(KY) Senate approves bill to tighten reporting of toxicology screenings

For Immediate Release

March 14, 2017 

Senate approves bill to tighten reporting of toxicology screenings

FRANKFORT — A bill to tighten the reporting of toxicology screenings by Kentucky hospitals passed the state Senate today, clearing its way to become law pending the signature of Gov. Matt Bevin. 

House Bill 314, which was approved by the House of Representatives late last month, requires certain hospitals to report positive drug screenings to the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, including results from newborn babies who might have been exposed to controlled substances by their mothers prior to birth.  The measure is part of an ongoing effort to fight prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. 

The bill also permits federal prosecutors and medical professionals, including pharmacists, to use the state’s KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) database containing reports of misuse of controlled substances. 

“For the KASPER system to be effective,  we need to stay on top of it,” said Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah. “We need every tool available to us.”

The bill passed the Senate 33-3 and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his consideration.


HB 314 :

AN ACT relating to controlled substance monitoring.
     Amend KRS 218A.202 to require certain hospitals to report positive toxicology screens to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; permit federal prosecutors and agents to use KASPER; permit practitioners or pharmacists to review KASPER reports of birth mothers of potentially drug-exposed infants; remove a pilot program relating to real-time electronic monitoring; make other technical corrections; amend KRS 218A.240 to conform.


Kentucky Legislative Update



Legislative Update

Submitted by Senator Reginald Thomas

Now that the 2016 Legislative Session is behind us, I would like to update you on some of the accomplishments made by the Kentucky General Assembly over the past several months. 

Most importantly, we fulfilled our constitutional mandate by approving an executive, legislative and judicial budget. (I shared some of the budget highlights with you last week.) We also passed a transportation plan to help keep the bridges and roads of Kentucky maintained and safe. 

Below is a summary of some of the legislation passed during the 2016 Session:

· Autism. Senate Bill 185 made permanent the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders (established in 2013) and the state Office of Autism (created in 2014). The bodies will continue to ensure there are not gaps in providing services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

· Booking photos. House Bill 132 makes posting jail booking photos to a website or including the booking photos in a publication illegal when the person is required to pay to remove them from public view. Damages start at $100 a day for each separate offense, along with attorney fees.

· Budget.  House Bill 303 will guide state spending over the next two fiscal years.  The two-year state budget plan is aimed at creating savings in many areas and using more money to stabilize the public pension systems.  It includes $1.28 billion for the state pension systems.  The budget makes no cuts to K-12 education and increases pre-school eligibility.

· Children locked in cars. Senate Bill 16 protects prospective rescuers from being sued for property damage caused by saving the life of a child left in a locked vehicle.

· Child safety. House Bill 148 allows child daycare centers to receive prescriptions for EpiPen injectors to treat life-threatening allergic reactions.  The bill also gives parents up to 30 days to legally surrender their newborn at a state-approved safe place under the state’s safe harbor laws.

· CPR in schools. Senate Bill 33 requires high school students be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) by an emergency medical professional. The life-saving measure is to be taught as part of the students’ physical education or health class, or as part of ROTC training.

· Disability-related expenses. Senate Bill 179 allows individuals with disabilities to set up an ABLE account to save money for disability-related expenses without it being taxed. Money saved in the account also does not count against Medicaid and other federal means-based benefits.

· Dog fighting. House Bill 428 makes it a felony to possess, breed, sell or otherwise handle dogs for the purpose of dog fighting.

· DUI.  Senate Bill 56 allows law enforcement to look back 10 years to determine prior DUI convictions for penalty purposes instead of five years.   

· Felony expungement.  Under House Bill 40, Kentuckians convicted of low-level non-violent felonies can ask the court to permanently expunge their records 5 years after they have completed their sentence or probation.  Sex crimes and crimes against children cannot be expunged. 

· Harassing telecommunications. House Bill 162 adds electronic communications to those acts that can be harassment, if it’s done with intent to intimidate, harass, annoy or alarm another person. Harassment is a Class B misdemeanor.

· Noah’s Law. Senate Bill 193, also known as “Noah’s Law” after a 9-year-old Pike County boy, extends health insurance coverage to include expensive amino acid-based elemental formula needed by some children with gastric disorders and food allergies.

· Off-duty conceal and carry. House Bill 314 allows current and retired peace officers to carry concealed firearms at any location where current, on-duty officers can carry guns.

· Outdoor recreation. House Bill 38 directs the state to set standards for the use and operation of zip lines and canopy tours.

· Public private partnerships. House Bill 309 allows government and private entities to enter into public-private partnerships – known as P3s – to fund Kentucky’s major infrastructure needs, including transportation projects.

· Sexual assault kits. Aimed at eliminating a backlog of sexual assault examination kits, Senate Bill 63 establishes new policies and procedures for handling evidence. SB 63 requires police to pick up sexual assault kits from hospitals within five days and submit the kit to the state crime lab within 30 days.   The bill also prohibits the destruction of any kits and notify victims of the progress and results of the tests.

· Vulnerable victims. Senate Bill 60 creates a new section of KRS Chapter 501, defining an “offense against a vulnerable victim” and creating a mechanism for charging someone with the commission of an offense against a victim who is under the age of 14, has an intellectual disability, or is physically helpless or mentally incapacitated.

The legislation passed this session will have a positive impact on the lives of all Kentuckians.  We took steps to protect our most vulnerable citizens, maintain our roads and bridges, and invest in education, public safety and job creation across the Commonwealth.

Unless a bill declared an emergency or contains a special effective date, the bills passed by the Kentucky General Assembly will take effect on July 15, 2016.

