Charter school bill passes, goes to governor

For Immediate Release

March 15, 2017


Charter school bill passes, goes to governor

FRANKFORT—The Kentucky Senate and House each voted today in favor of legislation to allow publicly funded charter schools to operate in Kentucky. The bill now goes to Gov. Matt Bevin, a supporter of charter schools, to be signed into law.

House Bill 520, sponsored by House Education Committee Chairman and public school teacher John Carney, R-Campbellsville, HB 520 would allow local school boards to authorize public charter schools in their school districts beginning with the 2017-2018 school year. The schools would established by contract and governed by independent boards to provide Kentucky residents with nonsectarian educational programs that “meet or exceed student performance standards adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education,” according to the bill.

The Senate voted 23-15 this afternoon in favor of the bill. The House, which already approved a version of the legislation earlier this month, cast a 53-43 vote this evening officially accepting changes made to the bill by the Senate.

Changes to the bill approved by the Senate and the House would allow the state school board to override a local school board’s decision regarding authorization of charter schools and allow for judicial review of the state board’s decision. It would also allow mayors of the state’s two largest cities (Louisville and Lexington) to be authorizers of charter schools upon their request, and emphasize that only certified teachers and administrators approved by the Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board could be hired to teach at the schools.

Other approved changes would allow, not require, charter schools to give enrollment preference to lower-income students, and would allow charter school students who cannot participate in state-sanctioned school athletics at their school to participate in sports at the traditional public school in their district, along with a few other changes.

Kentucky is one of seven states that do not already allow public charter schools, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Latonia, read from a Presidential Proclamation issued by former President Barack Obama in 2012 to make the case in support of charter schools in the Senate this afternoon. McDaniel quoted Obama’s proclamation as saying: “Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country.  These institutions give educators the freedom to cultivate new teaching models and develop creative methods to meet students’ needs.”

In a House debate this evening, Carney said that that public charter schools will give Kentuckians a choice in public education.

“The reality is we have a system that does not work for every child in Kentucky. We teach to the middle,” he said. “Too many folks are being left behind.”

Among those voting against HB 520 was former House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green. Richards said that charter schools would be money-making ventures governed by what he described as “for-profit” companies. 

“If you believe it’s unfair for a for-profit management company to take money away from your school system, you can’t vote for this bill. And it will. These management companies have to make money, folks,” said Richards.

Following passage of HB 520, the House voted 61-34 for final passage of House Bill 471, sponsored by House Appropriations and Revenue Chair Steven Rudy, R-Paducah. That bill would amend the 2016-2018 executive branch budget to create a funding mechanism for charter schools created under HB 520.

Bills to allow charter schools in Kentucky have been filed for consideration in the Kentucky General Assembly since 2008. No charter school bills have passed the House until this year.

–END–

(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 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

CONTINUE READING…

Letter from Sen. McConnell: (RE:) WRDA of 2016 (S. 2848) This legislation supports several projects in Kentucky

 

 

Image result for wrda 2016 senate

Dear Ms. Krider;

Thank you for contacting me regarding America’s waterway infrastructure. I appreciate your taking the time to make me aware of your concerns, and I welcome the opportunity to respond. 

I have long been a tireless advocate for more than 15,000 inland waterways jobs in Kentucky and have used my position as a senior member of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee to advance Kentucky’s inland waterways projects, including the Olmsted Locks and Dam project and the Kentucky Lock and Dam project, among others. You may be interested to know that I was honored by the American Maritime Partnership by being awarded the Champion of Maritime Award in 2014.

As you may know, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) undertakes projects to maintain and restore the nation’s waterways, which are authorized by Congress in Water Resources Development Acts (WRDA). Additionally, WRDA provides for the conservation and development of water resources and authorizes various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors in the United States.

In your correspondence, you expressed your support for the WRDA of 2016 (S. 2848). This legislation supports several projects in Kentucky, including one that will transfer aging infrastructure along the Green and Barren Rivers in Kentucky over to state and local entities so they can determine the best use of this infrastructure, and one that will help the citizens of Paducah better protect themselves from flooding from the Ohio River by helping complete repairs to the city’s flood protection infrastructure.

