Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Jimmy Higdon’

Dueling School Dropout Bills in Ky. Legislature

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Meade County Democrat Rep. Jeff Greer says he won’t give up on getting his school dropout prevention bill passed. This is the fourth consecutive year he has championed a bill to gradually raise the legal school dropout age from 16 to 18.

Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear are behind Greer’s bill. In sessions past, Mrs. Beshear has given a full-throated endorsement of the bill in committee. In his State of the Commonwealth Address on February 6th, the Governor said the “graduation bill” is a big priority. “Every Kentucky school district now has alternative and support programs available for students at risk of dropping out,” said Beshear. “We just have to keep them in school and take advantage of these programs. Every education group supports this legislation, and now a new survey reveals that 85 percent of parents favor it,” he added. Like the Governor, Rep. Greer believes this is the year to get it done. Greer talked about how times have changed since the original law was passed.

Nearly 6,000 kids in Kentucky dropout of school each year. The bill ups the legal dropout age in stages. In July 2017, it rises to 17. In July 2018, it will go up to 18. Senator Jimmy Higdon has a companion school dropout measure in the upper chamber that’s still waiting for committee action. Shelbyville Republican Brad Montell voted in favor of the bill on the House floor last Thursday, but seized the opportunity – as he’d done on numerous occasions before – to vocalize an educational issue he’s been urging the chamber to seriously consider — charter schools.

After about 30 minutes of floor debate, the bill to gradually raise the school dropout age to 18 by the year 2018 cleared the Kentucky House on a vote of 87 to 10. It now heads to the Senate for consideration there, where a competing school dropout bill is in the Senate chamber cache.

Green County Republican David Givens has a bill that was green-lighted by the Senate education committee on the same day the Democratic-controlled House advanced Greer’s bill.
Givens’ Senate Bill 97 would allow, not mandate, local school boards to require kids to stay in school until they turn 18.

Givens’ measure cleared the Senate education committee and now waits for action by the entire Senate chamber.

Tune in each weeknight at 11pm ET on KET for a recap of the day’s activities in Frankfort on “Legislative Update.” And, follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for constant updates.

Special Taxing District and Pro-Life Bills Advance

Monday, February 11th, 2013

State lawmakers have been hustling at a near breakneck pace to rush through legislation upon their return to the Capitol after a three-week hiatus. Pension reform, streamlining reporting for special taxing districts, and more are gaining momentum.

At the end of last week, a bill to ensure greater financial transparency of special taxing districts such as water, sewer, and volunteer fire department boards and library boards had cleared one chamber’s hurdles and is heading toward the other. The purpose of House Bill One is to simplify and clarify muddled statutes dealing with special taxing districts. It’s sponsored by House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts Adam Edelen is a key ambassador. Edelen performed a comprehensive review of some 13-hundred special districts across the state last year and found that more than 2.7-billion dollars flows through them with murky accountability. That’s not all the auditor found, says Stumbo.

House Speaker Stumbo’s House Bill One cleared the House on a vote of 96 to one. The measure has bi-partisan and bi-cameral support. Earlier last week in a press conference, Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer of Georgetown pledged his support and said he believes the measure passes the litmus test by which his chamber will judge it.

Thayer was given credit by Auditor Edelen for championing the issue of government transparency and accountability 8 years ago. The special taxing districts bill, House Bill One, now awaits assignment to a Senate committee for action there.

While House Bill One was being endorsed by the House, the Kentucky Senate advanced — with few objections — two measures that critics say would limit abortion access. The body first acted on Senate Bill 4 sponsored by Jimmy Higdon and President Pro-Tem Katie Stine. Their bill requires a woman seeking an abortion to have face-to-face counseling 24 hours before the procedure. Proponents cited incidences where women were receiving that information by telephone instead of the face-to-face counseling that existing law intended.

The other “informed consent for abortion” measure calls for a woman to undergo an ultrasound of the fetus. Senator Paul Hornback’s Senate Bill 5 doesn’t require the woman to look at the image, but the physician would have to describe it to her. Lexington Democratic Senator Kathy Stein was one of the four Senators who voted against both measures. She condemned the bill as a degradation of women’s rights and cast it as a re-victimization of women who may have suffered sexual assault. Both informed consent for abortion measures head to the state House where they have not gotten traction in previous legislative sessions.

Watch “Legislative Update” each weeknight for a report of the most significant activities at the Capitol at 11pm ET. Monday night will feature Congressmen Thomas Massie and John Yarmuth and U.S. Senator Rand Paul testifying in favor of industrial hemp legislation (SB 50) in committee.

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