It was a busy but productive fifth week of the 2020 Regular Session as we passed a wide array of bills through the Senate and continued biennial budget discussions.
The Kentucky Constitution requires that the budget bill must originate in the House of Representatives, but I and my colleagues in the Senate are preparing, in order to be ready for when we receive the House’s bill. The Senate Appropriations & Revenue Committee has already begun an intensive review of the governor’s budget proposal. Crafting the Commonwealth’s two-year budget, along with the road plan, takes time; but for good reason. It is important that we get it right.
I promise to put in in all the time necessary to help meet as many needs in Laurel County as possible. In fact, I look forward to sitting down soon with fellow representatives of Laurel County to discuss our priorities for the county as your state elected officials. I will work hard for you in the Senate and I trust they will work hard for you in the House. Specifically, I am keeping Laurel County roadways in mind as we look through the road plan with a fine tooth comb. I look forward to conversations on this topic with Laurel County elected officials in the weeks ahead.
Another issue related to our state budget brings me to actions this week in the committee I serve as Chairman of. The Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection Committee met for the second time of the session on Thursday. Earlier in the week, I learned that House Bill 24, a bill that provides funding for a Veterans Center in Bowling Green, was assigned to my committee. I wanted to waste no time in moving forward with this bill. A center like this for veterans anywhere in Kentucky ultimately is beneficial to all. We must do all we can for our Veterans.
Frankfort was busy this week as many groups such as the Kentucky Farm Bureau, Kentucky Rural Health Association, Association for Nurse Practitioners, FRYSC’s, and many more visited and spoke with lawmakers about important issues. I appreciate everyone taking the time to visit and discuss relevant topics facing our great state, including visitors to my office from the county.
My two pages this week on the Senate Floor were Mr. Seth Smallwood of Menifee County High School and Lauren Hardy of Estill County Middle School. I hope they enjoyed their unique experience of being on the Senate Floor. They were a great help. I would love to have students from Laurel County join me as a page in the future. If you know a young person interested in serving as a page for this session, please have them contact my office so that we can arrange to welcome them in Frankfort for what is a wonderful experience.
The Senate Majority made notable progress on the 2020 legislative agenda, successfully passing 11 bills over the week, including our priority legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 1. The bill will create no additional responsibilities for law enforcement or agencies, but it does require no less be done than what federal statutory law states. SB 1 preemptively prohibits local municipalities from enacting sanctuary immigration policies. There had already been discussions in one of Kentucky’s major cities to enact such policies. That would be irresponsible and dangerous. While many can agree that federal immigration law needs to be addressed by Congress, current laws should be enforced to ensure the safety of the public, and provide law enforcement with the assurance that they can enforce laws in good faith. I was proud to co-sponsor and vote yes on this bill.
Several other bills I was happy to vote to pass was SB 42, 60, and 63.
SB 63 would allow high school dropouts who are at least 21 years of age and have at least 16 credit hours to complete their graduation requirements through online programs.
Keeping in the tradition of ensuring we protect the most vulnerable among us, I cast a vote in favor of SB 60, a measure to add Spinal Muscular Atrophy to the list of heritable conditions tested at birth. This screening would be provided at no additional cost to the family or the Kentucky taxpayers.
SB 42 makes emergency hotline numbers available to students in middle school through post-secondary education, by requiring those schools that currently provide student ID badges to place domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide prevention numbers on them. Suicide rates among young people is a real epidemic. I encourage you to have honest conversations with the young people in your life and let them know they are loved. Tragic stories arise far too often of someone who has taken their life. Life is precious and we should take time to let others know their life is precious to us.
Other bills that passed the Senate this week was House Resolution 8, consent resolutions confirming reappointments to state boards, & other Senate bills. You can find information on bills by visiting legislature.ky.gov.
To those who have reached out or visited my office in the past weeks, thank you for staying engaged during these early weeks of the session. I appreciate your input and urge you to continue making your voices heard in Frankfort.
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 at Albert.Robinson@LRC.ky.gov.
Senator Albert Robinson (R-London) represents the 21st District comprised of Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Powell, Menifee and Bath Counties. Senator Robinson serves as the chairman of the Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee. He is also a member of the Banking and Insurance Committee; the State and Local Government Committee; the Transportation Committee, and the Mileage Based Transportation Funding Task Force.