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Senate tackles budget, moves to strengthen education in Kentucky

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On Thursday, the 45th day of the legislative session, the House passed its budget bill. This leaves us in the Senate 13 days to work on the budget, present it in a committee, and vote on a Senate version.

As we study the House’s proposal, more information will come out regarding our response, priorities and review.

Committee meetings were lively this week, as hot-button issues regarding waiver of missed school days, the issue of common core and medicinal cannabidiol oil were heard. Citizens attended in large numbers to the point that additional rooms were set up to accommodate the numbers. It’s great to see that type of engagement in our democratic process.

On the floor, we passed Senate Bill 124, which would provide legal access to cannabidiol oil derived from the hemp plant and used to treat people with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Cannabidiol oil contains an extremely low level of THC, too low to produce any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. Studies have shown that the oil successfully aids children suffering from seizure disorders when administered orally. These children can have hundreds of seizures in one day in extreme cases. It is critical that every available medication be legally attainable for the families dealing with this debilitating condition. The bill passed the Senate Thursday with no opposition.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 159, which would allow nonprofit mobile dental clinics to provide care in schools for uninsured and underinsured children, as well as those covered by Medicaid. Statistics show that 42 percent of children in Kentucky under the age of five show signs of advanced tooth decay. Expanding access to dental care fulfills a fundamental need and positively affects the general health, school attendance, self respect and future success of our children. The bill passed unanimously and a similar outcome is hoped for in the House.

Additionally, a lively debate was had on the subject of core content adopted by Kentucky. Senate Bill 224 would prohibit Kentucky from adopting the national common core content and require the Department of Education to create new standards that exceed the national common core. At stake is ensuring Kentucky students are ready and prepared for college and career after graduation. The core content does not provide desirable mathematics and language arts skills for Kentucky students. Testimony was heard from education experts around the nation regarding the failure of the common core to address student needs.

Senate Bill 108 also passed the Senate this week. The Act would provide that a person convicted of a felony offense of rape in which a child was born as a result of the offense shall lose parental rights with respect to that child; provide for an exception at the request of the mother; and provide that a court shall impose an obligation of child support against the offender unless waived by the mother and, if applicable, a public agency supporting the child.

You can also view live-streaming and archived coverage of legislative proceedings at www.ket.org. Also, the work of our caucus can be followed on twitter at @kysenategop.

 

Senator Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, represents the 20th District including Carroll, Henry, Shelby and Trimble Counties, as well as part of Jefferson County.  He is the chairman of the Agriculture Committee and co-chairman of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.