This legislation also includes assistance for the families affected by lead poisoning, like those in Flint, Michigan, including $100 million for drinking water emergencies, $70 million to subsidize loans for water infrastructure projects, $50 million to help communities comply with drinking water standards, $30 million to reduce lead exposure among children, and $20 million to develop a national lead exposure registry.

Like you, I am very appreciative of the importance of our nation’s inland waterways and flood mitigation infrastructure to our nation, and to the Commonwealth. I am also aware of the importance of WRDA to workers and businesses that rely on our nation’s waterways. For this reason, I was proud to support the WRDA of 2016, which passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3 on September 15, 2016. You may be interested to know that the House of Representatives passed their version of WRDA (H.R. 5303) on September 28, 2016 by a vote of 399-25. Please know that as the House and Senate work towards resolving differences between the two versions, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind. 

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important issue. If you would like to receive periodic updates from my office, please sign up for my eNewsletter at http://mcconnell.senate.gov/, become a fan of my page on Facebook by visiting http://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell or follow my office on Twitter @McConnellPress. In the meantime, I hope you will continue to keep me informed about issues important to you.

Sincerely,

MITCH McCONNELL
UNITED STATES SENATOR

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/water-systems-council-hails-us-senate-passage-of-water-resources-development-act-of-2016-300329105.html

Kentucky Senate approves its version of state budget plan

For Immediate Release

March 23, 2016

Senate approves its version of state budget plan

FRANKFORT—The Senate passed a state budget proposal on Wednesday that restores many of the governor’s priorities for the next two years, including a “permanent fund” for future pension spending, cuts to secondary education funding and performance-based appropriations for college and universities.

All in all, the Senate budget bill includes many of the cuts featured in the Gov. Matt Bevin’s January budget proposal, many of which didn’t survive the House budget plan passed last week.

Still, Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Latonia, the Senate budget committee’s chairman, said it was a balanced effort. Not all the governor’s cuts were preserved.

“The thing I’d say I’m most proud of is that this budget is structurally balanced,” he said. “We do adopt many of the governor’s recommendations for the budget stabilization plan throughout the course of this bill, but we take monstrous steps – historic steps – on maintaining stability and introducing responsibility in addressing the most pressing problem facing us.”

That, he said, is the state pension program challenge, which has unfunded liabilities of more than $31 billion. To start reducing that figure, the Senate budget reinstituted many the governor’s cuts, including a 9 percent reduction in funding for Kentucky colleges and universities.

The budget also resuscitated the governor’s proposal to switch that funding to a performance-based model, with a quarter of the state funding to be based on student retention, graduation rates and other metrics.

The Senate removed from the spending plan a proposal from the House to establish a Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship program, which would make tuition free for high school graduates who enroll in the state’s community colleges. The House budget funded scholarships to the tune of $13 million for the 2017 fiscal year and almost $20 million the following year.

That was cut from the Senate budget, along with funding earmarked for specific projects like school renovations, the Lexington Convention Center and help for areas hit hard by a drop in the coal industry.

The Senate budget passed with only two dissenting votes, while nine Senators passed on the bill.

Sen. Denise Harper-Angel, D-Louisville, said she had reservations about cuts made by the budget, including $1.5 million to Court Appointed Children’s Advocates (CASA) programs, $15 million that was to renovate the Kentucky School for the Blind and $1 million a year to promote breast and cervical cancer screening for women.

“I believe these cuts will adversely affect women, children, families and the disabled. For these reasons and more, I pass,” said Harper-Angel, before offering that she hopes the final budget will offer “better choices.”

Sen. Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, one of two dissenting votes, admitted he was torn. He likes the effort to control the pension problem, but was disappointed in the removal of aide for stricken coal-producing areas.

“I cannot go home this weekend without casting a vote to help bring some reasoning back into this discussion,” he said.

The proposed budget did, however, include some spending not in the House budget, including $32 million in Justice Cabinet funding to fight heroin abuse – the House had reduced it to $20 million – and setting aside $250 million in the “permanent fund” for future pension fund payments. Gov. Bevin’s budget wanted the fund to include $500 million, while the House budget proposed using that money immediately on other expenditures.

