Kentucky house passes bill to create Bible literacy courses in schools

(Pixabay)

FRANKFORT, KY (AP)

The Kentucky House has passed legislation aimed at creating elective Bible literacy courses in public schools.

The bill would require the state Board of Education to establish policies for local school boards that choose to offer elective social studies courses on the Hebrew texts and New Testament.

The measure passed the House on an 80-14 vote Thursday and now goes to the Senate.

Rep. DJ Johnson of Owensboro, the bill’s sponsor, said the Bible is the “single-most impactful literary document” in western civilization.

The bill’s opponents said it intrudes on the principles separating church and state by sanctioning one faith.

Under the bill, Bible literacy would be an optional course for public school students, with curriculum set by Kentucky’s Board of Education.

The legislation is House Bill 128.

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http://www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/HB128.htm

Kentucky Senate approves repeal of Common Core standards in schools

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears and Jack Brammer

vhoneycutt@herald-leader.com

The Kentucky Senate on Friday unanimously approved a wide-ranging public education bill that would establish a new process for intervening in low-performing schools and establish a new process for reviewing classroom academic standards.

Under Senate Bill 1, revisions would be made to the Kentucky academic standards in 2017-18 and every six years after that. Teams of educators from public schools and higher education would recommend changes with suggestions from citizens.

Senate Bill 1 would repeal the controversial Common Core academic standards, but not until the new standards are rolled out in a staggered fashion, the bill’s sponsor State Sen. Mike Wilson, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has said.

Kentucky was the first state to adopt the Common Core standards and subsequently incorporated them into the Kentucky academic standards. Those standards, which have undergone other revisions, define what Kentucky students should learn at each grade level. How the standards are taught is decided by local schools.

There was no debate on the bill in the Senate on Friday but two Democratic senators praised Wilson, R-Bowling Green, for his handling of the measure that was approved on a 35-0 vote.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, said there is no need to question the bill because Wilson has done a good job explaining it to all involved. Wilson contacted educators, policymakers and citizens, including families of students, as he developed the bill.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said Wilson’s approach to listen to all parties involved “is exactly how this body ought to function.”

Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said this is the third year Wilson has worked on this “major piece of policy.”

He said it combines the realities, demands and desires of returning control of school systems back to locals.

Also under Senate Bill 1, a new assessment system would still rate schools but would not use a single numerical score that ranks schools against each other. Local districts would establish their own evaluation systems for teachers, principals and other staff aligned with a statewide framework. Evaluation results would not be reported to the state education department.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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(KY) This Week at the State Capitol

For Immediate Release

February 17, 2017

This Week at the State Capitol

February 13 – 17, 2017

FRANKFORT — Headlines in recent days have made it clear that Kentucky’s problems with heroin, other illegal opioids and prescription drug abuse, continue to take lives and devastate communities at a shocking rate.

In-state newspapers have recently reported the more than 52 drug overdoses occurred over a 32-hour period in Louisville, and nine overdose calls came in over 12 hours in Madison County. A national publication reported that one rural Kentucky county filled enough prescriptions over 12 months to supply 150 doses of painkillers to every person in the county.

The same conversations held across the state about the way the drug crisis is impacting the court system, police, health care workers, treatment facilities, social workers, prison officials and families are also being held in the State Capitol. Those deliberations resulted in a number of bills aimed at addressing the issue, including several bills that took steps forward in the legislative process this week.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved Senate Bill 14, which is aimed at getting drug dealers off the streets by strengthening penalties for trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. Under the legislation, which was approved on a 36-0 vote, trafficking in less than two grams of these substances would be elevated to a Class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

Later in the week, a pair of bills addressing the drug crises were also approved in the House committees.

House Bill 333 would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil – a powerful opioid intended for large animals – and related drugs. Trafficking any amount of these drugs could result in up to 10 years in prison under the legislation. The bill would also restrict prescriptions for some painkillers to a three-day supply, though exceptions would be allowed in some circumstances. House Bill 333 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and now goes to the full House for consideration.

The House Education Committee approved House Bill 145, which would help fight opioid addiction by requiring that public school students be educated about the dangers of prescription pain killers and their connection to addiction to heroin and other drugs.

