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Senate bills worth watching

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Last session, thousands of Kentuckians rallied against the policies and ideas of both President Trump and Gov. Bevin. Here these protesters sang just below the Senate steps.

Last session, thousands of Kentuckians rallied against the policies and ideas of both President Trump and Gov. Bevin. Above, protesters sang just below the Senate steps.  

 

As of Friday, 75 bills have been filed in the Kentucky Senate and some of these should garner both attention and outrage.

With pension demands and the weakened state budget remaining the focus of the 2018 legislative session, it should cause great concern a number of Senate Republicans are requesting an appropriation for private school vouchers.

Senate Bill 36, filed by the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity’s favorite Republican Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester, is an “Act relating to opportunities in education and making an appropriation therefor.”

It is a tax-credit voucher program for students who are from low and middle-income families; in the state’s foster care system; students with special needs or receive special educational services and that would qualify for the tax credit to specifically “qualified nonpublic schools.”

While most Kentuckians understand how important education is to every child, the Republican Senate wants to instead ensure public money is diverted from public schools that serve almost 700,000 of Kentucky’s children and put it into “qualifying nonpublic schools.”

The public school system hasn’t recovered from the cuts across the state during the recession, and instead of being an ally of public education, Republicans remain its greatest threat.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Education Committee with Republican co-sponsors Sen. Mike Wilson of Bowling Green, Sen. Dan Seum of Fairdale and Sen. Max Wise of Campbellsville. It hasn’t received a hearing yet.

It would be remiss not to add that Democratic Rep. Attica Scott of Louisville has filed a bill repealing all charter school legislation passed in the last session with Democratic House co-sponsors from Kentucky’s metro areas of Louisville and Lexington.

Alvarado continues to draft legislation damaging to Kentuckians seeking any recourse for malpractice suits.

Given it’s one of the Republican Senate majority’s top-five priority bills, the public should pay attention to Alvarado’s Senate Bill 2 .

The bill proposes an amendment to our Kentucky Constitution giving the Legislature the power to limit “damages for injuries resulting in death or for injuries to persons or property, and to provide a uniform statute of limitations.”

All proposed amendments to the state constitution would be put on the ballot during an election for Kentuckians to vote on.

Notably, the bill’s provisions would give the General Assembly the power to decide those limits and with a Republican supermajority at present in Frankfort we should all be concerned.

The bill was assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Committee on Jan. 3, and hasn’t received a hearing yet.

Alvarado addresses malpractice fee limits in his Senate Bill 20 assigned to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Jan. 4. The bill hasn’t had a hearing yet, but its provision would not allow a malpractice claim be heard in court unless it’s accompanied by “ an affidavit of merit, or if a medical review panel  has given an opinion,” on the claim. It limits the amount for attorneys’ fees to no greater than 35 percent of the first $100,000 of awarded damages, 25 percent of the next $100,000 of awarded damages and 10 percent of the balance of any awarded damages.

Noteworthy bills filed by Senate Democrats include Sen. Reggie Thomas of Lexington who has filed a bill for early voting and raising the minimum wage in Kentucky over a period of years.

Sen. Julian Carroll, of Frankfort has filed a bill allowing sports wagering at horse parks. The revenue from this bill would help pay down pension debt. He has also filed a CBD oil prescription bill that would allow doctors anywhere in Kentucky to legally prescribed the CBD oil in the state.