FRANKFORT – Every 10 years after each national census, Kentucky’s Constitution requires the State Legislature to realign our voting districts according to population. The Governor called the Legislature back into Special Session to accomplish just this. My district – Christian, Logan, and Todd counties – remains unchanged. The new plan in the Senate divides the minimum number of counties and no precincts. It is not a political map, no incumbents are drawn together, but one that was drawn based on constitutional requirements. Here they are:
Once the special session was called by the Governor, the Senate and House leadership cancelled all August interim meetings to offset costs. Since the Legislature was scheduled to be in Frankfort, my Judiciary Co-Chair, Rep. John Tilley, and I decided to make the most of the special session week and moved the Judiciary Committee and the Juvenile Code Task Force meetings to this week, in order to offset the cost of a Special Session.
The Judiciary Committee met where we had an animated discussion about the privacy concerns of using unmanned drones. Several legislators have pre-filed bills for the 2014 Session to define exactly what type of information can be gathered using this technology. We heard testimony from both law enforcement and the American Civil Liberties Union. Some unmanned planes are used to track weather such as the ones being developed as weather tracking drones through the University of Kentucky NASA Kentucky Space Grant and EPSCoR Programs. One day, these may allow scientists to know sooner when a tornado or earthquake will strike. No vote was held as this was a purely informational meeting. I will continue to monitor this important issue, and filed legislation as we head toward January.
The JCTF meeting heard valuable testimony about various youth services being deployed in the Commonwealth, each reporting positive but limited results. The most exciting part of the meeting was the first presentation by representatives from Pew Charitable Trusts. We heard about recent reform efforts across the country, like Georgia. Like Georgia, Kentucky is spending many millions of dollars to process, prosecute and penalize its youth. Services are duplicated and silos exist preventing information sharing. In too many cases, youth are started down a darker path, leading back to court or jail as an adult, perhaps many times over. In too many cases, parents are not held accountable or, when needed, are not given help they may need. I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't have a heart for Kentucky's youth, but the system we use to serve them must be improved. I have continued reaching out to teachers, prosecutors, school administrators, social workers; from agency heads to those caring professionals who meet and serve our children face to face. I invite you all to the table as we work to create meaningful, comprehensive reform for the benefit of Kentucky youth and families.
With the Governor’s signature on House Bill 1, the redistricting bill, this special session is now one for the history books. I will continue to attend committee meetings in Frankfort periodically as we review legislation in preparation for January. I can be reached through the Legislative Research Commission’s toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. You can also check the committee schedule and learn more about what the committees are doing at www.lrc.ky.gov. Follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, and bookmark this site for regular updates and blog posts about what's happening in Frankfort. Finally, you can always reach me by phone (Capitol: 502-564-8100 gets the switchboard, District: 270-885-7671), or by emailing me here - it comes straight to me!