A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

LRC’s Capitol Notes: House OKs graduation bill, coal county scholarship bill advances

By Scott Payton
Special to KyForward

House approves graduation bill

A bill that would raise the school dropout age in Kentucky from 16 to 18 by July 2018 passed the House Tuesday by a vote of 87-10.

House Bill 224, sponsored by House Banking and Insurance Chair Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, and Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“We need to send a message to our kids in our districts throughout this Commonwealth that we have expectations of you,” Greer said. Approximately 6,000 students drop out of high school each year in Kentucky on average, he said.

Kentucky’s compulsory school attendance age of 16 was set in 1920. Today, a high school diploma is necessary to join the military and for most types of employment, Greer said.

Child death and near-death review panel bill advances

A panel of experts would provide comprehensive reviews after child deaths and near-fatalities caused by abuse or neglect under legislation that cleared the House Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday afternoon.

House Bill 290 would establish, by statute, an external child fatality and near fatality review panel. The panel would continue the work of a panel created last year by governor to review child death and near death cases caused by abuse or neglect. The legislation would allow the new panel to view unredacted copies of case files regarding child deaths or near deaths.

“It’s the first time that we will finally get transparency,” said HB 290 sponsor Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, chair of the House Health and Welfare Committee. “I think everybody now is on board.”

HB 290 now goes to the full House for consideration.

Coal county scholarship bill clears House Education panel

A bill approved today by the House Education Committee would create a scholarship and grant program to help college juniors and seniors from Kentucky’s coal counties attain four-year college degrees.

House Bill 210, introduced and sponsored by Rep. Leslie Combs, D-Pikeville, would offer scholarships to students from the state’s 34 coal-producing counties in Eastern and Western Kentucky who attend school in those counties through the “Kentucky Coal County College Completion Program” to be established by the bill. The aid would be funded with coal severance tax dollars that Combs has said could begin in the 2014-2016 state budget cycle.

Nine Eastern Kentucky coal counties currently offer scholarships to local students who attend college or university in those counties under an executive order signed last year by the governor. HB 210 would make that program statutory, while expanding it to the other 25 coal-producing counties in Kentucky.

Maximum scholarship awards under HB 210 would be $6,600 per academic year per student at nonprofit, independent institutions, $2,200 per year per student at state university extension campuses or eligible regional centers, and $3,300 per year for students seeking a degree at a school outside the region, if the degree program is not offered in the region.

Grants totaling up to $150,000 would also be created by HB 210. The grants would go to community and technical colleges located in the coal regions for outreach to two-year students who may be considering four-year degrees.

HB 210 now returns to the full House for consideration.

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For more information, contact scott.payton@lrc.ky.gov

NOTE: The Legislature welcomes and encourages your comments and questions. There are several easy ways you can stay in touch with your General Assembly.

The Kentucky Legislature home page provides information on each of the Commonwealth’s senators and representatives, including phone numbers, addressees and committee assignments. The site also provides bill texts, a bill-tracking service and committee meeting schedules.

By going to The LRC Public Information eNews page, you can subscribe to frequent email updates on what’s happening at the Capitol.

You can also follow legislative action by phone with these toll-free numbers:

· A taped Calendar Line containing information on the next day’s legislative committee meetings is updated daily at 800-633-9650.

· To check the status of a bill, you may call the Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835.

· To leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 800-372-7181. People with hearing difficulties may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at 800-896-0305.

· You may write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Ave., Frankfort, 40601.

Scott Payton is an assistant public information officer for the Kentucky Legislature

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