As week three of the 2023 Regular Session of the General Assembly comes to an end, I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have done for not only the good of my district, but the good of the entire commonwealth.
One of my favorite parts of session is time we set aside to recognize and celebrate our state’s incredible history. Since February is Black History Month, members have devoted time each day to acknowledging the legacy of African Americans. Also, on Friday the House passed HB 28 which designates the fourth Thursday in March of each year as Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day. The first all-Black aviators our fighting forces have ever known were instrumental in bringing in an air of equality to our military, and I was proud to have voted “Yes” on the bill.
While we prepare for another week of session, I would like to now provide you all with an overview of what we heard in committees this week to consider on the House Floor later, as well as an update on the income tax reduction:
Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations: Committee members in the House first heard about HB 62, a consumer protection bill that would require real estate wholesalers that publicly market an equitable interest in a contract for purchase of real property fall under the same rules, regulations, and oversight as other real estate agents. They then heard testimony about HB 167, which modernizes several state laws that impact the practice of veterinary medicine. Another bill discussed was HB 172, which decreases the required months of experience to qualify as a barber school instructor from 36 to 12 months. This bill would change that to 12 months. Lastly, they heard about HB 151 which would create a two-year optional program for land surveyors, helping address a severe workforce shortage that is impacting construction and land development projects across the state.
Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection: Lawmakers heard testimony on HB 153 which simply prohibits local and state law enforcement entities from enforcing federal firearm bans that occur after January 1, 2022. Another piece of integral legislation passed through committee, HB 63, is a military omnibus bill which changes several current statues pertaining to the military. One of those changes being including the United States Space Force to the definition of military services allowing for veterans to qualify for state benefits. Members heard about HB 157, which would create a Kentucky Urban Search and Rescue Program. This specialized team would be sent in to help rescue efforts when natural or manmade disaster strikes.
Agriculture: Lawmakers discussed HB 116 and HB 78. HB 116 lowers to 18 the minimum age to be eligible to run for Soil Conservation Officer. The measure also allows the Conservation Commission to appoint members to serve on soil boards. HB 76 sets aside several dates and months to recognize our state’s agricultural legacy and economic impact. For example, March of each year will be celebrated as “National Agriculture Month,” April as “National Soybean Month,” and May as “National Beef Month.”
Banking and Insurance: The committee met this week to consider and vote on HB 210, which modernizes the regulations for the Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association. Additionally, members heard testimony from stakeholders with the Kentucky Group Self Insurance Fund. Currently, this group is at risk of not being able to meet its financial obligations due to a lack of income. At its inception, the fund had 14 high premium paying member.
Judiciary: Members of the committee approved HB 3; a measure aimed at correcting several of the ongoing issues surrounding the states juvenile justice system. The bill increases the maximum hold time for violent juvenile offenders to 48 hours, keeping dangerous offenders behind bars to avoid further violence and prevent retaliation. It also introduces parental cooperation in truancy cases. If a court designated worker finds that parents are not helping a child complete their diversion program, parents can be charged with unlawful transaction with a minor, which would be recognized in this legislation as a Class A misdemeanor.
Natural Resources and Energy: Lawmakers approved House Bills 160 and 222. HB 160, a bill where I am the sponsor, makes changes to legislation passed in the 2021 legislative session (HB 326) by creating a collaborative agreement between energy industry stakeholders and the Kentucky Energy Cabinet. This bill ensures that private industry and state government regulators can make use of all available options during the wastewater permitting process. HB 222 extends the state’s annual hazardous waste assessment fee. Both bills passed the committee unanimously and are due for a vote on the House floor.
Health Service: Committee members considered two pieces of legislation that will soon go before the entire House of Representatives. HB 125 requires the Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) to collaborate with the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Alzheimer’s Association to update and incorporate information on Alzheimer’s disease, including early signs and steps to reduce the risk of cognitive decline, into materials they distribute to the public, on the DAIL website and to public health departments. HB 180 requires health benefit plans to cover biomarker testing ordered by a health care provider for the diagnosis, treatment, management, or monitoring of a patient’s disease or condition. The test must be supported by medical evidence and approved by the FDA or nationally recognized clinical practice guidelines. Health benefit plans are not required to cover biomarker testing for screening purposes, and the measure uses existing statutory language for prior authorization.
Families and Children: Committee members heard two pieces of legislation this week, the first one being HJR 39 which directs CHFS to address the benefits cliff in Kentucky through a number of recommendations from the Benefits Cliff Task Force. They also heard HB 165 which makes two changes to HB 499. It changes the year of reporting from 2024 to 2023 and adds childcare provider to those who can terminate the childcare contract.
Update on Individual Income Tax Reduction: Legislation that would lower the state’s individual income tax to 4% in 2024 as part of our ongoing work to eliminate the tax entirely and make the state more competitive, remained on the governor’s desk as we left Frankfort on Friday. The governor has 10 days, not including Sundays or holidays, to consider bills and could either veto, sign, or allow the bill to become law without his signature. He vetoed the initial tax reduction proposal in 2022, leaving the legislature to override it as we are prepared to do so again this year.
As always, I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Chris.Freeland@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information, please visit the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.