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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE By State Representative C.B. Embry, Jr.

General Assembly Entering Home Stretch of 2012 Session

This past week’s warm temperatures are a sign that we are entering the Spring season, and it’s also a sign that the Kentucky General Assembly is entering the home stretch of the 2012 Legislative Session.  With the majority of budget bills now in the Senate, the House focused this past week on several key bills.

House Bill 481, which continues the fight in Kentucky against the sale of synthetic drugs, was approved by the full House of Representatives.  During the 2011 Legislative Session we passed legislation into law that banned the sale of so-called “bath salts.”  House Bill 481 expands the ban on synthetic drugs to include synthetic forms of marijuana sold in shops under product names like ‘Spice’ and ‘Scooby Snacks.’

Synthetic drugs are a great danger to our communities and especially our young people.  I am a proud co-sponsor of House Bill 481 due to the fact that two young people living in our district recently died as a result of using synthetic marijuana.  It is essential that we as legislators and those in law enforcement stay one step ahead of those who make and distribute synthetic drugs.

While the general operating budget bill has moved on to the Senate, we did approve the proposed two-year spending plan for Kentucky’s transportation system in the full House on Friday.  Unlike recent monthly revenue reports on our general fund, Kentucky’s road fund has been doing well, up so far at a rate of 7.5 percent from the beginning of the current fiscal year.  Even with that growth, there is little money available in our road fund to fund the multitude of projects in our six-year road plan and at the same time provide upkeep and maintenance of the more than 27,000 miles of highway and bridges currently in the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure.

One bill that won’t be voted on this year is House Bill 26, which would establish a random drug screening system for Kentuckians who receive some form of public assistance.  This bill was heard but not voted upon in the House Health and Welfare Committee because the committee chairman is personally opposed to the proposal despite the fact it has 64 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

 Whether you agree or disagree on the idea of random drug screenings for those on public assistance, it is simply wrong for one person to determine whether or not a bill receives a vote in committee or on the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives.  We are all elected to serve roughly the same number of people, and it is imperative that all voices be heard when it comes to proposed legislation.

 As always, I welcome your comments and concerns for the upcoming session. I can be reached at home at (270) 526-6237, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181.  A taped message containing information on legislative committee meeting schedules is available by calling 1-800-633-9650, and information on the status of each bill is available by calling 1-866-840-2835.  If you have Internet access, I can be reached at [email protected], or you may keep track of legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.

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