New state laws go into effect


Legislative Research Commission

FRANKFORT – Most new laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2017 regular session went into effect last Thursday.

The Kentucky Constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature unless they have a special effective date, are general appropriations measures, or include an emergency clause that makes them effective immediately upon becoming law. Final adjournment of the 2017 Regular Session was on March 30, making June 29 the normal effective date for most bills.

Laws taking effect that day include measures on the following topics:

• Adult education. HB 195 creates an alternative to the GED program by requiring the Kentucky Adult Education Program to create college and career readiness programs for those seeking high school equivalency diplomas. At least one program must be a test that meets current college and career readiness standards.

 • Bible literacy. HB 128 allows schools to offer an elective course on the Bible that teaches biblical content, poetry, narratives and their impact today.

 • Caregivers. SB 129 allows hospital patients to legally designate someone as a “lay caregiver” for the purpose of providing after-care to the patient when he or she returns home. The lay caregiver can be someone age 18 or older who is a relative, partner, friend or someone else who is close to the patient and willing to provide non-medical care at the patient’s home.

 • Charter schools. HB 520 will allow publicly funded charter schools to operate in Kentucky starting with the 2017-18 school year. The charter schools could be authorized by local school boards, which would establish charter schools by contract. The schools would then be governed by independent boards.

 • Coal fields. HB 156 creates the Kentucky Coal Fields Endowment Authority which will use coal severance dollars to fund infrastructure, economic development, public health and more in the east and west Kentucky coal regions.

 • Emergency vehicles. HB 74 only allows white light to be emitted from motor vehicle headlamps, although non-halogen headlamps will be allowed to emit a slight blue tint if they were factory-installed. The intent of the bill is to make it easier for motorist to distinguish emergency vehicles from other vehicles.

 • Fentanyl and other opioids. HB 333 will create stronger penalties for trafficking in any amount of heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil or fentanyl derivatives, define prescribing authority, and allow the state to investigate prescribing irregularities and report those instances to appropriate authorities.

 • Fish and wildlife. SB 83 requires the state to identify areas where deer and elk pose a “significant threat” to human safety by causing automobile accidents or pose a significant threat to agriculture. The state may then take necessary steps (including, but not limited to, special hunts) to reduce the deer and elk populations in those areas.

• Hate crimes. HB 14 will allow an attack on a first responder such as a police officer, firefighter or rescue squad member to be considered a hate crime during the sentencing phase for certain crimes.

 • Hospitals. SB 42 allows law enforcement to arrest someone for fourth-degree assault in any part of a hospital without a warrant if the officer has probable cause that the crime was committed. Such arrests were previously restricted to hospital emergency rooms.

 • Juvenile offenders. SB 195 creates a process for expungement of felony juvenile records two years after the offender reaches adulthood or is unconditionally released from commitment to the state.  Expungement will not be granted to those whose felony record includes violent and/or sexual offenses or those who have proceedings pending against him or her.

 • Local school boards.  HB 277 allows individuals to serve on a local board of education if they have an aunt, uncle, son-in-law or daughter-in-law employed by the school district. State law previously precluded someone from serving on a local school board if any of those relatives were employed by the district.

 • Nuclear power. SB 11 allows construction of nuclear power in Kentucky after vetting of proposals by the federal and state governments.

 • Playground safety. HB 38 bans registered sex offenders from public playgrounds unless they have advanced written permission to be on site by the government body (city council, etc.) that oversees the playground.

 • Primary care agreements. SB 79 allows patients to enter into contracts with their primary care provider that spell out services to be provided for an agreed-upon fee and period of time. The “direct primary care membership agreement” will not require a patient to forfeit private insurance or Medicaid.

 • Religious freedom. SB 17 specifies in statute that Kentucky public school and public colleges and university students have the legal right to express their religious and political views in their school work, artwork, speeches, and in other ways.

• School calendars. SB 50 allows school districts to use a “variable student instructional year,” requiring the same hours of instruction required by existing law but allowing for fewer school days than the minimum of 170 days required by existing law. Districts could begin using the variable schedule in the 2018-19 school year if their first day of instruction is on or after the Monday closest to Aug. 26.

• Veterans. SB 117 allows a veteran with a bachelor’s degree in any field to receive a provisional certificate to teach public elementary or secondary school if he or she has an academic major or passing assessment score in the area in which he or she seeks certification. After completing a required teaching internship, the veteran will receive a professional teaching certificate.