Legislative Update – February 2, 2018

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The workload has begun to increase in Frankfort this past week.  Committees have been hard at work, and bills are being passed in greater number.  More and more advocacy groups have begun to surface to champion causes that are important to them.

Part of the enjoyment of my job is hosting constituents from my district.  I was pleased to have meetings with several teachers from Fayette and Montgomery Counties, Superintendent Matt Thompson, Clark County Superintendent Paul Christie, Clark County PVA Karen Bushart, Clark County School Board President Scott Hisle, and members of the Alliance for Innovative Medicine to continue discussing scientific approaches to medical marijuana.  We also met with members of the 874K coalition who suffer from disabilities, and YMCA board members from central Kentucky.

I was also honored with an award presentation from the Nonprofit Network for my work on domestic violence legislation last year.  I was able to deliver a brief speech to statewide members of the Nonprofit Network to convey my appreciation for the vital work they perform in all 120 counties.  They truly are the backbone of our communities.

As a member of the Senate Appropriation & Revenue Committee, I have the extra responsibility of analyzing and formulating policy regarding the state budget.  It remains the General Assembly’s singular priority every two years, and we are committed to passing a fiscally responsible budget.   We continue to have many productive meetings as the budget continues to take shape.

In addition to holding budget meetings, the Senate has passed the following bills:

  • Senate Bill (SB) 12 designates May 1 of every year as “School Bus Driver Day” in Kentucky. Although they do not often receive the accolades they deserve, our school bus drivers are important components of our children’s school days. They are the first and last adults our children interact with in the school system every day, and we are so grateful for the work they do.

 

  • SB 35 aligns Kentucky labor laws for seasonal facilities with federal standards.

 

  • SB 37 directs the Transportation Cabinet to establish procedures allowing federal inmates on work release to obtain a driver’s license in order to better integrate into society. Measures such as SB 37 are important in both workforce development and criminal justice reform as we try to help inmates best prepare for reentry into the workforce. The bill passed the Senate unanimously.

 

  • SB 68 clarifies that a victim of domestic violence is not required to pay the legal fees of the abusive spouse in a divorce action when the spouse is jailed for crimes against the victim. During this bill’s committee hearing, we heard compelling testimony from survivors of domestic abuse who were forced to pay their abusive spouses’ legal fees. This bill also passed the Senate unanimously, and I was proud to support it.

 

  • SB 85 makes it easier for notaries public to change their names without having to undergo the certification process again.

 

  • SB 57 allows a person injured by an act of terrorism to file a claim for damages against the terrorist. It also establishes a crime of terrorism as a capital offense that will be punished by imprisonment for life without probation or parole and that a person convicted of terrorism cannot be released early. This bill puts in place protections for Kentuckians if there is ever a terror attack on our Commonwealth’s soil.

 

  • SB 72 prohibits the naming of state buildings, properties, programs, initiatives, highways, or bridges in honor of any living elected state official or state employee. This bill will help ensure that state elected officials and employees do not use their public positions for personal gain. The bill is not retroactive and will not affect already-named structures. I proudly cosponsored this bill.

 

We wrapped up the week on Friday wearing blue and orange to support Marshall County High School to show that we are #MarshallStrong. We continue to pray for all those affected, especially the citizens of Marshall County; they remain in our hearts as we continue our work in Frankfort.

Please feel free to call me about this or any other public policy issue toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at ralph.alvarado@lrc.ky.gov.  You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

Please note: Much of this update was crafted with help from my communications staff. I have personally reviewed its content and selected information that I knew you would find valuable. I also added a few personal touches throughout to give you a feel for my Frankfort experience. Some weeks, I will have more time to write than others, but I will always personally review and amend the updates to make sure District 28 is informed about my role in Frankfort.