KENTUCKY (2/17/14) – With budget talks expected to heat up next week, let’s take a breather and talk about some of the bills that yours truly has been pushing through committee at this mid-point in the 2014 Regular Session.
First, I was able to usher legislation promoting transparency in state government agencies that handle Kentucky employment and earning statistics through the House Education Committee last Tuesday.
HB 87, which now goes to the full House for a vote, would require the state Office for Education and Workforce Statistics, in cooperation with other state agencies, to develop and distribute data on the employment and earnings of Kentucky’s public postsecondary graduates and update the data at least every three years. The data would be posted on the agency’s web site, on the web site of the Council on Postsecondary Education, and on the web sites of each public college and university in the state, and would be given to high school career counselors to be shared with their students.
Second, my bill to clean up legislation dealing with the state Public Pension Oversight Board (HB 323) cleared the House State Government Committee (which I chair) last Thursday and is now before the full House. Essentially the bill would put the state’s legislators’ retirement, judicial retirement, and Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement systems under the oversight of the Board, and would clarify membership terms and eligibility for board members.
Third, also on Thursday, the House State Government Committee approved HB 324 which in general is a housekeeping bill for the Kentucky Retirement Systems. Besides technical changes, the legislation would give KRS certain new powers to allow for more efficient operation of its plan administration. It also is now before the full House.
Coal was on the minds of many in the House on Feb. 10 when the chamber voted 92-0 to give students in all 34 Kentucky coal counties access to Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarships and help them complete four-year degrees close to home. The program was established initially in 2012 by the Governor’s Office as a pilot project for nine Eastern Kentucky counties; HB 2 would expand and make the program permanent.
The scholarships offered under HB 2 would be funded with multi-county coal severance funds and other sources (but not state General Fund dollars) as proposed in the next two-year state budget for use at colleges and universities in coal counties, with little exception. It would also create grants of up to $150,000 per institution, per year, for the state’s community and technical colleges in coal counties. The bill is now before the Senate for consideration.
Clearing the House by a very narrow margin of 49-46 last Wednesday was a measure that would direct legislative staff to study whether counties should have the option of holding election in “centralized voting centers” instead of voting precincts, and whether or not voters should have the option to vote early or during extended periods. House Concurrent Resolution 37, which would not carry the force of law but be considered an opinion of the Kentucky General Assembly if passed by both chambers, would require the study results to be reported by the end of this November.
While this is a legislative “budget session” for all intents and purposes, the Kentucky House considers every legislative session a chance to make a difference in each Kentuckian’s life, from the youngest to our most elderly. Such was the intent of the House when it passed a child booster seat bill by a vote of 65-32 last Thursday and sent it on to the Senate.
Under HB 199, children under age nine who are between 3 foot three inches and 4 ¾ feet tall would have to be in booster seats when riding in an automobile. That would be a change from current law found in KRS 189.125 that requires booster seats for children under age 7 who are between 40 and 50 inches tall.
Any child—no matter his or her age—who is over 57 inches tall would be allowed to ride in an automobile without using a booster seat should HB 199 enter the law books.
It is possible that HB 199 could be amended in the Senate, so we will have to wait and see how the legislation evolves as the session continues.
Continue to “stay tuned” to all legislative action of interest to you throughout the 2014 Regular Session by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission web site at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at (866) 840-2835 x 9650.
Information provided by Rep. Brent Yonts
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