TBK Legislative Update Week 8

This is the 6th installment of the TBK Legislative Update for 2016. This update will cover the 8th week of the legislative session. We are going to try and abbreviate some of the information we give to you because as the session goes on it just becomes more and more to track. Hopefully the first few emails allowed people a mechanism to understand what is going on and be able to get more involved. Apologies for this being later than normal, but we had internet issues.

Here is a quote that sums up the work we do at TBK. Everyone keep it up and don’t let someone put you down.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

-President Theodore Roosevelt


  • 2/29/2016 is the last day for House Bills to be filed.
  • 3/2/2016 is the last day for Senate Bills to be filed.

Legislation by the Numbers:

  • 240 Senate Bills
  • 522 House Bills
  • 2124 Bill Requests
  • 159 Senate Resolutions
  • 183 House Resolutions
  • 1,020 Potential Pieces of Legislation Remain

Legislative Progress:

  • Bills that have passed one Chamber: CLICK HERE for the full List
    • 63 Passed the Senate
    • 71 Passed the House
  • Bills that have passed both Chambers
    • SCR 9 – A resolution to remove barriers to breastfeeding
    • HB 175 – Updating state definitions to match federal definitions of federal peace officers allowed in Kentucky. This was not an addition to the list just an updating of correct terms.
  • Bills with two readings
    • A Bill needs 3 readings to be voted on
    • 38 in the Senate: CLICK HERE
    • 42 in the House: CLICK HERE
      • 1 Senate Bill: SB 119
    • Became Law: 1 Bill, SB 4 – Informed Consent

Bills of Interest:

Senate Bill 137 – Redistricting: This bill would require the General Assembly to stay in session when they are required to do redistricting after the census. This bill would not allow legislators to receive pay or reimbursed expenses until they did so. They are also required to keep as many counties as possible whole, they are not to be split up unless it is absolutely necessary. TBK SUPPORTED

Senate Bill 136 – Banning Kratom:  The original bill was fine as it related to prescription authority for hydrocodone. However, a committee sub added to the bill a ban on Kratom. Kratom is a natural herb that is not dangerous and is used as a natural pain killer in place of stronger prescription pain killers. Some states have attempted to ban this drug such as Florida and Louisiana, but are now reversing their decisions and putting age restrictions on it instead. Doesn’t matter if it is something good or bad, Kentucky is always behind other states. If this legislation passes is will hurt many small businesses in this state, while helping big pharma eliminating another safe natural alternative. TBK OPPOSED

Senate Bill 5 – Marriage License Forms: This bill would remove the county clerk’s signature from authorizing the form and it would also create two types of forms one for Bride and Groom, the other for Party 1 and Party 2. Considering the magnitude of this bill we wanted to discuss it at the Feb TBK meeting. Unfortunately that meeting the discussion on this bill had to be cut short to stay on schedule with our speakers. However a point was raised that maybe we should just make the second form the recognition of Civil Unions.  Part of the reason we wanted to discuss this bill is some might consider having 2 forms separate but equal, which would not hold up constitutionally; however, it was determined this is not mandated which couples take what form, but they may choose, which would not be forcing a separate but equal scenario. COMPLETION OF DISCUSSION NEEDED.

Senate Bill 1 – Education Reform:  There have been some changes to SB 1 but none of those changes look to repeal Common Core which is what the citizens of Kentucky and Governor Bevin asked for, a complete repeal of Common Core. REWRITE STILL NEEDED

Senate Bill 210 – Real Education Reform: Repeal of Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards was just introduced by Senator John Schickel Monday of Week 8. This is comprehensive and what the citizens and Governor Bevin asked for. TBK SUPPORTED

House Bill 316 – Anti-Bullying: We have several questions about the language of this bill. “Bullying is any unwanted verbal, physical or social behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.

  • What kind of social behavior?
  • What is a power imbalance, and who determines it?
  • Who determines if something has the potential to be repeated?

It must occur “on school property, school sponsored transportation, a school sponsored event, OR that disrupts the education process. “

  • Apparently this can happen away from school property, transportation, or events?
    • How is this adjudicated?
  • What is a disruption of education process?
  • Who determines something is a disruption to the education process?

Here is where they try and clear things up but don’t quite hit the mark.

