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It was a hectic and busy week in Frankfort as we worked through the challenges of the House and Senate redistricting plans. We are hopeful that this will be resolved soon so that we can dedicate our full attention to budget issues and important legislation needed to move Kentucky forward.
House Bill 350 was filed this week to strengthen Kentucky’s human trafficking laws. The “Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act” would address the rising incidence of crimes against children by targeting individuals who exploit children for sexual purposes with increased penalties and prison sentences. The bill would make it a crime to force a worker, through threats or other methods, to work without paying all of the worker’s wages and requires the employer to pay back the victim/worker any wages owed with interest. The legislation would also provide better training for victims, advocates and law enforcement to recognize signs of human and child trafficking to take action more quickly.
HB 246 passed the House by a vote of 94-0. The legislation builds upon Kentucky’s energy policy that has made the commonwealth a national leader on energy issues. Specifically, HB 246 would expand state incentives to Kentucky facilities that manufacture components used to build energy technologies, which will help the Commonwealth continue to grow jobs and its economy. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
HB 255 - also known as the “Kentucky Green Schools Initiative” - got the green light from the House Education Committee by a unanimous vote. HB 255 would promote Kentucky’s goals of achieving maximized energy efficiency and conservation in the public and private sectors through several initiatives. It would establish the Kentucky Green Schools Authority to assist school districts with financing guaranteed energy savings performance contracts. It would direct the Department for Energy Development and Independence to provide schools, local governments, and others with technical assistance and advice regarding energy efficiency and methods to maximize savings.
And HB 255 would allow cities, counties, and other entities to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds to benefit small to medium-sized manufacturers that wish to increase the efficiency of their facilities through guaranteed energy savings performance contracts.
Another measure to encourage school systems to be more environmentally friendly passed the House. HB 146 establishes the “Green Cleaning Schools Act” and encourages school districts to use a specific list of recommended cleaning products, procedures, staff training, and policies. It would direct the Kentucky Department of Education, with assistance from the Department for Environmental Protection and the Kentucky Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, to distribute that product availability list to school districts across the commonwealth. HB 146 passed the House 92-4.
HB 69 works to identify and provide early intervention for children who have difficulty with learning or behavior. The legislation calls for screening children in grades K-3. The bill also allows Kentucky to adopt additional definitions, which have existed in federal law for decades. Adding definitions like dyslexia will allow parents and schools to have a better understanding of those who have difficulties in subjects like reading and math. HB 69 passed in the House, 98-0.
With less than six weeks remaining in the 2012 legislative session, we can look forward to an even greater level of activity as meetings on the budget, legislation and issues impacting Kentucky advance.
You can stay informed on bills by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835. To find out when a committee meeting is scheduled, you can call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 1-800-633-9650.
It is an honor to represent you in Frankfort.