Texting and using a cell phone are about as common today as brushing your teeth. The problem for legislatures is that most people don't brush their teeth behind the wheel. Many text and talk and drive. HB 43 would ban text messaging by all drivers and the use of cell phones by drivers under age 18. This is an expanding problem and these are proven factors in motor vehicle crashes. Several states have passed bills similar to HB 43, and Kentucky currently has an executive order in effect that bans texting while driving a state vehicle. At the federal level, a ban on texting by drivers of buses and large commercial trucks was issued just last Tuesday.
Our Appropriations & Revenue committee is engaged in the anguishing process of answering that question everyone is awaiting the answer to: Where are we going to find enough revenue to fix a projected state budget shortfall of up to $1.5 billion through 2012 and balance what is sure to be a bare-bones state budget? Tax increases and expanded gaming are off the table and DOA as alternatives. We have been pouring over any number of options that – taken in the aggregate, will get us to where we have to be. These alternative budget plans will be unveiled soon.
We took a major step toward protecting health-insurance coverage for seriously ill Kentuckians in the state’s high-risk Kentucky Access pool with the passage of HB 165. The bill contains changes required by the federal government to operate Kentucky Access and provisions that allow employer-sponsored health plans to have different contribution rates for smokers and non-smokers. It offers incentives for participation in smoking cessation programs.
Also, my HCR 7 was passed which could offer alternatives to counties in the carrying out of future elections. A number of states are experimenting with election alternatives that, 1. Are more convenient, 2. Encourage voter participation and, 3. Result in cost savings to local and state governments. The resolution calls for studying whether counties should have the option to create voting centers that can be placed in convenient locations and possibly open earlier and stay open later than the usual hours, and study whether voters should be allowed to vote early, before election day. This country has among the lowest voting turnout of all democratic governments!
House members raised over $12,000 for Haitian Relief, surpassing our goal of $10,000! Credible organizations to receive donations can be found at the Center for Disaster Relief - 703.276.1914 and at www.Whitehouse.gov or at www.USAID.gov or the Red Cross offices.
NOTE: Our legislative meeting schedule has been shortened by one day. Due to projected weather (snow and ice) problems in the southern and western part of the state, legislators took Friday off and this extra day will be added on to the back end of the calendar.
Stay informed of action on bills and meetings this session by checking www.lrc.ky.gov, or call the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866.840.2835. The LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line is 800.633.9650. Connect with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 502.564.8100.
Pray for the safety and success of our President and his family.