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New State Laws

The State Capital building in Frankfort, Kentucky Photo courtesy of MapQuest

LRC Public Information Office

State lawmakers passed more than 170 bills during the 2023 legislative session, and the Kentucky Constitution states that new laws take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns, making June 29 the effective date for most measures.

Child Abuse: Senate Bill 229 seeks to ensure that law enforcement, social services, and other authorities are properly notified and are communicating with each other in cases of child abuse. It also requires agencies under investigation to cooperate with authorities.

Child Murder: House Bill 249 makes the intentional killing of a child under age 12 an aggravating circumstance ensuring the person guilty of killing the child would either be subject to life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Delta-8 THC: House Bill 544 directs the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services to develop regulations related to delta-8 THC by Aug. 1. That includes regulations on product testing, packaging, and labeling, along with prohibitions that prevent anyone under 21 from buying or possessing delta-8 products. While the bill technically takes effect on July 1, Kentuckians will not see many changes until the cabinet’s regulations are finalized and implemented.

DUI Restitution: Senate Bill 268 allows courts to order restitution for children whose parents are killed or permanently disabled by an intoxicated driver.

ESG Investing: House Bill 236 requires that the state’s public pension investments be based on financial risks and returns and not on environmental, social, and governance factors, commonly known as ESG.

Fentanyl Test Strips: House Bill 353 removes fentanyl test strips from state prohibitions on drug paraphernalia unless the strips are used in the manufacture or selling of the drug.

Gender and Sexuality: Senate Bill 150 is a wide-ranging bill focused on health services and school policies related to gender and human sexuality. Many provisions took effect immediately, including the portions on school policies. However, the June 29 effective date applies to a section of the bill that bans puberty blockers, hormones, and gender-related surgeries for minors.

Gray Machines: House Bill 594 clarifies that certain gambling machines, often called “gray machines” or “skill games,” are illegal in Kentucky. The devices are called gray machines because they have operated in a gray area in the state’s gambling laws. Under HB 594, anyone who manages or owns the machines could be subject to a $25,000 fine per device.

Hazing: Senate Bill 9, known as “Lofton’s Law,” elevates reckless or dangerous acts of hazing to a crime. First-degree hazing will qualify as a Class D felony, while second-degree hazing will be a Class A misdemeanor.

Incest: House Bill 78 more specifically defines Kentucky’s incest laws by prohibiting a person from having sexual intercourse with his or her parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, great-grandparent, great-grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, brother, sister, first cousin, ancestor, or descendant.

KEES for Workforce Training: Senate Bill 54 allows students to use a Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship to attend certain propriety school programs and workforce training programs that are focused on high-demand work sectors. Students could also use KEES funds at an eligible college of art and design.

Motor Vehicle Racing: Senate Bill 96 sets up a framework for local governments to grant permits for motor vehicle racing events as long as certain conditions are met on insurance, security, and emergency services. It also allows local governments to temporarily close roadways and waive traffic regulations for the events.

Physician Wellness: Senate Bill 12 allows physicians to participate in wellness and career fatigue programs without disclosing their participation to employers. Supporters say it will help physicians deal with job-related burnout without fear of retaliation.

Police Wellness: House Bill 207 allows law enforcement agencies to provide confidential wellness programs to support employee mental health. Specifically, it shields program records from subpoenas and open records requests.

Postpartum Depression: Senate Bill 135 calls on the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create a panel focused on perinatal mental health disorders and provide related information and assessment tools online.

Religious Freedom in Schools: House Bill 547 codifies religious freedoms for public school teachers, faculty, and staff, including the right to engage in religious expression and prayer during breaks and to display religious items in personal spaces.

Sex Offenders: Senate Bill 80 prohibits registered sex offenders from loitering or operating a mobile business within 1,000 feet of schools, daycares, and public playgrounds or swimming pools. One section of this bill related to sex offender residences does not take effect until next year.

Sports Wagering: House Bill 551 creates a structure to legalize, regulate, and tax sports wagering in Kentucky under the auspices of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Only licensed tracks will be permitted to obtain a sports wagering license, and the bill sets up a fund to address problem gambling. It also prohibits minors from placing wagers. While the bill technically takes effect on June 29th, Kentuckians will not see many changes until the racing commission finalizes and implements regulations related to sports wagering.

Student Discipline: Under House Bill 538, school boards are required to adopt policies related to expelling students who pose a threat to the safety and well-being of others and disciplining students who have physically assaulted, battered, or abused personnel, or other students off-school property if the incident is likely to disrupt the educational process. It also provides more flexibility to place students into alternative learning programs.

Teacher Shortages: House Bill 319 aims to ease teacher shortages by seeking to ease licensing barriers for teachers moving into the state. HB 319 also requires the Kentucky Department of Education to establish a statewide job posting system.

Tracking Devices: Senate Bill 199 outlaws, with some exceptions, the installation of tracking devices on motor vehicles without the consent of the vehicle owner or lessee.

Learn more about the Kentucky General Assembly by visiting the legislature’s webpage 23RS Legislative Record (


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