Bills on other issues that advanced in the General Assembly this week include the following:

· Senate Bill 1 is a sweeping education reform measure that sets the course to change educational standards and accountability for public schools. The more than 100-page-long bill is an omnibus measure aimed at empowering state education officials, locally-elected school board members and teachers to decide the best teaching methods for their communities. It would set up several committees and advisory panels to review educational standards. The bill would change how students are tested, and it would also set up a new way for intervening in low-performing schools by placing more power in the local school district during those interventions. The bill passed the Senate on a 35-0 vote and now goes to the House for consideration.

· House Bill 14 would give police, firefighters, and emergency medical services personnel protection under the state’s hate crime statutes. Under the bill, those who assault, kidnap, or commit certain other violent offenses against first responders could face stricter sentencing in court. Currently only the legally-protected classes of race, color, religion and national origin, as well as sexual orientation, are covered under the state’s hate crime statute. House Bill 14 passed the House on a 77-13-1 vote and has been sent to the Senate.

· Senate Bill 78 would require public schools across Kentucky would to go smoke-free by next school year. The bill would outlaw the use of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, on elementary, middle and high school campuses in addition to buses. The bill was approved by the Senate on a 25-8-2 and has been sent to the House.

· Senate Bill 75 would increase the amount donors can contribute to election campaigns. Under the legislation, individuals and political action committees could donate $2,000 in the primary and general elections in Kentucky– up from the $1,000 limit. The bill passed the Senate on a 27-10 vote and has been delivered to the House.

· House Bill 192 would make it easier for 16- and 17-year-olds in foster care to apply for driver’s permits and driver’s licenses. The bill, which passed 96-0 before being sent to the Senate,  would allow those in foster care to get a driver’s license or permit without requiring them to have a parent’s or other adult’s signature on the permit or license applications.

Members of the General Assembly are eager to receive feedback on the issues under consideration. You can share your thoughts with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181.

You can also write any legislator by sending a letter with the lawmaker’s name to: Capitol Annex, 702 Capitol Avenue, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.

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Public benefit corporation bill heads to Senate

For Immediate Release

February 14, 2017

Public benefit corporation bill heads to Senate

FRANKFORT—The Kentucky House has voted 78-17 for a bill that would allow public benefit corporations to do business in the Commonwealth.

Should House Bill 35 become law, Kentucky would become one of more than 31 states that allow for the creation of public benefit corporations– companies that make investments in a public benefit, or public good, part of their corporate philosophy while maximizing profits, said HB 35 sponsor Rep. Jerry Miller, R-Louisville.

Miller said “value investments” made by public benefit corporations totaled around $4 billion in 2012 alone.

“This is something that Kentucky needs,” Miller said. “Public benefits that currently have to be provided by government can be met by public benefit corporations that are interested in creating long term value and in serving the public.”

There are now Kentucky companies that have an interest in becoming public benefit corporations, he told the House, including software company MobileServe in Louisville, Victory Hemp in Campbellsburg and others. The bill may even bring companies back to Kentucky that are now in other states, he said. Rubicon Global, a full-service Atlanta-based waste and recycling company founded by Kentuckian Nate Morris, could be one of those companies, Miller explained.

Morris “has recently become very active in the Gatton School at the University of Kentucky, and I hope that if we pass this legislation, companies like Rubicon Global and others will bring their business here,” said Miller. 

Concerns about the bill were raised by Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, who asked Miller how it is determined that a corporation’s values are a public benefit. Miller said those values are laid out in the company’s bylaws and articles of incorporation and can cover a variety of goals.

Gooch said he still doesn’t understand the necessity for the legislation. “We’re setting up a totally different type of corporation here, maybe even before we determine what the public benefit is.”

HB 35 now goes to the Senate for its consideration. 

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Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee

For Immediate Release

February 16, 2017

Fentanyl crackdown bill clears House committee

FRANKFORT—A bill that would make it a felony to illegally sell or distribute any amount of fentanyl, carfentanil and related drugs tied to an increase in drug overdoses in Kentucky has passed the House Judiciary Committee.

Trafficking in any amount of fentanyl, a pain killer now frequently imported for illegal street sales, and drugs derived from fentanyl as well as carfentanil—a large animal anesthetic said to be 10,000 times more potent than morphine—would carry up to 10 years in prison under House Bill 333, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill. Trafficking over certain amounts of the drugs could carry even longer sentences.

