This Week at the State Capitol – A legislative update

The Kentucky General Assembly’s 2021 session reached one of the milestones Capitol observers eagerly await with this week’s arrival of the deadlines to introduce bills in the Senate and House.

Now, with 881 bills filed for consideration, we have a fairly comprehensive view of the issues lawmakers may consider in the remaining weeks of the session. Legislation filed before the deadline included bills on education, elections, taxes, public safety, gambling, civil rights, and numerous other topics.

An issue that has been the subject of many headlines over the past year was taken up by the Senate this week with the passage of legislation that would limit and set guidelines for the use of no-knock warrants, which allow officers to enter a premises without notice.

Under Senate Bill 4, the warrants would be allowed in limited instances when someone was believed to be in immediate danger or in other certain cases, such as those involving violent crimes or terrorism. These warrants would have to be executed by a SWAT team or a response team with special training. The bill would also specify in statute that it would be perjury if an officer made a false statement in an application for a no-knock warrant.

SB 4 passed the Senate on Thursday and now goes to the House.

Other bills that advanced this week include the following:

House Bill 95 is aimed at helping those with diabetes by capping cost-sharing requirements for prescription insulin at $30 per 30-day supply for state-regulated health plans. The legislation passed the House on Tuesday and has been delivered to the Senate.

Senate Bill 10 would establish the Commission on Race and Access to Opportunity. The group would be formed to conduct studies and research on issues where disparities in areas including education, child welfare, health care, the economy, and criminal justice system. Senate Bill 10 passed the Senate on Wednesday and has been sent to the House.

House Bill 574 would make some of the election procedures implemented last year to accommodate voting during the pandemic permanent. The legislation would offer Kentuckians three days – including a Saturday – leading up to an election day for early, in-person voting. It would allow county clerks to continue to offer ballot drop boxes for those who do not wish to send their ballots back by mail. It would also counties to offer voting centers where any registered voter in the county could vote. The bill passed the House on Friday and now goes to the Senate.

 Senate Bill 67 would allow certain restaurants to sell alcohol, including cocktails, with to-go and delivery orders when purchased with a meal. The bill passed the Senate on Monday and now awaits action in the House.

 House Bill 140 would permit telehealth services that were allowed to expand due to COVID-19 pandemic to remain in place even after the pandemic ends. This passed the House and Monday and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

Lawmakers are now past the halfway point of this year’s session, which is scheduled to end March 30. Citizens are encouraged to follow the issues lawmakers will consider in the weeks ahead and offer feedback. There are many ways to stay in touch with legislative activity. The Kentucky Legislature Home Page, www.legislature.ky.gov, provides information on each of the commonwealth’s senators and representatives, including phone numbers, addresses, and committee assignments. The site also provides bill texts, a bill-tracking service, and committee meeting schedules.

To offer feedback to issues under consideration to any legislator, call the General Assembly’s Message Line at 800-372-7181.