate Bill 224 would prohibit Kentucky from adopting the National Common Core Content and require the Department of Education to create new standards that exceed the national common core. At stake is ensuring Kentucky students are ready and prepared for college and career after graduation. The core content does not provide desirable mathematic and language arts skills for Kentucky students. Testimony was heard from education experts around the nation regarding the failure of the common core to address student needs.

As these important issues continue to be acted on, we wait for the hardest work before us, the biennial budget.

If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or toll free at 1-800-372-7181.