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Greer: House to study Senate budget revisions

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From the House

By Rep. Jeff Greer

 The pace of the General Assembly picked up considerably this week as legislators considered a flurry of legislation.

Although only a few legislative days remain there is still work to be done. House members must now carefully study all Senate revisions in the budget bill. The Conference Committee is already working to resolve any differences between the House and Senate versions. A compromise between the two versions of the budget must be agreed upon within the next few days and returned to both chambers for approval. The 2012 session will come to a close on April 12thafter the Governor has exercised a 10 day period that allows him to either sign bills into law or veto them.

Legislation approved by the House in recent days includes the passage of the False Claims Act. House Bill 401 intends to root out fraud and reduce the state’s deficit millions of dollars by giving whistleblowers strong financial incentives to step forward if state tax dollars are being misused. The bill would require those who are found guilty to be liable for up to three times the amount they had fraudulently billed the state. Whistleblowers would be eligible to receive 15 to 30 percent of the monies recovered as a reward for their service. Under the bill, Kentucky would also be positioned to receive 10 percent more money recovered under Medicaid fraud. The House passed HB 401 91-1.

Victims of the recent tornadoes would receive an incentive to rebuild in their communities under HB 165. The proposal would provide a six percent sales tax rebate to persons affected by the storms in the 21 counties included in the recent Presidential Disaster Declaration. The bill would also provide relief to school systems by allowing for up to 10 emergency or disaster days.  It would also guarantee school personnel their wages and benefits from the days they have missed so that they suffer no financial setback. HB 165 was approved by the House 96-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

The House acted to address growing concerns regarding the exposure and over usage of tanning beds by children. The legislation would amend current state law to prohibit people under the age of 18 from using a tanning device without written parental consent. HB 249 passed 86-10 and now heads to the Senate.

In an effort to expand the protection of victims of domestic abuse, HB 498 would extend domestic violence orders to include people who are dating. The bill would only apply to those dating couples who are 18 years of age or older. HB 498 was approved by the House 87-6.

Family pets can often become neglected when a relationship deteriorates. Presently Kentucky law does not allow a judge to address custody issues or the care of pets when a domestic violence order is issued.

HB 233 would provide judges the authority to act in the best interest of pets by directing the care, control and custody of pets. The bill would exempt animals that are considered livestock. HB 233 passed the House 94-1.

Kentuckians can be proud of the many legislative initiatives pursued and passed by the House of Representatives during this session. Although hundreds of bills are filed each session only a small percentage of them are able to withstand the scrutiny of the legislative process. While the process may seem complicated and frustrating at times, our system for making laws provides us with the best opportunity to address Kentucky’s many needs. I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far and look forward to finishing the work of the House in the coming weeks.  

You can stay informed of legislative action on bills of interest to you by logging onto the legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.govor by calling the LRC toll free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. To find out when a committee meeting is scheduled, you can call the LRC toll- free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650.