This will be the last week for the 2010 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. We’ll meet at the capitol on Wednesday and possibly again on Thursday, and then we’re constitutionally mandated to adjourn. I’m cautiously optimistic that house and senate leaders will be able to work out their last few differences on the budget, because leaving our biggest job undone will be tragic for so many Kentuckians.
That’s not to say we haven’t accomplished quite a bit in our first 58 days. On the contrary – many Kentuckians will be positively affected by the work we’ve done. I want to detail a few of them for you.
Since we’re already on the subject of state spending, we’ve passed legislation to mandate reporting on the number of state contracts as well as the number of state employees. It’s astonishing to many of us in the General Assembly that we have to put it in statute, but apparently it’s necessary in order to get that sort of information. We simply have no reliable data on who we have doing what, or how much money we’re spending on state contracts outside of what we have to approve through our oversight capabilities. Knowing what we’re spending is the first step toward reining in that waste.
We’ve sent the governor a bill to make sure that our schools are designed with long-term efficiency in mind, rather than just short-term cost savings. That means using energy-efficient materials and design with an eye on reducing utility costs, which as you can imagine can be enormous over the course of a building’s lifetime.
We also approved a bill to mandate suicide prevention training for teachers as part of their annual professional development. It’s not much, just two hours of self-study reading material, but it will be crucial to picking up the signs of a depressed and suicidal student. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for school-age students, right behind car accidents.
We’ve approved legislation to allow all our four-year universities to create advanced practice doctoral nursing programs — in essence, to increase the number of nursing teachers. We’ve all heard about the woeful shortage of nurses across the nation, but the problem is not a lack of people seeking nursing degrees, especially not in this economy. We simply don’t have enough teachers for them, and by opening up this program beyond UK and UofL, we’ll have an advantage over our surrounding states.
Hopefully we can add to the number of good bills while we’re in Frankfort for our last two days. I know I have several issues, from domestic violence to education, that I’d like to see addressed before we adjourn.