melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (5/13/19) — On Monday, April 29, I traveled to Frankfort for the ceremonial bill signing of HB 5, the “Human Rights of the Unborn Bill.” Because of my sponsorship of this bill, I received the “Friend of Life Award” from the Commonwealth Policy Center on April 25.

It was a humbling experience to stand in the rotunda of our state capitol and have a law signed that will ban the selective abortion of a baby in the state of Kentucky for any reason, be it race, gender, national origin or disability including Down Syndrome.

Unfortunately, it must be upheld in court, after pro-abortion groups have filed to stop the state from implementing the new law. As the primary sponsor of that bill, I had to literally defend it to many who say they have great faith and are all about the kids if they are alive, but fight vehemently for the woman’s right to choose prior to birth. To me, those are extremely contradictory and I challenged them on that.

There were those present who testified before committee on the bill, Angela Minter from “Sisters for Life”, which is a sidewalk ministry outside the only state-licensed abortion clinic in Kentucky, and Dr. Mary O’Callaghan, a Public Policy Fellow at the University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture.

As an African American woman, Minter spoke boldly about the reasons HB 5 would have a significant impact.O’Callaghan brought her son with her, who has Down Syndrome, and she reiterated the importance that all lives matter and have significance and that we as a country do not want to travel down the path of eugenics as practiced during World War II.

Fittingly, I returned that evening to host a table at the Door of Hope Annual Fundraising Banquet in Madisonville. Door of Hope is Hopkins County’s Pregnancy Resource Center. The keynote speaker was Gianna Jessen. Gianna was the keynote speaker at the Pathway of Hope’s dinner in November of 2015. Pathway of Hope is Muhlenberg County’s Pregnancy Resource Center.

Gianna’s challenge in 2015, to speak up, was the inspiration for my running for office, so I felt like I had come full circle. I was able to share with her that night my story and her part in it. She was surprised and encouraged that her work is making a difference.

Gianna was “born alive” after an attempted saline abortion, which left her with cerebral palsy. She has a terrific sense of humor and a strong tendency to speak the truth no matter what. She is entertaining while at the same time challenging to keep up the fight for the unborn.

I appreciated those who represented me at my table at the “Taste of Muhlenberg.” It is a wonderful event sponsored by the Rotary Club of Muhlenberg County to assist with their mission projects. It is a great way to showcase local restaurants and create great community among those who attend. Unfortunately, the past two years the dates have conflicted with the Door of Hope’s event.

I attended the “Hot Topics” lunch sponsored by the Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce on the 30th. The speaker was Russell Coleman, United States Attorney of the Western District of Kentucky, and as such is serving at the state’s chief law enforcement officer of western Kentucky. Coleman was appointed to his position in 2017. He desperately wants to educate everyone about the drug situation in our state and encourage everyone to be a part of the solution. He has assured me that I can reach out to him at any time for my constituents in the 15th District.

On May 7, I traveled to Frankfort at the invitation of Jason Hall, the Executive Director of the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, to speak to the Directors of Social Concerns and Catholic Charities regarding my perspective since I worked for the Diocese of Owensboro for nearly 20 years and now serve as a legislator. I was very transparent about my history, my call to run and what my experiences have been thus far. It was a great conversation.

On Wednesday, May 8, I spent a legislative day in my office in Frankfort. I facilitated a meeting regarding HB 179, which makes some changes to the laws for transporting logging and other agricultural products. The bill did not pass in the short session this year, but the issue continues to warrant discussion. Several loggers attended as well as state Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Allen County, (D) and primary co-sponsor of the bill. Representatives of various groups both supporting and opposing the bill had also been invited to the table. The conversation was started to try and come to a resolution of loggers feeling like they are being unduly targeted on county roads, when they are trying to get their primary crop to market. To be continued.

On the morning of the 9th, I met our district road engineer at Graham to discuss concerns brought to my attention by various citizens regarding safety issues after changing from a “Y” to a “T” at the intersection of state highways Kentucky 62 and Kentucky 175. The engineer was made aware of the concerns and she is going to look into and discuss ways to address these concerns with her staff.

That same day, I attended the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber’s monthly luncheon at Felix E. Martin Jr. Hall. We heard from Vivek Sarin, the acting secretary of the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet.

