Focus remains as session comes to close

Published 5:02 pm Thursday, March 9, 2017

FRANKFORT — As we near the conclusion of the 2017 General Assembly, the House passed many important pieces of legislation in the last week. With only seven days left in the legislative session, we continue to focus on public policy issues that are important to the people of Kentucky – legislation that protects our children, our families, and our livelihoods.
To combat the ongoing battle against the heartbreaking opioid crisis in Kentucky, we recently passed House Bill 333 to increase penalties for drug traffickers peddling any amount of the highly addictive opioid substances fentanyl, carfentanil or fentanyl derivatives. The bill also makes it a felony to pass off these opioids as legitimate prescription drugs. In order to prevent patients from becoming addicted to narcotics while being treated by a physician, this legislation limits amounts of Schedule II drugs dispensed to three days, unless medically necessary. The opioid crisis in Kentucky has reached an all-time high – destroying many lives in the process. HB 333 puts drug dealers on notice that Kentucky will not tolerate these dangerous narcotics in our Commonwealth.
Along with protecting Kentuckians from dangerous drugs, the House took steps to protect the most vulnerable and precious among us – our children. Kylie Jo and Sophie’s Law, or House Bill 129, named for two young victims of child abuse, requires the Kentucky State Police to enact and maintain a child abuse offender registry, much like the sex offender registry. Anyone convicted of homicide, fetal homicide, assault, human trafficking, kidnapping, incest, first-degree indecent exposure and other crimes against children will be registered in an online database by name, age, last known residence, photo, conviction and any other information deemed pertinent.
Additionally, the House voted on a vast number of other pieces of legislation, which are highlighted here:
House Bill 156 creates a regional authority responsible for establishing a recreational trail system throughout 20 counties in the Kentucky Mountain Recreational Area. Eastern Kentucky, due to heavy declines in the coal industry, is in dire need of economic revitalization. It is our belief that this regional authority will encourage both in-state and out-of-state eco-tourism. We want to encourage everyone to visit our beautiful mountains and at the same time, see all eastern Kentucky has to offer. A massive trail system will invite residents and visitors east for hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, birdwatching and many other recreational outdoor activities.
House Bill 261 levels the playing field for anyone ever convicted of DUI. The bill allows DUI offenders one – and only one – first-offense conviction in their lifetime. As the law currently stands, an offender could be convicted under a first-time offense DUI if their last DUI conviction occurred 10 or more years ago. This correction means stronger penalties for repeat offenders, no matter how long ago it was – and, in turn, safer roads and highways for us all.
House Bill 294 brings transparency to motor vehicle sales by clarifying that both sellers and dealers must disclose to potential buyers accident damage occurring in their possession, if that damage exceeds $2,000.
House Bill 375 provides support to Kentucky military spouses facing unemployment due to a change in post location. This legislation would permit military spouses to continue receiving unemployment benefits when moving 100 or more miles from home.
Senate Bill 4 protects our overburdened judicial system and life-saving physicians from frivolous lawsuits by requiring peer review of medical malpractice complaints by medical review panels before a lawsuit could proceed to court.
We continue to work diligently on matters that are important to you and your family. As the 2017 session comes to a close, we will do everything we can to pass legislation that will make Kentucky the greatest place in the country to work, live, and raise a family.
I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues impacting our Commonwealth during the 2017 Regular Session. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via e-mail at David.Meade@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.
This column was produced by House Majority Communications, and made available for House Republican Members to distribute.