The 2014 legislative session adjourned on midnight April 15. The session produced measures that will affect economic development, appropriate funds for state government for the next two years, public health, safety and education. Of course, as with every session, there were measures that did not succeed that, from our perspective, would have benefited the state.
There were successes this session, which include passing a fiscally responsible budget with less debt ratio and structural imbalance than those proposed by the House of Representatives and the governor. We may end up seeing some things that were not apparent in the time we had to work on the budget, but overall, Kentucky will operate with sufficient funding for the next two fiscal years.
Additionally, we passed important health-related measures that will have positive effects on the well-being and medical needs of our citizens.
We banned e-cigarettes for our minors and created an adult abuse registry for the safety of our adults in assisted living. We made medication more accessible by relaxing red tape for Physician Assistants and our Nurse Practitioners and making eye drops that treat glaucoma more available for children in child care and school. We also passed a bill to broaden access to dental care for children who otherwise can’t afford it.
Education benefited this session as well. Legislation expanded preschool, increased per-pupil funding for elementary and secondary schools, and authorized capital construction projects on many college campuses across the state.
Several bills were approved to protect vulnerable and victimized citizens and expand medical training for doctors regarding pediatric abusive head trauma with House Bill 157. Senate Bill 108 passed late on the 15th and terminates parental rights of convicted rapists when a child is conceived as an act of the rape. With the passage of HB 128, anyone granted an emergency protective or domestic violence order can apply for and receive a provisional concealed carry weapons permit in one business day after undergoing a background check.
Also, we passed Senate Bill 200 to reform our juvenile justice system. The result of months of dedicated work by a Unified Juvenile Code Task Force, the measure will strengthen evidence-based early intervention programs and services provided to young offenders. The bill went through many revisions and is expected to both improve outcomes and potentially save millions of dollars.
We also sought to provide an economic and employment boost to the state through an angel investor tax credit and “new markets” tax credit included in HB 445. With the passage of HB 396, we also expanded eligibility for the Kentucky Jobs Retention Act benefits to include appliance manufacturers.
The interim period begins in a few weeks. You can see the schedule of events during the interim at www.lrc.ky.gov.