Posts Tagged ‘Sen. Julie Denton’

Child Care Providers, Advocates Talk About Hardships from Funding Cuts

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

The chair of the Senate health and welfare committee sympathizes with child care providers and advocates aggrieved by spending cuts to a program that many low-income parents depend on to help with child care costs.

Louisville Republican Julie Denton expressed fear in a Wednesday hearing that children could be endangered, their parents forced to quit work, and some child care centers forced to close if the cuts aren’t reversed. The cuts were made to help the Department for Community Based Services shore up a more than $86 million deficit.

A long-time advocate for consumer, health, and social services, Gerry Roll heads a philanthropic foundation in eastern Kentucky called the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky. She said that Kentucky should not take out its financial woes on its children and lamented that working families will buckle under the weight of an unaffordable, yet necessary expense. Asserting that child care subsidies are part of the infrastructure of the state’s economy, Roll detailed the domino effects of the cuts on a child care operation in her native Perry County.

Jack Burch is executive director of the Community Action Council in Lexington. The CAC serves low-income citizens in Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas counties. Burch decried the child care assistance cuts as the worst action the state government has taken against low-income people in more than three decades. He expounded on the math problem low wage-earning parents will scratch their heads to figure out.

Teresa James, head of the Department for Community Based Services, testified that the decision to cut child care assistance was one of the toughest of her tenure. The state will end the program for new applicants on April 1st and significantly limit eligibility based on income starting in July.

A child care provider in Southern Jefferson County, Kristen Tipton, echoed Gerry Roll’s statement that even cheap child care is cost-prohibitive – especially for families that are hanging by a thread.

A Louisville child care director said child care assistance enabled her to adopt two related boys who otherwise would have gone into foster homes. Lakisha Hopson praised the subsidy as a hand up – as opposed to a handout.

Finally, Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair Julie Denton minimized the challenge of restoring the shortfall in the state Department of Community Based Services. Denton claims the budget gap may be about $20 million dollars less than anticipated. Her commentary drew applause from the nearly capacity crowd of child care assistance providers and other advocates who also believe that the state agency’s deficit is not that much to overcome in order to guarantee safe, clean, affordable child care to cash-strapped families.

There was only public testimony taken on the issue as it is unrelated to any proposed legislation at this time.

Tune in each weeknight at 11pm ET on KET for a daily digest of legislative activities. Follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for continuous updates throughout the session.

Nursing Home Litigation Debate Dominates Day 11 in Ky. Legislature

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

An embattled bill establishing a medical review panel system for use in civil litigation against long term care facilities dominated Senate floor action on Wednesday.

Supporters claim the measure will reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits against nursing homes, while opponents maintain the plan will make it harder for nursing home residents and their families to get their day in court for a facility’s neglect or abuse.

Senate Bill 9, which was fast-tracked to the Senate floor last week, resurfaced back in the Senate Health and Welfare committee where it began yesterday. The bill’s atypical odyssey traces back to a schism between Democrat and lawyer Sen. Ray Jones from Pikeville who accused committee chair Julie Denton of rushing action on the bill without hearing opposing views in committee last week.

Senator Jones commandeered the Senate floor Wednesday to air a lengthy argument against Senate Bill 9, which he deems as an unfair indictment of trial lawyers and an injustice to mistreated patients in nursing homes. The sponsor of SB 9, Senator Denton, presented a second iteration of the bill in committee where it was advanced to the Senate floor late yesterday afternoon. That’s where she gives the following explanation:

The debate’s intensity reached its zenith when Pikeville Democrat Ray Jones offered a stern defense of trial attorneys and literally illustrated with dramatically shocking photos showing evidence of neglect of some nursing home patients.

After lengthy debate, Senate Bill 9 cleared the State Senate on a vote of 23 to 12, along party lines. It now heads to the state House of Representatives for consideration there.

A bill that supporters say will not only solve crimes but also exonerate the innocent and save taxpayer money was before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday afternoon. House Bill 89 would add Kentucky to the 25 other states (and the federal government) that allow DNA collection (by mouth swab) at the point of felony arrest. A New Mexico woman who lost her daughter, Katie, to violent crime in 2003 is an ambassador for the law that bears her daughter’s name. The proposal in Kentucky embodied in HB 89 would allow DNA collection from persons arrested for homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, and burglary. Jayann Sepich testified that in the three-year time span it took to catch and convict her daughter’s killer, he had murdered eleven other women in the meantime.

Later this month, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of collecting DNA at the point of arrest and is expected to render a decision in June. In January, President Obama signed into law a Congressional measure to help states pay for arrestee DNA collection for the first year that states participate in the program. This would translate into a $30 million dollar grant for Kentucky.

Ernie Lewis, with the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, voiced his opposition to the bill. He said even though the power of DNA to convict the guilty and free the innocent is widely known, he believes the proposed statute blurs the line.

Despite objections, Representative Mary Lou Marzian’s House Bill 89 cleared the House Judiciary panel and now heads to the House for consideration by the full chamber.

The House Judiciary panel also approved a familiar human trafficking bill by Representatives Sannie Overly, a Democrat, and Addia Wuchner, a Republican. House Bill 3 enhances current human trafficking laws to create a fund from fines and assets seized for the offense; allows victims of forced labor to sue their traffickers for unpaid wages and punitive damages; ensures that child victims of trafficking are not charged with prostitution and give them services through the Health cabinet rather than committed to the juvenile justice department. The measure now advances to the House floor for consideration by the entire body.

Watch Legislative Update each weeknight during the session for a recap of the day’s events at 11pm ET on KET and follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for updates throughout the day.

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