Senate week in review: New bill targets habitual drunken drivers

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The major task of the General Assembly this session is to pass a $20 billion financial plan to carry Kentucky through the next two years. On Tuesday, the governor will present his budget recommendations through a joint session of the House of Representatives and Senate.

While state senators wait to receive the general and transportation budget bills, they have used the first three weeks of the 2016 General Assembly to pass a series of other bills. This allows for discussion on those bills before the budget debate overshadows the remaining weeks of the session.

Bills that took steps forward this week include the following:

Senate Bill 4 is an abortion-related measure that passed by a 32-4 vote. It would require a face-to-face meeting between the pregnant woman and a healthcare provider at least 24 hours before an abortion takes place. It is currently often done via a recorded telephone message.

Senate Bill 45 is a pension transparency bill that passed by a unanimous vote. It would allow pension managers to disclose the name and benefit amount for any current or former lawmaker by making those figures subject to the state’s open records laws.

Senate Bill 52 is a teacher certificate-related measure that passed by a 36-0 vote. It would allow military veterans to receive a provisional teaching certificate after meeting certain criteria.

Senate Bill 56 is a bill targeting habitual drunken drivers that passed by a 35-1 vote. It would change what is known in legal circles as the “look-back period” to 10 years from five years. What that means is that if someone is convicted of drunken driving multiple times in a 10-year period the penalties for the crimes can be increased. The bill would also expand the quarterly reporting window of pending DUI cases to 180 days to 90 days.

Senate Bill 81 is a measure related to military families that passed by a 34-2 vote. It would require the Department of Education to create a system identifying students with military parents or families.

Those bills now go to the state House of Representatives for consideration.

When we were not on the floor debating bills, we met with constituents and agencies on issues facing citizens around the state. We also were busy with committee meetings. We passed out of committee several bills, topics ranging from education to breastfeeding to voter identification. These bills are headed to the Senate floor for further consideration.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday and snowy weather cut the third week of the session short. When lawmakers return to the Capitol next week, they will get their first glimpse of newly elected Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal late on Tuesday.

After the governor’s address to the joint session, the budget recommendations will be converted to bill form and introduced in the House. From there, the work continues.