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Senate passes bills on safety issues

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Another week goes by in a whirl of legislative meetings, visits from hometown folks and organized groups such as 4-H and the 874K Coalition. Even though the House has yet to act on the budget proposal, senators continue to educate ourselves and monitor the budget meetings in the House. In addition, senators continue to meet in small groups to review the different budget needs of the various agencies. We expect to receive the House proposal next week.

Let’s dig in on the legislative happenings. Some of the bills passed address tragedies that have made the news. Many of you may remember the van carrying the family of Amish that collided with the truck on I-65 several years ago. Senate Bill 89, which I sponsored, will close a loophole in the law and direct anyone riding in a vehicle with 15 or less passengers to wear seatbelts. We have beautiful highways and byways, and we want people to travel safely.

I supported Senate Bill 115, also known as Larry’s Law, which will require an evaluation of a person prior to admittance into a personal care home. Personal care homes are a valid and often the only alternative for many families who have relatives in need of closer monitoring. However, in the case of Larry Lee of Lebanon, his disability required a higher level of monitoring and care. He was able to wander away from his personal care home and was not found until it was too late. It is for this reason that it is advisable not only for the protection of the person in question but also their family’s peace of mind, to evaluate each person in order to determine whether a personal care home is the appropriate level of care.

Senate Bill 3 is aimed at reducing the number of meth labs in the state, as well as meth usage. It allows for about a four-month supply of cold medications containing pseudoephedrine at the maximum dosage without a prescription, meeting the needs of 90 percent of the legitimately consuming public. There are lesser dosages available and gel caps and liquid forms are excluded. Pseudoephedrine is an essential component of meth. Many of us remain haunted by examples of children and other blameless bystanders innocently picking up bottles in the woods or on the sides of roads and then getting sick and even burned. There is not one county whose law enforcement has not been put into direct danger from inhalation of toxic fumes. In addition, thousands of dollars are being spent on cleaning up these mobile labs. These are your tax dollars.

Our ultimate goal is the protection of the legitimate consumer as well as the public at large with the reduction of outlaw labs. Under SB 3, a person could purchase up to 120 full strength adult doses of pseudoephedrine a year or up to 20 such doses a month for four months. If you read the back of the box, the makers of Sudafed recommend that an adult not take the medication for more than 14 consecutive days without the advice of a physician. SB 3 would adhere to these instructions. This bill respects the personal responsibility of the consumer while addressing the legitimate safety and security needs of our communities and law enforcement.

Finally, Senate Joint Resolution 88 directs the Department of Education to standardize the evaluation parameters for teachers and administrators. With the push to maintain a high standard in the teaching professions, it is also important that we avoid a patchwork of requirements across districts. It is only fair that teachers and administrators know what is expected of them. SJR 88 will help ensure transparency and accountability in the evaluation process.

 

Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood represents the 26th District including Carroll, Henry, Oldham, Trimble counties as well as a portion of Jefferson County.