Legislative Update - New Law Implementation
While the approval of new laws is a wintertime activity, their actual implementation doesn’t generally take place until the much-quieter days of summer. For 2019, that date arrives on Thursday this week.
This follows a constitutional requirement that says new laws take effect 90 days after the General Assembly completes its regular session. The only exceptions are if the law is an emergency or has a specific enactment date.
Even with several days set aside for organizational matters, the General Assembly was able to approve a wide array of laws during our 30 meeting days.
One that I was especially glad to see pass – and which went into effect back in the spring – will make our schools safer. This law is based on months of work by a committee formed after the tragic January 2018 shooting at Marshall County High School.
The legislation takes a multi-pronged approach by expanding the number of trained school resource officers and guidance counselors and by standardizing and strengthening the best safety practices across the state. Legislative leaders have promised to boost funding for these programs when the next two-year budget is approved in 2020.
Another positive school-oriented law I was proud to co-sponsor expands tobacco-free policies so they are uniform statewide.
Most schools have already taken this step, but as vaping becomes much more prevalent among teenagers, I think it is important to counter its growing use. School districts do have the ability to opt-out of these rules, should they choose.
In other good news, high school students will soon have more uses for their KEES money, the lottery-funded scholarships they earn with good grades to pay for their postsecondary education. Under this new law, that money can be used for qualified workforce-development programs as long as the programs are in the top-five high-demand work sectors.
There were quite a few other bills to pass this year that I was proud to support. We improved the expungement process, for example, so more people with a Class D felony record can get that crime expunged after they pay their debt to society. This will make it easier for them to do such things as get a job and find a place to live.
We also passed a law to try to stop telemarketers from using local phone numbers to trick people into answering them; we strengthened the workplace rights of women who are pregnant or are new mothers; and we toughened the terroristic threatening law so those convicted of threatening churches or other public gatherings will face enhanced penalties.
One major change enacted this year I didn’t support as it was written is the effective repeal of the 23-year-old concealed-carry law, meaning those 21 and older who can legally possess firearms will be able to carry them concealed without needing a permit. The previous restrictions covering concealed weapons – barring them from courthouses, for example – are still in effect.
As you may know, Governor Bevin’s administration indicated last week that it has enough support to call a special legislative session to deal with public-pension issues affecting our public health departments, rape crisis centers, regional public universities and other quasi-governmental agencies.
This is a complicated matter, but I will update you further on it once we know when the special legislative session will be held.
For now, I encourage you to reach out if you have any concerns or questions involving state government. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can leave me or any legislator a message at 1-800-372-7181. If you have a hearing impairment, the number is 1-800-896-0305.
Thanks for all you do and holler anytime.