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The state Senate continued working hard this week passing bills addressing healthcare, the state’s debt, school safety, economic development and the justice system. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Senate Bill 3 allows for a Christian medical needs sharing program to return to Kentucky after being rejected last year by the Kentucky Department of Insurance. This insurance-like program has helped hundreds of people in our state afford health insurance and even qualifies as certified coverage under the federal Affordable Healthcare Act. There are three such programs in Kentucky.
Senate Bill 43 allows for greater access to health care by the general population by making it easier for physician’s assistants to work in Kentucky. We have many areas here that are medically underserved and these medical professionals fill a real need in our communities.
State debt ceiling
As many of you have read, Kentucky’s bond rating has been downgraded due partly to our level of bonded indebtedness of 8.4 perecent. Senate Bill 10 limits state debt to only 6 percent of General Fund revenues. This is a level generally accepted as the standard by bond-rating agencies, as well as a threshold the legislature has historically attempted to operate within. As long as I have been a member, the Senate has always passed a budget with less debt than either the governor’s or the House’s proposals. We cannot continue paying off the Visa with the MasterCard. This matter is no longer a fiscal imperative but a moral one as well. The measure excludes debt for universities, the Kentucky Housing Authority and other agencies using funds outside the General Fund, including the stand-alone Road Fund.
Senate Bill 8 was developed with the intent of bringing something positive from the tragedy of Newtown, Conn. The bill directs school superintendents to submit school safety plans to the Kentucky Department of Education. It also requires the adoption of a school safety plan, safety drills during the first month of school, and for school diagrams to be shared with local first-responders. These are straight-forward and low-cost measures that while may not be able to completely prevent tragedy will hopefully better prepare us.
Senate Bill 50 allows Kentucky to position our farmers so that once the federal government approves the cultivation of industrial hemp, we can be in the forefront of an industry that produces products for everything from cars to cosmetics to food to clothes.
Senate Bill 88 will allow for the modernization of phone-service in Kentucky making sure that the answer to “Can you hear me now?” will be a yes regardless of where you live.
Senate Bill 23 clarifies that judges can authorize review of DNA evidence after conviction. If DNA is good enough to prove guilt, then it also should be able to prove innocence. It is a matter of justice and will help affirm the integrity of the Judiciary.
All these bills now move to the House for their consideration. If you have any questions or comments about the issues above or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at (800) 372-7181.
Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, represents the 26th District including Carroll, Henry, Oldham, and Trimble counties as well as a portion of Jefferson County.