Most new laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly's 2021 session will go into effect on June 29.
The Kentucky Constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature unless they have a special effective date, are general appropriations measures, or include an emergency clause that makes them effective immediately upon becoming law. Final adjournment of the 2021 Regular Session occurred on March 30, making June 29 the effective date for most bills.
Laws taking effect that day include measures on the following topics:
Adoption: House Bill 210 will ensure that employers offer parents adopting a child under the age of 10 the same amount of time off as birth parents.
Asthma: Senate Bill 127 encourages schools to keep bronchodilator rescue inhalers in at least two locations and will require schools with inhalers to have policies regarding their use.
Child and new mother fatalities: House Bill 212 will require data in an annual state report on fatalities among children and new mothers to include information on demographics, race, income and geography associated with the fatalities.
Child protection: House Bill 254 will raise the penalty for possession or viewing of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor under the age of 12 years to a Class C felony. It will also raise the penalty for the distribution of matter portraying a sexual performance of a minor under the age of 12 years to a Class C felony for the first offense and a Class B felony for each subsequent offense.
Child support: House Bill 402 will revise child support laws to increase the amount considered flagrant nonsupport from $1,000 to $5,000.
Education: House Bill 563 will give families more options when deciding where to send kids to school and will assist families with the cost of educational expenses. The bill will allow the use of education opportunity accounts, a type of scholarship, for students to attend out-of-district public schools or obtain educational materials and supplies. For students in some of the state’s largest counties, the scholarship funds could be used for private school tuition. Individuals or businesses who donate to organizations that issue education opportunity accounts will be eligible for a tax credit. The legislation will also require a board of education to adopt a nonresident pupil policy by July 1, 2022, to govern terms under which the district allows enrollment of nonresident pupils and includes those pupils in calculating the district’s state funding.
Elections: House Bill 574 will make permanent some of the election procedures implemented last year to accommodate voting during the pandemic. The measure will offer Kentuckians three days — including a Saturday — leading up to an election day for early, in-person voting. It will allow county clerks to continue to offer ballot drop boxes for those who do not wish to send their ballots back by mail. It will also counties to offer voting centers where any registered voter in the county could vote.
Ethics: Senate Bill 6 will create standards for ethical conduct for transition team members of all newly elected statewide officeholders. The standards include identifying any team member who is or has been a lobbyist. It will require disclosure of current employment, board member appointments and any non-state sources of money received for their services. It will also prohibit the receipt of nonpublic information that could benefit a transition team member financially.
Illegal dumping: Senate Bill 86 will designate 100 percent of a new open dumping fine to be paid to the county where the violation occurred.
Inmate care: Senate Bill 84 will ban jails, penitentiaries, local and state correctional facilities, residential centers and reentry centers from placing inmates who are pregnant or within the immediate postpartum period in restrictive housing, administrative segregation, or solitary confinement. It will grant an inmate who gives birth 72 hours with a newborn before returning to the correctional facility and will offer six weeks of postpartum care. It also mandates that incarcerated pregnant women have access to social workers and any community-based programs to facilitate the placement and possible reunification of their child.
Kentucky-grown products: Senate Bill 102 will include Asian Carp, paddlefish, or sturgeon in the definition of "Kentucky-grown agricultural product".
Late fees: House Bill 272 will allow water districts to impose a 10 percent late fee and cut off service for nonpayment of bills. Customers who receive financial assistance for their bills are exempt.
Livestock: House Bill 229 will make someone guilty of criminal mischief for intentionally or wantonly causing damage to livestock.
Living organ donors: House Bill 75 will prohibit certain insurance coverage determinations based upon the status of an individual as a living organ donor. It will also encourage the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop educational materials relating to living organ donation.
Medicaid: Senate Bill 55 will prohibit copays for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Newborn safety: House Bill 155 will allow the use of a "newborn safety device" when a newborn is being anonymously surrendered by a parent at a participating staffed police station, fire station, or hospital. The device allows a parent surrendering an infant to do so safely using a receptacle that triggers an alarm once a newborn is placed inside so that medical care providers can immediately respond and provide care to the child.
Police standards: Senate Bill 80 will strengthen the police decertification process by expanding the number of acts considered professional wrongdoing. Such acts include unjustified use of excessive or deadly force and engaging in a sexual relationship with a victim. The bill also will require an officer to intervene when another officer is engaging in the use of unlawful and unjustified excessive or deadly force. It will also set up a system for an officer’s automatic decertification under certain circumstances and will prevent an officer from avoiding decertification by resigning before an internal investigation is complete.
Public records: House Bill 312 will revise the states open records laws. It will limit the ability of people who do not live, work or conduct business in Kentucky to obtain records through open records laws. These restrictions do not apply to out-of-state journalists. The legislation specifies that open records requests can be made via email. It also calls for a standardized form to be developed for open records request but does not require its use. It will allow the legislative branch to make final decisions that can’t be appealed regarding decisions on open records requests it receives. The bill will allow government agencies up to five days to respond to open records requests.
Sexual abuse: Senate Bill 52 will amend third-degree rape, third-degree sodomy and second-degree sexual abuse statutes so law enforcement officers could be charged with those crimes if they engage in sexual acts with a person under investigation, in custody or under arrest.
Theft: House Bill 126 will increase the threshold of felony theft from $500 to $1,000. It will also allow law enforcement to charge members of organized shoplifting rings with a felony if a member steals a total of $1,000 worth of merchandise over 90 days.
U.S. Senators: Senate Bill 228 will change the way vacancies are filled for a U.S. senator from Kentucky. The bill will require the governor to select a replacement from a list of three nominees selected by the same political party of the departing senator.
Worker safety regulations: House Bill 475 will prohibit, starting on July 1, the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board from adopting or enforcing occupational safety and health administrative regulations that are more stringent than the corresponding federal provisions.