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We have reached the half-way point of the 2012 General Assembly Session. There are daily committee meetings, policy briefings, visits from constituents, and meetings with various advocacy groups.
Early last week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 103 in a bipartisan vote that will require a doctor performing an abortion to first perform an ultrasound (which is done anyway) so that the woman may view it, if she wishes. The woman will not be forced to look at the picture. However, it is important, as with any medical procedure, for the woman to have the fullest information possible. It can also be hoped that the mother will have the opportunity to perhaps reconsider her decision.
In addition, we passed House Bill 121 that will require all POW flags sold in Kentucky to be made in the United States. These flags represent our men and women who gave up a portion of their lives, undergoing mistreatment and worse, in defense of America. It is only correct that these symbols be made with American labor.
I would like to give you an update on some of the other major issues being discussed in Frankfort. As many of you have heard, Senate Bill 151, the casino bill, was introduced last week. It would provide for up to seven full casinos around Kentucky, some at horse-tracks, others free-standing. It would give monopolies of the licenses free to the horse tracks. There is no other state that gives constitutional protection to a private company. Some note that any revenue would go to vague and general purposes such as job creation, education, social services, and the horse industry. We don't know how much or exactly for what precise purpose. The lottery was supposed to go to education as well, as you may recall. The constitutional amendment is being heard next week in committee. I will keep you posted on the evolving events.
Also this week, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee heard again from the Medicaid managed care companies. We are getting flooded with phone calls, emails, and messages from both providers and patients with legitimate complaints of late payments and delayed authorizations, often for procedures that should be routine. In one incredible case, a woman in labor arrived at the hospital and the managed care organization required a pre-authorization before reimbursing. Fourteen days later with both mom and baby safe at home, the company still hadn't authorized the birth! The committee asked for a time-table for the correction of these problems. As the chairman of the Program Review and Investigations Committee, I have also held several meetings on this serious topic.
Finally, I was proud to sign my name to a brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that challenges the constitutionality of Obamacare. It is my belief that the federal government has no Constitutional power to force free citizens into purchasing a product from a private business, in this case, health insurance. In this action, I've joined 300 other state legislators from across the country, and 59 lawmakers from right here in Kentucky, whose Attorneys General have not challenged this law. Legislation to this effect has been introduced various times but all have been blocked in the House of Representatives. While I am committed to promoting the public welfare and the health of all Kentuckians, I am firmly against the encroachment upon individual freedoms and states' sovereignty.
There are a variety of ways you can obtain more information on the goings-on in your capital city. You can log on at www.lrc.ky.gov. There is a toll free message line at 1-800-372-7181 or call me at home at (270) 692-6945. If you call 1-800-633-9650, you can hear a taped message of information on legislative committee. To check the status of a bill, you may call the toll-free Bill Status Line at 1-866-840-2835.