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Legislators continue working, three bills already headed to Governor

By David Meade

State Representative 

As I file this update from my desk in the Capitol Annex, it is hard to believe that we are more than a third through with this year’s legislative session. The pace has picked up considerably, as we continue working on meaningful legislation that we hope will move our state forward and improve the lives of Kentuckians. As your State Representative, I am committed to fighting for our values and protecting our way of life.

While legislators have filed hundreds of bills and resolutions so far this session, only a small fraction will make their way through the legislature to the Governor’s desk. This is not always bad, as our job is not necessarily to pass bills but rather to pass the right bills. Three bills have already made their way to the Governor.

The first bill delivered to the Governor is a measure that would eliminate red tape and expensive requirements that could affect the more than 171,000 Kentuckians who operate direct sales businesses. “Direct sales” is just the term used to describe individuals who sell directly to a consumer through a catalog or website. Generally, they offer products like home décor, health and beauty products, and clothing. For generations, these types of businesses have allowed Kentuckians the opportunity to provide for their families while offering benefits like flexible schedules and independence. Individuals contract with these companies, making them independent contractors rather than employees. As such, they have never fallen under workers’ compensation insurance requirements. However, because of the way workers’ compensation laws are interpreted by courts today, they may be considered employees rather than independent contractors. The measure, HB 186, clarifies the relationship and keeps these sellers in business.

Another bill on the Governor’s desk is HB 236, an industrial hemp measure. The industrial hemp industry has exploded since the federal government loosened prohibitions. Over the past few years, it has become a popular, versatile crop that can be used to manufacture everything from clothing to health and beauty products. This measure, HB 236, was supported by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and will bring our state’s policies in line with federal requirements. It will also increase the number of laboratories that are eligible to test industrial hemp to ensure that the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does not exceed the federal limit.

Before we left Frankfort on Friday, February 7, we approved a common sense measure that builds on the School Safety Act we passed last year. When it becomes law, SB 8 calls for arming our school resource officers. These are properly trained men and women who are sworn law enforcement officers, and it just makes sense to give them every opportunity to protect our children. SB 8 received broad bipartisan support and now heads to the Governor’s desk for his consideration. 

Of course, our work on the budget continues as we put together the House version. The Governor presented his version on January 28. We are still reviewing that document as we move forward with our work. However, I am gravely concerned that we are once again trying to spend and borrow our way to prosperity. The Governor is proposing new revenue from tax increases and sports wagering. His budget also adds millions in additional debt, as well as the use of one-time monies to pay for long-term projects. This concerns me, I feel like we owe it to Kentuckians to be better stewards of the tax money they send to Frankfort and that we should not forget that every dollar we spend comes from someone’s hard-earned paycheck.

I hope to continue updating you on our work in Frankfort. If you have any questions or comments about this session, I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST) through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181. They will ask you to share contact information and take your message. I do indeed appreciate hearing from constituents. You can also 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.legislature.ky.gov, and you can also follow me on Twitter @DavidMeadeKY.