(3/10/17) Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens Week in Review

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

A flurry of activity stemming from committee meetings and the passage of bills marked a short but intense Week 6 of the Kentucky General Assembly. Although the Senate was only in session from Monday to Wednesday of this week, committee meetings still met during the later part of the week to give final hearings to a few select bills.

Quite a few pieces of legislation have already made it to Governor Bevin’s desk to await his signature. Senate Bill 17, relating to student rights to political and religious speech, was given final passage by the House this week. Senate Bill 101 would allow pharmacists to administer more immunizations to children, and Senate Bill 117, allowing veterans who meet certain criteria to obtain special teaching certificates, were also finally passed by the House.

The Senate also enrolled House bills to be sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature, including: House Bill 14, which makes committing an offense against a first responder a hate crime; House Bill 93, strengthening penalties for assaulting a law enforcement animal, also known as “Ernie’s Law”; and House Bill 189, increasing transparency within area development districts.

Senate Bill 50 would allow school districts that choose to start the school year no earlier than the Monday closest to August 26 to follow a “variable student instructional year.” Schools which start the school year a little later in August than other schools, would not have to meet a 170-day requirement for the school year, as long as students still receive 1,062 hours of instruction each year, which is considered the equivalent of 170 school days. Senate Bill 50 was passed by the Senate 33-1 on February 9 and approved 77-18 by the House on March 8. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Senate legislation that would allow medical review panels to review medical malpractice lawsuits before they go to court was also sent to the Governor last week.  Senate Bill 4 would establish a process for medical review panels to review cases and issue opinions that could be used as evidence in court if a case proceeds. It does not prevent any citizen’s access to the courts. The bill was approved by the Senate 23-13 on January 5 and approved 51-45 by the House on March 1. It was delivered to the Governor on March 6.

The General Assembly is now quickly approaching the end of the 2017 Session. We adjourned on March 8, marking day 26 of 30 of the session, and we will reconvene again on March 14 and 15 before going into the veto period. During that period the Governor has the power to veto bills, but the General Assembly can override vetoes on the last two days of session, March 29 and 30.  If you have questions about the status of bills, please feel free to contact my office or review the Legislative Record online which can be found at www.lrc.ky.gov/record/17RS/record.htm.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

David Givens

Senate President Pro Tem

Kentucky on verge of lifting nuclear moratorium

Image result for kentucky nuclear waste site

James Bruggers , @jbruggers 10:23 a.m. ET March 8, 2017

Nuclear critic says no nuclear power plants will likely come to Kentucky any time soon because of their costs

A bill that would overturn a three-decade-old law that effectively bars construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky is on the verge of passing the General Assembly and being sent to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature.

Senate Bill 11 would get rid of a mandate that any nuclear power plants have access to a permanent disposal facility for their radioactive wastes, which can remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. They’d only have to have a plan to manage those wastes.

Already successfully through the Senate, Sen. Danny Carroll‘s bill passed a House committee on Tuesday and was sent to the House floor for a vote, where one of its long-time critics, Kentucky Resources Council director Tom FitzGerald, said he expects it will pass.

“We’ve had 15 years of arguing over this,” FitzGerald said Wednesday, observing that his organization withdrew its opposition this year as new wording was added to make sure all costs of nuclear energy would be weighed before allowing any plants to be constructed in Kentucky.

He said there was little chance of a nuclear plant being built in Kentucky anytime soon because they cannot compete economically with other forms of energy such as natural gas, scrubbed coal or renewables.

►MORE:  Bevin, 18 states, call for EPA to back off

Still, Carroll, a Paducah Republican, whose district includes a former nuclear fuel factory in Paducah, said Kentucky needs to be ready to diversify its energy portfolio.

In a news release, he said that U.S. energy demand is expected to increase. “That means the United States will need many new power plants of all types to meet the increased demand and replace older facilities that are retired. To ensure a diverse portfolio, many of these new power plants will have to be nuclear,” he said.

FitzGerarld said it’s more likely that the bill might allow the Paducah facility — which will be in a cleanup mode for many decades — to attract some additional research and development money to Kentucky.

Despite spending billions of dollars over two decades, the U.S. government failed to open a permanent disposal facility for high-level nuclear waste at its Yucca Mountain site in Nevada.

