New Ky. laws begin June 25
PDT Staff Writer
New laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2013 regular session go into effect on June 25. Among the laws being strengthened is a new law against human trafficking.
House Bill 3 will strengthen human trafficking laws while protecting victims from prosecution for crimes they were forced to commit. The legislation will offer assistance to agencies responsible for helping human trafficking victims by creating a “human trafficking victims fund” supported by service fees paid by convicted human traffickers, proceeds from seized and forfeited assets of traffickers, and any grants, contributions, or other funds that may become available.
Another new calls for more DNA testing as evidence in post-conviction felony cases. House Bill 41 will allow some felony offenders in prison or under state supervision to request testing and analysis of their DNA as case evidence.
Another new law allows school districts to start deciding whether they want to raise their compulsory attendance age to 18. Senate Bill 97 will allow school districts to increase the compulsory attendance age to 18 beginning in the 2015-16 school year. Districts that do so must have programs and resources in place for students at-risk of not graduating. The increased compulsory attendance age will become mandatory statewide four years after 55 percent of Kentucky school districts adopt it.
Other laws include one that deals with child protection. House Bill 290 will establish by statute an independent review panel to investigate cases of child deaths and near-fatal injuries. The panel will be given access to complete records of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, as well as information from law enforcement and other agencies involved in the cases.
Another law deals with those convicted of killing a member of law enforcement or firefighter. Senate Bill 15, named the Bryan Durman Act in honor of a Lexington police officer who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2010, will ensure that a person convicted of criminal homicide in the killing of a police or firefighter on duty doesn’t become eligible for probation or parole until 85 percent of a sentence is served.
Another deals with hemp. Senate Bill 50 creates an administrative framework for the growing of hemp in Kentucky if the crop is legalized by the federal government.
One that is sure to garner a wide-range of interest deals with religious freedoms. House Bill 279 specifies that government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion. The legislation states that an action motivated by a sincerely held religious belief can not be infringed upon without a compelling governmental interest. (HB 279 was vetoed by the governor; the veto was overridden by the House and Senate.)
If scholarships are in your top of mind awareness, Senate Bill 64 will ensure that students earning Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships aren’t penalized in the amount of scholarship money they receive if they graduate from high school in three years rather than four.
House Bill 172 will encourage schools to possess at least two epinephrine auto-injectors in case one is needed for a student having a life-threatening allergic or anaphylactic reaction.
Senate Bill 72 will require attendance at suicide prevention training programs at least once every six years for social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, fee-based pastoral counselors, alcohol and drug counselors, psychologists, and occupational therapists.
House Bill 180 will require the Kentucky Board of Education to establish a statewide evaluation system for all certified personnel. The Department of Education, in consultation with teacher and principal steering committees, will develop the system prior to the 2014-15 school year.
Senate Bill 95 will extend the five-year tuition waiver eligibility period for adopted children who serve in the military. And House Bill 222 will establish a crime victim protection program in the Secretary of State’s office to allow domestic violence victims to have personal information, such as addresses, redacted from public voter registration roles. The legislation will also allow victims in the program to vote by mail-in absentee ballot.
The state constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature, except for general appropriation measures and those containing emergency or delayed effective date provisions. This year’s regular session adjourned on March 26, making June 25 the day that most laws will take effect.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.