Legislative update from State Senator Jimmy Higdon

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By Sen. Jimmy Higdon


We are entering the home-stretch of the 2012 General Assembly with the attendant rush of bills, as legislators feel the urgency of the dwindling days.

The Senate had a very full week with legislation, committee meetings, and we received the budget proposal from the House, as well as the state’s road plan.
Visits from groups ranging from homeschoolers to the AARP to 4H also came to the capitol to see their legislator and press for their causes.
Let’s look at the legislation.  I sponsored Senate Bill 158, the Religious Freedom Act, which is designed to protect religious freedom from an overbearing government.
If this constitutional amendment is approved by the House of Representatives, Kentuckians will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not the government has the right to infringe on religious beliefs except in a case of a compelling government interest, and only then, using the least burdensome means.
Courts would have more ammunition in favor of religion in the cases of, for example, the jailing of Amish who refused to highlight their buggies, and people in Bell County who wanted to pray before football games.
SB 158 takes us back to a traditional, more reasonable, standard.
When the Governor issues administrative regulations to implement laws, the regulations are reviewed by the Senate through the Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee.
The House has a similar committee.
However, the problem with the current system is that even if the committee does not approve the regulation, the Governor can still implement it.
Senate Bill 10 makes sure that your duly-elected representative or senator, who know and are a part of your communities, have a say on what can be very burdensome rules.
As administrative regulations can outlive their usefulness, so also can boards and commissions.
Boards and commissions are smaller government entities that the Governor appoints.
Many are obviously important, such as the Public Service Commission, that regulates utility rates, or the Parole Board.
There are others, however, that may be holding on – and costing tax-dollars – often because they have such a low profile.
A comprehensive look is needed to evaluate what Kentucky can afford to have and what we can afford to do without.
Senate Bill 8 sunsets all boards and commissions 180 days after the end of a governor’s term.
This offers a brand new opportunity every four years to review the value of each board and commission.
Diabetes is one of the leading chronic diseases in Kentucky.
While there are many dedicated medical professionals who can assist those with diabetes to manage the disease, there also happens to be those who want to take advantage of the situation.  Senate Bill 198 establishes minimal quality standards by directing that diabetes educators be certified.
Families confronting the disease have enough to worry about.
They should have the peace of mind to know they are receiving correct information from a knowledgeable source.
Finally, Senate Bill 110 invites the community to use our local schools for non-school activities, such as book clubs or intramural sports, during non-school hours, while protecting school district employees from unreasonable lawsuits.
It is unfortunate, but understandable, that many school districts are nervous about opening their facilities to neighborhood groups.
SB 110 will help relieve some of that anxiety while at the same time encouraging community unity and healthy families through artistic, civic, literary and other activities in addition to recreational and sports usage.
Please call me with any thoughts or questions you have about the above or other legislation.
You can call me toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.
In addition, you should feel free to call me at home at (270) 692-6945, if you’d like.
You can also find information on meetings or specific bills online at www.lrc.ky.gov.  
I will continue updating you as we wrap up the Session.
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Note: Senator Jimmy Higdon (R-Lebanon) represents the 14th District including Marion, Mercer, Nelson, Taylor, and Washington counties.