A Week in Review: Bills clear committee, head to full House
Legislators are officially halfway through the 2023 Regular Session and legislation is moving through both chambers as lawmakers keep an eye on the calendar. Wednesday, February 22 marked the final day to file new bills in the House and a total of 594 bills have been filed. Most legislative work takes place in committees during the first half of session, so I would like to provide you with an overview of the bills committees passed last week.
Small Business & Information Technology: The committee heard HB 264, which creates the General Regulatory Sandbox Program under the office of the Attorney General. This program allows a person to obtain legal protections and limited access to the market without obtaining a license or authorization. HB 264 provides safeguards for public health, safety, and the financial well-being of public consumers.
Education: Members heard three pieces of legislation in the House Committee on Education. First members heard HCR 34, which would establish a task force to monitor the Lottery Trust Fund. Since 1989, over six billion dollars have been collected in the trust fund and HCR 34 would comprehensively study the uses of the money collected. Next, the committee heard HB 85, legislation that would allow students to be reimbursed with funding from the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) money if they enroll in a program offered by a proprietary school that is one of Kentucky’s five high-demand work sectors. Also, HB 85 would allow students of military families who had to attend a high school out of state or a Department of Defense school to earn KEES money based on their previous year at a Kentucky high school. Lastly, the committee heard HB 319, which continues the legislature’s efforts to address the state’s teacher shortage by increasing access to careers in education. It does so by cutting unnecessary and antiquated regulatory requirements, streamlining the process for job searches, and expanding access to and award amounts available through the Teacher Scholarship Program.
Economic Development & Workforce Investment: Members discussed HB 364, which would prohibit public employers from withholding money from an employee’s paycheck to go towards labor organization dues that fund political activity. HB 364 does not apply to current collective bargaining agreements, and it also prohibits employers from sharing an employee’s information with a labor organization.
Judiciary: In the House Judiciary Committee last week, lawmakers heard testimony about three different bills. HB 78 adds aunts and uncles to those who can be guilty of incest under the law. This corrects the current statute defining those who can be guilty of incest. The committee then heard HB 225 which would no longer require licensed attorneys to pay dues to the Kentucky Bar Association and make it a voluntary trade association. Last, they heard HB 231 which allows the Department for Community-Based Services to request a criminal justice agency to perform a federal name-based criminal history record check of each adult residing in a home in which a child is placed during an emergency placement.
Transportation: Members heard three pieces of legislation last week in the House Committee on Transportation. HB 21 would allow children who are homeless and at least age 16 to obtain an identification card. The price of the identification card would be set at $5. HB 21 also allows people who are homeless to obtain a driver’s license to commute to and from work. Next, the committee heard HB 217, which is a clean-up bill for HB 284 passed in the 2022 regular session. HB 284 created an electronic titling and registration system, and HB 217 would push back the implementation date to January 1, 2025.
Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection: Legislators on the House VMAPP committee heard three bills last week. HB 244 which would recognize the Challenge Academy as a separate school district, making the transition easier for kids attending the school. They then heard about HB 29 which would strike to word Kentucky from the requirements to be placed in a veteran cemetery. This allows for the cemeteries to continue to receive federal funding. Lastly, they heard testimony about HB 226 which would establish the administration of behavioral health community crisis response and transfer the administration from the Department for Military Affairs to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Licensing, Occupations, & Administrative Regulations: Committee members heard testimony about three pieces of legislation. HB 287 would change deposit requirements for charitable gaming organizations. Current requirements state deposits are to be made every day no matter the amount made that day. It would change deposits to once a week unless they have made over $2,500 in one day. They next heard about HB 129 which would require CHFS to update and modernize birth center regulations. It would also exempt the free-standing birth centers from requiring a certificate of need to run the facility. Lastly, they heard about HCR 50 which would establish a task force to study historically untapped workforces and how to get those people to work.
Natural Resources and Energy: Members of this committee met Thursday to consider HB 236, which mandates that state retirement systems move away from ESG investing so better returns are garnered. ESG is an investment method that vests in environmental factors like solar futures and coal. This method is considered high-risk and does not garner the same returns as other, traditional investment methods. The committee also considered HJR 37, which would remove reformulated gasoline requirements for Jefferson, Oldham, and Bullitt County. Reformulated gas on average costs $0.16 per gallon more than traditionally refined gasoline. RFG was put in place in these areas to assist in repairing the ozone layer. However, studies show that there are currently significantly less ozone and air pollution issues in the Louisville metropolitan area, and there are more cost-effective ways to combat air pollution.
Banking and Insurance: Members of the committee met last week to discuss regulating public insurance adjusters through HB 232. This measure regulates public insurance adjustors by mandating that fees imposed do not surpass 10% of an insurance claim amount. Public insurance adjusters act independently of insurance agencies to adjust claims for consumers who are unsatisfied with the claim they have received through their insurance company. These adjusters also assist in extenuating circumstances of natural disasters.
Health Services: House Health and Family Services: Committee members met last week to consider 5 pieces of legislation. First, the committee discussed HJR 38, which would direct the Department for Medicaid Services to apply for a Medicaid waiver to permit the coverage of triage, treatment, and transport of patients by emergency ambulance services and submit a State Plan Amendment (SPA) to cover treatment in place, and urges the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for ambulance services. These recommendations come from the EMS Taskforce that met through the interim. Next, HB 56 was discussed, which names regional county health center services areas and states that when a Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) operates outside of its region, they do so as a Behavioral Health Service Organization (BHSO). HB 56 also states that when there is an unmet need in a region, the CHFS secretary would allow other CHMCs to operate in the area as a CMHC instead of a BHSO. HB 134 was also considered, which would exempt healthcare providers from the prior authorization process so long as they are approved for at least 90% of the prior authorization requests submitted by the provider. The insurer would evaluate whether the provider qualifies for an exemption every six months. If the insurer finds that the provider is no longer under the 90% approval requirement, then the insurer may rescind the provider’s prior authorization exemption. The committee substitute adds several independently practicing behavioral health provider types to the insurance code definition of healthcare provider.
Additionally, the committee discussed HB 290, which allows the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to share data from the state’s prescription monitoring system, KASPER, with the federal government, including providers who are employed by military bases in Kentucky. Currently, KASPER data can only be exchanged with states. Lastly, members heard testimony on HB 200 which establishes the Kentucky Healthcare Workforce Investment Fund (KHWIF) to be administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). The fund would provide a dollar-for-dollar match with healthcare partners for healthcare training scholarships for Kentucky residents for healthcare program incentives. All legislation considered passed through committee and is heading for a vote on the House floor.
I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Amy.Neighbors@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information, please visit the LRC website www.legislature.ky.gov.