Thursday, the 45th day of the legislative session, the House finally passed its budget bill. This leaves us in the Senate only 13 days to work on the budget, present it in a committee, and vote on a Senate version. Thirteen days, less than two weeks, and if we take 13, our power to veto is lost.
A multibillion-dollar budget that funds education, healthcare services, infrastructure, public safety and so many other critical public services deserves more scrutiny than thirteen days. It is unreasonable to leave us this small amount of time to review and make needed changes to the House budget bill. However, that is what we are left with, so we are obligated to make this work. If a passable budget is not attained, we will have to go into an Extraordinary Session, which can be frustrating for the citizens of Kentucky as well because of the extra cost attached.
As we study the House’s proposal, more information will come out regarding our response, priorities and review.
The Senate passed Senate Bill 159 this week, which would allow nonprofit mobile dental clinics to provide care in schools for uninsured and underinsured children, as well as those covered by Medicaid. Statistics show that 42 percent of children in Kentucky under the age of five show signs of advanced tooth decay. Expanding access to dental care fulfills a fundamental need and positively affects the general health, school attendance, self respect and future success of our children. The bill passed unanimously, and a similar outcome is hoped for in the House.
Senate Bill 124 would provide legal access to cannabidiol oil that is derived from the hemp plant and used to treat people with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Cannabidiol oil contains an extremely low level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), too low to produce any psychoactive or intoxicating effects. Studies have shown that the oil successfully aids children suffering from seizure disorders when administered orally. These children can have hundreds of seizures in one day in extreme cases. It is critical that every available medication be legally attainable for the families dealing with this debilitating condition. The bill passed the Senate Thursday with no opposition.
Senate Bill 108 also passed the Senate this week. The Act would provide that a person convicted of a felony offense of rape in which a child was born as a result of the offense shall lose parental rights with respect to that child; provide for an exception at the request of the mother; and, provide that a court shall impose an obligation of child support against the offender unless waived by the mother and, if applicable, a public agency supporting the child.
This week, committee meetings were lively as hot-button issues regarding waiver of missed school days, the issue of common core and medicinal cannabidiol oil were heard. Citizens attended in large numbers to the point that additional rooms were set up to accommodate the numbers. What a great sign of engagement in our democratic process.
As these important issues continue to be acted on, we wait for the hardest work before us, the biennial budget.
If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or toll free at 1-800-372-7181. I appreciate your time and input.