Starting in July, those annoying tele-scammers who call Kentuckians under the cover of fraudulently generated local numbers to trick them into answering their phones could be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000 per offense.
That's assuming the "inaccurate caller ID" tele-scammers can be caught and prosecuted. Since they're likely to be in another state — or country — nobody is making promises.
"I know there's been questions about the enforceability," state Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, told a House committee in March as he presented House Bill 475, which Gov. Matt Bevin later signed into law. "Well, if we do not put things out of the bounds of what we will tolerate, it will continue to happen."
State Rep. George Brown, D-Lexington, told Moore that the easiest solution to tele-scammers is a brisk "No."
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"If I haven't called somebody, I don't need it," Brown told Moore. "If I haven't asked for the service, I don't need it. And I will hang up on the people in a heartbeat."
HB 475 was only one of the dozens of bills affecting Kentuckians' everyday lives that the 2018 General Assembly passed into law. Most of them didn't get much attention because of contentious debates over the public pension systems, state budget and tax code.
Among the others:
▪ Senate Bill 3 puts a "crime victim's bill of rights" on the Nov. 6 ballot as a proposed state constitutional amendment. Among the protections specified in the amendment are the right to restitution, the right to be notified of court proceedings and the right to be told when an offender is released from custody.
▪ Senate Bill 5 requires greater accountability from Pharmacy Benefits Managers, the third-party administrators that control about 70 percent of the state's Medicaid program, including $1.7 billion a year in pharmacy benefits. It also gives the state more power to set those pharmacy benefits while protecting small, locally owned pharmacies from getting squeezed out by the major retail chains.
▪ On a related note, House Bill 463 prohibits Pharmacy Benefits Managers from "clawback" pricing, or requiring an insurance price for drugs that is higher than the optional cash price. And it prohibits PBMs from penalizing pharmacists who volunteer the information to customers when a cheaper cash option for their medicine is available.
▪ Senate Bill 48 bans marriage in Kentucky for those under age 18 in most cases and those under age 17 in all cases.
▪ Along those lines, House Bill 101 defines as felony rape or sodomy the act of having sex with someone who is 16 or 17 when the offender is at least 10 years older. The younger party in these cases is considered legally incapable of giving consent.
▪ Senate Bill 68 clarifies that a domestic violence survivor is not required to pay the legal bills of her abuser in a divorce case when he is jailed for that abuse. This is actually something known to happen in Kentucky courts.
▪ Senate Bill 133 is meant to help protect the growing number of female prison and jail inmates in Kentucky, one in four of whom either is pregnant or has an infant, said the measure's sponsor, state Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville. The bill requires feminine-hygiene products for inmates, ends the practice of shackling pregnant inmates while they are in labor, and promotes more nutritious food and access to addiction treatment for pregnant inmates, among its other provisions.
▪ Senate Bill 250 requires Hepatitis C testing for pregnant women and recommends it for their babies if they test positive. Kentucky leads the nation for its Hepatitis C infection rate due to a fast-growing problem with intravenous drug use.
▪ House Bill 153 added yet another exemption to the 80,000-pound weight limit for trucks on state highways, this time for trucks carrying livestock or poultry feed. Such trucks will be able to run at 88,000 pounds, or 10 percent overweight. Past exemptions have included coal, steel, meat, farm crops, logs, wood chips, phosphate muck, crushed stone, concrete, asphalt, rocks, fill dirt and solid waste, among other cargo.
▪ House Bill 517 establishes a presumed right of visitation for grandparents when there is a viable relationship with the grandchild and the parent who is the child of that grandparent has died.
▪ Even more significant for family courts, House Bill 528 creates a presumption in a divorce that joint custody and equally shared parenting time is in the best interests of the child. That presumption won't apply when there has been a domestic violence order entered.
▪ House Bill 218 removes the coverage caps on dollar amount and age limitation for autism treatment in Kentucky. It also requires that all health plans in the state include autism treatment. To pay for that, the Kentucky Department of Insurance estimates, costs will rise up to $5.3 million a year on health insurance plans. But split between every policyholder, that is an estimated increase in premiums of only up to 95 cents per month.
▪ House Bill 363 requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services on a quarterly basis to gather information from other state agencies on Kentuckians getting benefits from Medicaid or food stamps to determine if they have won the lottery, had a birth or death in the family, gotten a job or otherwise changed their eligibility for the benefits.
"We have got to turn back the idea that no one is watching the fraudulent and blatant abuse of these systems," state Rep. Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, told a Senate committee as she explained her bill in March.
Until recently, for example, the cabinet was not automatically notified by the Kentucky Lottery Corp. when someone drawing public benefits based on their poverty won a lottery prize, a cabinet official told the Senate committee.