Between sessions, legislative work continues

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By Jimmy Higdon

As you may know, the interim is in full swing with committees continuing to meet to study new issues and to review the progress of newly enacted laws. These committees are made up of both Senate and House members and are known as Interim Joint Committees. I chair the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation. I serve on nine other committees and task forces that tackle issues ranging from to energy to education to health and welfare to economic development and tourism, among others.
This week, the Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection heard from Judge David Holton about the Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court (JCVTC). This specialty court is the first in the state dedicated to serving veterans who are charged with a non-violent crime. Many veterans who have served in combat situations suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury and other mental illnesses. Often, they will self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, which results in problems that can easily lead them into the justice system. This rigorous four-phased treatment program puts them back on path to leading healthy and productive lives. We need courts like this one across the commonwealth to provide compassionate and effective help for those who have put their lives on the line for our country.
The committee also received an update on each of the state’s long-term care facilities for veterans, which provide nursing and medical assistance, physical therapy, nutritional support, spiritual counseling and more. Also, we heard from Col. David Thompson with the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs on their ongoing efforts to grow and strengthen the military’s presence in our state.  Currently, the military is by far the state’s largest employer, spending over $15.3 billion in 2011 - a significant benefit to our economy.
Interim committee meetings take place both in Frankfort and around the state, as we try to bring our work to more citizens. This week, the Joint Committee on Licensing and Occupations met at the Kentucky Horse Park. We heard from Executive Director John Nicholson about the park’s strategy to lessen and eventually eliminate its dependence on state funding. I was happy to learn more about their plans to boost operating revenue at this scenic go-to spot for major horse events.
Please feel free to call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or my home at (270) 692-6945 with any issues or concerns. I will continue to update you periodically on what’s going on in Frankfort. In the meantime, I hope you and your families are enjoying the start of summer.