February closes with a flurry of legislative action

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Rep. Dwight Butler

 As we returned to Frankfort on Tuesday, with only eleven legislative days remaining in this year’s session, we diligently used our time to act on numerous pieces of legislation this week in order to leave enough time for the Senate to consider and approve these bills prior to the ten-day veto period.

             Committee meetings were the center of activity as legislators made their final efforts to move legislation further down the path to become law.  On Tuesday, the House Education Committee approved legislation that will help address the unusually high number of days that schools around Kentucky have missed due to inclement weather.  House Bill 388 would allow school districts affected by this winter’s relentless storms to make up school on professional development days and primary Election Day.

The House Judiciary Committee approved numerous measures this week, one of which is House Bill 313.  Under this measure, the director of the Division of Law Enforcement and conservation officers of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources would be permitted to carry concealed deadly weapons while performing duties related to their position. 

Members of the House Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee gave passage to House Bill 184.  Should this bill become law, police officers who receive Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund salary supplements would continue receiving this funding if they are called to active duty with the United States Armed Forces. 

Business would have a one-stop online government center to help navigate the paperwork and other regulations they face under a bill approved in the House Economic Development Committee. Senate Bill 8 would direct the Secretary of State’s office to create the core of an online business portal by 2012 and to operate a call center to help businesses with their questions. The portal would allow businesses to take care of a number of functions from the permitting process to making payments online.

Senate Bill 114 easily made its way through the House Banking and Insurance Committee.  This legislation would afford insurance companies the opportunity to provide discounts for individuals who participate in wellness incentive programs.

The House Health and Welfare Committee had a hearing on Senate Bill 9. This legislation would require abortion facilities to provide face-to-face information and show an ultrasound of the fetus to the prospective patient 24 hours prior to the procedure. Numerous legislators urged the committee to send this bill to the Floor, allowing the issue to be heard by the full House. Senate Bill 9 failed the committee by a vote of 9-7.

             Winning passage from the full chamber on a 93-5 vote, House Bill 353 would prohibit the state Fish and Wildlife Department from releasing in any county an animal that weighs 500 pounds or more at adulthood.  There have been over 100 auto accidents in the past four or five years due to collisions with elk, which were reintroduced to Kentucky in 1997 and who weigh in excess of 500 when fully grown.  Kentucky Fish and Wildlife estimates that the state’s elk herd has reached 5,000.

             House Bill 433 would establish a five-member waste tire working group.  Approved in the House by a vote of 99-0, this measure would also encourage customers to leave their old tires with the retailer at the time of a new tire purchase and require retailers to distribute an information sheet on how to dispose of a waste tire.

             Legislation that would make it a crime to solicit someone involved in a motor vehicle accident for business related to the wreck passed the House 95-1.  House Bill 382 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to solicit those involved in an accident within 30 days of the wreck.

             As our constitutionally allowed time for this year’s regular session is winding down, the approval process for bills will speed up as each day passes.  If you have any questions about legislation or my position on certain issues, please feel free to contact me anytime.  I am available at home or through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.  If you have Internet access, you can e-mail me at dwight.butler@lrc.ky.gov or keep track of legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at http://www.lrc.ky.gov.