A budget proposal to be unveiled by the Kentucky House of Representatives will closely resemble the $20 billion biennial budget outlined by Gov. Steve Beshear.
House Appropriations and Revenue chair Rick Rand says that that chamber’s budget will be virtually the same as the governor’s, specifically in the area of education. It largely preserves Beshear’s requests for the funding formula known as SEEK and implements raises for teachers.
He says that the biggest differences between the House’s proposal and the governor’s plan include rejecting new fees for county property valuation administrators, as well factoring in pay hikes for Legislative Research Commission staff despite cuts to that agency.
“The challenges we had to face were twofold. One was the PVA issue, which obviously we didn’t accept. And then we really felt that, you know, with the governor just took the LRC budget and cut it five percent. it didn’t allow for state employees pay raises, or LRC employee pay raises, or increased cost of retirement, so we added those in.”
Rand says the committee will likely pass a budget bill Tuesday, and he expects the full House to approve the measure on Wednesday.
After that, it will head to the Republican-led Senate.
Senator David Givens says he understands that some people may get the wrong idea when they hear about legislation he is proposing concerning computer science and foreign language classes.
A bill Givens is sponsoring in the Kentucky General Assembly would allow computer programming courses to count towards a high school student’s foreign language requirements. The measure also ensures that computer programming language courses be accepted as meeting foreign language requirements for admission to public postsecondary institutions.
The Green County Republican insists that he doesn’t have anything against students learning a foreign language. He says his bill is simply a response to an increasing demand in today’s job market.
“We have a shortage of computer programmers in the United States,” the Green County Republican said while sitting in his office at the state capitol in Frankfort. “By the year 2020, the projection is that we will have one-million unfilled computer programming jobs. So the challenge is how do we, in Kentucky, provide opportunities for students and flexibility for schools to be able to take advantage of that, of those job opportunities.”
A bill that would restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors is one step closer to becoming law. The Kentucky Senate passed the measure on a nearly unanimous vote, with only two Senators voting “no”.
The bill treats e-cigs like traditional tobacco products. Although e-cigs don’t contain tobacco, some people worry, and some studies have shown, that use of the devices could lead young people to start using tobacco. A similar bill is being considered by the Kentucky House.
The Kentucky senate has passed a bill to create a quick process for domestic violence victims to obtain temporary concealed weapons permits. The bill would allow abuse victims receiving court-issued protective orders to apply for provisional concealed carry permits lasting 45 days.
Republican senator Jared Carpenter said his bill would help abuse victims better protect themselves. Democratic senator Robin Webb called it a good deterrent, noting protective orders are made of paper. The measure passed the senate 35-0 and now goes to the house which has passed a similar bill.
Under the senate bill temporary permit applications would go to state police. Background checks would be required before the permits would be issued and victims could receive firearms safety training with 45 days to convert short term permits into regular concealed carry licenses.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers has proposed reducing the number of days lawmakers meet each year.
The Manchester Republican said Wednesday his proposal would save the state about $7 million each year and encourage more people to run for the General Assembly. He says the current schedule discourages many people from serving because they can't take that much time away from work.
His proposal is a constitutional amendment that would go on the November ballot if it clears the General Assembly.
He wants to limit sessions in even-numbered years to 45 days. Those sessions -- when lawmakers pass the state budget -- now last 60 days.
In odd-numbered years, lawmakers could meet up to 15 days. Those sessions now last 30 days.
An effort is underway in the Kentucky General Assembly to enact a state Earned Income Tax Credit in addition to the federal one.
A state EITC is part of the tax reform proposal being considered this session, and it’s also included in stand-alone legislation.
Democratic Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson says the federal EITC most often is used to purchase basic necessities and has a ripple effect in the local economy.
"What you find from the federal earned income tax credit is that it's probably the number one item that's spent immediately upon being received by working families who qualify for the earned income tax credit," explains Abramson.
The tax reform plan calls for a state EITC at 7.5% of the federal credit. Separate legislation filed by Senator Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, would allow at state EITC of 15% of the federal credit.
"This is an opportunity to encourage all the right values - work, responsibility, family, and fairness," comments McGarvey. "Ronald Reagan called the EIC the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress, and we need to embrace that opportunity in Kentucky."
If approved by the legislature, Kentucky would be the 25th state to have a state EITC.
Tobacco companies have spent nearly $70,000 in the first month of the 2014 General Assembly, according to lobbying data from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission
And the sponsor of a bill that would ban smoking in public places and some private businesses says that that money is sowing doubt over its chances in the House.
Rep. Susan Westrom, a Lexington Democrat, is the sponsor of the statewide smoking ban bill, which has languished on the House floor for over three weeks. She says that tobacco lobbyists routinely influence rural legislators and leadership of both parties to avoid tackling the issue.
“This does not surprise me, because they want to make sure that legislators who have a tobacco farmer in their backyard, they want them to believe that any tobacco farmer will be greatly offended if they support a health issue related to smoke-free.”
The Kentucky House has passed a bill aimed at allowing domestic-violence victims to obtain temporary permits to carry concealed weapons.
Supporters say the 45-day permits would provide protection at a time when victims feel most threatened. Opponents replied that the guns would make those situations even more volatile. They also voiced concerns that temporary permits would be granted to people who haven't received training.
The measure cleared the House on a 79-13 vote Friday.
The bill would make the temporary concealed carry permits available to people who receive protective orders meant to keep their abusers away from them.
The bill's lead sponsor is Democratic Rep. Gerald Watkins of Paducah. The proposal now goes to the Senate, which is considering similar legislation.
(From left) Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, Dr. Sue Sisley of Arizona, and Michael Krawitz, founder of Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access, present a medical marijuana bill to the House Health and Welfare Committee.
The movement to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Kentucky made another leap forward on Thursday.
A House Health and Welfare Committee, packed to bursting with medical marijuana supporters, approved a bill that would legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. It passed by a 9-5 partisan line vote, with Democrats voting in support of the measure.
The bill's primary sponsor, Re. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, is a retired nurse. She said the bill will help alleviate the the suffering of some patients without the need for costly medication and their potential for harmful side-effects.
"I've been a nurse forever, and we do give people just boatloads of medications that either don't work or they have tons of side-effects," Marzian said. "So if this is an answer to some of those diseases and conditions, then I think, 'Why don't we look at it?'"
A Republican state senator says he intends to file a bill that would permit a third-party to appeal a ruling that says Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.
Sen. Dan Seum tells Kentucky Public Radio that if Attorney General Jack Conway decides not to appeal a decision by Judge John Heyburn that nullifies the state’s ban on gay marriage, his bill would allow others to do so.
“We’re looking at the potential to file legislation that would allow some other group or some other person to intervene in the ruling other than the Attorney General," the Jefferson County Republican said. "Right now, as I understand it, only the Attorney General can intervene in this case, so we would maybe look at legislation that we could actually allow someone else to do that.”
A spokeswoman for Conway’s office says that the law doesn’t need to be changed and that Conway has defended the law appropriately to date.
Conway has asked for a 90-day stay to decide whether or not to appeal the ruling, which allows out-of-state same-sex couples to be legally recognized in the state of Kentucky.