Last week Gov. Steve Beshear signed the first bill of the 2013 session which will authorize six of Kentucky’s public universities to bond, and assume bonded debt, on specific construction projects at a collective cost of around $363 million. Authorized bonding could not be reflected in tuition increases.
University presidents who testified before a House committee said the legislation will help their schools meet student success and retention goals. House Bill 7 will create more than 5,000 construction jobs and almost $400 million in economic development.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, legislation passed the House Education Committee to address the issue of safety and security in Kentucky schools. House Bill 354 tightens rules on developing school safety plans and practice drills, enhances communication with law enforcement, and calls for the safe and secure design of school buildings. The measure also recognizes and addresses the need to deal with mental illness.
Legislation which would provide transparency and oversight of Kentucky's child protection system cleared the House and is now on its way to the Senate.
House Bill 290 opens the path to more effective justice in the fight to end child abuse. The bill allows a qualified, independent panel of police officers, doctors, social workers and prosecutors to review the worst child abuse cases in the Commonwealth and joins efforts to develop an enforcement and protection strategy that will save the lives of Kentucky children.
Several bills that protect victims of domestic violence and sex crimes were approved by the House last week.
House Bill 9 would strengthen and improve the commonwealth's response to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. It would broaden the law to extend domestic violence order protections to people in dating relationships. The bill greatly improves upon the current law which limits protective orders to people who live or have lived together. The bill will extend protections particularly for the group most vulnerable to dating violence, girls aged 16 to 24. House Bill 9 passed with a vote of 92-5.
House Bill 123, which passed the House unanimously, also protects victims of domestic violence from their violent partner through a confidential address protection program.
The bill affords victims of domestic violence the protection of keeping their new address confidential after moving away from potential violent partners.
The House also unanimously passed House Bill 107 to expand the availability of HIV testing to help protect the health of victims of sex crimes. And a measure that would allow police to collect DNA swabs from people arrested for felony crimes without getting a court's permission also cleared the House.
If House Bill 89 becomes law, Kentucky would become the 26th state to allow the automatic collection of DNA evidence before someone has been convicted of a crime.
You can stay informed of legislative action on any bill of interest by using the legislature’s web site at www.lrc.ky.gov . You may also leave a message for any legislator at 1-800-372-7181 or reach me at my Frankfort office (502) 564-8100 and through my web site www.bobdamron.com.