Thoughts and prayers go out to our friends in Eastern Kentucky and elsewhere who have been without power for a week and counting.
Last week the legislative session was canceled entirely due to the weather here and around the state. What would have been a key week for official business has now evaporated into a few extra days stuffed into the last few weeks of the session.
I am thankful my heat and lights survived just fine, and it only took 30 minutes to dig my car out of the driveway for the town hall we had Saturday at Frankfort High School. What a fantastic, dedicated crowd showing up to park on slushy streets so they could be informed and engaged citizens! We will keep a running circuit of events going in every county year-round, so if you miss one, just keep your eyes peeled for the next one or visit a neighboring county’s location.
Last week was no light task, however. Absence of session gave me time to address several emerging issues. The biggest one is my agency reorganization bill, SB 159, which confirms an executive order by the governor with regard to offices and administration in Military Affairs.
Little did I know it would light up my phone and email with every law enforcement-related group in the state. Apparently the Crisis Response teams statewide were getting ready to be abolished with the stroke of a pen. Hours of Zooms, calls and research have put me back into the crosshairs of multi-agency negotiation.
What’s more exciting, concerns about mental health of our first responders is part of this discussion, and that is something I have been interested in for a long time, so digging into the details now will help me move the needle in the future.
Another big development is my open records bill, SB 201. It started off as a simple clarity of the law, due to the original filing deadline being upon us, although I had hoped to expand to a few more things as it moved. Since then, others have reached out about some of my very same concerns. We are making small but powerful changes.
The most important is specifying that email can be used for open records requests. Here it is 2021, and even the bill in 2019 attempting to add email fell flat. The law still only lists hand-delivery, snail mail or fax as the required methods for open records requests. Particularly in the COVID era of remote everything, this is ludicrous. I am happily adding email to my bill so that people statewide can receive appropriately timed service.
The next two weeks will be crammed with passing legislation from both the Senate and the House. The budget proposal should be rolling out soon as well, at which point we will have to comb for all necessary inclusions.
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