Editors Note: Senator Carroll's comments were edited due to space restrictions.
The Kentucky General Assembly passed almost 200 bills, making the 153rd Regular Session one of the busiest to date. Education, safety, pro-life measures, Second Amendment rights, business, and good government were among the high profile issues addressed.
Most new laws - those that come from legislation that do not contain emergency clauses or different specified effective dates - will go into effect Thursday, June 27, 2019.
The final week of session was one to remember, as the Kentucky General Assembly witnessed the ceremonial signing of a monumental school safety bill, and honored those who have been affected by school violence.
Senate Bill 1, also known as the School Safety and Resiliency Act, is a bill I co-sponsored and the pivotal measure to enhance safety in Kentucky schools. Developed in remembrance of the Marshall County High School shooting, this bipartisan effort is widely considered as the highest legislative priority of the 2019 Regular Session.
After months of immense discussion and research, this collaborative bill was the product of a specially formed committee I served on called the School Safety Working Group. The goal of SB 1 was to improve student safety by:
▪ Boosting safety and prevention training
▪ Promoting the assignment of a school resource officer to every school
▪ Increasing awareness of suicide prevention efforts
▪ Focusing on mental health issues within school districts
▪ Encouraging collaboration with law enforcement personnel
▪ Hiring more counselors in school districts
Additional pro-education bills passed this session include:
Senate Bill 162, is a bill I sponsored that will allow school districts to hire retired sworn law enforcement officers as school resource officers (SROs) without the burden of benefit contributions by the school district, and the retired officers will now keep their retiree health insurance. The bill also created the Kentucky State Police School Resource Officer (KSPSRO) program.
Senate Bill 175, is a measure that relates to high school graduation requirements. Upon being signed into law, SB 175 re-establishes the Standards and Assessments Process Review Committee, which will assist the Kentucky Board of Education in developing graduation requirements and other high school assessment regulations.
House Bill 11, bans the use of tobacco and vaping products by students, school personnel, and visitors on public school campuses and during school related activities. The ban begins in the 2020-21 school year.
House Bill 254, ensures the protection of freedom of speech by requiring state public universities to establish and publish specific free speech policies for students and staff, and prohibits suppression of speech because it is deemed offensive, unwise, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, or radical.
House Bill 46, requires each public elementary and secondary school to display the national motto, In God We Trust, in a prominent location in the school.
Senate Bill 4, also a legislative priority, requires all candidates, slates of candidates, committees, and contributing organizations, to e-file all campaign finance reports to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, beginning with the 2020 elections.
Senate Bill 6, a legislative priority for the 2019 Regular Session, relates to executive branch ethics and requires the disclosure of compensation of executive agency lobbyists.
Senate Bill 7, allows arbitration, mediation, or alternative dispute resolution agreements to be required by employers as a condition or precondition to employment, along with other provisions.
Senate Bill 29, a bill I sponsored and have worked to get passed for several years, allows smaller cities and counties to charge a fee on the sale of alcohol in order to cover the administrative and law enforcement costs related to the sale of alcohol.
Senate Bill 57, expands the number of Kentuckians eligible to have low-level felonies expunged from their criminal records.
This measure offers discretionary expungement to all Class D felonies with some exceptions for crimes such as stealing in the workplace, abusing children, and sex abuse. SB 57 includes an approximate five-year waiting period to apply and fees. The final decision on expungement remains in the hands of a judge.
Senate Bill 60, another piece of legislation concerning elections, changes the dates for filing as a candidate for office in local, regional, and state elections.
Senate Bill 85, strengthens Kentucky's current ignition interlock device (IID) measure by making these breathalyzer-type devices available to all driving under the influence (DUI) offenders. SB 85 also includes a compliance-based component that incentivizes the use of IID by mandating stiffer penalties for those DUI offenders who choose not to use the device.
Senate Bill 143, prohibits governmental bodies from contracting with anyone who boycotts a person or entity with which Kentucky can enjoy open trade, including Israel.
Senate Bill 214, changes the Franklin Circuit Court to a panel of three Circuit Judges. This measure also establishes procedures for selecting the panel and reviewing challenges.
Senate Bill 9, bans the ability to receive an abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat with the exception of a medical emergency in which the mother's life is at risk.
House Bill 5, prohibits abortion on the basis of discrimination by making it a felony to abort a pregnancy due to a decision based on the unborn child's gender, race, color, national origin, or disability. These bills contained emergency clauses, meaning they would become law as soon as they were signed by the Governor. However, a federal judge in Louisville has issued a temporary order blocking enforcement of both SB 9 and HB 5 until further notice.
Senate Bill 50, establishes a chemical abortion database and mandates that any time an abortion-inducing drug is dispensed, a report must be made to the office of Vital Statistics within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
The House made a change to SB 50 to include a requirement that any physician who prescribes an abortion-inducing drug to also provide information on how the drug can be reversed.
House Bill 148, provides that if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses Roe v. Wade, or an amendment is adopted to the U.S. Constitution that restores state authority to prohibit abortions, it would automatically become illegal to perform an abortion in Kentucky.
Senate Bill 18, known as the Kentucky Pregnant Workers' Rights Act, makes it unlawful for an employer to fail to accommodate an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
House Bill 158, cited as the Kentucky Foster Child Bill of Rights, HB 158 grants 16 rights for children who are in out-of-home placement.
Senate Bill 77, expands Kentucky's current organ donor registration list by allowing donors to designate consent through an easily accessible sign-on system. SB 77 becomes effective January 1, 2020.
Senate Bill 84, statutorily recognizes, certifies, and regulates home-birth midwives in Kentucky.
Senate Bill 150, known as the 'constitutional carry bill', makes Kentucky the 16th state to allow concealed firearms to be carried without a concealed carry permit.
This legislation allows those aged 21 and older, who are legally eligible to possess a firearm, to carry a concealed weapon without a license. SB 150 grants these individuals the right to carry the weapon in the same locations as people with valid state-issued licenses. However, permitless carry will not be allowed where prohibited by federal law or otherwise prohibited. Even though I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and a member of the NRA, I did not support this piece of legislation. I believe that removing the training requirement to carry concealed is not good policy and will lead to more accidental deaths and the improper use of deadly force by those who carry concealed. The training previously required not only taught students how to safely handle, shoot and store a firearm but also when it is legally justifiable to use a firearm in self-defense or the defense of others.
If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181, or email me at Danny.Carroll@lrc.ky.gov.