Legislative Update 1/25/2020

Activity at the Capitol is continuing to pick up speed as more and more bills are being heard and passed in committees, we’ve begun voting on bills in the House, and the number of advocates filling the halls and offices in the Capitol Annex continues to grow. 

Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Day was held this week.  This annual event brought hundreds of child and youth advocates, representing dozens of child-centered professional and advocacy groups, to Frankfort for the day.  Since this is one of my favorite advocacy events, I’ll focus this week’s highlights on a few bills affecting children and youth. 

My first meeting of the day was with a group of Louisville pediatricians (pictured above) from Pediatricians Urging Safety and Health.  Their top legislative priority in our meeting was HB 22.  

HB 22 would ban corporal punishment in schools across Kentucky.  As one of the pediatricians, Dr. Ginny Menche, asked, “How is it that in 2020, we have schools that still allow adults to hit children with boards?”  It’s long past time for us to pass this bill in Kentucky, and I’m glad to be a co-sponsor.  HB 22 has been referred to the House Education Committee.  It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

HB 199, the bill I’ve sponsored to ban conversion therapy, was another topic of discussion with the pediatricians, and other children’s advocacy groups I spoke with this week.  There is a large and growing understanding of the dangers of this discredited practice, and bipartisan support for the ban, although not all lawmakers have gotten the message.  Check out this story from the Courier-Journal.

HB 296  This week, I filed this bill that would require comprehensive, age-appropriate, medically accurate and inclusive sex education in grades K-12.   The bill is as much about social, emotional, and mental health education as it is about sex ed, and would focus on healthy relationships, consent, critical thinking, responsible decision-making, and acceptance of differences.  With Kentucky among the worst states for unintended adolescent pregnancies, teen dating violence, and teen sexual assault, and with bullying a growing concern, the need for this bill is clear.  HB 296 has been referred to the House Education Committee.

HB 213 passed unanimously out of the House Committee on Health and Family Services this week.  The bill would allow mental health providers to provide treatment to 16- and 17-year old youth who are homeless and have no contact with their parents.  I voted yes on the bill, but commented that it does not go far enough in allowing youth under the age of 18 to seek mental health treatment without parental consent.  HB 213 will move on for a vote by the full House. 

The #1 message I’ve received from constituents this week is to oppose SB 1, the anti-immigrant legislation that would separate families, target our immigrant friends and neighbors, and harm our communities.  You have my commitment that I will continue to strongly oppose SB 1.

With thanks to all of you for your engagement,