Highlights from the 2016 Regular Session

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While the legislature was focused this session on how to deal with the state’s underfunded pension systems, a few education bills made it into law. Photo by Bobby Ellis, March 30, 2016
While the legislature was focused this session on how to deal with the state’s underfunded pension systems, a few education bills made it into law.
Photo by Bobby Ellis, March 30, 2016

By Tracy Goff Herman
tracy.herman@education.ky.gov

After using every moment available before sine die, the Kentucky General Assembly adjourned with a budget and a few pieces of legislation related to P-12 education. Gov. Matt Bevin and the General Assembly shared one goal during the session – address the situation with the underfunded pension systems.

With a healthy donation from the Kentucky Employee Health Insurance Trust Fund surplus, a new permanent fund was created that is to be dedicated to holding money in reserve to assist in fully funding the actuarially required contributions (ARC) to the pension systems in future years.

The ARC is the amount an employer must contribute annually to a defined benefit pension fund and is based on an actuarial formula. The ARC funds current and future retirement benefits and liabilities and this is what is currently underfunded.

Much of the legislative discussion focused on how to address the unfunded liability issue. As in the previous session, the legislature considered the financing and refinancing of pension obligation bonds. This proposal would have authorized the Kentucky Asset/Liability Commission to issue funding notes in an amount not to exceed $3.3 billion. The legislation didn’t pass, as the legislature and the governor were able to take current surplus revenues and direct those to the underfunded liability for this biennium. By channeling more money into the system over each biennium, the legislature and governor hope to meet the ARC moving forward and eliminate the need for bonding.

The 2016-18 fiscal year budget keeps P-12 education funding stable, but enacts cuts across state agencies and postsecondary education.

As for the governor’s proposed cuts to the current fiscal year, Attorney General Andy Beshear is pursuing litigation to challenge the action, arguing that the governor doesn’t have the authority to cut spending during a surplus situation. The case is still pending in Franklin Circuit Court.

Several education issues were discussed but failed to move forward during the legislative session, including changes to the assessment and accountability system, teacher evaluation, the tribunal process and charter schools. However, a list of bills that moved forward is below:

SENATE BILLS

Senate Bill 33 (Sen. Max Wise) requires public high schools to provide CPR training while students are enrolled in a health or physical education course that is required for high school graduation or the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps course that meets the physical education requirement.

Senate Bill 40 (Sen. Julie Raque Adams) requests that the Kentucky Supreme Court establish a pilot project to permit participating courts to make juvenile proceedings related to dependency, neglect and abuse proceedings under KRS Chapter 620 and termination of parental rights proceedings under KRS Chapter 625 presumptively open to the public.

Senate Bill 140 (Sen. Wise) authorizes the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to enter into the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement for the purpose of authorizing a postsecondary institution located in another state to provide distance education to Kentucky residents. CPE is to serve as the lead agency responsible for contact with other states on matters pertaining to interstate reciprocity agreements and to promulgate administrative regulations.

Senate Bill 169 (Sen. Albert Robinson) creates a new section of KRS Chapter 160 to address the issue of election of school board members where the district boundary extends beyond the boundary of a single county. This requires that candidates for election to the school board be elected from the district at large.

Senate Bill 174 (Sen. Adams) establishes a definition for “reasonable and prudent parent standard.” The bill requires a licensed child-care facility or child-placing agency to designate an on-site official who is trained and authorized to apply the reasonable and prudent parent standard. Also establishes a definition for “age or developmentally-appropriate.” Defines “caregiver” and establishes requirements for caregivers using the reasonable and prudent parent standard.

The bill expands the list of who can access investigative reports or assessments of suspected child abuse, neglect or dependency to include licensed child-caring facilities or child-placing agencies evaluating placement for or serving a child who is believed to be the victim of abuse, neglect or dependency. It also requires the cabinet to share information about a child in custody of the cabinet with a relative or a parent of the child’s sibling for the purposes of evaluation or arranging a placement for the child, arranging appropriate treatment services for the child, or establishing visitation between the child and a relative, including a sibling of the child.

Senate Bill 185 (Sen. Adams) confirms Executive Order 2015-397 and establishes the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders attached to the newly created Office of Autism in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. The Office of Autism may be housed at the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky. The advisory council has members appointed by the governor, including a representative of the department of education.

Senate Bill 191 (Sen. Paul Hornback) reorganizes and expands the membership of the State Fair Board. It also updates the Fair Council in the Department of Agriculture, which acts as an advisory group to the commissioner of agriculture regarding the fair program. An agricultural education consultant from the Kentucky Department of Education has been added as a member of the council.

Senate Bill 228 (Sen. Julian Carroll) defines “bullying” to mean any unwanted verbal, physical or social behavior among students that involves a real or perceived power imbalance and is repeated or has the potential to be repeated: that occurs on school premises, on school-sponsored transportation or at a school-sponsored event; or that disrupts the education process. A school board’s code of acceptable behavior must prohibit bullying and requires the code to include procedures for investigating and responding to reports of bullying and a method to protect a person reporting a bullying incident.

Senate Bill 256 (Sen. Morgan McGarvey) (see House Bill 87) allows for any high school student participating in basic training required by a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to be considered present for all purposes for up to 10 days.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 (Sen. Reginald Thomas) recognizes the importance of removing barriers to breastfeeding in the Commonwealth.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 135 (Sen. Stan Humphries) recognizes Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and encourages all cable and satellite providers to offer KET programming to their customers.

