Politics & Government

Legislative briefs: Senate passes bill to teach Bible in Ky. schools

Senate passes bill to teach Bible in Ky. schools

Bible classes could be taught in Kentucky public schools under a bill that's made it halfway through the legislature. The Senate voted 34-1 to approve Senate Bill 56 on Wednesday. Under the proposal, Bible courses would be offered as electives, meaning students could decide whether to take them.

Republican Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro, the bill's sponsor, said the intention is to acquaint students with a book that has had tremendous impact on American society and western culture.

Democratic Sen. Kathy Stein of Lexington said the measure is unnecessary because nothing currently prohibits Kentucky public schools from teaching about the Bible. A similar measure overwhelmingly passed in the Senate last year but died in the House.

Bill seeks financial punishment for elder abuse

The Kentucky House has passed a bill aimed at preventing someone convicted of abusing or exploiting an elderly person from inheriting from the victim. House Bill 52 sailed through the House without debate on Wednesday. It now heads to the Senate.

Racing compact passes Senate panel

Kentucky would be the first state to join an interstate racing compact if the bill allowing it passes the legislature this year. The Senate State and Local Government Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 24 on Wednesday, which would create an interstate racing compact that would help states develop uniform rules regarding racing and wagering.

Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said six states would have to pass similar legislation before the compact would go into effect. New York tried to pass legislation last year to join the compact, but failed. Rick Goodell, an attorney with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said another attempt is being made this year in New York. Goodell told the committee that if a national commission created a rule that Kentucky disagreed with, the state would not have to adopt the rule.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Advocates promote health bills

A University of Kentucky dance team member who underwent heart surgery took the spotlight as an advocate for public health advances in a state with high rates of both smoking and childhood obesity. UK senior Regan Judd told those attending a Capitol rally Wednesday that she nearly became a "statistic." After workouts left her with chest pains, she underwent tests that found an enlarged heart and a leaking heart valve. She underwent surgery in October 2009.

On Wednesday, Judd performed with five other dance team members at the rally meant to promote legislation aimed at improving the health of Kentuckians. The legislation would impose a statewide smoking ban in all indoor workplaces and would set a goal that all public elementary schools set aside 30 minutes of daily physical activity for pupils.

Immigration bill stalls in House committee

After a contentious hearing Wednesday about a controversial bill to crack down on illegal immigrants, the chairman of the House Local Government Committee said its fate remains uncertain.

Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, said Senate Bill 6, which the Republican-led Senate already has approved, could be sent to another committee or his panel could keep discussing it until it finds out how the Senate handles a House immigration bill. House Bill 3 would require companies doing business with the state to confirm workers' legal status with a federal Internet database.

Riggs, who has held two hearings on SB 6, said it's "50-50" whether his committee will consider it again. He said he does not think the bill has enough votes to get out of his committee because of its costs. He added that he could not support it.

The bill allows police to determine a person's immigration status if he or she is suspected of a crime and would create criminal penalties for being an "unauthorized alien" on private or public land.

Staff/Wire Reports