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Liberty water study funded; bills filed to revamp retirement, allow prescriptions from physician assistants

By DANIEL ELLIOTT

State Representative

As we continue through the Interim Joint Committee Session, it is hard to believe we are just a few short months from the 2017 Regular Session. In my last column, I addressed legislation that passed in the 2016 Regular Session, but now I would like to shift focus to other actions taken during the Interim.  

When I was first elected to the House of Representatives, the major flooding issue in Casey County was brought to my attention. I promised to take action to alleviate this issue, and in September I joined Sen. Jimmy Higdon in requesting the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) conduct a study to determine the cause of the flooding, as well as define steps that can be taken to solve the problem.

I am now proud to announce that the USACE has approved the Liberty Water Study. Businesses and homes have suffered serious damage from these floods, and it is my hope that we can quickly determine the cause and solve this problem for Casey County. In the coming weeks, I will discuss the matter further with USACE, where we will determine the immediate steps to be taken in this study and learn of the manager to head this project. I look forward to sharing updates as they become available. 

While working to address the flooding issue, I have also been busy pre-filing legislation for the 2017 Regular Session. Recently, I announced a bill I pre-filed to revamp the legislative retirement system in Kentucky. The bill, BR 66, would eliminate the retirement fund for state legislators, and redirect retirement investments by those who opt-in to the Kentucky Employees’ Retirement Fund (KERS). KERS is the retirement fund that serves all state employees.

Currently, the legislative retirement fund is a separate program that does not include transparency in the form of a website or posted payouts for participants, like other retirement systems. I believe of all things to have public transparency and accountability, the retirements of legislators ranks near the top. While I elected to opt out of the legislative pension plan, I am hopeful this bill will provide the citizens of Kentucky a more transparent and open government. 

Another piece of legislation I have pre-filed is BR 59, which would amend current restrictions placed on physician assistants. The objective of this bill is to allow physician assistants to prescribe and dispense controlled substances, which Kentucky law currently prohibits. It is imperative that we recognize the certification and capabilities of physician assistants, and not place limitations on their practices.

Currently, Kentucky and Florida are the only two states that do not allow physician assistants to prescribe or dispense these substances. Physician assistants are already permitted to prescribe medications nationwide, and their inability to not extend that into controlled substances undermines their profession.

I am hopeful Kentucky joins the majority of the nation in supporting the capabilities of our physician assistants and in doing so, promotes a healthier Commonwealth. 

While much has taken place in Frankfort, I want to ensure a very special part of our community is recognized. Recently, the Kentucky Department of Education released the student test results from the 2015-2016 school year. It comes as no surprise that Boyle and Casey counties both increased their scores from the previous year and are both rated distinguished school districts. So much work has gone into the success of our students, and I want to congratulate them as well as their parents, the school staffs, and the administrations for their commitment to ensuring our children receive a world-class education.

As always, I welcome your comments and concerns on any issues facing our Commonwealth. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181, or you can contact me via email at daniel.elliott@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.