Annual session begins to wind down

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By The Staff

As we enter the closing weeks of the 2010 Regular Session, the Senate passed legislation that will improve job opportunities for career and technical students, regulate methadone treatment centers, and crack down on meth traffickers. We also continued our work on the state budget, and I continued my work on more transparency in campaign finance reporting.

The Senate passed House Bill 288, another piece of campaign finance reform legislation that I was able to improve through my role as chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

HB 288 requires electronic filing of campaign finance reports for statewide political campaigns that spend more than $25,000. The bill also improves the existing regulations to reflect the growing use of electronic transactions for contributions and expenditures in campaigns.

HB 288 also authorizes the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance to impose civil penalties on those filing frivolous campaign complaints that cost the state thousands of dollars. It is my hope that these measures will bring about increased transparency and more information as we monitor the financial transactions occurring in state elections.

We also passed a Career Pathways Bill, landmark legislation designed to help develop skilled workforce education among our high school students and pair those skills with existing Kentucky employers.

These exciting new options will allow area businesses to get involved with Kentucky vocational schools to ensure that upon graduation, these Kentucky students have the best chance at filling job openings in skilled workforce fields.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 200, a bill that would regulate the licensure of methadone and other narcotic treatment centers in Kentucky. 

Recent events in Kentucky have uncovered a patchwork of requirements for licensure of these facilities. SB 200 will address the inconsistencies in the current regulations by clarifying what documentation is needed for licensure of a narcotic treatment center. It establishes a 90-day period for a center to declare their intent to operate in a community, and establishes a protocol that includes local governments in the licensure process.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 211, an initiative focusing on convicted drug offenders and curbing the amount of meth in Kentucky communities. The bill would prohibit all convicted meth offenders from purchasing cold medicine containing precursors that could be used in illegal drug production.

This bill is aimed at recidivists and “one-pot” cookers, and I believe the measure will be a serious deterrent. SB 211 will not cost the taxpayer as the manufacturers of these cold medicines pay for “MethCheck,” a multi-state program (the National Precursor Log Exchange) administered by the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators.

The Senate is continuing our work on the state budget.

As we continue our work, I want to remind you all that I understand that times are economically challenging right now and we are continuing to study ways to reduce state government spending.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you throughout the session.

 I would urge you to contact me by calling the Legislative Message Line at (800)372-7181 or by e-mailing me at damon.thayer@lrc.ky.gov.