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The energy was lively as hundreds of school groups, local officials, advocacy groups and interested citizens visited the Capital. I appreciated so many coming to witness legislation in action.
I was honored to welcome many students from my district as well as groups like the Governor’s Scholars and the Future Politicians of America. We need interested and involved students who are service-oriented and focused on leading the in legislative and governmental sectors.
In addition to the many visitors from all over Kentucky, we voted on several bills dealing with education, healthcare and liability issues.
The first bill to pass out of the Senate this week was Senate Bill 78. The intention of this legislation is to keep liability from automatically being attributed to landlords whose tenants own a dog in the event that dog bites and injures someone on the property. Currently, a property owner can be held liable for a dog bite that takes place on his rented property. Personal responsibility is at issue here and it is not right for a rental property owner to be liable in these cases.
Another bill that passed is Senate Bill 47, requiring the reporting of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, the medical term for babies born dependent to drugs due to maternal drug use during pregnancy. The legislation requires The Kentucky Department for Public Health to publish on at least an annual basis statistical data on the number of neonatal abstinence syndrome. The report does not give any identifying information about the mother or the infant; it simply reports regional and county statistics.
The first House Bill to be presented on the Senate floor, House Bill 98 passed. It represents a bipartisan effort to solve an issue of safety for treating diabetic students in schools.
House Bill 98 would permit students to inject themselves with their needed insulin while in school and requires schools to have at least one trained staff member to administer medication for diabetes after they successfully complete the American Diabetes Association training program.
Senate Bill 61 passed and designates pastoral counselors who hold advanced degrees and training in behavioral and mental health as “licensed clinical” pastoral counselors rather than “certified fee-based” pastoral counselors. This change will make services eligible for private insurance billing and assist our state in complying with recent state and federal policies requiring Medicaid and insurance policies to provide substance abuse and behavioral health services.
The Senate also unanimously passed an important education bill. Senate Bill 89 would help protect the data stored on the “cloud” of Kentucky students by prohibiting the sale or marketing of this information gathered through web-based services at their schools.
There are instances of vendors doing this and I think we need to make student information only available to the Department of Education and the school system. The measure also would require school districts to inform parents of the types of student information given to third-party web-based service providers.
Another provision of SB 89 would allow local school districts to adopt academic standards that exceed standards approved by the state Board of Education. We want to give districts local control and freedom to choose more rigorous academic standards. They are better arbiters of students’ educational needs.
You can keep up to date on all the bills passed and view live-streaming and archived coverage of legislative proceedings at www.ket.org. You can also follow our caucus on Twitter at @kysenategop.
(Senator Thayer represents the 17th Senate District, which includes southern Kenton County, as well as all of Grant and Scott counties. He is senate majority floor leader, as well as a member of the agriculture committee, the committee on committees, the legislative research commission, the licensing, occupations and administrative regulations committee, the rules committee and the state and local government committee.)