melinda gibbons prunty CURRENTBELTON, Ky. (2/17/20) — We completed Day 28 last week and will be off for President’s Day on Monday. Once again the week was filled with visits from constituents, committee meetings, celebrations and other events that rounded out the week. Several pieces of significant legislation were passed as well. Some highlights follow:

HB 99 would create a loan to the University of Louisville to assist in completing the purchase of Jewish Hospital. It is a state institution which houses their medical school, transplant and heart programs and many research projects, all of which were at risk of closing or losing great staff. There were many restrictions and accountability measures put into place that include annual reports as long as the loan is in effect.

The bill has been criticized by some because of the status of several rural hospitals in Kentucky. There is a plan to help assist them as well; however, the rural hospitals need to have hospitals that provide highly specialized medical care such as U of L available to refer to when necessary; we need to support both.
HB 129 is the “Public Health Transformation Bill.” It reorganizes the 81 health departments across the state and was initiated by the health departments themselves along with the State Department of Public Health. They could see the pension crisis coming for their organization and worked together to offer practical solutions to the issue they are facing.

It clarifies the core services that are mandated for health departments to provide and for that to serve as a framework around which to determine what other services are needed in local communities. It also looks at how those services are to be funded and creates a way for them to receive their cost of services provided so that the state no longer subsidizes them.

HB 171 would shift how payments are made for pensions for quasi-governmental agencies that include health departments, domestic violence shelters and regional universities among others that participate in KERS, from a percentage of payroll to the dollar value of how much they actually owe. This will allow them to be able to budget knowing exactly what they owe each year for their pension contribution.
HB 241 declares the second Wednesday in February as Family Resource and Youth Services Center (FRYSC) Day. If passed into law, the day would be honored annually. This year marks the 30th year of their existence. The value they bring to the schools and students they serve is invaluable and much appreciated.

HB 278 would require the inclusion of the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test as a measure for postsecondary readiness for the state accountability system for high school students. The benchmark score would be determined by the Kentucky Department of Education.
HB 284 is one step towards criminal justice reform which I hear a lot about in the district. If passed into law, HB 284 would allow those on probation the opportunity to receive credit to decrease their probation time for things such as receiving a high school diploma or an equivalent, completing drug rehab, getting a college degree, completing vocational/technical school or other similar things. The goal would be to incentivize parolees to stay on the right path and also increase their ability to be hired for a job.

HB 312 is an extension of the Foster Care/Adoption reforms passed in HB 1 in 2018. If passed, HB 312 would make it easier for children and youth in foster care to transfer to a new school. The bill specifically outlines how each agency or organization that the foster child is interfacing with to communicate with the new school for the smoothest transition possible.

Being removed from your home is traumatic enough. Having a smooth transition to a new school is one of the best things that can be done for these kids who are being moved around due, most of the time, to no fault of their own.

HB 327, if passed into law, would allow for automatic expungements for individuals who are acquitted, whose case was dismissed with prejudice or whose case was bound over to a grand jury but no indictment was returned. This would be a second step towards criminal justice reform, attempting to give people a fresh start and get into the workforce.

HB 335 passed out of the House and is a pro-veterans bill. If a disabled veteran receives certification from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a disabled veteran-owned business, they would automatically be certified as a disabled veteran-owned business in Kentucky. The process is a tough, expensive one and would be deemed sufficient to qualify for state certification.

Work on the budget continues. The subcommittees are still meeting to see the comparison of the last 2-year budget against what the Governor has proposed. This week the sub-committees related to Education met, both K-12 and post-secondary.

On Tuesday I was proud to have several from the African American Coalition of Hopkins County present for the Black History Month Celebration in the Capitol Rotunda as well as guests during Session in the House gallery. Charles Blatcher III, Chairman of the National Coalition of Black Veterans Organizations, was the keynote speaker in the Rotunda celebration. The highlight of the event was the elevation ceremony of Colonel Charles Young to General.
General Young was born into slavery in Mays Lick, KY. He went on to graduate from West Point and serve a distinguished military career throughout his life. Some of his descendants were present for the ceremony. https://www.nps.gov/people/colonel-charles-young.htm.

It was my distinct honor to host both on the House floor and at the Grand Theatre later that evening, Mr. Darryl Van Leer who was in persona Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mr. Van Leer grew up in Hopkins County and now lives in Nashville. He performs impressive one man plays and had never been invited to be in our state’s Capitol.

I met him last summer when he was performing for a fundraiser for the Purple Waves Preservation Society. When he was Dr. King I thought, “We had Abraham Lincoln on the House floor; why not Dr. King?” I appreciate the Speaker, leadership staff and the Kentucky Arts Council for their assistance in making his presence a reality. Both performances were inspirational. https://www.darrylvanleer.com/.

I was humbled to receive the National Multiple Sclerosis Society State Representative of the Year Award for 2019 on Wednesday. I was honored for my efforts to try and achieve a Home Modification Tax Credit. We haven’t gotten over the finish line yet, but are trying to collect data on the cost savings for making home modifications so that folks can remain living in their home versus being institutionalized.

That evening I enjoyed dinner with Leadership Hopkins County. It is always good to see people from back home and get to know new faces.
On Thursday, I was able to visit, though briefly, with representatives of Muhlenberg Alliance for Progress and PADD (Pennyrile Area Development District) including several locally elected officials from both Hopkins and Muhlenberg Counties. That evening I was able to visit a little longer at the annual West KY Regional Chamber Alliance and Leadership Reception held at KY State University. Representatives of Madisonville Community College were present there as well.

Saturday morning, I enjoyed serving as one of the judges for the annual Penguin Plunge sponsored by the Muhlenberg County 4-H Food for Kids Backpack Program. Members of the high school club organize the event with the assistance of the Muhlenberg County Cooperative Extension Service staff.

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 by watching live on KET or through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.legislature.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 SE 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, Medicaid Oversight and Advisory, 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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