Politics & Government

Legislative briefing

EARLIER HIV TESTS IN RAPE CASES OK'D

Sexual assault victims would be able to force their assailants to take an HIV test before they're convicted under a bill the House Judiciary Committee passed yesterday. Supporters say it is necessary to give peace of mind to rape victims, who often must begin a painful medicinal regimen lasting 28 days to ward off infection by the virus, which attacks the body's immune system. By knowing the assailant is not HIV positive, the victim can end the regimen sooner, supporters of the bill say. Currently, suspects can be required to take an HIV test only after they've been convicted. Critics of the bill, who say they support its intent, worry that it will violate the defendant's Fifth Amendment rights. With the bulk of legislative work finishing Monday, its uncertain whether it will make it into law.

INTERNET PHARMACY RESTRICTIONS ADVANCE

A Senate-passed bill meant to tighten restrictions on Internet pharmacies cleared the House Judiciary yesterday. The bill would require proof from Internet pharmacies that a patient had seen a doctor before dispensing any medication. Deputy Attorney General Pierce Whites said that would help crack down on a "phantom process" in which medications are obtained without a doctor's prescription. Internet pharmacies would be required to have national certification as a "verified Internet pharmacy practice site." Also under Senate Bill 88, Kentucky pharmacies would be allowed to track ephedrine and psuedoephedrine purchases as they happen. Sen. Robert Stivers, the bill's sponsor, said prescription drug abuse has become more widespread -- putting burdens on police, social service groups and families. "Prescription drugs are by far more devastating than alcohol," said Stivers, R-Manchester. The measure heads to the full House for consideration.

HOUSE GETS HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION

Human traffickers would face potentially long prison sentences under a bill that took another step forward yesterday by clearing the House Judiciary Committee. The bill already passed the Senate 37-0, and is headed toward the full House. The bill would create felony offenses for human trafficking, with the most severe punishment for trafficking children or people who are injured. If the proposal becomes law, Kentucky would join 27 other states that outlaw human trafficking. The bill would make human trafficking a crime punishable by five to 10 years in prison. The crime would carry a 10- to 20-year sentence if the victim was seriously injured. Someone trafficking a minor also would face stiffer penalties, including 20 years to life in prison if the youngster is seriously injured.

MINIMUM WAGE MEASURE DEBATED

The Senate yesterday began debating a measure to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years but put the bill on hold to further investigate how the proposal would affect economic development incentives in rural counties. The Senate is expected to take up the measure again today.

FOLLOW ONLINE

 To check on bills that are filed and to follow legislation, go online to www.lrc.ky.gov. Then click on "Legislation and Legislative Record." Then click on "2007 Regular Session Bills." You can then search based on the subject or lawmaker sponsoring the bill.

 Stay up to date on the big developments on Kentucky.com.

 Keep up with the political insiders through the Herald-Leader's blog, Pol Watchers, which can be found on Kentucky.com.

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