Legislative Update … by Sara Beth Gregory

Posted April 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Nearing the finish of the 2014 legislative session

By Sara Beth Gregory, 16th District Senator

As I write this, the legislature is in the midst of the veto recess. The final two days of the legislative session are April 14 and 15, when we will have an opportunity to review and potentially override vetoes by the Governor. We will also pass the last pieces of legislation for the session when we return, including the six-year road plan. As we wrap up, I want to highlight some other bills that passed both the House and Senate and await signature by the Governor.

Senate Bill 98 has been signed by the Governor. It is a bill I sponsored to protect seniors and disabled adults who are vulnerable to abuse by caregivers. The bill will create a registry of paid caregivers who have committed a prior act of abuse, neglect, or exploitation as substantiated by Adult Protective Services. Currently, nursing homes, adult care agencies and families have no way of knowing if a potential employee has a history of abuse, or even if that person has been fired before for confirmed abuse or neglect. Also, those who are accused of abuse currently have no due process protection against a false charge.

I worked with all interested parties to be sure Senate Bill 98 address both of the concerns. It will create due process, including an administrative and appeal in court, for accused workers. It will also require agencies that employ adult caregivers to check the registry before hiring a personal care staff member. The registry will be maintained by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and also provides a way for individuals or families seeking to hire a caregiver to access the information. This adult protection registry will help employers hire responsible caregivers, and more importantly, will better protect our vulnerable citizens from harm.

Also receiving the Governor’s signature this week is Senate Bill 109, which will prohibit the sale of “electronic cigarettes” to minors. These e-cigarettes are sometimes marketed and sold as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they are smokeless, but they still emit a vaporized form of nicotine to users that many people feel is still addictive and unsafe for youth. We want to do all we can to protect our children from drugs, including nicotine, and this measure will help do that.

We also were able to pass an omnibus bill relating to gun legislation that will protect and enhance our Second Amendment right to bear arms. House Bill 128 combines several other gun-related proposals, including my Senate Bill 100 to create an electronic application system for concealed deadly weapon permits. This will take advantage of modern technology to allow individuals who have met the training and other requirements to obtain their CCDW permit much more quickly – closer to two weeks than the two months many wait now.

The bill also includes provisions that will allow a person protected by an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) or Domestic Violence Order (DVO) to get a temporary permit for concealed carry deadly weapons. The permit will be good for 45 days as long as the person passes a background check and may be converted to a regular CCDW permit upon completion of the necessary training.

House Bill 128 also will allow honorably discharged military veterans to avoid the usual training requirement for a CCDW license upon submission of documentation that they have completed other sufficient firearms training.

At the end of March, other House bills were acted upon in our chamber. For example, House Bill 125 will allow patients to request and receive copies of their medical laboratory results. The bill also contains Senate additions that will create a way for chronically ill patients to receive all their needed medications on one day a month.

House Bill 28, also known as the “no cup of coffee rule,” also passed. It strengthens Kentucky’s Legislative Code of Ethics. The bill prohibits lobbyists from buying legislators anything including even a cup of coffee, enhances limits on campaign contributions for those who employ lobbyists, and also requires members of the legislature to attend workplace harassment training at the beginning of each session.

As always, I invite you to contact me with feedback or concerns about legislative issues that interest you. You may contact me in Frankfort at 502-564-8100, on our toll-free message line at 800-372-7181, or by e-mail at sara.gregory@lrc.ky.gov. More information about the work of the Legislature is available on the Legislative Research Commission website, www.lrc.ky.gov, and you may also watch legislative proceedings live online at www.ket.org.