I work for the citizens of the 3rd District and the people of Kentucky. It should be easy to see what we're voting on and how I vote on it! The official records are maintained by the Legislative Research Commission, but I wanted to report them here myself for my constituents in a more concise way. I'll be updating this throughout each week as we vote new bills out of the Senate. Bookmark the page and stop back by! In the meantime, call me at 800-372-7181 or 502-564-8100 or email if you need me! Note: Bills appear in the order they receive a vote.
Senate Bill 7: A bill that reflects a compromise between physicians and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) regarding the need for a collaborative practice agreement and the ability to prescribe certain medications. These groups, who have historically been at odds, worked with a group of senators to find this compromise. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 26: This bill expands the use of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) to include an additional class of horses for purses, to strengthen Kentucky's signature Horse industry. Unfortunately, the KTDF is funded by wagers - the losses of Kentucky's citizens. I want to help the thoroughbred industry as much as anyone, but not at the expense of the losses of my neighbors across Kentucky. I voted no.
Senate Bill 27: This bill moves constitutional office elections (Governor, Lt. Governor, Sec. Of State, Attorney General, etc.) to even-numbered years. Currently, these elections are held on odd years when no other office is up. Moving these to even years would (1) save counties statewide about $13.1 Million and save Kentucky about $4 Million, and (2) increase voter turnout by including those offices with others on the ballot, and surely we can agree that more voters showing an interest in government is good. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 3: Informed Consent is required before medical care is given. Ordinarily, a patient becomes informed to give that consent by having a face-to-face meeting with their doctor, with a back and forth exchange allowing questions to be asked. Abortion clinics in Kentucky use pre-recorded messages by a counselor or social worker, and may allow a mother to ask questions with a live counselor (not the doctor) after it plays. Senate Bill 3 requires a face-to-face meeting. That seems like a small price to pay when the medical 'procedure' involves terminating a human life. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 4: Several years ago the legislature passed a measure known as the "reciprocity bill" that allowed legislators to unjustly boost their pension by seeking another state position at a higher pay scale just long enough to use that higher salary to change their average salary for retirement. SB4 eliminates that loophole. There's nothing wrong with legislators seeking other public employment, or working toward a retirement account, but they shouldn't be able to abuse the system at taxpayer expense. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 16: This bill allows schools to include computer programming and coding as an option for to meet the foreign language graduation requirement. While traditional languages are important to explore diverse cultures and history, computer languages are exploding in usage across the globe and aren't slowed by state, national or cultural boundaries. There is a tremendous, booming economy for these kinds of jobs and students should have the option to include that in their preparatory studies. If they have an aptitude for it, much like those fluent in a foreign language, the student can write their own ticket. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 55: This bill prevents the withholding of SEEK funds from schools in Kentucky as a punitive measure against the school from the Kentucky Department of Education.
Senate Bill 45: This bill of mine expands the currently used e-warrant system to include search warrants. Allowing law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to use computers to complete the warrant and affidavit documents (that are usually already prepared on computers) and save countless man-hours and fuel that is currently used to chase down prosecutors and on-call judges. Constitutional requirements are still protected, and doing this electronically avoids the chance that the human factor influences the warrant paperwork - which is strictly prohibited under the law. I voted yes.
February 4, 2014
Senate Bill 64: This short bill allows ATV operators to cross public roadways with posted speed limits of 55mph or less, when traveling between parcels of private property, without a helmet. Passed 36-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 58: The Constitution created the office of Treasurer, but the functions of that office can be carried out by the Governor's Finance Cabinet, with sufficient oversight maintained elsewhere by the offices of the Auditor and Attorney General. This bill would dissolve the Treasurer position and merge it's duplicate functions into the Finance Cabinet, saving money and streamlining government. Passed 23-15. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 20: This bill designates October as Anti-Bullying Month in Kentucky, and sets a purple and yellow ribbon as the symbol for anti-bullying awareness. It goes without saying that we should encourage one another, young and old, to treat others with respect. Luke 6:31 reminds us to "do unto others as we would have done to us." Enough said. Passed 37-1. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 44: Farmers haul grain across Kentucky to feed the Commonwealth and the World and are required to stay within certain weight limits. Hauling above those limits can result in a fine. A few years ago the General Assembly passed a measure to grant farmers a 10% variance on the weight limit because farms typically don't have scales nearby to verify the trucks are within the limit. This bill allows commercial grain trucks, which travel to the farms to pick up grain right out of the field, to enjoy the same variance. Again, when getting a load of grain combine-side, scales aren't available. This helps the farmers and grain haulers across Kentucky without sacrificing safety. Passed 35-3. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 59: This bill eliminates indemnification clauses in motor carrier contracts, leveling the playing field in court, without eliminating the ability of harmed parties to seek damages for liability arising from those contracts. Passed 38-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 67: Paducah's nuclear facility is under the same kind of policy attack by the current presidential administration as our coal field in West and East Kentucky. This bill changes various requirements and statutes including a change to allow nuclear waste to be safely stored and prohibiting disposal sites from being placed in Kentucky, and finally the bill would allow new nuclear energy facilities to be constructed in Kentucky (repealing this law). I believe we should responsibly rely on whatever energy resources we have, while maintaining safety, instead of shutting down coal and nuclear altogether in favor of only renewables. Renewables, while very important and necessary, can't yet replace the efficiency, value or jobs of the coal and nuclear industry for Kentucky's citizens or businesses. Passed 29-6. (with one "Pass" vote). I voted yes.
