We are 12 days into the 30-day 2023 Regular Session and the pace is picking up in the Capitol. With this legislative update, I want to not only provide you with some key legislation heard in committees this week, but also update you on the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision in regards to abortion.

On Thursday, the Kentucky Supreme Court rejected a request to block Kentucky’s state trigger law and six-week ban on abortion. The state’s trigger law bans abortion except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. The Court ruled that the ban will continue while the case itself is sent back to the Jefferson Circuit Court for further consideration, with the Kentucky Supreme Court further ruling that there was no legal standing to challenge the six-week abortion ban.

While the fight to protect the unborn is not over, this is a major step into the right direction as I hope Kentucky will continue to be a safe place for all Kentuckians, including and especially the unborn. Because we are all made in the image of God, the protection of the unborn is an inalienable right I will consistently stand for and protect while in Frankfort.

Despite the 2023 Regular Session having a shortened legislative calendar than 2022, we are determined to craft legislation that will directly benefit the lives of all Kentuckians.

HB 13: In order to help with the shortage of school bus drivers, HB 13 would make the required physical exam for bus drivers take place once every 24 months, instead of the current once every 12 months. The change to once every 24 months will match federal standards and will give more leeway to school districts finding a replacement bus driver when one is having their physical examination. HB 13 passed the House on Thursday and now heads to the Senate.

HCR 5: Kentucky is ranked fifth nationally in maritime domestic jobs and has roughly 1,600 miles of navigable waterways including the Ohio and Mississippi River. The importance of maintaining Kentucky’s reliable domestic waterways and waterway industries cannot go unnoticed, which is why HCR 5 is an affirmation of the Jones Act and is a celebration of its conception. The Jones Act, section 27 of the Merchant Maritime Act of 1920, states that goods shipped between American ports must be transported on ships built, owned, and operated by U.S. industries, citizens, or permanent residents. HJR 5 passed the House on Thursday.

HB 36: After discussion with Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority, HB 36 will remove the word “insured” from the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation process of financing, making, and purchasing student loans. The purpose of removing the word “insured” will aid Kentucky Higher Education in consolidating their records. HB 36 passed the House on Wednesday and heads to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 32: HB 32 will remove the requirement for classified staff in school buildings to have or show proof of progress towards earning a high school diploma or GED. Classified staff includes cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, and other school personnel who contribute to our schools but do not teach. With HB 32, school districts will now be required to offer GED programming to employees wishing to earn one. Schools in Kentucky are facing heavy staff shortages in nearly all classified staffing areas. HB 32 removes some of the bureaucratic measures that contribute to the low staffing of classified employees and upon passage will take effect immediately. HB 32 passed the House on Friday.

HB 3: This measure would make changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. Juveniles charged with truancy often take part in a diversion agreement, which is a tool used by the courts to combat the negative and harmful effects of truancy. Many times, the child relies on their parents to transport them to the diversion agreement, yet parents sometimes refuse to transport the child. If a court designated worker (CDW) finds the parent refusing to transport the child, the CDW will mark the finding and the parent, according to HB 3, can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. HB 3 also establishes a maximum 48 hour hold for juveniles accused of committing a violent crime. Furthermore, if a child is adjudicated or convicted of a violent crime, the child’s records are open for five years and if during that period, they do not commit another crime, their records will be closed. Lastly, HB 3 proposes the opening of a Jefferson County Youth Detention Center. HB 3 passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

HB 319: This bill addresses the approximate 1,700 shortage of teachers in Kentucky. HB 319 would adopt the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact, allowing educators who hold a license in any eligible state to be granted an equivalent license in Kentucky. The measure would also require the Education Professional Standards Board to accept an “eligible for hire” qualification in place of prior employment for specific certification options. HB 319 would also require the Kentucky Department of Education to establish an online statewide job posting system for vacancies, streamlining an existing hiring process that often requires educators to apply multiple times in multiple counties. Lastly, in order to expand the effectiveness of the Teacher Scholarship Program, HB 319 would eliminate the cap on awards available to individuals. Lawmakers provided $1 million in funding for the scholarship, administered by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) in both years of the current budget. In addition, HB 319 would amend scholarship eligibility requirements to include those who have established permanent residency in Kentucky. HB 319 was filed by Representative James Tipton Wednesday and assigned to the House Education Committee where it will be heard on February 21.

As always, I can be reached on my mobile at 639-7079 or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at James.Tipton@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information on all of the legislation proposed thus far, please visit the legislature’s website at www.legislature.ky.gov.