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Senator: Legislative session warming up

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This week in Frankfort, the Senate passed key pieces of legislation that help our students and school districts, provide economic development and give law enforcement time-saving investigation procedures.

Two Senate Bills regarding Education and Education Funding passed the Senate this week.

Senate Bill 16 allows computer programming to meet foreign language requirements in public school. Currently, Kentucky high school students must complete two courses in a foreign language. Giving the option to treat computer language as a foreign language allows students the flexibility to learn a very marketable skill and work toward graduation at the same time. With this measure, universities and community colleges could accept these courses as fulfilling entrance requirements.

Computer programming is a growing field as technology continues to expand in all areas of life. Also, the salaries in this field are very competitive. Opening the requirements to computer programming will give more control to our students, open opportunities for teachers and school districts and create a more career-ready and college-ready student.

Affecting school districts in another way, Senate Bill 55 ensures that Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding cannot be withheld as a punitive measure.

Another measure that passed, Senate Bill 45, gives law enforcement a more efficient way to work during criminal investigation. This legislation allows search warrants to be processed electronically saving time and man power during an investigation.

A bill that brings better broadband and wireless access to rural citizens also passed Thursday. Senate Bill 99 would remove some regulations from the telecommunications industry to allow service providers to invest more money in newer broadband and IP-enabled technologies. The measure will improve cell phone coverage across the state without jeopardizing landline service in rural areas.

I want to reiterate an important priority of our caucus, which is a measure to keep legislation in the hands of the General Assembly. Senate Bill 1 gives the legislature the authority to review and approve or disapprove of regulations enacted by a sitting governor during an interim period. In the past, legislation has been taken to a level that was not intended through such regulations. This is an important “checks and balances” policy. Senate Bill 1 was heard in the State and Local Government Committee this week, and reported favorably.

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. I appreciate your time and input.

Senator Ernie Harris (R-Crestwood) represents the 26th District which includes Oldham County as well as a portion of Jefferson County.