Here's What Lawmakers Are Approving In Final Days Of General Assembly

Mar 15, 2017
Originally published on March 15, 2017 7:35 am

With time running out on the legislative session, the Republican-led General Assembly approved or advanced several bills on Tuesday. But important measures dealing with charter schools, REAL ID compliance and criminal recidivism haven’t yet moved.

A new version of the charter schools bill, House Bill 520, will be considered in the Senate Education Committee at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The House approved the bill earlier this month, but it hasn’t been taken up in the Senate as negotiations take place behind closed doors.

After Wednesday, the legislature disbands for a 10-day veto period in which Gov. Matt Bevin will have the opportunity to strike bills. Lawmakers return on March 29 and 30 for a final opportunity to approve bills or override vetoes.

Here are some bills that passed or advanced on Tuesday.

Campaign Contribution Boost

The House awarded final passage to Senate Bill 27, which would allow individuals to donate $2,000 per election to political candidates instead of $1,000. The bill also allows companies to donate an unlimited amount to political party building funds and eases several other contribution limits.

Similar versions of the legislation passed out of the Senate in recent years but were defeated in the House when it was controlled by Democrats — though several Democratic members that voted for the bill last year voted against it this year.

The bill passed 52-43 and now heads to Bevin’s desk.

Performance-Based University Funding

State universities and community colleges will compete for state dollars under the performance funding bill, Senate Bill 153, which now heads to Bevin’s desk.

After a phase-in period, 35 percent of funding would be based on graduation rates, with extra weight going to the award of science, technology, engineering and math degrees. Another 35 percent would be awarded based on the number of degree hours awarded and 30 percent going to operational needs.

Coal Mine Inspections

The Senate awarded final passage to House Bill 384, which would scale back the number of inspections that underground mines need to undergo every year.

Six annual inspections are required under current law. The proposed legislation allows for up to three of those visits to be made by “mine safety specialists.” The required number of electrical inspections will also be reduced from two to one.

‘War On Louisville’

Senate Bill 222 would give the Louisville Metro Council more administrative powers. It passed out of the House and will be returned to the Senate for final review.

The legislation allows the council to form an audit committee, including power to subpoena witnesses. The council would also be able to remove board and commission appointees with a two-thirds vote.

The legislation was heavily modified after opposition from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Democratic council members.

Gang Recruiting

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced House Bill 315 to the full Senate. The bill would expand the definition of gangs under Kentucky’s criminal code and toughen penalties for adults who recruit children to join gangs.

Crimes committed by those determined to be gang members would also have stiffer punishments, and those convicted would have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. The Legislative Research Commission estimates the policy would cost the state an additional $38 million in prosecution and incarceration costs.

‘Right To Try’

The House awarded final passage to Senate Bill 21, which would allow doctors to prescribe drugs that have only completed the first phase of clinical trials but have not been fully approved.

Patients would have to be terminally ill to be prescribed the drugs and treatments have to have cleared basic safety tests.

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