As State Senator David Karem was known for once saying, “The budget is the ultimate policy document in Kentucky,” and, from that perspective, this year proved to be an interesting “budget session” in Frankfort.
A new governor and two legislative chambers controlled by different political parties made the entire process difficult at times. A budget, however, was passed before the April 15th deadline, with the governor using his veto pen on several provisions. But the budget is now final, and the Commonwealth’s spending plan will go into effect at the end of the fiscal year.
En route to the new $20 billion budget, the legislature also considered a record number of bills over the 60-day session, enacting many of them. Below are some highlights from the legislative session just completed. (Unless a bill is declared an emergency or contains a special effective date, the bills passed by the Kentucky General Assembly this session will take effect July 15, 2016.)
House Bill 303 is the Budget Bill that will guide state spending over the next two fiscal years. The two-year state budget plan is aimed at creating savings in many areas and using more money to stabilize the public pension systems. It includes $1.28 billion for the state pension systems. Many state agencies were cut, including our institutions of higher education, but the budget makes no cuts to K-12 education and increases pre-school eligibility.
Senate Bill 122 and House Bill 165 make important and helpful changes in Kentucky’s law on title liens. The time in which documents required for notation of a lien on a title must be presented to a clerk is extended from 20 days to 30 days after the debtor first acquires rights in the titled property, a change consistent with bankruptcy law. Additionally, the effective period for an initial title lien is extended to 10 years from the current seven-year sunset. The continuation provisions for title liens are changed to be consistent with UCC continuations, with a five-year extension of the effective period of the lien and language to make it clear that more than one continuation can be filed.
House Bill 309 allows government and private entities to enter into public-private partnerships – known as P3s – to fund Kentucky’s major infrastructure needs, including transportation projects.
Senate Bill 185 made permanent the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders
(established in 2013) and the state Office of Autism (created in 2014). The bodies will continue to ensure there are not any gaps in providing services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.
Senate Bill 33 requires high school students be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by an emergency medical professional. The life-saving measure is to be taught as part of the students’ physical education or health class, or as part of ROTC training.
Senate Bill 16 protects prospective rescuers from being sued for property damage caused by saving the life of a child left in a locked vehicle.
House Bill 148 allows child daycare centers to receive prescriptions for EpiPen injectors to treat life-threatening allergic reactions. The bill also gives parents up to 30 days to legally surrender their newborn at a state-approved safe place under the state’s safe harbor laws.
Senate Bill 179 allows individuals with disabilities to set up an ABLE account to save money for disability-related expenses without it being taxed. Money saved in the account also does not count against Medicaid and other federal means-based benefits.
Senate Bill 193, also known as “Noah’s Law” after a 9-year-old Pike County boy, extends health insurance coverage to include expensive amino acid-based elemental formula needed by some children with gastric disorders and food allergies.
House Bill 162 adds electronic communications to those that can be deemed “harassment” under current harassment statutes, if it is done with intent to intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm another person. “Harassment” is a Class B misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 63, which is aimed at eliminating a backlog of sexual assault examination kits, establishes new policies and procedures for handling evidence. SB 63 requires police to pick up sexual assault kits from hospitals within five days and submit the kit to the state crime lab within 30 days. The bill also prohibits the destruction of any kits and requires notification of victims of the progress and results of the tests.
Senate Bill 60 creates a new section of KRS Chapter 501, defining an “offense against a vulnerable victim” and creating a mechanism for charging someone with commission of an offense against a victim who is under the age of 14, has an intellectual disability, or is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.
House Bill 132 makes posting jail-booking photos to a website or including the booking photos in a publication illegal when the person is required to pay to remove them from public view. Damages start at $100 a day for each separate offense, along with attorney fees.
House Bill 40 permits Kentuckians convicted of low-level non-violent felonies to ask a court to permanently expunge their records five years after they have completed their sentences or probation periods. Sex crimes and crimes against children cannot be expunged.
House Bill 314 allows current and retired peace officers to carry concealed firearms at any location where current, on-duty officers can carry guns.
J. Morgan McGarvey
Morgan McGarvey’s practice focuses on litigation, drawing upon experience he acquired as a Special Assistant Attorney General in Kentucky and in Washington D.C. as a staff member for Congressman Ben Chandler. Morgan was elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 2012 and represents the 19th District (Louisville).