Reach reporter James Bruggers at 502-582-4645 or at jbruggers@courier-journal.com.

CONTINUE READING…

Status

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 3-0)
Status: Engrossed on March 2 2017 – 50% progression
Action: 2017-03-07 – reported favorably, 1st reading, to Calendar
Text: Latest bill text (Draft #2) [PDF]

Summary

Amend KRS 278.600 to require that nuclear power facilities have a plan for the storage of nuclear waste rather than a means of permanent disposal and to add definitions of “storage,” “low-level nuclear waste,” and “mixed nuclear waste”; amend KRS 278.610 to allow certification if the facility and its plans for waste storage are approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; eliminate the requirement that the facility have a plan for disposal of high-level nuclear waste; eliminate the requirement that cost of waste disposal be known; eliminate the requirement that the facility have adequate capacity to contain waste; give the Public Service Commission authority to hire a consultant to perform duties relating to nuclear facility certification; prohibit construction of low-level nuclear waste disposal sites in Kentucky except as provided in KRS 211.852; direct the Energy and Environment Cabinet to review regulations required for permitting nuclear facilities and report to LRC; repeal KRS 278.605, relating to construction of nuclear power facilities.

CONTINUE TO SB11 …

Where key bills stand with seven workdays left in the 2017 General Assembly

The Kentucky House of Representatives voted on bills on Friday, March 3, 2017, at the state Capitol in Frankfort.

By John Cheves

jcheves@herald-leader.com

Frankfort

The 2017 General Assembly enters its final phase Monday as Republican leaders prepare for Gov. Matt Bevin a stack of legislation on university funding, religious expression, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation and many other subjects.

The Kentucky House and Senate are scheduled to continue passing bills through Wednesday, then recess until March 14, when they will return for two days of voting on “concurrence” — deciding whether or not to agree with any changes that have been made to their bills by the other chamber.

Next, Bevin, a Republican, will get two weeks to veto legislation if he chooses. Lawmakers return to the Capitol on March 29 and 30 to act on Bevin’s vetoes, if there are any, and conclude their 30-day session.

Here is where some noteworthy bills that have passed at least one chamber stood on Friday:

House Bill 14, which would extend the state’s hate crimes law to include criminal acts committed against police officers and other emergency workers, awaits a final vote on the Senate floor.

House Bill 72, which would let judges set an expensive bond for parties who appeal a zone change case from circuit court, awaits a Senate floor vote. A Senate committee changed the bill, removing an exception for churches that appeal a case and adding an exception for anyone challenging a landfill, so the House would have to agree to that.

House Bill 128, which would allow school districts to offer elective Bible study classes, awaits a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

House Bill 151 would permit children to attend the school nearest their home, causing concern in Louisville, where a racial desegregation plan involves moving some children outside of their neighborhoods to create greater classroom diversity. It awaits a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

House Bill 222, which would prohibit shock probation for drunken drivers convicted of manslaughter or vehicular homicide, awaits a final vote on the Senate floor.

House Bill 281, which would set limits on how much the state’s attorney general could pay the outside lawyers he hires to handle complex litigation, awaits a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

House Bill 296 would reduce the expenses paid by Kentucky’s workers’ compensation program at the request of insurers and businesses, angering worker advocates, who say labor was left out of the bill. It awaits a hearing in the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee.

Senate Bill 1, which would establish a new process for intervening in low-performing schools and reviewing classroom academic standards, awaits a hearing in the House Education Committee.

Senate Bill 4, which would create medical review panels comprised of medical professionals to decide the merits of malpractice and neglect claims before they could proceed as lawsuits, was given final passage by the Senate on Friday and sent to the governor for his signature.

Senate Bill 8, which would bump Planned Parenthood to the back of the line for about $300,000 a year in federal family planning funds, awaits a vote on the House floor. A House committee made changes to the bill, so the Senate would have to agree with those.

Senate Bill 17, which details the right of public students to express religious viewpoints in school, awaits a final vote on the House floor.

Senate Bill 75, which would double the amount that donors can contribute to state political campaigns and then allow additional increases tied to inflation, awaits a hearing in the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Senate Bill 107 would grant sweeping powers to the governor to abolish every public educational governing board in Kentucky, including those at state universities, the Kentucky Board of Education and the Council on Postsecondary Education. It awaits a hearing in the House State Government Committee.

