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Senate discusses Bible class as an elective

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By Jimmy Higdon

The State Senate dealt with a wide-ranging legislation this week addressing issues such as teaching the Bible in schools, cutting red-tape for businesses, reducing jail costs for counties, and helping severely emotionally-challenged children.

The United States' legal system is based, in part, on the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Bible is a rich source of history, sociology, and literature. Senate Bill 142 requires the Department of Education to formulate guidelines for public schools to teach the Bible as an elective social studies course.

Senate Bills 150 and 151 clear up some of the ambiguity in state law regarding corporations. While Senate Bill 150 makes corporate liability uniform, Senate Bill 151 standardizes the filing process for those corporate entities with the Secretary of State's office. These bills streamline regulations for businesses to help make Kentucky a more business-friendly state.

Senate Bill 84 allows jails to utilize the most economical pharmacy services whether they be the Department of Corrections' pharmacy services plan or another vendor that provides coverage in an equal or superior manner that is equal to or less in total cost. In this way, jails are able to take advantage of a less expensive local service saving tax-payers' dollars. All of the above Senate bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

House Bill 231 will help children with severe psychiatric disorders who must now be treated out of state because of a lack of options in Kentucky to return home. The bill creates a licensure process for a new level of licensed psychiatric residential treatment facilities for special-needs Kentucky children now being cared for in states as far away as Utah and Texas.

Finally, we also passed legislation to aid service members returning home from the front. House Bill 19 allows returning military personnel up to one year to renew their concealed-carry permit upon returning home from deployment. There are many deadlines we civilians take for granted, like renewing a driver's license. It's much more difficult to meet those deadlines when deployed overseas for a lengthy period of time, so HB 19 gives these heroes extra time to get their affairs in order when they return home. In addition, the bill allows them to renew their permit via mail, if possible, and then receive their new permit at their duty station rather than at their home. It's a small convenience but an important one for those who serve our nation so honorably. Both these House bills now go to the Governor for his signature.

The House of Representatives is still hashing out the details of their budget proposal and do not expect to vote it out to us for another two weeks. However, Senate Leadership has been kept informed of the various proposals and ideas and our Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee chairman has been working closely with his House counterpart. There is strong agreement that state government must share in the sacrifice with the private sector. Over the last four years, tax revenue has decreased by .4 percent while state expenditures have increased by 6.4 percent. It is obvious that the state confronts a spending problem, not a revenue one and that is how both Republicans and Democrats seem to be approaching the issue.

Please feel free to call me toll-free message lines on 1-800-372-7181 or TTY 1-800-896-0305 with any questions, issues, or concerns. You are welcome to call me at home at 270-692-6945. Also, you can visit www.lrc.state.ky.us for more information on pending legislation and the General Assembly.