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Legislative committees were hard at work this week approving many bills that then moved to the Senate floor for consideration by the full body.
Senate Bill 41, which I have now sponsored two years in a row, encourages civic engagement in all citizens. The bill allows Independent voters to vote in either the Democratic or Republican Party primaries. To assure integrity in the process, if you are an independent, you must be registered no later than Dec. 31 immediately preceding the primary. This is the same date a voter can switch parties; which assures that those voters are committed independents, and are not doing something to inappropriately influence the primary of a party in bad faith.
The passage of Senate Bill 2 will have the most impact on the types of services state government provides. Kentucky’s billions of dollars in unfunded liability in our state employee retirement system puts ever-increasing pressure on your already stretched tax dollars. While the legislature has funded the state pension system as much as the Governor has requested every budget cycle, the nature of the current system is one that will likely bankrupt the state in the not-so-distant future. SB 2 stabilizes the state employee retirement system and protects the tax-payer by moving new hires to a 401(k)-style plan for future state employees and legislators. Over the next 10 years, these changes will save local governments over $1.1 billion. This move is fair to the taxpayer and helps us keep our commitment to both current workers and retirees without affecting teachers.
Senate Bill 56 directs high schools to offer nondenominational Bible classes on an elective basis. So much of our cultural, legal, and literary heritage is from the Bible that offering these lessons can only help create well-rounded students.
Diabetes is one of the top diseases Kentuckians battle. With Senate Bill 63, the appropriate state government agencies will work together to identify goals and benchmarks to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Kentucky. This will mark the first time a collaborative and comprehensive plan will be developed.
All these bills as well as others we passed will now move to the House of Representatives for their consideration. If you feel strongly about these or other issues, please do not hesitate to call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or TTY 1-800-896-0305. You can also reach me at home at (270) 692-6945. You can also follow legislative meetings via the Internet at www.lrc.state.ky.us.