The Kentucky House of Representatives shifted into high gear this week as the General Assembly’s 30-workday legislative session approaches its conclusion.
The House passed 37 bills and defeated one in a 7-hour session Monday night, while two of the session’s most politically difficult bills — one dealing with the so-called Real ID federal driver’s license requirements and another establishing review panels for medical malpractice claims — received committee hearings Tuesday.
House Bill 410, which would bring Kentucky’s driver’s licenses into compliance with federal homeland security standards, has bipartisan support among lawmakers, but it remained on the legislative sidelines until Tuesday, the 20th day of this year’s legislative session, because of uncertainty about Gov. Matt Bevin’s position on the issue.
Last year, Bevin asked lawmakers to approve a similar bill only to turn around and veto it after receiving strong pushback from Tea Party activists, who view the requirements as an overreach of federal authority. On Tuesday, Bevin said he supports the latest Real ID bill.
Senate Bill 4, which would establish panels of doctors to issue non-binding opinions on medical neglect or malpractice claims before lawsuits could be filed, has been stuck in the House Health and Welfare Committee since early January as lawmakers negotiate its details behind closed doors. Sticking points include how long the panels have to issue an opinion and who should serve on the panels.
A controversial proposal to allow charter schools, House Bill 520, received its first of three required readings in the House on Monday but it has not been heard in committee. On Friday, the sponsor of the bill said he was still discussing its details with Senate leaders.
Bevin held a news conference Feb. 21 to tout the bill urging lawmakers to rally behind the school-choice legislation. He also promised the bill would pass soon while speaking last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.
Among the more than three dozen bills approved Monday by the House were proposals to extend tax increment financing for the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, allow trucks to weigh 50 percent more if they are carrying “metal commodities,” and give a tax credit to Amazon for jet fuel.
The only bill that was defeated, House Bill 130, would have allowed Kentucky Speedway to serve alcohol on Sundays. Several Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill.