Senate Update - March 23rd - Angel - Louisville Metro Democratic Party






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Senate Update - March 23rd - Angel

Recession ImprovingFRANKFORT – The Commonwealth’s two-year budget plan continued to dominate much of the Senate’s attention this week. 

This is the most important work of any even-year 60-day legislative session as well as the most time-consuming. Arriving at a two-year spending plan the Senate, House and Governor can all sign off on is never a simple task. But this year -- after five years of an ailing economy and the end of the federal stimulus money we used to patch together a balanced budget during the worst recession in memory -- it seems even more daunting.

There is some good news out there. State revenues are finally rebounding from the economic downturn that began in 2007. That is welcome news, yes, but it still only puts us back at pre-recession revenue levels. And, in those intervening years, just as your household expenses have increased, so has the cost of programs and services funded by the State. 

We are left with a shortfall of more than $700 million and the stark reality that agencies and programs having already endured 10 rounds of cuts, face even more cuts in the next budget cycle. Most, with the exception of a few critical areas such as Medicaid, and base funding for public schools, would endure another 8.4 percent in cuts over the next two years. 

We protected education as well as we could. Under the latest version of the plan, our public universities and Education Cabinet were spared the full impact of the 8.4 percent cut.  The Senate added provisions to provide relief for school districts impacted by the recent tornadoes, including additional disaster days, and a special process to calculate SEEK funding for 2012-2013. Even with a tight budget, members of the General Assembly feel it is important to help our storm-ravaged communities to get back on track.

Legislative and judicial branches of government, not included in the $19.5 billion executive branch budget, will face the full 8.4 percent cut, as well.

 More money was eked out in a few essential areas, including social services, in response to frontline workers’ overwhelming caseloads. We also provided additional funding for transitional living for developmentally disabled Kentuckians. Even in the dire situation we are in, we must ensure that our most vulnerable citizens are protected.

While our bleak financial situation squelches any substantial hope that major funding changes will occur in the budget plan, it is important to keep in mind that the details are not yet final.  They will not be until a conference committee, comprised of members of both chambers, iron out the differences in each of their plans.

We are hopeful the final version of the budget will reflect a responsible level of debt and carry us through the next two years, to a better economy where Kentuckians are back at work and businesses big and small are thriving.

We also considered other important legislation this week, as well.

We unanimously passed House Bill 390, in an effort to decrease the theft of items containing copper or other valuable metals. The measure forbids cash payments by metal recyclers for items – too often stolen -- such as catalytic converters and copper parts from air conditioning units.  It requires that payment be made in the form of a mailed check the day following the purchase.

Under the provisions of the bill, secondary metal recyclers would also have to register with the State and undergo a background check. The bill also establishes misdemeanor and felony crimes relating to the destruction of property for the intent of stealing valuable metals. We hope this will help prevent homeowners, churches, builders, and others from dealing with vandalized and damaged property stripped by thieves of valuable metals -- a growing problem that has already plagued many Kentuckians.

We passed House Concurrent Resolution 129 that establishes a task force to study our juvenile code that dates to the mid-1980s. The task force, which would be comprised of judges, lawyers and other juvenile justice officials, would study issues ranging from status offenders, to the use of community resources, to the feasibility of establishing an age of criminal responsibility. The task force would report to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary and LRC no later than January 7, 2013.

The following is a list of legislation that I have filed as the primary sponsor and the status of those bills: 

  • SB 36 -- Relating to missing children.  Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair is Senator Tom Jensen.
  • SB 37 – Relating to fingerprint background checks of long-term care employees.  Assigned to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Chair is Senator Julie Denton.
  • SB 39 – Relating to school collection of data on body mass index, height, and weight.  Assigned to the Senate Education Committee, Chair is Senator Ken Winters.
  • SB 44 – Relating to dating violence.  Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair is Senator Tom Jensen.  A mirror image of SB 44 – House Bill 498 – passed the House and has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  I urge you to contact Chairman Jensen and ask him to hear HB 498. 
  • SB 93 – Relating to brain impaired missing persons.  This bill has been placed on the Senate Consent Calendar.
  • SB 104 – Relating to the protection of adults – an adult abuse registry. Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chair is Senator Tom Jenson.
  • SB 128 – Relating to the imposition of tolls or fees on existing federal interstate highways. Assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee, Chair is Senator Ernie Harris.
  • SB 156 – Relating to collective bargaining rights for police and firefighters in second class cities. Assigned to the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, Chair is Senator Bob Leeper.

If you support my legislation, you can assist me in getting these bills moving by calling the chairman of the respective committees to ask that a committee hearing be given.  

With only a few more working days remaining, the session is quickly winding down.  There is still time, though, for important measures – such as those addressing substance-abuse issues – to become law. I encourage you to take this opportunity to have your voice heard in this legislative session.

To learn more about the Kentucky General Assembly and the work of the 2012 Regular Session, visit our home page, www.lrc.ky.gov

You can also call 1-800-633-9650 for a taped message containing information on legislative committee meetings. 

To check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835.  To leave a message for me, or any legislator, call the General Assembly’s toll-free Message Line at 1-800-372-7181.

People who prefer to offer their feedback in Spanish can call the General Assembly’s Spanish Line at 1-866-840-6574.You may also e-mail me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Senator Harper Angel represents the 35th Senate District in Jefferson County.

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