State Representative 91st District, Ted Edmonds
The General Assembly’s primary task every even-numbered year is to write a state budget, and we took the first step toward that goal last week when Gov. Beshear delivered his Budget Address. Unfortunately, the governor’s plan relied in part on $780 million from gambling, and regardless of which side you come down on, there is almost zero chance it can pass the legislature this year.
As a result, lawmakers have to start from scratch in designing a budget that protects Kentuckians who rely on us for basic services, from Medicaid to schools to law enforcement, while also trimming programs so that we live within our means. It won’t be easy, because the easy cuts were made a long time ago, but that’s why you send us to Frankfort.
In the meantime, the House has been passing several other bills that we hope will help Kentuckians live better lives. House Bill 75 is our annual attempt to help veterans who seek state employment. Under HB 75, those who qualify for veterans’ preference points in our state merit system would be automatically offered an interview for the jobs they seek. If more than five people qualify for those interviews, the agency would have to interview at least five of them. The bill covers not only veterans, but also the spouses and parents of certain disabled veterans, the widowed spouses of veterans, and some parents of those who die during their service. The Senate has already passed a similar bill, so I’m hopeful that this year we can finally come together and do what’s right for our veterans and their families.
Another bill aimed at veterans, HB 14, would offer Kentucky’s disabled veterans three free overnight stays at any Kentucky State Park every year, and a third, HB 19, would allow military personnel to renew their concealed deadly weapon license early and by mail. HB 19 would also give an extension to military personnel whose licenses expire while they’re overseas.
Finally, this week, we took two steps we hope will help students in different ways. HB 51 would require middle and high schools, as well as the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, to distribute information on suicide prevention. HB 160, meanwhile, would make it easier for community college students to transfer their credit to our four-year universities, saving them time and money.
We’re almost to the quarter pole of this session, so we’ll only be getting busier. You know the drill by now. If you have any questions or comments on our work in Frankfort, please call our legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181, or call my office at 502-564-8100, ext. 818.