Legislative Perspective from Representative Lisa Willner

Dear Friends,

The legislature hasn’t been in session since April 15th, but this has been a busy interim season.

I’m participating in several Interim Joint Committees (Education; Health and Welfare and Family Services; State Government; Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protections; Budget Review Sub-Committee on Human Resources; and Medicaid Oversight), serving on the Substance Use Recovery Task Force, and working with stakeholders on several pieces of legislation. 

Unemployment
Where I’m spending the majority of my time, though, has been responding to constituent concerns and requests.  The bulk of these are related to unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and the very long times that many people are having to wait to receive their earned benefits. 

Last week, for the first time, in-person UI assistance was available in Jefferson County.  The week-long event was well-organized, and the UI workers were knowledgeable and committed to helping as many people as they could.  I was glad to volunteer at the site, along with several UAW workers and legislative colleagues.   We sanitized tables and chairs, and escorted people to the next available UI worker.  It was gratifying to see people get answers to their questions, and get resolution on their claims.  It was also heartbreaking to see others learn that they had not qualified for benefits, or that they’d still have to wait for resolution.  While many were helped, five days was not nearly long enough to address the thousands still waiting on benefits.  I have been advocating, and will continue to advocate, for permanent in-person UI assistance in Jefferson County until every claim is resolved. 

Voting in Kentucky
Another major constituent concern involved questions about how to cast a ballot during the June primary.  Voters had many questions about the procedural changes prompted by safety concerns in the midst of a global pandemic. I responded to individual questions and requests, and did my best to disseminate information from the Secretary of State and Jefferson County Clerk’s offices.  After the election, Kentucky was recognized as a national success in its handling of the primary election, with credit going to the good bipartisan work of Gov. Beshear and Secretary of State Adams. 

And there’s more good news to report about voting in Kentucky!  The Governor and Secretary came together again to announce a plan to make voting in Kentucky safe, easy, and accessible.  (Read more here: https://bit.ly/3aukUBh

The plan is very good news for Kentucky voters.  Here’s an overview:

Back-to-School Season
I’ve had many conversations with teachers, other school workers, parents, and students about the question of in-person school.  As Kentucky’s COVID-19 cases hover at their highest point since the pandemic began, I applaud our Jefferson County school board and JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio for their decision to open the school year with remote instruction.  I know this creates many hardships and inconveniences, and every teacher I know wishes they could be with their students in person when classes resume, but the risks are just too high.  You can read more of my thoughts on this in my op ed, published late last month in the Courier-Journal and Lexington Herald Leader: https://bit.ly/3kOu68s

Legislation
I have several bills in the works, including an updated version of the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, a bill that would bar licensed professionals from engaging in the dangerous and discredited practice of  “conversion therapy” on minors.  The bill would also require that materials be developed and distributed to agencies serving youth, that would outline the harms, including suicide, associated with these practices.

I’m grateful for the bipartisan support this bill is receiving, and am delighted to report that I’ll be presenting the bill before an interim legislative committee later this month!

I’ll be joining Rep. Attica Scott at a press conference tomorrow where she will be discussing her bill, BR 22, Breonna’s Law for Kentucky.  I’m a co-sponsor of the bill, which would ensure that what happened to Breonna Taylor can never happen to another Kentuckian.  

COVID-19 Update
For Kentucky’s daily updates, information about COVID testing, and more, visit https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19.  For information specific to Metro Louisville, see  https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-covid-19-resource-center

Please do your part to keep yourself and others safe, and to keep our small businesses open by wearing a mask properly and staying six feet away from others. For information on testing, click the link to find a testing site near you. 

Contact Me
I am available to assist you with state matters. Please continue to contact me with your views and concerns regarding legislative issues.  You can always email me at LIsa.Willner@lrc.ky.gov, or call me at my Frankfort office: 502-564-8100, ext. 659.