February 20, 2015
Ky. General Assembly’s 2015 session passes halfway mark
LRC PUBLIC INFORMATION
Senate Bill 16 is aimed at improving resources and support for computer programming in schools across the state…
FRANKFORT — There are milestones in each General Assembly session.
This week’s arrival of the mid-point of the 2015 session is a noteworthy one. The halfway mark is a natural place to look back at the first half of the session and consider what’s been accomplished.
Reviewing how busy the early days of this year’s session were serves as a reminder that while there are familiar milestones in each session, there are also hallmarks – distinguishing characteristics that set one session apart from another.
This year’s hallmark may be the unusually high number of major bills that took steps forward during the first half of the session.
Senate priorities that have already been voted through that chamber include measures on right-to-work laws, exempting school construction from prevailing wage requirements, increased informed-consent requirements for women seeking abortions, telecommunications deregulation, charter schools and anti-heroin efforts.
The House, too, passed its own anti-heroin measure, as well as bills on a proposed statewide smoking ban in public places, felon voting rights, local option sales taxes, a minimum wage increase and protections against dating violence.
The Capitol was quieter this week than it was during some of the earlier days of the session. The winter storm that caused closings and hazardous driving conditions across the state also disrupted the General Assembly schedule in the days following the Presidents’ Day holiday.
The Senate gaveled into session on Thursday and took up measures including a bill that targets Kentucky’s high rate of colon cancer. Senate Bill 61 would remove barriers to some colon cancer screenings by clarifying that a fecal test to screen for colon cancer and any follow-up colonoscopy is preventive care and should be covered by medical insurers.
Similar legislation is moving through the state House.
This week’s Senate activity also included passage of legislation that could boost computer coding lessons in Kentucky schools. Senate Bill 16 is aimed at improving resources and support for computer programming in schools across the state. Supporters note that job opportunities in the coding industry will be plentiful in years to come since the U.S. is expected to have a million less coders than needed by 2020.
Bills that have moved far enough along in the process to possibly receive votes in the full House soon include a measure to crack down on illegal dog-fighting rings and a proposal to issue $3.3 billion worth of bonds to shore up the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.
With so many big issues moving through the Legislature, it’s an important time for citizens to stay in touch with lawmakers and share their views on the issues that will be voted on in the days to come. There are several easy ways citizens can provide their feedback to the General Assembly.
The Kentucky Legislature Home Page, www.lrc.ky.gov, 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.
To leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. People with hearing difficulties may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at 1-800-896-0305.
You may also write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.