Legislative Update 2/2/2020: Listening to the 35th District

For this week’s Legislative Update, I’m focusing on 35th District voter voice.

In many years of teaching in the Psychology Department at Bellarmine University, I’ve come to believe that the best class sessions are those where the students talked more and I talked less.  In student-centered classrooms, educators use their training, values, experience, and subject-matter expertise to actively engage students in the learning process.  Just as I value student voice in my teaching, I am all ears for constituent voice to inform the way I represent you in Frankfort. 

That’s why I was excited this week to receive results from the 35th District Legislative Survey.  The paper survey was mailed to a randomly selected sample of District 35 voters in late 2019.  Thank you to the 247 of you who took time to complete and mail in your survey!  Thanks, as well, to the nearly 300 of you who completed the survey online.  (Even though only about 25% of online survey respondents live in the 35th district, there was remarkable consistency between paper and online results.)

Here are some survey highlights, along with information about current bills:

  • Your number one priority for the 2020 Legislative Session is to increase state revenue.

This is my priority as well.  That’s why I’ve been working with community members and economic policy experts on a comprehensive revenue bill.  We know, through decades of examples, that public investment leads to opportunity and prosperity for all.  Public investment in education, greater healthcare access, good jobs, and secure retirement will benefit everyone.  I will be introducing a revenue bill soon. The bill would also reverse our current unfair tax structure, where those who earn the least are shouldering the greatest burden.  More info to follow.

Additionally, we know that expanded gaming opportunities in Kentucky will bring in some additional revenue.  I’m a co-sponsor of HB 137, a bill that would generate revenue through legalized sports wagering. 72% of you (78% of online respondents) support expansion of legal gaming.  HB 137 has passed out of committee this session, and is poised to be called for a full vote in the House. 

  • *78% of survey respondents (95% online) support class size reductions in public schools.

 I introduced HB 200 to reduce class size in all public school classrooms.  The bill has been assigned to the Education Committee.

  • 79% of survey respondents (87% online) support raising the minimum wage. 

This change would help so many working people, many of whom are working two and three jobs just to keep food on the table for their families.  I support HB 39 to increase the minimum wage.  Other worker protection bills that I support include HB 123 to require paid sick leave, and HB 77 to restore prevailing wage.   

  • 88% (94% online) support legalization of marijuana for medical use; 60% (68%) support legalization for recreational use.

I am a co-sponsor of HB 136 to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and I support full legalization and decriminalization. 

  • 84% (90% online) support red flag laws to require surrendering of firearms by individuals convicted of domestic violence or under protective orders.

I will continue to support commonsense gun legislation, even in the face of a weird and troubling system that allows heavily armed demonstrators to side-step metal detectors and roam freely through the Capitol.
I support: HB 76 that lays out firearm surrender procedures; HB 31 to repeal 2019 legislation that removed training and permitting requirements for concealed carry of a firearm; HB 259 to require responsible storage of firearms.  None of these bills have been scheduled for a hearing. 

In addition to survey results, I’m continuing to read your emails and listen to your phone messages.  This week’s top messages: Support expanded gaming (HB 137, see above); oppose HB 350, an expensive bill that would divert public dollars to tuition assistance for private, including religious, schools; stand up for our immigrant neighbors and friends by opposing SB 1. I hear you, and I’m with you.

Please keep on talking, and I’ll keep on listening.  I’m proud of Kentucky’s 35th district.  It is a privilege and an honor to stand up and speak out for you in committee meetings and on the House floor. 

Legislative Message Line: 800-372-7181