Legislative Update for the 67th House District by Representative Dennis Keene
In July of last year, Governor Steve Beshear appointed a Task Force to study Kentucky’s alcoholic beverage control laws in an effort to improve our outdated and sometimes contradictory statutes. I served on that Task Force and from our recommendations I filed House Bill 300.
This does not expand or take away alcohol sales, it doesn’t change anything about the current wet or dry status of any city or county, and it does not change the rights or responsibilities of licensees. The bill avoids controversial areas such as wine in grocery stores or Sunday sales.
House Bill 300 consolidates some alcohol license types under new non-quota license categories; modifies fees to reflect license consolidation; improves local option election language including election challengers, re-canvassing, and petitions.
It also removes all-day closing of ABC licensees in a county holding a local option election (currently licensees must close their entire business, not just lock up their alcohol) and establishes limited medical amnesty for intoxicated minors, to encourage them to report medical emergencies.
Stakeholders including licensees, state regulators, law enforcement and private citizens worked together to bring about House Bill 300 which truly will help modernize and simplify the state’s alcoholic beverage laws. The legislation passed the full House by a vote of 67-28 and will now be considered by the Senate.
Two other important issues the House took up this week relate to Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) and last year’s laws addressing prescription drug abuse.
More than $500 million Medicaid dollars paid by the state have not been paid to the providers. In order to clarify and streamline billing disputes House Bill 5 would treat MCO’s as private insurers and give Kentucky’s Department of Insurance more authority to levy and enforce penalties. It would also encourage more open dialogue and communication so providers and patients would understand why claims may be denied.
While last year’s prescription pill legislation has seen positive results in its implementation, some modifications were needed. House Bill 217 would exempt hospitals and long-term care facilities from making repeated reports to KASPER (Kentucky’s prescription-drug monitoring program) for hospitalized patients. Surgery patients would have a 14-day exemption, and allowances would be given to cancer patients, individuals enrolled in federally authorized research projects and those in hospice and other end-of-life care. These measures will help doctors and patients truly in need of pain medication manage their care plans more effectively.
This week my House Bill 448 passed by a unanimous vote. House Bill 448 addresses the problems homeowners experience from theft or losses related to negligent closing practices by closing attorney or agents. It also helps title insurers who have faced losses due to agent theft of escrow funds more complex lender closing instructions and mortgage fraud. House Bill 448 now heads to the Senate for consideration.
Other legislation passed out of the House this week includes:
· House Bill 354 which would require schools to develop and practice safety plans and drills, implement a notification process for students with criminal backgrounds and strengthen training for employees when dealing with students with mental illness.
· House Bill 290 would create a panel of experts to review social workers case files about children killed or nearly killed from abuse or neglect and provide more oversight of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
· House Bill 337 would allow coal producing counties to request a re-allocation of coal severance funds to other projects where county officials agree the need is greater.
· House Bill 98 would require maintain statistics regarding teen dating violence and provide resources to middle school and high school administrators and guidance counselors to deal with the problem.
There are long days and nights ahead as we head into the final days of the session and I will continue to keep you update on our work. Please log onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. To find out when a committee meeting is scheduled, you can call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650.