The bill would also make fentanyl derivatives—which potentially number 800 or more, state officials say–part of the same class of drugs as heroin and LSD. Those drugs are classified as Schedule I by the federal DEA which describes the drugs as having no “currently accepted medical use.”

“Whatever (fentanyl derivative) is thrown at us in the future will be a Schedule I controlled substance under Kentucky law,” if HB 333 passes, Office of Drug Control Policy Executive Director Van Ingram told the committee.

Fentanyl, carfentanil and fentanyl derivatives are being mixed with heroin and sold on the street as heroin or other drugs. Some cities and counties have experienced dozens of overdoses in the span of a day or two because of the potency of the drugs which, Ingram said, can be disguised as pharmaceuticals like Xanax or Percocet.

“The business model for drug cartels is to mix fentanyl with heroin and make it look like (something else),” said Ingram. “It’s a much better —- for them. It’s a very deadly situation for our population.”

HB 333 would also create a felony offense called trafficking in a misrepresented controlled substance for those who pass off carfentanil, fentanyl or fentanyl derivatives as an actual pharmaceutical, like Xanax. 

Another provision in the bill would limit prescriptions for fentanyl to a three-day supply with few exceptions, said Moser. Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Pikeville, questioned how the legislation would prevent someone from getting another dose from another physician after receiving their three days’ worth. Moser said the KASPER system, which tracks prescriptions written in Kentucky for all scheduled drugs, is still in place to monitor what is prescribed.

“This language does not preclude the fact that physicians have to document with the PDMPs or prescription drug monitoring programs. KASPER is still a way to monitor… that’s still a requirement,” said Moser.

HB 333 now goes to the full House for consideration.

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Kentucky: House Introduces Constitutional/Permit less Carry Legislation

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Kentucky House of Representatives introduced their own constitutional/permit less carry bill. House Bill 316, sponsored by Representative C. Wesley Morgan (R-81), recognizes Kentuckians’ freedom to legally carry a concealed firearm without the burdensome requirement of acquiring a Kentucky concealed deadly weapons license. It is of the utmost importance that this bill be scheduled for a hearing as soon as possible.

Your NRA-ILA would like to thank Representative Morgan and the House Leadership for understanding the urgency of this important legislation. The 2017 legislative session is short, and constitutional/permit less carry legislation must progress fast through the legislative process to have a chance at being signed into law this year.

HB 316 would allow any law-abiding individual who can legally possess a firearm to carry a handgun for self-defense in Kentucky without having to obtain a permit to do so.  This bill recognizes a law-abiding adult’s unconditional Right to Keep and Bear Arms for self-defense in the manner he or she chooses.  Self-defense situations are difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate.  Accordingly, a law-abiding adult’s right to defend himself or herself in such situations should not be conditioned by government-mandated time delays and taxes.  Additionally, this constitutional/permit less carry legislation would keep the current permitting system in place so individuals who obtain a permit could still enjoy the reciprocity agreements that Kentucky has with other states.

Please contact your state Representative and state Senator in support of House Bill 316 and Senate Bill 7 by calling 1-800-372-7181.  Please continue to check www.NRAILA.org and your email inbox for alerts on the latest action items.

Kentucky Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana, Take Step to Nullify Federal Prohibition

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 13, 2016) – A Kentucky Senate bill slated for introduction in 2017 would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.

Pre-filed by Sen. Perry B. Clark (D-Louisville), BR409 would “protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their practitioners and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture, if such patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The bill will be considered by the Kentucky State Senate during the 2017 legislative session.

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in BR409:

A terminal illness, peripheral neuropathy, anorexia, cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, substance use disorder, mood disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, autism, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or the treatment of these conditions

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under BR409, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries, called “compassion centers” in BR409, would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.

“Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant,” Sen. Clark said in a WKYT news report from earlier this year. “Wasted dollars, they were. We have exponentially increased the power and scope of our criminal justice system by strapping it with issues concerning a plant.”

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB409 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky would remove a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

With passage of SB409, Kentucky would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts are set to join them after voters approved ballot initiatives in favor of legalization last November.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

BR409 will need to be formally introduced and pass its committee assignments before it can be considered by the full Senate. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.

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