Kentucky's persistently low-achieving schools would be able to become charter schools to improve performance and test scores under a bill discussed Tuesday in the state Senate Education Committee.
The bill adds charters as a fifth option for what the state now calls "priority schools—schools that persistently get low scores. The current options include re-staffing of teachers, firing the principal, giving the school up to outside management or closing the schools.
Kentucky is one of seven states that doesn't allow for some sort of charter school—public schools that are generally governed independently from local school boards and given flexibility in teaching methods. Past efforts which would have opened charters to schools that weren't persistently low-performing have failed to pass through the General Assembly.
This legislation, Senate Bill 176, offers a different path, because only those schools who qualify as low-achieving could apply for charter status to their local school board.
The state Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed a nullification bill that would prohibit Kentucky from enforcing new federal gun control laws if they're enacted, despite concerns about the bill's constitutionality.
The vote was 34-3. Three of the Senate's 14 Democrats voted no, stating that the measure would be trumped by the U.S. Constitution's Supremacy Clause.
Sen. Jared Carpenter, a Berea Republican, sponsored the bill. He said the Supremacy Clause applies only if Congress is acting in pursuit of its constitutionally authorized powers, which he said wouldn't apply to stricter gun measures.
"If I thought the bill would be symbolic, I would've written a resolution," Carpenter told the Associated Press. "I thought it needed more than that."
Lawmakers won't pursue a 6 percent tax on lottery tickets as a source of revenue to shore up Kentucky's financially troubled pension system for government retirees.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo said that idea was rejected out of concern that a tax might stifle sales of lottery tickets that generate money for education programs in Kentucky.
Instead, Stumbo said lawmakers will unveil legislation on Tuesday that will call for the lottery to create new games, including Keno, that he said could generate about $25 million for the pension system.
He said the legislation would also call for tax revenue from slot-like machines, called Instant Racing machines, at horse tracks to be designated for pensions. He said that could eventually net $100 million a year for pensions.
A bill addressing problems with last year's prescription pill mill bill has cleared the Kentucky House Judiciary Committee.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring the bill, which reduces some tough regulations that followed the pill mill bill. The legislation, House Bill 217, requires hospitals and long term care facilities to still pull KASPER reports, but lessens other regulations on them. The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) tracks controlled substance prescriptions dispensed within the state.
Stumbo told lawmakers that the bill would help codify easier regulations that were recently published and that the effort to crackdown on prescription pill abuse was effective.
"But you have a reason to be proud if you supported that bill because it's working. It's working from Pikeville to Paducah," he says.