Frankfort Local News

Rx Pill Bill Delayed as Senate Takes a Second Look

A bill aimed at cracking down on prescription pill abuse could be stalled once again in the Kentucky Senate.

Senate leaders say they are still reviewing the bill, which would enhance the KASPER tracking system and make it part of the attorney general’s office.

The chamber is taking an extra day to look over the bill and has scheduled a committee meeting for tomorrow, what was supposed to be the last day of the special session.

Senator Robert Stivers says he has questions about how the bill is different from the measure lawmakers nearly voted on during the regular session.

Frankfort Local News

Future of Coal County Scholarship Program Uncertain

A bill to create a scholarship fund to help students from coal mining counties in Kentucky finish their education is once again in limbo.

House Bill 260 would create a fund to give scholarships to college juniors and seniors who finish their degrees at schools in coal-producing counties.

The program was originally meant only for students from eastern Kentucky, but it was expanded to apply to students from all 38 mining counties in the state.

The updated bill didn’t pass before lawmakers adjourned for a veto recess last week, leaving only one day for both chambers to approve the measure. House Speaker Greg Stumbo says he’s not sure why the Senate didn’t vote on the bill.

“Well some of us would like to see House Bill 260 come on down, you know as far as I know that one is an agreed to bill. I don’t know if they’re holding it because they think they can use it for leverage for something up here,” he says.

Senator Robert Stivers says his chamber didn’t intentionally ignore the bill. It simply got lost in the last-minute shuffle to pass a budget last week. 

When we return on the 12th, we will take that up,” he says, referring to the final legislative day this year, when lawmakers meet to override gubernatorial vetoes. 

Frankfort Local News

Prescription Pill Bill Will Be Voted on After Veto Recess

Confusion and last-minute lobbying have potentially derailed what some Kentucky lawmakers considered the hallmark of the current legislative session.

House Bill 4 is better known as the prescription pill bill. It’s centerpiece is the transfer of the KASPER drug tracking system to the attorney general’s office.

Late last week, it appeared lawmakers had struck a last-minute deal to pass the bill before this week’s recess. But confusion about which amended version of HB4 was up for a vote mired them in procedural minutiae.

Eventually, legislators decided to give up on the compromise until they come back to Frankfort for their last legislative day on April 12.

“Some people wanted to read through it. And after a week of 3 o clock mornings and things of that nature and the text of the respective things that have gone through today, people were actually tired and desirous of getting back home on the weekend and to their families and children and friends,” says Senator Robert Stivers.

Frankfort Local News

School Construction Could Be A Roadblock in Budget Talks

Kentucky lawmakers continue to work on a budget compromise.

Both chambers of the General Assembly have approved budget bills and a conference committee has been meeting since Monday to work out the differences. One major point of disagreement is funding for school construction. It’s a priority for the House. But Senators were not ready to haggle during a Tuesday morning session.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the issue is so important to his chamber that a disagreement could derail budget talks.

“We feel very strongly about that because it’s not only good government, it not only replaces these facilities but it’s job creation,” he says.

The issue has caused problems between the two chambers before. But despite the disagreement and a heavy workload, Senator Robert Stivers says the conference committee is making swift progress.

“There are points that people have disagreement on but there is legitimate discussion going on, give and take, throughout the process and it’s moving forward in the 16 years I’ve been around as fast as I’ve seen it,” he says.

The conference committee members must still take up coal severance projects and preschool funding, two more potential stumbling blocks.

Lawmakers have until roughly 3 am Thursday to agree on a compromise in order to pass the budget by early Friday morning. If they don’t pass a budget this week, they may not be able to save a day later in the session to override gubernatorial vetoes.

Frankfort Local News

Lawmakers Propose Partial Sales Tax Refunds for Residents of Tornado-Stricken Areas

Kentucky lawmakers are planning to help home and business owners in tornado-stricken areas.

Earlier this month, tornadoes ripped through Northern and Eastern Kentucky, causing millions of dollars in damage. But lawmakers are working on legislation to give storm victims refunds on sales tax for building materials.