Senate Bill 120, an expansive plan to make it easier for felons to get work experience while incarcerated and smoothly re-enter society after their release, awaits a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 153, which would create a new method of funding higher education, funneling $1 billion to state universities based on their graduation rates and other performance measures, awaits a hearing in the House budget committee.

John Cheves: 859-231-3266, @BGPolitics

CONTINUE READING…

These 5 wealthy, out-of-state men helped finance the GOP takeover of Kentucky’s House

Arthur Laffer, the former Reagan Administration economist who advised Gov. Sam Brownback on his tax plan, testifies before the Kansas House Tax committee at the statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in Topeka, Kan.

Above:  Arthur Laffer, the former Reagan Administration economist who advised Gov. Sam Brownback on his tax plan, testifies before the Kansas House Tax committee at the statehouse, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 in Topeka, Kan. Thad Allton AP

By Daniel Desrochers

ddesrochers@herald-leader.com

Last fall, a group of five wealthy men from out-of-state dumped at least $211,500 into Republican efforts to take over the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time since 1921.

They live from Miami to New York, but have one common bond: Arthur Laffer, a prominent conservative economist who served in the Reagan administration.

They also share a similar goal: reshaping how Kentuckians pay taxes.

“I think now’s a good time for any state like Kentucky to look at their tax structure and say ‘how can we modernize?’” said Travis H. Brown, a Missouri lobbyist who donated $23,000 to GOP House members, more than any other individual.

They picked a winning horse, pumping $105,000 of their money directly to winning candidates and another $59,500 to state GOP committees that gave more than $1.8 million to successful GOP House candidates.

Follow the money: Search donations to the Kentucky House of Representatives

Republicans claimed a super majority in the House and quickly pledged support for Gov. Matt Bevin’s promise to call a special law-making session later this year to transition Kentucky’s tax system from one based on production (income taxes) to one based on consumption (sales taxes).

That economic philosophy was, in many ways, coined by Laffer. His message of lowering income taxes and reducing business taxes has been embraced by scores of Republican politicians across the country.

Though Laffer and his associates may feel the time is right for business-friendly tax reform in Kentucky, there’s a roadblock — massively underfunded pension systems for state workers and teachers.

Last November, financial projections showed Kentucky’s state pension systems had an unfunded liability of $32.5 billion, with the main pension system for state employees only 16 percent funded (anything below 80 percent is considered underfunded). Now, Bevin claims that number is grossly miscalculated, suggesting the state’s real pension debt is closer to $82 billion.

To meet that challenge, Bevin warned in his State of the Commonwealth Address last month that any changes to Kentucky’s tax code will have to raise revenue, not reduce it.

“This is not going to be a revenue neutral tax plan,” Bevin said in the speech. “It’s not. We can’t afford for it to be, that’s a straight up fact. We cannot pay off eight times what we bring in if we simply reshuffle the deck.”

Brown, though, says Kentucky can still raise revenue without raising taxes, arguing that the state can even cut taxes if it’s on the right side of the “Laffer Curve,” an economic concept that says a higher tax rate doesn’t necessarily mean more government revenue.

“What percent of your state government is not efficient as it should be?” Brown asked. “What voters typically believe is they know how to spend their money better than the government knows how to spend their money.”

Regardless of how lawmakers in Frankfort decide to rewrite the tax code, Laffer and his associates clearly thought Kentucky was ripe for an influx of conservative philosophy.

“It just looked like the time and place where it was to come,” Brown said.

Here’s a closer look at the five men, of which only Brown responded to Herald-Leader requests for interviews.

CONTINUE READING…

This is the story of the FDA’s persecution of Samuel Girod.

 

By Sally Oh on March 1, 2017 | Comments 2 | Affiliate Disclosure

Here’s a video explaining the entire thing, transcript with links below.

Let’s be clear about a couple of pertinent facts:

1. The FDA made up arbitrary rules, then accused Sam of breaking those rules.

2. There are no victims. Samuel Girod has hurt no one.

3. FDA-approved pharmaceutical drugs kill 1 person every 19 minutes. Merck’s FDA-approved Vioxx killed over 68,000 people. Nobody in Big Pharma goes to jail. They pay out billions in fines (after making billions in profits.) No companies close, nobody goes to jail. Nobody. Even after killing and harming 100s of thousands of people.

