FRANKFORT, KY (3/16/12) – Work continued in earnest this week on a budget proposal sent to us by the House, as our days were filled with meetings to discuss various details of the two-year spending plan.
While those discussions dominated much of our time, we considered and approved many other important measures, as well.
This week, the Senate took steps to create a system to help catch persons suspected of injuring or killing a police officer. More than 50,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted or killed while on duty each year. Senate Bill 32 would establish an emergency alert system that is modeled after the successful Amber Alert. The ‘Blue Alert’ would be administered by the Kentucky State Police and use law enforcement communication systems, electronic highway signs and media across the state to spread information after an officer has been reported wounded or missing.
The Kentucky Blue Alert will allow law enforcement to facilitate a speedy capture of violent criminals before they endanger other citizens. The bill is named in honor of Kentucky State Police Trooper Jonathan K. Leonard who died on December 19, 2006 while responding to a call in Pike County.
We also passed bills this week to address obesity and obesity-related illnesses. The Trust for America’s Health ranks Kentucky third in the nation – a bad third, not a good one -- for childhood obesity, a precursor to Type II diabetes. We need to do something to change those numbers.
Senate Bill 198 ensures that diabetes educators have the proper instruction and credentials. It is important for our citizens to receive correct and appropriate information about the disease. We want to make sure the people teaching them about one of our most serious public-health issues are qualified to do so.
A recommendation from the Taskforce on Childhood Obesity, Senate Bill 110 would give school districts the option to allow citizens access to school sports and physical fitness facilities during non-school hours. The measure allows schools to charge a fee for community use, and protects districts from liability if anyone is hurt. It also allows artistic, civic, literary and other activities in addition to the recreational and sports usage originally envisioned by the taskforce.
Another bill that gained our approval this week was Senate Bill 8 that would require that any administrative bodies appointed by the Governor be dissolved within 180 days after the end of his or her term. They could, however, be reappointed by the Legislature if deemed necessary. Supporters say this would reduce the number of appointed bodies that remain in place, costing taxpayers money years after they are no longer relevant.
These measures now go to the House for their consideration.
We passed House Bill 293 this week, a bill that pertains only to those rare instances in which there is only one candidate running in an election. The measure allows districts to open only one polling booth in such elections. Supporters say this would save precincts a lot of money in elections that usually have extremely low voter turnout because they are often viewed as a formality. The bill now awaits the Governor’s signature.
The end of this legislative session is quickly approaching. If this was a basketball game, we would be in the final quarter with about eight minutes left on the clock. As you know, this is when it really counts. A lot can happen. Many more shots will be taken and plenty of points can still be scored.
While we do not deny that lawmakers represent their own ‘teams,’ the goal of the full General Assembly is to ensure the Commonwealth is the winner when the final buzzer sounds. In our case, that is when the final gavel falls, 11 working days from now.
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