The 2023 Legislative Session is in the home stretch, with only six more days before we enter the veto period. Next week we will be in session Monday through Thursday with two days being for the House and Senate chambers to find agreement on any qualifying legislation. Friday, March 17 will begin the 10-day veto period until Tuesday, March 29 for the Governor to consider all legislation lawmakers have sent to his desk.

The session’s week six began to include the House and Senate chambers considering the other’s bills through legislative committees, giving several final passages and sending them to the Governor’s desk.

Bills sent to the Governor for consideration in week six included measures addressing:

· Teacher workforce shortages (Senate Bill 49) and providing professional development opportunities to educators (Senate Bill 70).

· Unemployment insurance (House Bill 146).

· Educational opportunities and workforce challenges (Senate Bill 54).

· Strengthening Kentucky’s rich spirits industry and helping small farm wineries (Senate Bill 28).

Bills and resolutions approved by the Senate in week six and now with the state House of Representatives for consideration include:

Probably the most significant bills passing this week were those looking to fix the broken Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) system. One bill, Senate Bill 158, provides funding for the state auditor’s office to contract for an independent audit of DJJ facilities. The audit would require DJJ staff be able to speak freely without the pressure of being accompanied by a supervisor or anyone higher up in the department. The other bills was Senate Bill 162, which will go a long way in repairing a broken culture within DJJ. It returns the state to a regional model, gives detained youth better access to mental health services, provides for professional development opportunities for staff, creates a program to allow retired staff to return to work, ensures staff have a means of protecting themselves and others, and reorganizes the department, strengthening the chain of command and making a division of compliance.

Senate Bill 7 would ensure public sector dollars are not being politically weaponized against many of the taxpayers it exists to serve by engaging in funding political action committees through deductions directly from public employees’ paychecks.

The bill would prohibit taxpayer-funded and public-sector entities from facilitating employee contributions to political action committees without an employee’s written consent. It would disallow public employers from assisting a labor organization or other entity in collecting funds or financial information if the funds are used for political purposes. The bill provides the application of these restrictions if deductions were made under bargaining agreements before the effective date of this bill is not allowed.

Senate Bill 7 carries an emergency designation, which means it would go into effect immediately upon filing with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.

Senate Bill 115 is a simple bill consisting of barely over one page. It would protect children from exposure to sexually explicit performances in the public square. It defines “adult performance” as a sexually explicit performance. This would include a live performance or a performance involving male or female impersonators who provide entertainment to sexually arouse or appeal to sexual desires, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration, which taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. A person would be guilty of engaging in an adult performance when the performance is held on publicly-owned property or in a location where the person knows—or should know—that the adult performance could be viewed by a person under 18. The bill outlines penalties for participants and business owners knowingly exposing minors to sexually explicit performances.

Senate Bill 138 establishes guidelines helping the Education and Professional Standards Board to improve the certification of substitute teachers. The measure will serve to address workforce challenges within school systems. The bill creates three certification categories for substitute teacher applicants after state-required preliminary screenings and background checks.

Senate Bill 202 is a measure to address the increasing challenges related to student behavior our teachers and school administrators are dealing with regularly. The bill provides local school boards more flexibility to place students into alternative learning programs if the student is considered a safety threat or is likely to cause a substantial disruption by allowing an expulsion to expand beyond one year. Students are to be placed—with review by the superintendent and due process for the parent—in an alternative education setting that may include, but is not limited to, a virtual program or academy and may include a performance-based program.

Senate Bill 282 adds hit-and-run accidents to the definition of criminally injurious conduct. It increases the award caps for awards to crime victims from the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, which has not been increased since the 1970s and 1980s. The bill would increase the lost wages for financial support caps from $150 a week to $300 a week so victims of crime will receive the financial support needed to recover from their injuries and losses. It would increase the funeral and burial expense cap from $5,000 to $7,500, providing more significant financial support to families who have lost a loved one to a crime. Additionally, Senate Bill 282 would increase the overall cap award for medical and mental health counseling expenses from $25,000 to $30,000, recognizing the high cost of medical treatment and counseling services for victims of crime.

Senate Joint Resolution 98 looks to ensure our postsecondary education institutions are keeping up with the needs of students. It would require the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to study public universities and community and technical colleges and require the CPE president to report findings to the Legislative Research Commission and at least to the Interim Joint Committees (IJC) on Economic Development and Workforce Investment and the IJC on Education by December 1, 2023. I cast a yes vote on this bill and took some time to speak to how I hope this study can benefit the University Center of Southern Kentucky in Somerset and the University Center of the Mountains in Hazard, which serves students in our region and plays a big role in preparing our future and workforce.

Senate Joint Resolution 101 seeks solutions to make it easier for residents in rural counties to get their instructional permits in light of the state’s transition to regional driver licensing services. The resolution would direct the Kentucky State Police to establish a pilot program of remote testing for instruction permits in counties that do not have a regional driver licensing office. Minimum requirements would have to be met concerning the pilot program, such as requiring regular testing intervals, coordination with local libraries and high schools to have a host location for testing, exploration of technological innovations that could allow someone to oversee remote testing and verify exam results, and coordinating testing schedules with pop-up remote drivers licensing services. KSP would be directed to collect data and pilot program results and report to the Interim Joint Committee on Transportation no later than November 30, 2023.

Watch live legislative activity at You can also track the status of other legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181.

I certainly want to hear from you if you have any questions or comments about any public policy issue during the ongoing 2023 legislative session. You can contact me at 502-564-8100 or email me at

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