The first week of the 2020 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly has come to a close. We had a productive week in Frankfort and left with confidence in what the session has in store. It was a pleasure to begin the session on Tuesday with a visit from the 100th Army Band from Fort Knox, who performed an extraordinary rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” and our National Anthem.
As with the early stages of any session of the General Assembly, some procedural measures were in order. The Senate Majority has listened to feedback from our constituents and have prioritized several pieces of legislation that are hopeful of passing this session. Those bills, among others, were assigned to their respective committees this week. Committee hearings begin next week and provide the public an opportunity to hear about the legislation.
Bills must be presented at a public committee meeting and passed with a majority vote before heading back to the Senate to be voted on by the entire Senate body. If the bill is approved by the Senate, it heads to the Kentucky House, where the same process occurs. Bills that are passed by both chambers are submitted to the Governor for his approval.
This week I filed two bills, SB 23 and SB 69, which are aimed at providing assistance to Kentuckians suffering from insulin-dependent diabetes. SB 23 creates an emergency insulin assistance fund to provide life-saving medications to individuals not covered by private insurance or Medicaid at no cost to the taxpayers. SB 69 places a $100.00 co-pay cap on insulin prescriptions so as not to burden middle class families or those with high-deductible insurance.
As part of my commitment to bettering public health, I have also signed on as co-sponsor of SB 61 which provides for continual antibiotic coverage to those suffering from lyme disease, something that can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The consequences of tick bites are something that all of us in rural areas know about and it is important that we make sure that these families are placed in financial distress.
I have also signed on as a co-sponsor to SB 1, which is a bill that would mandate cooperation between our state and federal law enforcement officers in the enforcement of federal immigration law. There have been recent articles in the Courier-Journal about “El Mencho” and his cartels pumping millions of dollars’ worth of drugs into our communities using illegal migrants. We must take every effort to fight this scourge and SB1 is an important tool.
Finally, I have signed on a co-sponsor of SB 2, which is a mandatory voter ID bill aimed at providing integrity to our election process while at the same time making sure that everyone has the opportunity to exercise this most important right by providing for a free identification card. Given the heighted partisanship in today’s society, it is more important than ever that the public has confidence their elections.
Of course, the proverbial legislative elephant in the room for the 2020 session is the General Assembly’s duty to pass a balanced two-year budget and two-year road fund plan. My colleagues and I in the Kentucky Senate Majority are working diligently with members of the Kentucky State House in preparation for this crucial responsibility. I look forward to continued discussions on this matter throughout the coming weeks.
If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Phillip.Wheeler@LRC.ky.gov. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov
# # #
Note: Senator Phillip Wheeler (R-Pikeville) represents Kentucky’s 31st State Senate District, which includes Elliott, Lawrence, Martin, Morgan, and Pike Counties. Senator Wheeler serves as the co-chair of the Public Water and Wastewater System Infrastructure Task Force. He also serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Judiciary, Natural Resources & Energy, and Appropriations & Revenue. Senator Wheeler is also a member of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance and Public Protection; the Program Review and Investigations Committee; the Government Contract Review Committee, and the 2020-2022 Budget Preparation and Submission Statutory Committee.