State Representative Derek Lewis

Kentucky Legislative Update from Representative Derek Lewis

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 
By Representative Derek Lewis
Halfway through the 2022 Regular Session
 
We are now halfway through the 2022 General Assembly. The deadline to file new bills and resolutions is fast approaching, so legislators are working hard to get proposals filed. This past week many of the House standing committees met and sent crucial legislation to the full House for consideration. I met with many groups to discuss the issues important to folks here in our district and across the state. While we have 30 legislative days remaining of this year’s session, we are still hard on several key pieces of legislation that I will share more about over the next few weeks.
Ensuring Appropriate Checks and Balances: Last week, the House passed HB 337 which deals with increasing oversight of administrative regulations process. This legislation ensures that there are appropriate checks and balances in place by requiring state agencies and entities to appeal to the Attorney General, if a legislative committee or subcommittee determines that a regulation is deficient. 
Transparency in Our Elections: Another bill we sent to the Senate is HB 301. This measure would require all costs and expenses related to election administration to be paid for with public funds. It also prohibits a state government employee from accepting anything of value to assist with election administration unless entered into as a lawful contract. The legislation is meant to ensure that those funding Kentucky elections are impartial and without the influence of private dollars. It will help make elections more transparent so the citizens of the Commonwealth are confident in who they are voting for and where contributions for those campaigns are coming from. 
Addressing the Shortage of Mental Health Professionals: HB 65, legislation meant to address the shortage of licensed professional counselors, also received House approval. It establishes the Licensed Professional Counseling Compact which makes it easier to meet with a professional counselor. With Kentucky bordering many different states, the licensing can vary from state to state, so this measure would mandate the same requirements across different states. The goal is for other states to join in on similar legislation so people can practice their profession while also giving help to the people who need it. 
Helping Health Care Staffing Agencies: HB 282 is meant to address the increased need for Health Care Staffing Agencies and address those needs that come from those agencies. It would require health care staffing agencies to register with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. It also sets standards for direct care staff contracted or employed with a health care services agency. The bill passed the House and is awaiting further action in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. 
Farm to School Program: I also joined my House colleagues in recognizing the Madison County Public Schools for adopting a farm-to-school approach for school meals. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is working to ensure that students across the Commonwealth have access fresh food that comes from places across the state. It encourages healthy eating but also encourages the importance of buying local. HCR 47 also encourages other districts to pursue offering locally grown food to students.
Clarifying Public Pension Overtime Rules: We approved HB 49, which exempts any mandatory overtime worked due to an eligible emergency from pension spiking provisions. During the state of emergency called due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many temporary workers were hired, and since they were outside workers, they are technically outside of the pension system. The language is meant to clarify and extend the time from March 2020 to December 2022 so that these temporary workers are not making pension contributions. 
Honoring and remembering those who sacrifice for our freedoms: Last Friday, we approved HB 326, which would designate the Honor and Remember Flag as the state’s emblem of the service and sacrifice of the brave men and women of the United States Armed Forces who have given their lives in the line of duty. The flag is meant to represent not only those who lost their lives in battle but also those who lost their lives here at home due to PTSD or a traumatic brain injury.  
Unmasking in public education: Legislation providing parents the right to opt their students out from mask mandates in Kentucky’s school and child care settings passed the House Education Committee. HB 51 gives parents the option to send their children to school with or without facial coverings at all levels of education—from child care centers and public K-12 schools to higher education institutions.
Saving Women’s Sports: The House Education Committee approved legislation that would require public K-12 schools and higher education institutions to designate athletic activities by sex—boys, girls, or coed. The legislation, HB 23, would also prevent biological men from competing in women’s sports, while still allowing female athletes to play on teams dubbed for boys or coeds. Much of the committee discussion focused on how the biological differences between males and females play a role in athletic performance.
Enhancing the penalty for dealing in fentanyl: Members of the House Judiciary Committee approved HB 215, also known as Dalton’s Law. This measure would enhance the penalty for those convicted of importing or trafficking carfentanil, fentanyl, or fentanyl derivatives from a minimum of 50 percent served to a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence served. 
As always, 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. If you would like more information, please visit the LRC website www.legislature.ky.gov.
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