The plan addresses a concern that people won’t rebuild destroyed towns.

“If you were, got an insurance check or a FEMA check, you may look around and there be such devastation in your community that you might decide you want to locate somewhere else,” says Representative John Will Stacy, who lives in the hard-hit town West Liberty. “But we don’t want to leave our communities like that, we want to fix these areas and we don’t want to leave a blighted area,” Stacy says.

The proposal has the support of leadership of both parties in both legislative chambers.

At a news conference announcing the proposal, lawmakers said they are looking at other ways to help the area, but the current proposal is the only solid effort so far.

Frankfort Local News

Senate Passes Bill That Changes Redistricting Process

A bill that would alter the section of the state Constitution dealing with redistricting is moving through the state legislature.

The Senate took up the measure today. The bill passed mostly on party lines in the Republican-controlled chamber, 27-11.

Senate Bill 18 provides more guidance to lawmakers drawing new districts in split counties and gives preference to federal rules over previous state law.

But Senator Robert Stivers says the biggest change would be one that could keep lawmakers in session if they can’t pass new maps in a timely manner.

“If it is not completed, and the committee substitute clarifies this, by April 15 which is the stated day of adjournment, sine die, for the General Assembly, that we must stay beyond that period of time, April 15, to complete the task of redistricting,” he says.

Frankfort Local News

House Judiciary Committee Has First Hearing on PSE Bill

A proposal to restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine-containing medicine is now up for discussion in the Kentucky House of Representatives. The cold medicine is a key ingredient in meth production, and lawmakers hope restricting PSE will reduce meth use in the commonwealth.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a compromise proposal. That bill limits consumers to seven point two grams of PSE-medicines over the counter each month. The House Judiciary Committee heard from supporters of that compromise measure today.

State Representative Linda Belcher is the House point person on the issue. She told the committee that she still wishes for a more restrictive bill.

“This bill is not as strong as I would like. And when I first heard about it and talked with the senators I really wanted to do a couple of things and make a couple of amendments. But again, I feel very strongly this bill needs to pass,” she says.

Frankfort Local News

Senate Bill Would Amend Constitution on Redistricting, Defer to Federal Law

A move to amend the provisions of Kentucky’s constitution that deal with redistricting has been introduced in the state Senate.

State Senator Robert Stivers’s bill would change the laws around redistricting, and give more direction for how medium-sized counties could be split.

Right now, the constitution says that any county that can be made one whole district cannot be split. But Stivers’s language would allow some counties that can’t be split under that rule to now be open to divisions.

Frankfort Local News

State Senate Passes Bill Regulating PSE Medicine Use

A bill regulating the amount of certain cold medicines consumers can buy over the counter has passed the State Senate. The bill is intended to crack down on meth users, who use cold medicine to make the illegal drug.

Senate Bill 3 passed after an amendment raised the monthly pseudoephedrine allotment to seven point two grams per month—or the equivalent of two boxes of medicine. Previously the bill had been prescription only, then limited over-the-counter purchase to three point six grams a month.

Senator Robert Stivers was the bill’s main supporter. He says he wants tougher restrictions on PSE, but agreed to the compromise.

“I am not satisfied with the floor amendment. But I understand it is a reasoned compromise and that’s what this process is about,” Stivers says.

Frankfort Local News

Current Bill to Regulate PSE Use In Trouble, Another Compromise Possible

A bill dealing with pseudoephedrine usage could be in trouble for the second straight legislative session.

Supporters of restricting PSE use thought they had a compromise. Previous bills have attempted to make the drug available by prescription only. The latest measure would allow the drug to remain over the counter but limits consumers to three point six grams per month and fifteen grams per year.

The bill gained an extra vote in committee today to send it to the Senate floor.

But after multiple caucus meetings, Senator Robert Stivers says the bill doesn’t have the votes to pass right now.

“Status is uncertain. Successful enough to get it out of committee this morning but due to a very successful lobbying campaign by numerous people and entities we are having a hard time garnering the votes and support on the Senate floor to pass the bill as it came out of committee,” he says.