New laws passed by this year’s Kentucky General Assembly go into effect next week. Legislation concerning child safety protection, DNA testing, and school dropouts are among the measures that go into effect Tuesday, June 25.
One of the new laws allows Kentucky school districts to raise their dropout age to 18 beginning in the 2015-16 school year. If, after four years, 55 percent of districts adopt the new rules, the new dropout age will go into effect for all districts.
Another new law will allow some felony offenders in prison or under state supervision to request testing and analysis of their DNA as case evidence.
A measure intended to strengthen child protection will also become law. The bill creates an independent review panel to investigate case of child deaths and near-fatal injuries in the commonwealth. That panel will also be given access to complete records of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as well as information from law enforcement and other agencies.
A bill strengthening Kentucky’s human trafficking laws is also designed to protect victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit. The legislation passed during this year’s General Assembly will offer help to agencies responsible for helping human trafficking victims by creating a victim’s fund supported by penalties paid by those convicted of human trafficking.
Another law going into effect next Tuesday will require the Kentucky Board of Education to create a statewide evaluation system for all certified personnel.
Even though they managed to pass pension and tax reforms in this year's regular legislative session, Kentucky lawmakers haven't necessarily dodged a special session.
A few big issues remain for lawmakers, mainly the redrawing of legislative districts and further tax reform.
Governor Steve Beshear has continued to discuss the need for more tax reform, largely to pay for education. And he says he's not ruling out calling a special session sometime this year.
"I'm going to have continuing conversations through the summer with House and Senate leadership on that too. We're just taking it one step at a time and see where we go,” the Governor said.
Beshear is also considering whether redistricting should be tackled in a special session. Legally, lawmakers have until next year, but Beshear says he wants candidates to know their districts well before campaigning begins.
Governor Steve Beshear has signed bills allowing alcohol sales on election day, reforming the state's pension system and finding revenue to pay for the reforms
The governor signed the bills Thursday, two days before his deadline to do so.
The pension bills would raise almost $100 million in revenue to pay for the underfunded pension systems. The reforms also put new hires into a 401k-style pension plan.
Opponents of the pension bills say they will hurt state workers by giving them weaker retirement plans and they question whether the bills raise enough money to fund the systems.
Beshear has still not acted on a bill that prepares Kentucky to grow industrial hemp, if it's legalized on the federal level. If he doesn't sign or veto it by Saturday, it will become law automatically.
Many of the bills Kentucky lawmakers passed in the final hours of this year's legislative session are still awaiting action by Governor Steve Beshear.
Beshear has not yet signed or vetoed high-profile bills that would prepare Kentucky to grow industrial hemp, allow alcohol sales on election day and simplify voting for military service members stationed overseas.
Supporters of industrial hemp have questioned whether Beshear intends to sign the hemp bill. If he vetoes it, he won't be at any risk of having his veto overridden, since the legislature has adjourned for the year.
Beshear has until Saturday to either sign the bills or veto them outright. However, state law says that if Beshear doesn't act, the bills become law anyway.