Senate Bill 113: A number of counties need additional time to establish new precincts following the redistricting bill passed by the General Assembly last fall. This bill extends the deadline to allow the backlog of precinct changes to be made without adversely affecting the election calendar. Passed 38-0. I voted yes.
February 11, 2014
Senate Bill 31: This bill restricts a state agency from implementing any part of the "United Nations Agenda 21" that violates United States and Kentucky Constitutions, or expending any public funds on a group or organization that will implement any part of the United Nations Agenda 21. Passed 32-5. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 47: This bill is another one of my own. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is diagnosed when a child is born drug dependent because its mother used drugs during pregnancy. Kentucky had about 67 cases of NAS in 2001, but well over 700 in 2011. Unfortunately, the law prohibits the Kentucky Department of Public Health from releasing those statistics any more. I believe that’s information the General Assembly needs, to determine whether future treatment funding or legislation is necessary. Passed 37-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 103: This bill allows a caregiver of an individual who has diabetes to administer or assist with the self-administration of the medication listed if the caregiver has been trained and has the written permission of the individual's primary care physician. Passed 38-0. I voted yes.
February 12, 2014
Senate Bill 76: This bill allows out-of-state medical service providers in one of Kentucky's seven bordering states to obtain a reciprocal license if they meet certain requirements for licensure, including any requirement for a physical location in the state as a condition of Kentucky issuing or renewing a license, and for Kentucky to consider whether their original state's licensure requirements are substantially similar to the licensure requirements here in Kentucky. Passed 36-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 85: Another bill of mine that, very simply, clarifies that the "duty to warn" responsibility for mental health professionals only applies in an outpatient setting. If the patient is in an in-patient setting they aren't able to effect the any threat the patient has made. Passed 36-0. I voted yes.
February 13, 2014
Senate Bill 61: This bill requires pastoral counselor a who wish to bill insurance companies, Medicare or Medicaid for their services must obtain a license certified by certain qualifications. This does not apply to pastors in our churches who are already engaged in what I've always known as "pastoral care," but only to those who are attempting to bill purely for this work. Passed 38-0. I voted yes.
House Bill 98: This bill allows students to self-treat diabetes symptoms in school settings, requires training to be consistent with training programs and guidelines developed by the American Diabetes Association, and prohibits schools from preventing students from attending due to having diabetes or a seizure disorder. Passed 37-1. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 89: This bill does a number of things, but among the most important is the protection of student data. As we use the web and other computer software at home, at work or on our phones, we intentionally or inadvertently share a massive wealth of information about who we are. You've no doubt searched for a product online on one day and found ads for that product or store a day or later while on another site. Facebook and Google are the worst offenders in this business model group; they offer free services to us, but offer us to their real customers: advertisers. There's a whole lot I can say about this topic, but the bottom line is this: as long as we get to choose what we share and how it gets used, it's use is ok. In our lives we have that power (even if most rarely exercise it). However, in schools the students don't choose the hardware or the software at all. Imagine your child taking a math quiz or history exam on Monday, failing parts of those tests, and your household being targeted with ads on your home computer for books or study materials for sale on that topic. What if school computers or software gathered even more info. This is not a new problem, and the biggest players have admitted to this data mining. I think SB89 is a critical step toward halting this insidious practice. Passed 37-0. I voted yes.
