Senator Wilson’s Frankfort Report
FRANKFORT – This was a very busy week in Frankfort with many visitors and lots of discussion on pending issues from both Chambers of the General Assembly.
On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 75, which addresses safety options for religious groups that operate horse-drawn buggies. I am proud of this legislation and the efforts made by fellow members and citizens from all over the Commonwealth. Kentucky has faced recent incidents of buggy-related accidents on roadways. This measure allows for one-inch reflective tape to be placed on buggies, versus the previous mandate of reflective triangles. This proposal is in compliance with certain religious beliefs, where prior laws were rejected by Amish communities. This is a win-win for all parties involved. Kentucky will no longer clog up the justice system with people who are simply following certain religious beliefs, while this new solution provides better safety than the current triangle, especially for nighttime travels.
Wednesday, Senate passed several education bills. Senate Bill 38, of which I co-sponsor and called the “career-pathways bill,” is a measure to seek at-risk students in high school by preparing them for careers that do not require a college degree. In conjunction with Senate Bill 109, a bill that would allow local school districts to adopt a policy requiring students to remain enrolled in school until age 18 or graduation, it will create the best chance for student success. Those districts wishing to change their compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 would be required to have an approved alternative education program in place, like the proposal of SB 38, to meet the needs of students at-risk for dropping out, starting with school year of 2014-2015. If we want to keep our students in school until they graduate, we need to make sure what goes on in the classroom is relevant. As co-sponsor, I believe this is the best proposal to address our high school drop-out epidemic, while providing a path of success for school districts and students.
Many students do not have opportunities to attend summer programs with the aim to maintain the past school year’s curriculum and to be better prepared for the year ahead. As sponsor of Senate Bill 95, my hope is to afford the opportunity to all students to attend summer learning camps which would include innovative instruction in core academic areas and enrichment activities.
I was also proud to sponsor Senate Bill 102, an informed consent bill that will ensure face-to-face meetings between a woman considering an abortion and her doctor. In the past, such counseling was often available in the form of a recorded message. SB 102 will require doctors to provide information at least 24 hours in advance prior to the abortion procedure to ensure the opportunity to get information directly from a medical professional and have the ability to ask questions. My hope is that this process will make women reconsider the life altering decision they are considering.
Congressional redistricting has also been a long drawn out process but today we passed a congressional map that keeps Warren County in the 2nd Congressional District with Brett Guthrie. Butler County will now move from the 1st Congressional District to be a part of the 2nd as well. Butler County has in the past been represented by Congressman Guthrie as a State Senator and now he will once again represent them as their U.S. Congressman.
Lastly, the Legislative Research Commission will appeal a circuit judge’s ruling on the constitutionality of the state legislature redistricting plan contained in House Bill 1. In the meantime, I am a resource to you for any questions on the status of redistricting.
If you would like to learn more about our work, you can check us on the World Wide Web at www.lrc.ky.gov. If you would like to leave a toll-free message for me, the number is 1-800-372-7181. A taped message of information on legislative committee meetings can be heard at 1-800-633-9650 and to check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835.
Senator Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) is the Vice Chairman of the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Education Committee, and the Transportation Committee. He represents the 32nd District including majority of Warren County.