“The definition shall not be interpreted to prohibit civil exchange of opinions, or debate, or cultural practices protected under the state or federal Constitution where the opinion expressed does not materially or substantially disrupt the education process”

  • Who determines what a civil exchange is?
  • Is a constitutional right subject to limits such as materially or substantial disruption the education process?
    • We understand that materially or substantially was an attempt to raise the bar a little higher but to what level, because it has become a point of limiting constitutional rights. Current legal limits on Constitutional Rights are if you use them to cause harm. Are we now considering disruption to the educational process a harm?

We at TBK would never desire to see anyone bullied, but at the same time this bill is so vague with no definitions we don’t know how any of it could hold up in a court of law but it passed 94-1. This bill actually contains the potential to make bullies out of people who are not really bullies and thus making them the real victim. What is worse is they used a 7th grader to push this legislation through. We are tired of seeing children trotted out to pass legislation when they haven’t a clue what the consequences of the legislation they are being used to pass will have. This bill is fostering a culture among our children in which they cannot handle opposing viewpoints in society and that disagreement makes them a victim.  TBK OPPOSED

House Bill 120 – Drone Harassment: This bill obviously stems from an incident earlier this year in which a man shot down a drone over his property that made national news.  We believe the man was right to defend his property and family against a violation of privacy from individuals. We are supportive of the intent behind this bill, no one should be using a drone to do anything illegal that would violate the rights of others. However, there is a provision in the legislation to allow law enforcement to use drones in a lawful criminal investigation. There is currently as we understand it no law regarding drones usage in Kentucky by law enforcement and the first bill passed does not need to simply have a one liner that has no safeguards against law enforcement using drones to violate your 4th Amendment Rights. Rep. Diane St. Onge has a bill that attempts to do this and she tried getting the language inserted to no avail. Her bill was HB 22, but this bill has been withdrawn. We had members of TBK studying and asking questions about the bill and so we wanted to get the discussion completed before we took a position on her bill. AS OF NOW TBK OPPOSES THIS BILL UNTIL SAFEGUARDS FOR THE 4TH AMENDMENT ARE ADDED. This bill has passed the House and so the debate goes to the Senate where we need to get an amendment added to it.

House Bill 441 – Increase in Hotel Tax: This bill will allow for an Urban County Government (Lexington is the only one in the state) if it has a non-profit entity that has a Convention Center, to raise taxes on the price of a hotel room in the city. This is actually a classic example of how P3’s would work in a non-tolling situation. This tax increase is to pay off current bonds so they can take out more bonds to do more improvements. We do not need to be raising taxes this will hurt citizens, business and tourism with the increased cost. We do not need to raise taxes for the purpose of supporting a non-profit to pay off its current bonds to take out new ones.

Here is a breakdown of the math. The convention center needs $250 Million dollars to do the improvements they want to do. The state is supposed to front $60 Million dollars. The state will be funding 24% of the endeavor. In committee when asked how much money this tax increase will bring in annually 1.6 Million per percent and 2% is supposed to go to the convention center and a half percent is supposed to go back to the state to pay off the state. With what appears to be no interest repaid back on this loan at this tax rate it will take the convention center 75 years alone to pay back the state. However, if you look at the breakdown further a half percent is 20% of the total revenue collected yet the state is putting up 24% then the state is getting paid back at a slower rate than the other sources of revenue for the conventions center. We don’t know where the remainder of the funds are coming from. This bill has been reported favorably out of committee and is on the House floor ready for a vote. TBK OPPOSED

Governor Bevin has come out in support of this Debt Financing by the state that appears to be interest free to a private entity and tax increase. In fact he actually sent members of his Cabinet to testify on behalf of this bill (CLICK HERE for story). As far as we know this is the first time the Governor has sent someone from his office to push a bill. This is not a good sign of fiscal responsibility from our newly elected Governor. Call his office at 502-564-2611 and tell him to rethink his position on HB 441, it is not a winner for the taxpayers of Kentucky. This bill would put us more in debt for a private entity as well as raise taxes.

Legislative Alerts:

We are aware of some of the bills our subscribers have let us know about. We are looking into them, it also should be noted we try and be judicious on our alerts as to when to send them to be most effective. So just because you have not seen a specific alert does not mean we are not paying attention to the issue. As you know we are grassroots and well this part of the session starts to get pretty busy and pretty harried. We hope to throughout the week get more alerts on more issues brought to your attention. In the meantime please keep taking action on our CURRENT ALERTS, in fact if you can go to Frankfort and lobby on these issues that would be most helpful. Also we expect in this final week of bills being allowed to be filed to see legislation on REAL ID, this would be very dangerous legislation that we must oppose.

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