The budget is soon expected to land in a conference committee so that Senate and House members can iron out their differences in each of their preferred spending plans.

–END–

KY: Resolution urges Virginia to recognize concealed carry law

News Release

January 27, 2016

Resolution urges Virginia to recognize concealed carry law

FRANKFORT – Leaders from both parties came together on the Senate floor today to condemn Virginia’s recent decision to stop recognizing Kentucky concealed carry permits by passing a joint resolution condemning the move.

Senate Joint Resolution 36 urges Virginia, which borders Eastern Kentucky, to restore a so-called reciprocal agreement that allowed Kentucky concealed carry permit holders to legally carry a concealed firearm in Virginia. The resolution passed by a by a 37-1 vote.

“The governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the attorney general have arbitrarily and unilaterally made a determination that the Commonwealth of Virginia would no longer recognize Kentucky’s concealed carry permits,” said Democratic Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II of Pikeville. “Now, this is a significant problem for Kentuckians, particularly those of us from Eastern Kentucky who, when we travel south, have to travel through the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Republican Floor Leader Sen. Damon Thayer of Georgetown joined Jones as a primary sponsor of the resolution. Eighteen other senators were cosponsors.

“Tens of thousands of Kentuckians, law-abiding citizens, have been trained and permitted to carry firearms for personal protection and defense of their family,” Jones said. “As we see so many mass shooting and terrorist attacks on American soil, I believe it is vitally important that Americans have the right to protect themselves, their families and their friends.”

Jones, a licensed NRA firearms instructor, said Kentucky’s concealed carry law has been a model since its inception and that Kentucky concealed carry holders are not the ones committing mass shootings.

“Gun violence is a problem in this country,” he said. “It is a horrific problem in this country … but the question is how do you address the violence. Do you address it by infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens? I don’t believe that is the answer.”

SJR 36 now goes to the House for consideration.

— END —

Floor votes, committee hearings, and spirited debate highlighted an action-packed second week of session in the Kentucky Senate

Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens
Week in Review

Floor votes, committee hearings, and spirited debate highlighted an action-packed second week of session in the Kentucky Senate. Guests from all corners of the Commonwealth were welcomed to Frankfort to speak on behalf of various bills.

The Senate began passing bills on Thursday, headlined by Senate Bill (SB) 9, a measure to repeal the prevailing wage requirement on public school projects with a cost of over $250,000. Passage of this priority legislation will reduce construction costs on large-scale school projects, thus providing additional funding for education.

On Thursday we were visited by hundreds of young and energetic faces celebrating Children’s Advocacy Day, sponsored by Kentucky Youth Advocates. The group hosted a rally in the Capitol Rotunda where several Senate majority members were recognized for their efforts in standing up for Kentucky’s children.

From Senate committee meetings this week, two of our priority bills—SB 4 and SB 10—were reported favorably. SB 4 would require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor at least 24 hours in advance of the procedure as a measure to help further promote the value of life. SB 10 would move statewide elections to even-numbered years, thus promoting greater voter turnout and saving the Commonwealth money.

Senate Bill 72, which clarifies when the Executive Branch must come before the Legislature to make appropriations and protects the separation of powers in state government, also passed out of the Licensing and Occupation Committee this week.

The Health and Welfare Committee passed SB 20, which would create an appeals process for Medicaid claims denied by a managed care organization, and SB 33, which would require students to receive CPR training one time while enrolled in grades 7-12.

Senate Bill 56, which would extend the look-back window for DUI’s from five years to ten, and SB 60, which would add further protections for vulnerable victims of sex crimes, were both reported out of the Judiciary Committee this week.

In the Education Committee, SB 52 passed, which would allow veterans to receive a provisional teaching certificate after meeting certain criteria. The same committee also passed SB 81, which would require the Department of Education to create a system identifying students with military parents or families in order to ensure these families receive any veteran’s benefits available to them.

As we look forward to another busy week of session, I am proud of the bipartisan demeanor displayed thus far in the Senate. I will continue to commit myself to legislation that will move our Commonwealth forward.

If you have any questions or comments about the 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
State Senator