FRANKFORT, KY (2/17/12) – The 2012 Regular Session officially reached its halfway point--or the 30th day--last Thursday, which means our busiest weeks are yet ahead of us. That said, this past week was pretty busy in the House as the number of bills we passed out of our chamber so far this session had reached 68 by mid-week.
A relatively new procedure in the House that allows us to expedite the House passage of bills that had no “No” votes in committee has made the passage of these five dozen or so bills possible by this point in the session, although many might expect more to have passed. It is true that, in most budget sessions, over 100 bills would have likely passed the House at this point, but stalled redistricting and budget issues have led to fewer bills actually being filed, which explains the lighter bill load.
Speaking of the budget, the word at the Capitol is that a House budget will come up for a vote on the House floor by the first week of March, so expect budget committee action to really heat up this week.
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 in recent days.
The reconfigured congressional districts outlined in House Bill 302 were sent to the governor and signed into law hours after the bill’s final passage in the House on Feb. 10. And, since the bill had an emergency clause as part of its provisions which made the law effective immediately upon the governor’s approval, the new district lines took effect on Feb. 10 as well. That was good news for Kentucky’s 2012 congressional candidates, who had waited since last month to find out which districts they would run to represent.
Candidates for all six congressional seats were given a little more time to file for office under the legislation, which moved the filing deadline for only the state’s 2012 congressional primary back to 4 p.m. last Friday, Feb. 17—exactly five state work days after the bill took effect on Feb. 10.
Redistricting plans for state House and Senate seats that will appear on this spring’s primary election ballot, on the other hand, remained at proverbial square one last week as an appeal of last week’s Franklin Circuit Court ruling declaring HB 1 unconstitutional made its way to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
For now, the 2002 districts in which current House and Senate members ran for office are the districts in which incumbents whose term ends this year, and their challengers, will run for legislative office in the upcoming primary. Still, the districts that incumbents and their challengers see themselves by session’s end could be completely different pending a decision by the state’s highest court.
The state’s highest court is being asked by state legislative leaders to overturn the lower court’s ruling, which essentially finds that the state legislative redistricting maps in HB 1, passed and signed into law in January, violate Section 33 of the state constitution and earlier Supreme Court rulings governing reapportionment. The lower court ordered this year’s state legislative elections be held under the 2002 House and Senate district maps until the 2012 district maps are redrawn.
With the challenge to HB 1 on what some are calling a “fast track” for Supreme Court action, this issue could be settled sooner rather than later. State lawmakers and others involved in the state legislation election process, certainly, are eager for a final resolution to the matter—and the sooner, the better.
Kentucky retailers could soon have resolution to the issue of whether or not the catfish they sell must be listed by country or origin under a bill that cleared the House Agriculture and Small Business Committee last week. HB 115 would require restaurants and other food retailers to label the catfish they sell by country or origin (U.S. or Vietnamese, for example) both at the place of business and in advertisements, and keep records of the country or origin of catfish sold. It would also allow state inspections of retailers’ catfish sales and purchase records, as well as sampling of the catfish by the state. Fines could be levied for a second or subsequent violation under the bill, which now goes to the full House for a vote.
Resolution was reached by a House committee last week on whether or not to allow alternative safety markings for horse drawn buggies used primarily by Amish families on Kentucky roads.
The House Transportation Committee approved HB 133, which would allow drivers of slow moving, motorless vehicles like Amish buggies to substitute colorless reflective tape for the triangular orange safety emblem now required by state law to be placed on the reach of the vehicles. Several members of Kentucky’s Amish community reportedly prefer the proposed use of white or silver reflective tape on the rear of their buggies to orange emblem, which many Amish say has a shape and color that violates their religious beliefs. 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 last Wednesday.
Current state law outlaws only the possession, not the viewing, of child pornography, according to committee testimony. However, the ubiquitous use of the Internet has made child pornography more readily available and the viewing of such disgusting images of children easier than ever before.
HB 126, which now goes to the full House for its consideration, would make intentional, deliberate viewing of a minor in a sexual performance a Class D felony carrying up to five years in prison. Only those who must view child pornography as part of a law enforcement investigation would be exempt from the legislation, which would not apply to those who inadvertently view child pornography during an Internet search, for example.
Two elections bills made their way from the House to the Senate last 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.
Copyright 2013 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
|< Prev||Next >|