FRANKFORT – Legislative committee rooms lack the grandeur of the historic Senate and House chambers. But those modest rooms often reveal the first, close-up glimpse of the big issues that will later take center stage in the State Capitol.
Committee discussions often show which legislative issues have momentum, which are in for a tough ride, which issues will highlight differences among individuals and which will bring disparate factions together in support of a bill.
In the just-concluded second week the 2016 General Assembly, a number of bills were voted out of Senate and House committees and a few were voted on in full chambers by week’s end. Bills that took steps forward this week include the following:
– House Bill 40 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee early in the week and passed the House later in the week on an 80-11 vote. The bill would allow the courts to seal the felony records of up to 94,000 Kentuckians. The proposal would allow many Class D felons and those who were never formally accused or convicted of a Class D felony to have their records expunged, removing the records from public view.
– Senate Bill 9 would exempt school and university construction projects of $250,000 or more from the state’s prevailing wage laws. The bill would cover the construction of school dormitories, administration buildings, sport facilities, parking facilities, and health facilities.
– House Bill 115 would expand eligibility for screenings under the state’s Colon Cancer Screening Program to uninsured Kentuckians between the ages of 50-64 or uninsured persons deemed at high risk for the disease. Eligibility would be based on current American Cancer Society screening guidelines. The bill was approved by the House Health and Welfare Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.
– Senate Bill 11, which would make a host of changes to the state’s 1930s-era alcohol laws, came to a vote in a Senate committee this week as well as the full chamber, which approved the measure on a 29-8 vote. The omnibus bill would raise the amount of packaged alcohol that could be sold at distilleries to nine liters from the current three liters. It would also increase the size of samples handed out at distilleries to 1.5 ounces from the current 1 ounce. The measure is meant to promote “bourbon tourism.”
– Senate Bill 12 would allow liquor sales at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta before 1 p.m. on Sundays. After receiving approval from a Senate committee, the bill passed the Senate on an 28-8-1 vote.
This is a key time for citizens to stay in touch with lawmakers and share views on the issues that will be voted on in the days to come. To offer your feedback, please call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. People with hearing difficulties may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the TTY Message Line at 1-800-896-0305.