February 18, 2014
Senate Bill 52: Sets up a pilot program to charge a small fee for Medicaid patients that miss appointments. Missed appointments is one of the largest cost drivers for Medicaid, and also causes a delay in seeing patients that do arrive. Before implementing the system for this fee statewide, this bill seeks to make a limited test of the procedure to check for either good or bad results. Passed 28-8. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 54: This bill removes licensure requirements for family child-care homes (that are certified elsewhere in statute) that provide education programs and instruction for no more than 20 hours per week and which children attends no more than 16 hours per week. Passed 36-0. I voted yes.
February 19, 2014
House Bill 181: Comically known as the "bad egg" bill, this allows grocers to remove a cracked or damage egg from a dozen-egg package and still sell the remaining eggs rather than throw the whole package out. What a huge waste; something that we too often take for granted in the US where we are blessed with an over abundance. Passed 38-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 114: This bills makes changes to the dollar-amount classifications which are used to determine maximum charges that may be applied to a loan not exceeding $15,000, which is intended to result in simplifying the loan process for consumers. Passed 35-1. I voted yes.
House Bill 70: This bill, amended in the Senate Committee, allows citizens convicted of non-violent and non-sex-offense felonies, and who don't have multiple felony convictions, to have their voting rights restored after a five year waiting period following the term of their prison/parole sentence. It is important to note that the Governor is empowered to restore this right for any convicted felon, regardless of their record, and this bill does not change that authority. I agreed with the restriction on non-violent and non-sex-offense crimes and the waiting period. While I may be willing to have a shorter period than five years, I think the a waiting period is important to demonstrate that the person has truly turned a corner without having a parole officer or warden over their shoulder. Passed 34-4. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 119: This bill sets up medical review panels for all medical malpractice cases in Kentucky. The panels are made up of impartial doctors who practice in the area of medicine related to the complaint, that are also chosen by both parties to a case. The three doctor panel is intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits that increase the cost of medical care and tie up our court system dockets. I do, however, have a reservation about the bill: it is intended to prevent a greedy trial lawyer problem, but I'll be the first one to undo this if it creates a greedy doctor or greedy insurance company problem. Passed 23-13. I voted yes.
February 20, 2014
Senate Bill 66: This bill sets a standard for water patrol officers with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop a boater on the waterways of Kentucky. They must have a "reasonable and articulable suspicion" of criminal activity before they can stop someone, which puts them on the same level as peace officers everywhere else in the Commonwealth. Passed 35-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 98: Some version of this bill, the Adult Abuse Registry, has been filed for several years now, and I was the first Chairman to give it a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. Unfortunately, there was still too much disagreement with the structure and mechanics of the registry and the bill did not have enough support to pass committee. I asked the stakeholders and sponsor and others to get together over the interim to work out their differences. In short, they did exactly that. I gave the bill a hearing as soon as I could this year. This allows employers and prospective employees to verify the employee is not on the registry, and includes due process protections for those who have been accused of abusing, neglecting or assaulting our senior or developmental disability adult population, which is a tremendous improvement over the current process. As of now, someone found to have abused a patient in a nursing home and who gets fired could simply head to the next facility across town and no one would know (or be allowed to find out) that the employee had abused patients before. Thankfully, this bill fixes that. Passed 36-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 60: This allows those who hold a carry concealed deadly weapon permit to carry such a concealed weapon into businesses that primarily sell alcohol so long as the permit holder doesn't drink and the property owner hasn't forbidden carrying concealed weapons. The bill also allows the CCDW permit to be issued by a certified firearms instructor rather than the Department of Criminal Justice Training, which should reduce an unnecessary level of bureaucracy. Passed 30-4. I voted yes.
February 24, 2014
Senate Bill 23: This bill sets forth a compromise that changes how a moving company is approved for licensure in Kentucky. The change eliminates the ability for a single moving company to singlehandedly block the licensure of a potential competitor. Passed 34-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 65: Under this bill, mental health providers will be able to share records consistently with other healthcare providers, and brings Kentucky into compliance of federal healthcare regulations and statutes. Passed 35-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 116: As technology advancements continue to occur at a blinding pace, the need to stay on top of necessary policy changes must increase. This bill is related to patent or intellectual property rights, and provides protection for those who take a risk to innovate, create jobs and contribute to Kentucky's economy (more detail coming as I'm about to head to the Senate floor!) Passed 31-7. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 105: Newspaper carriers. Passed 30-8. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 82: Undersecretaries to the Gov's executive cabinet. Passed 23-15. I voted yes.
February 26, 2014
Senate Bill: 91: public utilities. Passed 35-0. I voted yes.
Senate Bill 129: reorganization of legal services within the Energy Cabinet. Passed 36-0. I voted yes.