Time flies, the old saying goes. Last week was pushing a load of Senate bills on to the House. We must work quickly, given the few number of days left, to comb through all the House bills that are coming in and get them through hearings this week.
On the floor last week, we passed two of our largest items. SB 7 would forgive unemployment overpayments. The mess of our unemployment system certainly should not be laid on the backs of people who used it in time of need.
I added an important amendment to cover the unemployment appeals process: Currently, one has 15 days total, including postal delivery time both receiving and sending, to file an appeal. By the time the mail comes and goes, half the time is over. If you contact an attorney, and they get back a few days later, the time is up and you lose your money.
I changed it to 30 days, which still is a very short timeframe, but it will allow some space to get counsel and make decisions.
SB 4 modifies laws around the warrant process, severely restricting no-knocks and punishing misleading statements or “judge shopping.” Some observers of the process were surprised that all the passion demonstrated in the floor “debate” was on the same side. SB 4 passed unanimously, and I think it is a superbly crafted piece of legislation. It is rare to get such great support without the need for politics or persuasion.
A few of the other items we passed eliminated co-pays for Medicaid (SB 55), added law enforcement to the list of officials who are punished for sexual acts with those under their control or custody (SB 52), and allowed drinks to be sold under certain circumstances with carryout or delivery meals (SB 67).
I presented three of my bills in committee last week. SB 82 would prevent discrimination of dog breeds, but it failed to pass.
SB 159 starts a reorganization process to get our mental health crisis response teams back on track administratively. Our first responders are doing most of the field work, but the support and training has fallen off.
SB 201 moves us into the 21st century by requiring email as a method of making an open records request, along with a few other small but important adjustments to open records accessibility. I’m happy to report this passed unanimously.
We will continue this week to do heavy lifting in every committee as well as long days on the floor to push everything through toward the finish line. Next week we will revisit the budget situation and work toward final decisions.
Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, is 7th District senator representing Franklin, Anderson, Gallatin, Owen and Woodford counties. She can be reached at Adrienne.Southworth@lrc.ky.gov