4. Sam Girod and his products have hurt no one.

The Story of the FDA v Samuel Girod

Samuel Girod and his family have been making and selling 3 all-natural herbal products for nearly 20 years. In all those years, one woman had a bad reaction to a salve (which Sam made right and the woman was fine).

No one has ever been harmed by the products, the Girods have pages of testimonials and scores of repeat customers.

The 3 products are: Original Chickweed, a beeswax, essential oils and olive oil salve; Sine-Eze, a blend of essential oils; and To-Mor-Gone, an herbal bloodroot product in a base of beeswax and olive oil aka “black salve”.

All of these products are currently ALSO made and sold online worldwide (including on Amazon) by other people using these same basic ingredients. The recipes are online as well, you can make them in your kitchen.

HOW IT STARTED

Sixteen years ago, in 2001, an FDA agent visited Sam at his home in IN and informed Sam that he could not claim his products could help skin cancer. At that time, the chickweed salve label said: “[g]ood for all skin disorders. Skin cancer, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.”

According to the FDA, when you make a medical claim about a product, that means the product is a “drug. Therefore you have to do years of testing, costing millions of dollars to prove the claim.

Sam had to change his label or do the testing.

So Sam changed the label, removing the reference to skin cancer.

He asked the agent to get back to him on what label would be acceptable to the FDA. The agent said she would within three weeks but she never did.

The label now said, “[g]ood for skin disorders. Dry skin, cuts, burns, draws, and poison ivy.” No skin cancer reference.

Between 2001 and 2004, Sam was visited several times by FDA agents. When he asked the agents what was acceptable on the label, none would give
an answer.

Sam did not receive any further communication from the FDA until 2012.

In Jan 2012, someone called the FDA and reported that a store in MO was selling Chickweed Healing Salve and that medical claims were being made.

The FDA confiscated the products from the store and opened #Case 4:12-cv-00362-GAF on Sam. You will find a link to the complaint and a link to Sam’s answer in the transcript below.

This is the complaint: http://bit.ly/27-on-120928-Girod-Amended-Complaint

This is Sam’s answer to the complaint: http://bit.ly/37-on-121228-Girod-Answer-Defenses


In fact, here are all the court documents on Sam’s entire case. There are two folders: the 1st is for the labeling, the 2nd is for the criminal indictment.


PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THE FULL STORY!

CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO HERE!

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens Week in Review

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

Members of the Senate took action on one of the issues of greatest interest to Kentuckians when we passed a major education bill this week that would begin aligning university funding with the state’s top postsecondary education goals.

Senate Bill 153, that I sponsored, changes Kentucky’s historical approach to college and university funding. In the past, postsecondary funding has been based on what each school received in the previous budget cycle. Under the proposal that the Senate approved this week, funding would instead be based on how well schools are helping the state reach major postsecondary education attainment goals. Among the goals the legislation focuses on are:

· Increasing student progress toward the completion of degrees or certification.

· Increasing the number and types of degrees and credentials earned by students, with a focus on those that lead to higher salaries, such as science, technology, engineering, math, health, and other areas of industry demands.

· Closing achievement gaps by increasing the number of credentials and degrees earned by low-income students and minority students.

· Boosting the accumulation of credit hours and the transfer of students from the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to four-year postsecondary institutions.

Under the legislation, which was approved by the Senate on a 36-1 vote, the postsecondary funding formula would appropriate 35 percent of funds based on student success tied to outcomes, 35 percent would be tied to total student credit hours, and 30 percent would be based on supporting vital campus operations.

The new funding model would be phased in over four years to provide stability to postsecondary schools as they move to the outcomes-based formula.

The legislation also calls for a postsecondary work group to review the results of the new funding model every three years to make sure it’s achieving its goals. The work group would make recommendations to the General Assembly as needed.

