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STATE SENATOR ROBBY MILLS’ LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

STATE SENATOR ROBBY MILLS’ LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Bill Stephens

February 26th, 2021

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I hope that you and your family remained safe during the period of heavy ice and snowstorms. We really cannot say enough about the men and women who work to keep the roads clear and the lights on. Stories across the Commonwealth included county personnel helping other counties, emergency efforts to get necessities to people who were without, and so much more. During crises, the general good in people shows through, and the storm is braved together. Thank you to all involved in helping restore normalcy. 

Severe winter weather forced the Kentucky General Assembly to pause Regular Session activity during the week of February 15. My colleagues and I returned to Frankfort on Monday to resume legislative work on your behalf.

Upon returning to Frankfort, the House and Senate got back to work on legislative business with robust committee meeting agendas and policy discussions on the floor, each passing several bills out of their respective chambers this week. 

Bills that are deemed as “priority” seek to address the state’s most immediate challenges or focus on areas of the law that are of importance to Kentuckians. Several priority measures relate to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the Commonwealth. Some seek to apply practical solutions to unemployment insurance issues and the economy, while others promote stronger legislative oversight to improve government transparency, among other topics. 

Several priority bills continued through the legislative process this week. They included Senate Bill’s 4, 6, and 10. 

Senate Bill 4 is a bipartisan measure that would create procedures and requirements for the issuance of both search warrants and arrest warrants that authorize entry without notice, commonly known as no-knock warrants. They would be allowed for instances where someone was believed to be in immediate danger, such as kidnapping cases. The no-knock warrants would also be allowed when sought in connection to cases involving certain violent crimes, terrorism, or weapons of mass destruction.

SB 4 serves to make potentially dangerous circumstances safer for both law enforcement and the public while also strengthening the public trust in agencies. 

Senate Bill 6 enacts new safeguards to ensure ethical behavior within the executive branch, particularly regarding members of gubernatorial transition teams’ actions and behaviors. Transition teams consist of folks who help a governor-elect transition from candidate to the official office. They will help select individuals who will serve in the various positions within the governor-elect’s administration and help determine policy goals and the new administration’s general framework. 

Senate Bill 10 also made passage in the Senate. I feel that this measure can lead to meaningful dialogue and create a conducive environment for considering solutions for challenges facing communities across the Commonwealth. If passed, SB 10 would establish a Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity within the legislative branch to conduct studies and research where disparities may exist across sectors of educational equity, healthcare, economic opportunity, criminal justice, and more. The Commission established would have the authority to hold monthly meetings, seek comment and testimony from various individuals and organizations, and provide research to recommend data-driven policy initiatives. 

Other bills passing in the Senate included: 

Senate Bill 52 closes existing loopholes in state statutes that prevent the punishment of some law enforcement who commit sexual assault. It clarifies that a peace officer who sexually assaults a subject held in custody is guilty of applicable class D felony in which they engaged.

Senate Bill 55 prohibits copayments or cost-sharing from being paid by any medical assistance recipients. It prohibits deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance requirements for Medicaid telehealth services and copayments charged in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP). SB 55 applies to Medicaid Services or any Managed Care Organization (MCO) contracted by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Senate Bill 56 limits the number of MCO contracts to operate the Medicaid program to three. Currently, there are five. Limiting them to three will increase efficiencies within the Medicaid program and lower administrative costs for healthcare providers.

Senate Bill 65 nullifies administrative regulations that were found deficient during the 2020 legislative interim and prohibits their re-enactment for a designated period if identical to or substantially the same. One limitation the legislature found flawed last year would have provided SNAP benefits to parents of children who have chosen to be absent in the child’s life.

Senate Bill 102, a measure I am sponsoring, also passed favorably out of the Senate this week. This bill would expand the Kentucky Proud agricultural marketing program to allow products produced from Asian carp, paddlefish, or sturgeon to be qualified to use the Kentucky Proud logo on packaging as long as the fish were harvested from a body of water in Kentucky.

Senate Bill 141, another bill I am proud to be sponsoring, establishes guidelines for distributing funds remaining in the Kentucky coal workers’ pneumoconiosis fund. It would provide for the distribution of funds claimed by coal companies to pay wages, amounts owed to counties, cities, school systems or school districts, and more. Finally, it provides excess funds to go to unpaid workers and the Kentucky coal employers’ self-insurance guarantee fund

Senate Bill 148 declares the need for childcare in our communities as essential by requiring CHFS to identify emergency care providers who provide vital child care services during a state of emergency. It addresses a problem many families have struggled with throughout the last year concerning available childcare. The bill would return childcare classroom sizes to pre-COVID-19 numbers and allow them to combine classes during the opening and closing hours once again.

Bills making it to the governor last week for his consideration included Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 6.

As you can see, the General Assembly is not taking any time for granted. We are now past the halfway point of the 2021 Regular Session, with much work left to do. I will continue to provide weekly legislative updates in the weeks ahead. God Bless. 

If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, please call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me Robby.Mills@LRC.ky.gov.

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Note:  Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson) represents the 4st District, which includes Caldwell, Crittenden, Henderson, Livingston, Union, and Webster Counties. Senator Mills serves as the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on State & Local Government. He also serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection and Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor. Additionally, Senator Mills serves as a member on the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, & Public Protection and the Public Pension Oversight Board.

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