Sarin discussed the progress that has been made and statistics related to how the “personal touch” of building relationships and being engaging with potential businesses has paid off. With recent changes in our laws as well as the reduction of several barriers, businesses are willing to take a look and are interested. He is well aware that Paradise Regional Business Park is ready and waiting for a tenant or more. https://thinkkentucky.com/Webfiles/docs/bios/Vivek-Sarin-Bio.pdf

On Friday the 10th, I attended the Third Annual Mother’s Day Tea at the Muhlenberg County Opportunity Center. It was delightful as always and a strong affirmation of my sponsorship of HB 5. The clients of the center did several presentations, however, when Caleb signed “I Can Only Imagine”, tears poured down my cheeks as to the significance of the privilege it is that I have serving and sponsoring a bill like HB 5. It is individuals such as Caleb and all of the clients of the MCOC, several of whom were my patients as small children and now young adults, whose lives will be saved by its passage.

On Saturday the 11th, I enjoyed participating in the County Clean-up Day in Muhlenberg County. I was a member of Ricki Allen’s Team. We cleaned up a significant stretch of Kentucky 175 at Moorman.

It was incredible the number of trash bags that were filled for such a short stretch of road. Please, keep small shopping bags from any number of stores in the area in your vehicle to use for the disposal of daily trash such as drinking cups from fast food restaurants, food wrappers, etc. and place them in a trash receptacle when you arrive at your destination.

To keep to the pro-life theme of this article, I would like to reiterate briefly the four pro-life bills passed during the 2019 Legislative Session. HBs 5 and 148 as well as SBs 9 and 50 were the four bills passed and signed into law.

HB 5, as stated above, would prohibit selective abortion for any reason. HB 148 will act as a “trigger bill” if Roe v Wade is overturned in the future. Kentucky would simply revert back to previous laws that were in place in 1973 when Roe v Wade became the law of the land.

Kentucky was a pro-life state with few exceptions for the life of the mother when Roe passed.
SB 9 is the “Heartbeat Bill” that means abortions would be prohibited once the heartbeat is detected. The heartbeat is generally heard at six to eight weeks.

SB 50 is the “Chemical Abortion Report Bill” as well as “fully informing the woman” bill. If a woman takes RU486 to have a chemical abortion, the chemical abortion will now have to be reported just like a surgical abortion is for statistical purposes.

Abortionists will also be required to inform the woman that if she changes her mind there is a possibility of reversing the abortion if done within 72 hours. We heard testimony from an OB-GYN from Murray that has reversed two pregnancies and the babies were both born perfectly healthy with no bad outcomes.

I am proud of the work we have done in the fight for life. Please pray they are upheld in the courts as they have all been challenged.

A “Born Alive” Bill was filed but not passed this session. Hopefully, it can be addressed in 2020.

You have probably heard rumblings about a Special Session. The Governor vetoed HB 358 which was a compromise between the House and the Senate over pension reform for the regional universities and our quasi-governmental agencies, whose workers pensions have been members of KERS (Kentucky Employee Retirement System).

While HB 358 left work to do, it gave those organizations another year’s reprieve to determine their future and not have to pay crippling rates starting July 1 of this year. By vetoing it, if we do not do something, those agencies will immediately go from paying 49.47 percent to the mid to high 80-percent rate. Several of those agencies would go bankrupt, and not only would the workers not have a pension, they wouldn’t have a job.
There is concern over where it would leave Tier 1 and 2 employees, which is a concern for me as well. Those agencies (our local health departments, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and mental health clinics as well as our local colleges and universities) need relief before July 1 and then we could work on a permanent, fair solution in the 2020 Session.

Currently, we do not have the votes to pass it so I am not sure when or if a special session will be called.

As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issue and can be reached, regardless if in session or not, through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at-1-800-372-7181, at 502-564-8100 Ext. 686, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please follow me on Facebook @melindagibbonsprunty. You can also keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov
 
Note: Representative Melinda Gibbons Prunty represents the 15th House District serving Muhlenberg and southeast Hopkins Counties which includes White Plains, Morton’s Gap, Anton as well as sections of Nortonville, Earlington and southeast Madisonville. She is Vice-Chair of the Health & Family Services Committee as well as the Budget Review Sub-Committee on Health & Family Services. She serves as a member on the Appropriations & Revenue, Education, and Natural Resources & Energy Committees as well as the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Advisory Committee. http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/ColonCancer.htm

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