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Ky Senate Week In Review: 04/01/2013

KY State Capitol

FRANKFORT – With the fall of the chair’s gavel at midnight Tuesday, the 2013 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly entered the history books. Every session goes out with such a gavel’s bang. But few echo across the Commonwealth so resonantly, after such a long and lingering winter’s hard work, as this one.

Since the session’s start in early January, lawmakers have approved measures to allow school districts to raise the high school dropout age, provide better oversight of special taxing districts and make the absentee voting process easier for Kentuckians serving overseas in the military.

Most new laws – all that don’t come from legislation with emergency clauses or different specified effective dates – will go into effect in 90 days.

Bills approved this year by the General Assembly include measures on the following topics:

Child protection. House Bill 290 will establish by statute an independent review panel to investigate cases of child deaths and near-fatal injuries. The panel will be given access to complete records of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as well as information from law enforcement and other agencies involved in the cases.

Crime. Senate Bill 15, named the Bryan Durman Act in honor of a Lexington police officer who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2010, will ensure that a person convicted of criminal homicide in the killing of a police or firefighter on duty doesn’t become eligible for probation or parole until 85 percent of a sentence is served.

DNA testing. HB 41 will allow some felony offenders in prison or under state supervision to request testing and analysis of their DNA as case evidence.

Hemp. SB 50 creates an administrative framework for the growing of hemp in Kentucky if the crop is legalized by the federal government.

Human trafficking. HB 3 will strengthen human trafficking laws while protecting victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit. The legislation will offer assistance to agencies responsible for helping human trafficking victims by creating a “human trafficking victims fund” supported by service fees paid by convicted human traffickers, proceeds from seized and forfeited assets of traffickers, and any grants, contributions, or other funds that may become available.

 

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Session calendar changed; General Assembly to reconvene Monday

Session calendar changed; General Assembly to reconvene MondayFrankfort - State lawmakers will not convene in session today as a result of a change in the 2013 Regular Session Calendar agreed to by legislative leaders.

Under the newly revised calendar, the General Assembly’s chambers will convene two days next week – March 11 and 12. (The convening time for the Senate and House is 10 a.m. on March 11.)

The veto recess – the period of time when lawmakers return to their home districts to wait for potential gubernatorial vetoes – will be held from March 13-23. Lawmakers are scheduled to return to the Capitol on March 25 and 26 for the final two days of the 2013 legislative session.

A copy of the revised Regular Session Calendar can be viewed online at http://www.lrc.ky.gov/sch_vist/13RS_calendar.pdf.

Ky Senate Week In Review: 03/01/2013

With more than two-thirds of the 2013 Regular Session behind us, lawmakers scrambled this week to move bills closer to the finish line before the Constitutionally imposed 30-working-day limit.FRANKFORT – With more than two-thirds of the 2013 Regular Session behind us, lawmakers scrambled this week to move bills closer to the finish line before the Constitutionally imposed 30-working-day limit.

An important priority of the Senate, the Uniform Military and Overseas Voter Act, designated as Senate Bill 1, earned our unanimous approval this week. The bill would simplify the absentee voting process for Kentuckians serving overseas. It is imperative that the men and women sacrificing so much to protect our rights be given every opportunity to express their most precious civic right – the right to vote.

Even with the best efforts of county clerks and military election officials, completing an absentee ballot while deployed abroad is a long, laborious process. According to our Secretary of State, a sadly significant number of these ballots are lost, late or invalid for various reasons. 

SB 1 would allow members of the armed forces, their spouses and others serving overseas to register to vote, and to request and receive an absentee ballot, electronically. This would dramatically modernize and streamline the process. 

The bill would still require completed written ballots be returned via traditional postal mail or another delivery service.  I supported this bill even though the option for electronic voting was removed before it got to the Senate floor.  I hope when this bill goes to the House, that Chamber includes the provision to allow our military members overseas to return their ballots electronically.  Twenty-four states already permit military and overseas voters to return ballots via e-mail or other electronic transmission system.  I think Kentucky needs to be the 25th.  This is the least that we can do for our men and women in uniform.

Read more: Ky Senate Week In Review: 03/01/2013

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