Ky. lawmakers approve 107 bills during first 28 days of legislative session

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 13, 2013 

Kentucky Religious Freedom

Cindy Sommer, left, a private investigator from Lexington, and others went to the Capitol on Wednesday to urge Gov. Steve Beshear to veto a religious freedom bill which would strengthen a person's ability to ignore state regulations or laws that contradict his or her "sincerely held" religious beliefs. The House and Senate both passed the measure.

ROGER ALFORD — AP

FRANKFORT — Kentucky lawmakers continue to bicker over a handful of high-profile bills, but their list of accomplishments during the first 28 days of this year's 30-day legislative session includes approval of more than 100 bills.

So far, Gov. Steve Beshear has signed into law five of the 107 laws and four resolutions that lawmakers have sent him. He will consider the rest during a veto recess that began Wednesday.

He can sign bills into law, let them become law without his signature, or veto them. The legislature will have a chance to override any vetoes when it reconvenes March 25 for the last two days of the 2013 session.

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said Wednesday that this year's legislative session has been productive.

"We have taken some fairly substantial pieces of legislation and worked them through the process," he said.

Some of the major bills still up for consideration include an overhaul of the state's ailing public pension system, regulation of hemp farming and making it easier for Kentucky soldiers overseas to vote.

Here are some of the bills approved by the 2013 General Assembly.

Already signed by Beshear

■ House Bill 7, which gives universities the authority to issue bonds for several specific building projects. At the University of Kentucky, it includes renovation and expansion of Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Training Center, construction of an Academic Science Building and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics.

■ HB 217, which modifies the measure approved last year known as the "pill-mill bill" to curb prescription drug abuse in the state.

■ Senate Bill 52, which requires electronic filing of death certificates.

■ SB 103, which cracks down on reckless amusement park ride operators.

Bills awaiting the governor's consideration

CRIME

■ SB 15, known as the Bryan Durman Act, would require someone convicted in the death of a Kentucky police officer or firefighter to serve more time in prison for specific offenses before becoming eligible for probation or parole. It is named in honor of a Lexington police officer killed during a hit-and-run incident in 2010.

■ SB 66, which would allow certain local governments to appoint a person over 50 as a member of a police or fire department.

■ SB 67, which would prohibit a person found incompetent to stand trial from operating a motor vehicle in Kentucky.

■ SB 72, which would establish mandatory training requirements in suicide prevention for social workers, marriage and family therapists and counselors.

■ HB 3, which would strengthen Kentucky's human-trafficking laws.

■ HB 69, which would designate safe drop-off areas for children involved in exchanges among separated couples.

■ HB 290, which would set up an independent panel to review deaths and critical injuries from child abuse or neglect.

EDUCATION

■ SB 56, which would require schools to retain for one month all recordings of school activities that include an injury to a student or school employee.

■ SB 59, which would transfer the Council on Postsecondary Education from the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet to the governor's office.

■ SB 61, which would establish the option for early high school graduation beginning in the 2014-2015 school year and provide scholarships sponsored by the state lottery for early graduates.

■ SB 97, which would require students to stay in school until age 18. If 55 percent of school districts raised the dropout age from 16 to 18, the policy would become mandatory statewide within four years.

GOVERNMENT

■ HB 1, which would provide more transparency of special taxing districts in the state.

■ HB 430, which stabilizes Lexington's police and firefighters pension system.

OTHER

■ SB 32, which would allow non-profits to sell donated processed wildlife.

■ HB 60, which allows hunting of coyotes.

■ HB 279, which would strengthen a person's ability to ignore state regulations or laws that contradict his or her sincerely held religious beliefs. If the governor vetoes the bill, Stivers, the Senate president, said Wednesday his chamber would override it.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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