Bill to preserve battlefields passes out of committee
By DANIEL ELLIOTT
During week seven of the General Assembly, House Bill 319, which will create a state preservation fund for the protection and enhancement of Civil War Battlefields, American Revolutionary War Sites, and significant sites of the Underground Railroad, passed the House Tourism Committee unanimously.
At present, Perryville is the most intact battlefield in the country at more than 90%. With this legislation, there is a very real possibility that the Perryville Battlefield site will become 100% preserved in the coming years. As the primary sponsor of this legislation, I am very pleased that this bill will get a full vote on the House floor in the very near future, and is now one step closer to becoming law with committee approval.
I want to take a moment to celebrate the big news coming out of Fort Knox. That post will soon be home to the U.S. Army’s newest headquarters. That means more than 635 soldiers will be added to the post, 200 of whom will support a new operational command post in Europe on a rotational basis. This is going to have an incredible economic impact for the region, but also for the entire state. Army leadership gave a great deal of credit to our state’s military-friendliness, citing many of the bills we have passed over the past couple of years as a reason for this decision. We continue to see evidence that the policies we are adopting are paying off. While it takes time, the hard work will pay off and we will see every Kentucky community prosper.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would set out the process for legalization of medical cannabis in the commonwealth under the oversight of the state Department for Public Health. HB 136, which now returns to the full House for its consideration, would set out policies for cultivation, processing, sale, distribution, and use of medicinal marijuana. It also gives local control for legalization to cities and counties, which would have the authority to decide whether medical cannabis businesses can operate locally.
What the bill would not do is allow for smoking of medical cannabis — prohibited in the legislation — or permit it to be used in schools or other specific locations. Users would have to be registered and cannabis businesses licensed.
House Bill 99, which is now before the Senate after passing the House 86-7 on Wednesday, supports the purchase of Louisville’s Jewish Hospital and other KentuckyOne assets in the Louisville area by the University of Louisville. It would appropriate $6.1 million to pay down a $35 million bond issue authorized for a state loan to facilitate the purchase, with the loan funds distributed by April 1 of this year.
Work on the next state budget continued this week as House budget review subcommittees received recommendations from Kentucky Community and Technical College System, four year state universities and other agencies that will be covered in the next biennial state budget plan. Funding needs of primary and secondary education institutions and state health agencies were also shared with the subcommittees — each tasked with providing detailed information to the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee, where the $21 billion-plus two-year budget will originate.
Please continue to stay informed throughout the 2020 Kentucky General Assembly by following all the daily legislative action on the Legislative Research Commission website at legislature.ky.gov, or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at (866) 840-2835. To comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181.
Daniel Elliott represents Boyle and Casey counties in the Kentucky House of Representatives.