A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

This Week at the State Capitol: Bills arrive on Bevin’s desk, including school safety; others advance

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2019 session passed a major milestone this week as bills passed by both the Senate and House began arriving on the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

The first bill of the year delivered to Gov. Matt Bevin’s office was Senate Bill 4, a measure that would require candidates for public office in Kentucky to electronically file their campaign finance reports starting in 2020. Current law requires only candidates for statewide office to electronically file campaign finance reports. Candidates who raise less than $3,000 during a reporting period would be exempt from the e-filing requirement.

By week’s end, several more bills were delivered to the governor, including a comprehensive school safety bill that is widely considered to be many lawmakers’ highest-priority bill of the year.

The school safety bill, Senate Bill 1, is the product of a specially-formed committee that traveled the state last year to discuss school safety and collect feedback. The measure calls for improving student safety on a variety of fronts by establishing a state school safety marshal, conducting risk assessments, boosting safety and prevention training, requiring superintendents to appoint a school safety coordinator, promoting the assignment of a school resource officer to each school, increasing awareness of suicide prevention efforts, encouraging collaboration with law enforcement, and, as funds become available, hiring more counselors in school districts.

The proposal also calls upon the state to make an anonymous reporting tool available to each school district.

Other measures that advanced between Feb. 25 and March 1 include bills on the following topics:

Felony expungement. Senate Bill 57, which was approved by the Senate on a 35-2 vote, would increase the number of Kentuckians eligible to have low-level felonies expunged from their criminal records. The measure would expand discretionary expungement to all Class D felonies, except those that involve a breach of public trust, sex offenses, crimes against children and violent crimes that may cause serious bodily injury or death. The bill has been delivered to the House for consideration.

Youth vaping. Senate Bill 218, which received a Senate committee’s approval and now awaits the full chamber’s consideration, is intended to curb the alarming number of children and teens susceptible to nicotine addiction through the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping products like Juuls. The legislation would establish an anonymous hotline for students to report vaping, require that parents be notified if a child was caught vaping and encourage youth who vape to enroll in local health department smoking and vaping cessation programs. It would also encourage school districts to establish awareness campaigns about health concerns surrounding vaping. The U.S. Surgeon General warns that nicotine exposure during adolescence could harm brain development, and affect learning, memory and attention.

Abortion. Performing an abortion due to a decision based on the unborn child’s gender, race, color, national origin or disability would be a felony offense under a bill that passed the Kentucky House. House Bill 5 passed the House on a vote of 67-25. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Concealed carry. Kentucky would become the 16th state to allow concealed firearms to be carried with without a concealed carry permit under a bill that received House approval on a 60-37 vote. Senate Bill 150 would allow Kentuckians age 21 and older who are legally eligible possess a firearm for permitless carry anywhere that those with a concealed carry license are allowed to possess a firearm. Permitless carry would not be allowed where prohibited by federal law or otherwise prohibited. The bill, which was approved by the Senate last month, next goes to the governor’s desk.

Student loan debt. The Keep Americans Working Act of 2019 was approved by the Senate this week, which means the bill now has both chambers’ approval and is ready to be delivered to the governor’s desk. House Bill 118 would prohibit someone from having an occupational license suspended or revoked because of delinquency on a student loan or work-conditional scholarship. The bill would also encourage a person who is in default or delinquent in the payment of a student loan to contact the appropriate student loan servicer to establish a voluntary pay agreement. The measure is meant to help keep people with student loan debt out of poverty and in the workforce.

Citizens who want to offer feedback on the issues under consideration can share their thoughts with Kentucky lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

From Legislative Research Commission

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