Frankfort Focus March 6, 2015
FRANKFORT, KY – After a short week due to snow and ice emergencies last week, the General Assembly will wrap up the bulk of its work in this year’s legislative session this week. Several bills were passed last week, including domestic violence protectioin for dating couples. Currently, these protective orders are only available to those who are married, have lived together or share a child together. Sadly, Kentucky is the only remaining state that does not offer civil protection of any kind to dating couples and, according to federal data, also leads the nation with the highest percentage of women who are stalked. After 10 years of work on this bill, it’s time we finish the job and enact this measure. I am hopeful House Bill 8 will be passed favorably by the Senate this time around.
A top priority for everyone this week will be a compromise on heroin legislation. Work continues on compromise legislation addressing the growing heroin epidemic in Kentucky, and statewide support of House Bill 213 remains strong. This approach creates more treatment options for those addicted to heroin so we can break that viscous cycle, and makes the rescue drug naloxone more widely available to first responders, pharmacists and families. The bill varies criminal sentencing to target the largest traffickers with the highest penalties, and allows needle exchange programs, which have been shown to dramatically cut down on infectious disease. HB 213 also includes a provision granting immunity to those who call for emergency help to report an overdose. The Senate has its own version of a heroin bill and negotiations to hammer out differences remain positive.
As the General Assembly debated legislation last week, Gov. Beshear and his administration announced two positive developments for the state. On Tuesday, he said that Site Selection magazine had ranked Kentucky first among the states in business expansion last year. We had more than 350 companies either expand or locate here, and if they meet their projections, this will lead to about 15,000 jobs and $3.7 billion in investment. No state did better on average.
Two days later, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet highlighted the state’s declining unemployment rate, which went from 7.5 percent in Jan. 2014 to 5.5 percent this past January. It is now below the national average, and in those 12 months, according to a federal business survey, Kentucky added about 40,000 new jobs.
There are several ways to reach me. You can address letters to Room 357A, Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, KY 40601; or you can email me at [email protected]. To leave a message for me or for any legislator by phone, please call 800-372-7181. For those with a hearing impairment, the number is 800-896-0305. To check the status of a bill. call the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835.