Thank you for your continued input during this process and helping us move Kentucky forward.  As always, you are welcome to contact me at any time if I can be of any assistance. You can email me directly at reginald.thomas@lrc.ky.gov.

Above, the championship Dunbar basketball team visited us in the final days of session.


For Immediate Release March 2, 2016 Concealed carry bill passes House Judiciary panel

For Immediate Release

March 2, 2016

Concealed carry bill passes House Judiciary panel

FRANKFORT—The right of off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons in the same locations as on-duty officers would be affirmed under a bill passed today by the House Judiciary Committee.

Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, said he filed House Bill 314 at the request of the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office in response to a situation in which off-duty officers were prohibited from carrying concealed weapons into a Louisville Palace event. Such situations are especially problematic in Louisville where, Riggs said, police officers are required to carry their weapons both on-duty and off.

He said HB 314 clarifies current law that allows Kentucky law enforcement officers to concealed carry whether or not they are on-duty officers, retired officers, or off-duty officers authorized to concealed carry by their employer.

“What we’re trying to do here is just have a duplicate statute in a section that makes it really clear that this has always been our intent and we want to make it real clear,” said Riggs.

The bill passed the committee with the support of lawmakers like Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, who described HB 314 as a life-saving bill.

“There are many people who have had their lives spared because an off-duty police officer or retired police officer was able to deescalate or neutralize a threat. So we’re grateful to you, this is a great bill, I’m voting yes,” Benvenuti said.

Voting against the bill was Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, who said carrying a gun “gives a false sense of security.”

“It just encourages and proliferates more violence in our society. I vote no,” she said.

HB 314, which is also sponsored by Rep. Charles Miller, D-Louisville, now goes to the full House for consideration.


This Week at the Kentucky State Capitol

March 4, 2016

This Week at the State Capitol

February 29-March 4

FRANKFORT— A flurry of new bills were introduced this week as filing deadlines for the  Kentucky Senate and House came and went.

Eighty-eight bills were filed before the deadline in the House on Tuesday, followed by 37 in the Senate before the chamber’s Thursday deadline. That brings the total bills introduced in this year’s General Assembly session to 937. That total is the largest since 2008.

Topics for the deadline filings ranged from tax credits to promote investment in rural Kentucky counties and charter school pilot programs to medical marijuana programs. Even fees for horse jockeys.

As new bills were being filed this week, other bills continued working their way through the process. Bills that advanced in recent days include measures on:

Ultrasounds. The state Senate passed a bill requiring an ultrasound be performed before an abortion is performed. Under Senate Bill 152, the physician would also be required to provide a simultaneous explanation of the image to the patient. The patient would have the option to view the image but would not be required to do so. The bill also sets penalties for doctors failing to comply: $100,000 for a first offense and $250,000 for each subsequent violation, as well as being reported to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. SB152 was passed Monday and advanced to the House for consideration.

Emergency personnel fitness. House Bill 384, passed by the House on Monday, would allow local governments to create and adopt voluntary health and fitness programs for their emergency personnel staffers. The bill does not include any mandate or appropriation for the programs, but allows local governments to accept private or public monies to set up such programs. HB384 is now in the hands of the Senate.

Kentucky Horse Park. Also on Monday, the Senate voted to reduce the size of the horse park’s governing board. Senate Bill 200 would trim the park commission from 17 members to nine. The bill is now in the House’s hands.

Nuclear power plants. Senate Bill 89 would change several requirements that have effectively prevented construction of nuclear power plants in Kentucky. The bill would change the requirement that facilities have means of permanent disposal of nuclear waste. Instead, they would only be required to have a plan for its safe storage, and that the plans be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The bill passed a Senate vote on Tuesday and was forwarded to the House.

Protect emergency, health officials. On Tuesday, the House passed a bill that would increase the amount of time someone convicted of the attempted murder of a police officer or firefighter would be required to serve before being eligible for parole. Under House Bill 137, at least of 85 percent of a prison term would have to be served. House Bill 210, which adds health department inspectors and other staff to a class of protected professions, also passed a floor vote. HB210 would upgrade an attack on a health department employee to a third-degree assault. Both bills are now being considered in the Senate.

Victim rights. Senate Bill 175 would put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to create a crime victim bill of rights. Victims of violent crimes would have the right to be notified of court hearings, the punishment and the release date for the perpetrator, as well as be involved throughout the justice process. Passed by the Senate on Tuesday, the measure is now under consideration by the House.

Conceal carry. The House Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 314, which would allow off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons in all locations on-duty officers can. HB 314 now faces a vote before the entire House.

Sexting. The Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would spare juveniles from a felony record if caught “sexting” – transmitting nude videos or photos of themselves or other minors via mobile phone. Senate Bill 37 would reduce the penalty from a felony to a Class-B misdemeanor for the first offense for perpetrators under the age of 18. Subsequent offenses would be Class-A misdemeanors. SB37 now goes to the House for consideration.

Executive branch ethics. House Bill 608, passed Thursday by the House State Government committee, is an update the Kentucky Executive Branch code of ethics. The bill includes language that would require state employees and Executive Branch officials to report suspected ethics code violations to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. The bill would also allow the Commission to use its restricted funds, something that currently isn’t allowed unless authorized in the state budget. The bill would also give the Commission authority to change the registration fee charged to executive branch lobbyists. The fee is currently $125.

House Bill 608 is now up for a full House vote.

The General Assembly works best when citizens are informed and engaged. To offer feedback on issues under consideration or to ask questions about legislative topics, call the Assembly’s toll-free message line at 800-372-7181.

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