COLUMN SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW: By Senator ROBIN L. WEBB

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FRANKFORT—The General Assembly returned to Frankfort for week three of the 2020 Regular Session after a prolonged weekend in observance of the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. I was honored to participate in the Ashland Martin Luther King Jr. program and walk.

Though it was a short legislative week, members in Frankfort continued meeting with stakeholders and discussing significant legislation as it makes
its way through the process. 

On Thursday, the twelfth day of this 60-day session, the Senate passed Senate Bill 2. This measure would require a voter to provide proof
of identification in order to cast a vote in a precinct polling place. Additionally, it removes the ability for precinct workers to confirm someone’s identity by personal acquaintance. The legislation, which the Republican Senate Majority deemed a “priority
bill,” is legislation that is a solution in search of a problem.

According to Secretary of State Michael Adams, who testified in favor of SB 2 at the Senate State and Local Government Committee, Kentucky
has no issues with in-person voter fraud. When questioned about any specific instances of in-person voter fraud, the Secretary of State said there were none. 

The process to obtain a birth certificate or photo ID is long and nearly impossible, especially in eastern Kentucky. This legislation does
nothing but put up roadblocks and restrict voting access. Additionally, the change also comes with a fiscal note of up to $3.6 million. For these reasons, I voted no. The bill passed 29-9 on a party line vote and will now head to the Senate floor for further
action.

Legislation that passed in the Senate this week includes:

  • SB 5requires that proposed tax increases in ad valorem taxes and certain fees and the levy of new AV taxes and fees by special purpose governmental entities be submitted to the local legislative body for review. I voted against this as it is designed to impact
    all Special Purpose Government Entities, formerly special districts, and could harm them. The bill passed 28-10.

 

  • SB 20prohibits certification or certification renewal of an assisted-living community if it is owned, managed, or operated by any person convicted of certain crimes or listed on an abuse list. The measure passed unanimously.
  • SB 38allows a court-appointed guardian or conservator to determine the disposition of remains after death if other alternatives have
    been exhausted. The bill passed 35-2.
  • SB 56restricts the sale and purchase of tobacco, alternative nicotine, or vapor products to individuals under the age of 21. This measure comes on the heels of federal legislation in 2019 that raised the federal minimum age of sale of these products from 18 to
    21 in 2019. The bill passed 28-10.
  • SB 66prohibits a person who has been criminally charged in the death of another from making decisions regarding the disposition of the decedent’s remains. The legislation passed 37-1.
  • SB 72bansprocedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons andfrom trafficking girls across state lines for Female Genital Mutilations (FGMs), and strip the licenses from medical providers convicted
    of the practice. SB 72 passed the Senate unanimously.

Legislation passed in the Senate this week has now been sent to the House of Representatives for further action.

During the fourth week of the 2020 Regular Session there will be a joint session with the House of Representatives, at which time Governor
Beshear will deliver his State Budget Address. Based on the Governor’s comments and articles released from his office, I anticipate his budget will be promising, specifically in regards to education. In his proposal, I hope to see new sources of revenue and
funding for vital services Kentuckians rely on.

However, his plan will not be the only proposal. The Republican-controlled House is also working on a budget, that once approved will come
to the Republican-controlled Senate. If we do not pass the House’s budget, the Senate will send the House one of our own. Typically the two chambers will compromise on solutions that they both can live with. I remain hopeful that my colleagues in the General
Assembly and I will be able to work with the Governor and draft a budget that meets our needs without harming the services and programs our citizens rely on.

As we hear the Governor’s prerogatives and work toward a balanced budget, we need one that restores faith in the pension system and protects
our public employees, schoolteachers, and retirees. I encourage you to stay engaged! You can follow our work in committees and stay updated on bills at our website at
www.legislature.ky.gov.

 

As always, you can stay in contactthroughout
the 2020 Regular Session in the following ways:

           
To
leave a message for any legislator, call the General Assembly’s
toll-free Message Line at 1-800-372-7181. People with hearing difficulties may leave messages for lawmakers by calling the Kentucky Relay Service at 711.

           
You
can write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s
name to Capitol Annex, 702 Capital Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-3448.

           
You
can also email me directly at Robin.Webb@LRC.KY.GOV.

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