Opinion: Senate passed 11 bills last week in Frankfort

Published 6:56 pm Monday, February 10, 2020


State Senator

It was a busy but productive fifth week of the 2020 General Session, as we passed a wide array of bills through the Senate and continued biennial budget discussions.

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Some highlights from the week in the Senate included the honoring of Kentucky State Police Trooper Mickey Gonterman. Trooper Gonterman was struck by a vehicle while responding to an incident on I-75. He suffered critical injuries, but by God’s grace is still with us. The Senate thanked Trooper Gonterman for his service and bravery along with the support of his family and fellow Kentucky State Police officers.

As we wait to receive a budget proposal from the House of Representatives, where all spending bills must originate, the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee has already begun an intensive review process of the budget proposed by the governor. Crafting the commonwealth’s two-year financial plan is a lengthy process. Still, I am confident that the final product will be fiscally responsible, while ensuring sufficient funding for our critical programs. I will keep you updated on the status of the budget in the coming weeks.

The Senate majority made notable progress on the 2020 legislative agenda, successfully passing 11 bills over the week, including Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 7.

Also known as the Federal Immigration Cooperation Act of 2020, Senate Bill 1 ensures the cooperation of state and local governments with the federal government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. 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. Senate Bill 1 preemptively prohibits local municipalities from enacting sanctuary immigration policies. There had already been discussions in one of Kentucky’s major cities to adopt 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.

Senate Bill 7, priority legislation relating to school-based decision making councils, returns the appointment of the school principal to the superintendent after consultation with the school council and equalizes council membership of teachers and parents.

Several bills with bipartisan support passed through the Senate this week. Senate Bill 63 is a measure that would allow high-school dropouts who are at least 21 years of age to complete their graduation requirements through online programs. Senate Bill 45 requires licensed childcare centers to have standards on nutrition and physical activity. Senate Bill 45 also incorporates state and national expertise in developing new standards regarding screen time and sugary drinks.

Senate Bill 42 would require issued student identification badges to contain emergency hotline numbers for domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide prevention. 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 out of depression or perceived hopelessness. Life is precious, and we should take the time to let others know their life is precious to us.

Also passing in the Senate this week was Senate Bill 102, legislation to remove unnecessary red tape in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services by repealing 48 outdated and obsolete statutes. Senate Bill 87, an act to remove the automatic transfer of a child from a district court to the circuit court to be tried as an adult in cases involving the use of firearms, was approved. Senate Bill 40, legislation that would provide additional protections for Kentucky’s vulnerable children by requiring fingerprint background checks for employees of child protection and child welfare agencies, were approved. Senate Bill 60, a measure to add spinal muscular atrophy to the list of heritable conditions tested at birth, was passed. This screening would be provided at no additional cost to the family or the Kentucky taxpayer.

For ambitious students who want to be a part of this year’s legislative process, the Kentucky General Assembly offers a variety of page opportunities for all ages. Interested students should contact my office at (502)564-8100 to make a formal request. More information regarding the page programs can be found at www.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.


Sen. Rick Girdler (R-Somerset) represents the 15th District, including Boyle, Lincoln, and Pulaski counties.