Bill aimed to protect students unanimously passes Senate

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By Jimmy Higdon

This week was a buzz of activity as many school groups, local officials and musicians visited the capital and watched hearings and activity on the Senate Floor. I was excited to host many visitors from my district and see the many faces from around the Commonwealth.
The Senate unanimously passed an important education measure I sponsored, on Thursday. Senate Bill 89 would help protect the data stored on a cloud of Kentucky students by prohibiting the sale or marketing of this information gathered through web-based services at their schools. There are instances of vendors doing this and I think we need to make information of our students only available to the Department of Education and the school system. The measure also would require school districts to inform parents of the types of student information given to third-party web-based service providers.
Another provision of SB 89 would allow local school districts to adopt academic standards that exceed standards approved by the state Board of Education. We want to give districts local control and freedom to choose more rigorous academic standards. They are better arbiters of their students’ educational needs.
The Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 47, which requires the reporting of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome. That is babies born with dependency to drugs because of a mother who uses during pregnancy. Specifically, the legislation requires the Kentucky Department for Public Health to publish on at least an annual basis statistical data on the number of neonatal abstinence syndrome. The report does not give any identifying information about the mother or the infant; it simply reports regional and county statistics.
Another health-related piece of legislation, House Bill 98, represents a bipartisan effort to solve an issue of safely treating diabetic students in schools, helping thousands of our students and citizens.
House Bill 98 would permit students to inject themselves with their needed insulin while in school, and requires schools to have at least one trained staff member to administer medication for diabetes after they successfully complete the American Diabetes Association training program. With the permission of the parent, trained personnel would administer the shots needed. This would help students who are in need of their medication and will help relieve worries of parents who may not easily be able to get to the school. This bill also is similar to laws in over 30 other states in the U.S.
To help our instate pastoral counselors, we passed Senate Bill 61, which designates pastoral counselors, who hold advanced degrees and extensive training in behavioral and mental health, as “licensed clinical” pastoral counselors rather than “certified fee-based” pastoral counselors. This change will make services eligible for private insurance billing and assist our state in complying with recent state and federal policies requiring Medicaid and insurance policies on the health care exchange to provide substance abuse and behavioral health services.
Senate Bill 103, approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday, would allow trained caregivers to administer life-saving insulin and glucagon to diabetics experiencing symptoms of hypo or hyperglycemia. Under the bill, individuals would receive written permission, training and instructions by a patient’s doctor beforehand. Kentucky has a growing number of patients with diabetes and we hope this measure will help those patients receive better care in the management of their illness.
Senate Bill 85, which passed unanimously on Wednesday, would expand a medical provider’s duty to report a patient’s threat of violence or harm to include those receiving outpatient mental health care. This measure is just another step in ensuring the health and safety of all Kentuckians, while still respecting the patient-provider relationship.
I also received the results of my survey that was sent out at the first of the year. I appreciate The Lebanon Enterprise, Spencer Magnet, Casey County News and the Kentucky Standard printing the survey so that I could get some feedback on where my constituents stand on the issues.
Of course, the survey is not scientific, but it helps gage the perspectives of my district and I can better represent you here in the Senate. View the results of the survey on my website, www.jimmyhigdon.com.
Our committee meetings, and chamber proceedings, are open to the public, aired on KET and streamed live and archived online at www.ket.org. If you can’t drive up, then tune in.
If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or toll free at 1-800-372-7181. I appreciate your time and input.
Many more passed and you can view all activity that happened this week by visiting www.lrc.ky.gov, or www.ket.org.
I invite you to visit Frankfort and observe the work in the Session. Also, citizens are always welcome in our committee meetings. You can also view live-streaming and archived coverage of legislative proceedings at www.ket.org. My website, www.jimmyhigdon.com, hosts updated information. Also, you can call me at 1-800-381-7181 and at my home, 270-692-6945. I appreciate any input and welcome your questions and comments. Our caucus also has a twitter feed, @kysenategop.
Other resources include our eNews page, www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/listserv.htm, you can subscribe to frequent e-mail updates on what’s happening at the Capitol. In addition, the General Assembly has its own blog, Capitol Notes, www.lrc.ky.gov/pubinfo/capitol_notes.htm that will allow you to receive legislative updates at your leisure.