Senate Bill 153 has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration

During this midpoint week, we spent a large amount of time in committees and passing bills on the floor. Friday marked day 18 of 30 of the 2017 Session, so the window of time to pass legislation is closing. We passed quite a few important bills through the Senate, including:

  • Senate Bill 8 defunds organizations that fund abortions, such as Planned Parenthood;
  • Senate Bill 21 allows for the use of experimental treatments not yet approved by the FDA if the patient is diagnosed with a terminal illness;
  • Senate Bill 107 gives the General Assembly a check-and-balance means of ensuring balanced boards of postsecondary institutions. This is another step to ensure the leadership at our state universities follow the law and act in the best interest of the students.
  • Senate Bill 122 establishes a Gold Star Sons and Gold Star Daughters special license plate for children of the armed forces who were killed overseas;
  • Senate Bill 159 requires all public high school students to pass a civics test in order to receive a regular diploma. This passing score would be a minimum of 60 percent and the questions would be pulled from the test required of all people seeking to become U.S. citizens.

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, and your ideas for the future of our commonwealth. It is an honor to represent you in the State Senate.

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181. You can also review the Legislature’s work online at www.lrc.ky.gov.

David Givens

Senate President Pro Tem

In chaotic scene, Rand Paul demands to see the House GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill

By Lauren Fox and Phil Mattingly, CNN

Updated 3:25 PM ET, Thu March 2, 2017

Rand Paul 3.2.17

Senator demands to see ‘secret’ Obamacare bill 01:59

Story highlights
  • Some House Republicans were being granted a chance to review an Obamacare repeal draft
  • GOP leadership has taken a new level of caution with their Obamacare legislation

(CNN)  Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul marched to the House side of the Capitol Thursday morning, knocked on a locked door and demanded to see a copy of the House’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which he believed was being kept under lock and key.

Aides in the room told the senator — before dozens of reporters in a crowded hallway — that there was no bill to see. In fact, it wasn’t the room where GOP members of the Energy and Commerce Committee were told to meet with staff to review the current draft of their bill at all. But that did little to dissuade Paul, openly critical to the House Republican leadership’s preferred path on the process, from making his underlying point.

“This should be an open and transparent process,” Paul said. “This is being presented as if it were a national secret, as if this was a plot to invade another country, as if this were national security. That’s wrong.”

    Paul ventured to the House Thursday afternoon after reports surfaced that House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee were being granted an opportunity to review the current draft of the Obamacare repeal legislation and ask questions behind closed doors.

    Opposed to the House legislation’s principles, Paul said he wanted to see the bill himself even though he didn’t serve on the committee.

    “I’m not allowed to read the working product so I can comment on it?” he said.

    Outside the small House office, the chaotic scene continued with a handful of Democrats demanding they, too, see the legislation, which aides continued to say was not even in the room. Two Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland, asked aides if the bill was ready, only to be rebuffed.

    “I want to see the bill. I want to read the bill,” New York Democrat Paul Tonko said, noting that as far as he knew, Republicans were still planning to move forward with a markup on the legislation next week.

    At one point, the GOP staff allowed Hoyer, Rep. Joe Kennedy and a dozen or so reporters into the room to inspect it themselves. It was, in fact, bill-less.

    Hoyer proceeded to hold an impromptu news conference near a bust of President Abraham Lincoln a few feet away from the misidentified room. He then held an imaginary conversation with the 16th president about what Hoyer said was the poor state of the Republican Party.

    Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, downplayed perceptions of secrecy in a statement Thursday.

    “Reports that the Energy and Commerce Committee is doing anything other than the regular process of keeping its members up to speed on latest developments in its jurisdictions are false. Simply put, Energy and Commerce majority members and staff are continuing to discuss and refine draft legislative language on issues under our committee’s jurisdiction.”

    Leadership has taken a new level of caution with Obamacare repeal and replace reconciliation drafts after a leaked version of the bill in progress was circulated to news outlets last week.

    House aides told CNN that the review process was simply part of regular procedure of giving their members an opportunity to review the current draft and ask committee staff questions. The committee — along with a second panel responsible for the repeal legislation — is tentatively shooting to consider their respective pieces of legislation as soon as next week.

    The leaked draft — which aides say was outdated — drew condemnations from conservatives who pledged to oppose any final bill and set off a new round of internal divisions that threatened to endanger the repeal process before it even gets off the ground.

    CONTINUE READING AND TO VIDEO…