FRANKFORT — There are many moments in the legislative process when planning gives way to action.
We arrived at a big one in the Senate this week as the state budget proposal landed in our chamber.
Now that the House has approved its preferred version of the budget bill and sent it to us, it is our turn to go through the $20.3 billion spending plan line-by-line and start considering the changes we feel are necessary to ensure the final version of the plan best reflects our priorities and values.
With only a couple weeks before the General Assembly’s veto recess is scheduled to begin, our work on the budget will be intense in the days to come. At the same time, hundreds of other bills will continue moving through the legislative process and must be studied and acted on.
Among the bills approved by the Senate this week was a measure that would allow research and limited medical use of cannabis oil. Senate Bill 124 would allow doctors at the state’s two university research hospitals to prescribe cannabis oil to patients. The bill also would allow the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville medical schools to conduct studies of the oil.
Supporters of the measure say the oil is an effective treatment for certain medical conditions, including pediatric epilepsy. SB 124 has been sent to the House for further action.
The Senate also gave approval this week to Senate Bill 108, which would prevent those convicted of rape from claiming parental rights to children born as a result of the assaults. The bill, which has been sent to the House for consideration, would require child support to be ordered in those cases unless waived by the mother.
Members of the Senate also gave approval to a resolution that would direct the staff of the Legislative Research Commission to study family care-giving and long-term services. With a growing aging population, the demand for services that allow seniors to receive assistance in their homes and communities will continue to increase. Senate Concurrent Resolution 102 is intended to provide policymakers with better information about the programs available and ideas about innovative and creative ways that the state can support those who provide in-home assistance to older adults.
A measure that would allow more poisonous weeds and invasive plants to be targeted for eradication from state right-of-ways passed the Senate on Thursday. Supporters of Senate Bill 170 note that some plants that no longer pose a major threat are on the list for eradication while noxious plants that cause bigger problems are not on the list. In addition to targeting plants like kudzu and poison hemlock for removal from roadsides and other areas, the legislation also would give the Department of Highways the authority to regularly review and make changes to its list of unwanted plants.
On Wednesday, the Senate State and Local Government Committee heard Senate Bill 163, that I sponsored, that would permit county clerks to collect charitable funds raised from private sources for a statewide, charitable program sponsored by the primary association representing county clerks.
Last week, I told you about a bill I filed that would remove hurdles for bioptic drivers. I am happy to report that Senate Bill 143 passed the full Senate and is now headed to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
With time growing short in the 2014 legislative session, even more bills are likely to take steps closer to becoming law in the days to come. Citizens can look at the bills we are voting on and track legislation by visiting the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov. Kentuckians are also encouraged to offer feedback on the issues with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181. You can also email me at email@example.com.