Kentucky’s congressional redistricting issue has been settled by the house and senate, with state lawmakers reaching an agreement on how to redraw the boundaries of the state’s six congressional districts late last week.
Redistricting plans for state house and senate seats, on the other hand, are still up in the air after the Franklin Circuit Court declared the new district maps in House Bill 1 violate Section 33 of the state constitution and earlier supreme court rulings concerning redistricting.
The Kentucky Supreme Court is now being asked by state legislative leaders to overturn the lower court’s ruling. Whether we’ll ultimately be running in our old districts or the ones the general assembly approved in January is not yet known. For now, we’re operating under a court order to run in the old ones, but that’s part of the appeal.
Under both plans, the good people of Breathitt, Estill and Lee counties are still in the 91st house district that I currently represent.
The house transportation committee approved House Bill 133 this week, which would allow drivers of slow moving vehicles like horse-drawn buggies to substitute colorless reflective tape for the bright orange triangular safety emblem currently required by state law. Several members of Kentucky’s Amish community have shown support of the proposed use of white or silver reflective tape on the rear of their buggies instead of the orange emblem, which violates their religious convictions against loud or flashy displays. A bill similar to HB 133 has already passed the Senate.
The intentional viewing of child pornography—which is not yet a crime under Kentucky law–would become a felony under a bill that cleared the house judiciary committee on Wednesday. Current state law outlaws only the possession, not the viewing, of child pornography, according to committee testimony. However, the use of the Internet has made child pornography more readily available and the viewing of such disgusting images easier than ever before.
HB 126, which now goes to the full house for its consideration, would make intentional, deliberate viewing of child pornography a Class D felony carrying up to five years in prison.
Two elections bills made their way from the house to the senate this week with the passage of HB 293 and HB 90. HB 293, which would allow a limited number of precincts to be open during uncontested special elections, and HB 90, which would require electronic reporting of campaign finance reports beginning in 2015 by candidates for statewide office, both passed the house by a vote of 95-0 last Monday.
The 2012 regular session officially reached the halfway point on Thursday, which means our busiest weeks are yet ahead of us in the 2012 general assembly. Please continue to stay informed of legislative action on bills of interest to you throughout the 2012 regular session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835.
For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650. Or, to comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181. As always, you can call me directly at 502-564-8100, x. 818.
We’ve long said our first priority in policymaking is to ensure the welfare of our “most vulnerable”—our children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, specifically. This week, we moved forward in adding Kentucky’s increasing number of human-trafficking victims to that priority list.
By a unanimous vote of 13-0, the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved House Bill 350. Should it become law, the legislation would create new felony crimes for human trafficking, and increase funding to both prosecute traffickers and advocate against this modern-day form of slavery.
We also heard from law enforcement officials that they need more specific tools to pursue cases against those who view child pornography in the Commonwealth. Currently, possession of child pornography is a felony, but intentionally viewing the images (such as on the Internet) is not yet a crime. In response, we passed HB 126, which would make the intentional viewing of child pornography a felony under state law.
Another growing problem in Kentucky is cervical cancer. The Commonwealth ranks among 11 states with the highest rates of cervical cancer in the nation over the past five years. Since cervical cancer is commonly caused by a strain of the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), the House passed House Resolution 80 this week to bring attention to the matter and encourage Kentuckians to learn more about the HPV vaccine.
Creating jobs is the intent behind another bill that cleared the House floor this week. HB 400—which was passed by the House on a 95-0 vote on Thursday—would expand eligibility for tax incentives under the 2007 Kentucky Jobs Retention Act to Kentucky’s Toyota and GM automaker plants. The original legislation helped bring up to 3,000 jobs to Louisville’s Ford Motor Company plants.
A plan to raise the school dropout age from 16 to 18 by 2017 has also cleared the House in recent days, as did legislation that would allow voters to amend the state Constitution to restore the voting rights of most types of felons after they complete sentencing, probation or parole. HB 216—which contains the school dropout proposal—and HB 70 — which includes the felon voting rights provision — passed the House by votes of 87-10 and 78-18, respectively. Both have been sent to the Senate.
The work of House committees has intensified over the past two weeks. Committees have invited testimony on a number of emotionally charged bills, including HB 77, which would allow charter schools in Kentucky, and HB 260, which would make the now-private University of Pikeville the state’s ninth public university. Other discussions are expected on these bills as the session continues.
We have much more to do in the Kentucky House in the 25 legislative days remaining this session, and you can stay informed of all the action by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650. Or, to comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181. Or, you can always call me directly at 502-564-8100, x. 818.