A record 193 bills were passed into law during the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly. This summary is by no means exhaustive, but covers some of the major legislation that was passed, as well as laws that might impact your profession. Please feel free to contact one of the attorneys at Morgan & Pottinger if you have additional questions. Unless a bill was declared an emergency or contained a special effective date, all enacted legislation took effect on June 29, 2017.
Child protective services. House Bill 253 requires unannounced welfare checks on children who have been the subject of reported child abuse or neglect in the home. Unannounced visits would continue intermittently until the child’s safety has been safeguarded. In addition, schools and child care providers are required to provide a social worker access to a child who is the subject of an investigation without parental consent.
Civics education. Senate Bill 159 requires all public high school students to pass a locally approved civics test, based on the U.S. citizenship test, in order to receive a regular diploma. A score of 60% correct answers out of 100 questions is required to pass, and students can retake the test as often as needed.
Criminal Justice Reform. Senate Bill 120 is designed to help people leaving prison to rejoin society more successfully. The bill expands the opportunities for work during incarceration, removes certain obstacles to obtaining professional licensure, and creates pilot projects for alternative substance abuse supervision during reentry into the community. The bill also creates an “Angel Initiative,” which allows law enforcement to refer persons voluntarily seeking help to drug treatment without requiring arrest.
Driver’s licenses. House Bill 410, known as the REAL ID Bill, creates an enhanced Kentucky driver’s license that meets federal anti-terrorism standards. By federal law, Kentuckians will be required to have the enhanced ID to board domestic airplanes and enter federal facilities, including military facilities and the federal courthouse, beginning January 1, 2019. It also continues the old type of “standard” driver’s license, permit or state personal ID card for individuals who do not want the enhanced license.
Education Reform. Senate Bill 1 creates a less burdensome, time-consuming process for testing elementary and secondary students. It also allows local schools to establish the process for evaluating their teachers. The legislation requires a review of academic standards for schools at the Ky. Department of Education, and updates benchmarks for measuring college and career readiness. The intent of the bill is to reduce the paperwork burden on teachers.
Garnishment. Senate Bill 62 prohibits creditors from being able to garnish the funds in a health savings account.
Hemp. Senate Bill 218 updates the pilot project within the Department of Agriculture for the licensure of industrial hemp to align with federal laws. The purpose of the pilot project is to enable the Department, licensees and affiliated universities to study the methods of cultivating, processing and marketing industrial hemp.
Human trafficking. House Bill 524 is designed to enhance public awareness of human trafficking, including sexual and labor exploitation, by requiring the National Human Trafficking Reporting hotline phone number to be posted at public schools and highway rest areas. The bill also expands the definition of “serious physical injury” as it relates to children under the age of 12.
Juvenile offenders. Senate Bill 195 allows juvenile convictions to be expunged after two years if the conviction was not a sex crime and would not classify the juvenile as a violent offender. The bill also requires dismissed juvenile cases to automatically be expunged.
Legal Interest Rate. The legal interest rate on judgments in state court has been lowered from 12.0% per annum to 6.0% per annum. It is important to note that this does not lower the interest rate established in a contract, promissory note, or other written obligation. The new interest rate will apply judgments and orders entered after the effective date of this Act
(June 29, 2017).
Playground safety. House Bill 38 bans registered sex offenders from public playgrounds unless they have advanced written permission from the local government body.
Postsecondary education. Senate Bill 153 phases in performance-based funding for state colleges and universities determined by their student success rate, course completion, and operational needs.
Protecting children. Senate Bill 236 permits a parent or guardian to require a background check when employing a childcare provider.
School calendars. Senate Bill 50 allows school districts whose first day of instruction is on or after the Monday closest to August 26 to use a “variable student instructional year.” A variable student instructional year is one that requires the same annual hours of instruction that is currently required
by law, but allows for fewer student attendance days than the current minimum of 170. Districts can use the variable schedule beginning with the 2018-19 school year.
Tobacco treatment. Senate Bill 89 mandates private insurance and Medicaid coverage of all FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and all tobacco cessation programs approved by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The bill prohibits copayments, deductibles and utilization restrictions for services associated with the first two attempts to quit in any 12-month period.