Felicia Rabourn

As our work during the legislative interim continues, last week also provided us an opportunity to reflect on the measures we passed during the 2022 Regular Session as more than a hundred took effect.

Public Assistance Program Integrity - HB 7 toughens penalties for public benefits fraud and adds a community engagement program for able-bodied adult Medicaid recipients without a child or dependent. The bill also requires the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet to develop a job placement assistance program. Additionally, HB 7 calls for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to analyze the cost of utilizing a single benefit card and for a pilot program utilizing a third party to provide oversight and technology to improve child welfare.

Church is Essential - HB 43 excludes houses of worship from emergency condemnation authority and prohibits governmental entities from prohibiting religious services during an emergency to a greater extent than imposed on other essential services. The measure also prohibits the government from taking any discriminatory action against a religious organization on the basis of the organization’s religious beliefs.

Classroom Safety and Security - HB 63 requires a school resource officer (SRO) on every public school campus by August 1. The measure clears up confusion by clarifying the SRO position must be physically on the assigned campus. It additionally requires school districts to report to the security marshal any problems with funding or staffing officers so a plan can be devised to help them.

Lifeliners Act - HB 79 includes telecommunicators as eligible participants in the Law Enforcement Professional Development and Wellness Program in order to extend mental health resources.

Empowering Parents at School Board Meetings - HB 121 requires local school boards to set aside at least 15 minutes at each meeting for community members to provide input in order to allow more input from parents and guardians.

Increased Access to GEDs - HB 194 allows students unable to graduate to immediately begin working on their General Educational Development (GED) tests to be eligible for more job options.

Expanding Access to Assisted Outpatient Treatment- HB 127 expands the use of Tim’s Law to better serve more Kentuckians in need of court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT). Tim’s Law was adopted in 2017 and has proven effective in allowing families, mental health providers, law enforcement officers and others to help someone with a serious mental illness.

Dalton’s Law: Drug Trafficking - HB 215 enhances the penalty for importing carfentanil, fentanyl, or fentanyl derivatives to a Class C Felony. The measure increases time served for both the importing and the aggravated trafficking of fentanyl and related substances from a minimum of 50 percent served to a minimum of 85 percent.

Protecting Children: Kami’s Law - HB 263 increases the penalties for those convicted of abusing a child under the age of 12. The measure elevates the abuse to a violent crime, which requires anyone convicted to serve at least 85% of their sentence.

Public Agency Transparency - HB 453 revises open meetings laws to address video teleconferencing.

New Heart Attack Response Guidelines - HB 512 establishes the framework for designating hospitals based on the level of care they can provide heart attack patients. This designation helps ensure timely access to quality care with seamless transition from one stage to the next, while also creating more communication and collaboration between hospitals and EMS around the state.

Expanded Counseling Services for Public Safety Personnel - SB 64 permits the creation of peer counseling groups in and out of local fire and police departments. The peer review programs fall under established departmental protocols and the content of the meetings shall be confidential unless the conversations relate to an employee’s announced intent to commit suicide, the admission of a violent crime against a minor child or senior adult, or the intent to carry out a dangerous act against another individual.

Fairness in Women’s Sports Act - SB 83 prevents biological males from competing in women’s athletics in middle school through college and requires public schools and higher education institutions to designate athletic activities by sex—boys, girls, or coed.

These are just a handful of examples of the new laws. If you would like more information or a complete list, please let me know. As always, in the meantime, I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Felicia.Rabourn@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information, please visit the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov.