By Ted Edmonds, 91st District Representative
Every year a few bills grab all the headlines and attention, but many times the smaller bills have more affect on Kentuckians’ everyday lives. Such is the case with some bills we passed this week. I want to share them with you.
House Bill 165, which passed unanimously, makes small tweaks to Kentucky Access, the state’s insurance program for high-risk patients who are unable to get insurance elsewhere. The changes were necessary to stay within federal guidelines, but as our Medicaid costs skyrocket, we’re looking at every opportunity to help people help themselves, as Kentucky Access does. One key part of the bill is that it provides incentives to help people stop smoking, one of the biggest keys to helping people stay healthy once they’ve already experienced a scare like these people have.
Another bill that thousands of Kentuckians can use is HB 240, which would give incentives to people and businesses that upgrade their insulation and take other energy-saving measures. Our state has been a leader in the energy sector, and we’ve encouraged research that will use coal to keep our electric rates among the cheapest in the country. Still, that’s no reason to be wasteful, and HB 240 will help those who want to make their homes and businesses more efficient, but cannot afford the initial costs. At the same time, the bill would make sure that when public buildings are renovated, they are made more energy-efficient too.
Those bills are important, but they weren’t really that controversial, as the final vote count shows. Our Transportation Committee, though, passed out a bill that is sure to generate some debate when it comes to our desks. HB 43 would ban anyone under 18 from talking on their cell phone while driving, and would ban all drivers from texting while driving. A fine of up to $100 could accompany the violation. A number of amendments for this bill will likely be filed, so it’s hard to tell what the final product will look like when we vote on it.
Bills like that one demonstrate why it’s important for you to stay in contact with me and your other state legislators. HB 43 is just one of many bills that aren’t black-and-white issues, and we need to know how you feel about them. As we look into the budget situation, those issues will only multiply. Please, make sure you call our legislative message line at 1-800-372-7181, or call my office at 502-564-8100, ext. 818 to let me know how you feel.