Rep. Jill York, 96th District
March 6, 2015
Once again the onslaught of winter ground activity in the Commonwealth to a halt as a storm dropped two feet of snow and some ice on most of the state. The wintry mess stopped traffic, school, business, and even the 2015 Kentucky General Assembly–but not before lawmakers gave final passage to several key bills early in the week.
House Bill 344 would allow public-private partnerships in Kentucky for transportation and state government projects. House Bill 60 was also approved, which would replace hardship drivers’ license for those convicted of DUI to an ignition interlock system, which is a breathalyzer-type system that will prevent a vehicle from starting if a driver’s breath alcohol level measures at .02 or higher.
I would like to thank all of you who wrote me to share stories of the ways that you or your loved ones’ lives have been impacted by collisions with drunk drivers. Your courage and advocacy that we make every effort to keep intoxicated people out of the driver’s seat helped create this bill which passed the House 96-0. It is presently in the Senate awaiting their review.
Health care is of paramount importance to our people and our communities across the Commonwealth. With 125 hospitals statewide, access to emergency and inpatient care is fairly widespread. Still, state lawmakers are always ready to make improvements where needed—including the area of stroke care.
Here’s a shocking and sobering statistic that proves being at the “top of the list” is not always a good thing. Kentucky ranks far too high in the number stroke deaths as evidenced by our 2009 ranking among the 11 states with the highest rate of stroke death in the nation. This sad honor has earned our state an undesirable spot in the nation’s so-called “Stroke Belt,” which stretches across the southeastern United States. The General Assembly hopes that we can improve those standings with legislation that received final passage in the House by a vote of 99-0 on Wednesday and now goes to the governor for his signature.
Under that legislation, known as SB 10, a list of all stroke-ready hospitals in Kentucky would have to be posted on the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ web site and be distributed to local emergency medical services, which would have to have specific stroke protocols in place.
The bill also recognizes there’s a need for more of these stroke-ready hospitals in the state, and would help to expand the types of stroke-care certification available to hospitals across the Commonwealth. Kentucky currently has two comprehensive stroke centers—one at the University of Louisville and one at the University of Kentucky—and around 21 total certified stroke hospitals. But we can always use more, or at least more stroke-ready centers, and that’s a big part of SB 10’s intent.
Another health related measure that cleared both chambers would require insurers to cover follow-up care to colorectal cancer screening, without added cost to the patient. Senate Bill 61, which received final passage in the House on a vote of 95-5 on Wednesday and is on its way to the Governor, would require insurers to cover a follow-up colonoscopy resulting from a colorectal cancer screening without imposing additional deductible or coinsurance costs if services are performed by a participating provider. It would apply to health plans issued or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2016.
Although the General Assembly was not able to meet Thursday or Friday due to the winter storm, the leaders of both the House and Senate have reworked the 30-day session’s schedule to ensure all work gets done by session’s last day on March 24. The General Assembly will be in session next Monday through Wednesday, and then will adjourn on Thursday, March 12 for nine days for the governor’s veto recess– a period of time when the governor considers vetoes to bills that have passed both chambers. Lawmakers will reconvene for the final two days of the session on March 23 and March 24.
Snow delays aside, we lawmakers still have plenty of time to consider overriding any possible vetoes, get more bills to the governor’s desk, and do “The People’s Business” as was our purpose for arriving in Frankfort over two months ago. You can always stay informed of legislative action on bills of interest to you this session by calling the LRC toll-free bill status line at 866-840-2835.
That 800 number is a great way to follow the action taken on all these bills and I hope that you will reach out to me with your insights on the issues that are close to you. I encourage you to contact me by e-mail at email@example.com, or call our toll free number at 1-800-372-7181.