Senate Resolution 266 (Sen. Dan “Malano” Seum) confirms the appointment of Sarah Murphy Ford to the Kentucky Board of Education representing the state at large for a term ending April 14, 2016.

 

HOUSE BILLS

House Bill 15 (Rep. Derrick Graham) requires new appointees to the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) to complete orientation and education program to be eligible for a second term. Directs the CPE to develop an orientation and education program for new governing board members of the council, public universities and Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). The bill also replaces references to the ACT examination with “college admissions examination.” It removes the requirement to have Advanced Placement courses be emphasized when counseling a student to enroll in accelerated courses.

House Bill 80 (Rep. Chris Harris) contains some of the revenue provisions in the vetoed House Bill 423 to accompany the Executive Branch Budget House Bill 303. HB 80 increases the General Assembly’s authorization threshold for university capital projects to $1 million related to any capital construction item to make a building or utility installation complete or information technology systems.

The bill also clarifies how the School Facilities Construction Commission may use money in the emergency and targeted investment fund. It codifies provisions related to the levy of 5 cents equivalent rate for debt service contained in the 2010 through 2014 Executive Branch Budgets and provides that certain equalization funds will not be provided by the General Assembly unless specifically authorized by the General Assembly.

The bill allows a school district to be open on the day of an election if no school in the district is used as a polling place.

House Bill 100 (Rep. Jeff Hoover) requires that health benefit plans that provide benefits for autism spectrum disorders treatment provide a liaison to the insured to facilitate communication between the insured and the insurer.

House Bill 111 (Rep. Linda Belcher) requires every public school to post the Kentucky child abuse hotline number.

The bill also provides that school districts that want to complete 1,062 instructional hours by June 5, 2016, but are unable to under the current school calendar, can request assistance from the commissioner of education to determine a plan for completing the required hours; provides that, after determining a district cannot complete 1,062 hours by June 5, and after maximizing instructional time, the commissioner will waive the remaining required hours. Authorizes school districts to schedule graduation ceremonies before the final instructional day and to be open on the day of a primary election if no school in the district is used as a polling place. Prohibits school districts from scheduling instructional time on Saturdays and requires the Department of Education to report to the Interim Joint Committee on Education how school districts completed the 1,062 instructional hours. The bill also contains an emergency clause for school calendar language.

House Bill 148 (Rep. Belcher) permits licensed child care centers and certified family child care homes to obtain a prescription for and store epinephrine auto-injectors for emergency use. Requires the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to promulgate administrative regulations to implement the requirement and includes licensed child care centers and certified family child care homes in the definition of “authorized entity.” The bill also allows places of worship to voluntarily participate in the safe haven program by arranging for transportation of the newborn via 911 or emergency medical services and adds liability immunity. It increases the age limit in the definition of a newborn infant to 30 days for the purposes of The Representative Thomas J. Burch Safe Infants Act.

House Bill 158 (Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo) increases the amount of Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarships available to students enrolled in a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program.

House Bill 162 (Rep. Adam Koenig) includes electronic communications within the definition of harassing communications.

House Bill 184 (Rep. Jeffery Donohue) provides an alternative principal selection process for county school districts in a county with a consolidated local government adopted under KRS Chapter 67C (Jefferson County). It sets penalties for a school council member violating confidentiality of the alternative principal selection process and makes any discretionary action taken under the alternative method of principal selection subject to provisions of employer-employee bargained contracts between districts and employees. The bill allows the council to have the option to interview the recommended candidate while in closed session and   allows a superintendent’s spouse who has previously been employed in a school system to be an employee of the school district.

House Bill 204 (Rep. David Floyd) allows the high school graduation requirement for law enforcement personnel to be met through graduation from a non-accredited or noncertified school that meets basic standards set by the Kentucky Department of Education, a GED exam or the external diploma program.

House Bill 225 (Rep. Jody Richards) requires administrative bodies to issue professional licenses or certificates to military service members or veterans within two years of an honorable discharge if the training received by the service member or veteran could reasonably be expected to provide the necessary experience and skills. Military training and experience cannot be substituted for the acquisition of a college degree or passage of a specific examination when either is a prerequisite for licensure or certification. The bill grants the administrative body the right to deny licensure or certification if training is not equivalent and allows appeal rights. It also requires administrative bodies to promulgate administrative regulations to carry out the provisions.

House Bill 271 (Rep. Jerry T. Miller) requires the state-administered retirement systems to disclose data on each member or recipient of a benefit, including a unique identification number which shall not be the member’s Social Security number or personal identification number issued by the systems, information on the retirement status, actual or projected benefits payments, and other retirement information for each member.

House Bill 276 (Rep. Tim Moore) allows public universities to offer in-state tuition to members of any U.S. Reserve component.

House Bill 420 (Rep. Tom Burch) allows a parent or legal guardian to establish a power of attorney for temporarily delegating parental authority to another person for a period of time. Prohibits a parent or guardian from using a power of attorney to permanently avoid or divest parental or legal responsibilities. Encourages the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide information to families in crisis, including organizations that utilize temporary power of attorney programs. Clarifies that a power of attorney cannot be only to establish residency in a school district unless the child actually lives in the district.

House Joint Resolution 5 (Rep. Rita Smart) a joint resolution designating honorary names for various roads and bridges and directing the placement of honorary roadside signs.

    • Honors the Shopville Elementary archery team by erecting signs on Kentucky Route 80 approaching the school in each direction that read “Shopville Elementary Archery, 2014 NASP State Champions, 2015 NASP State and National Champions.”
    • Honors the Corbin High School Cheerleading Team by erecting signs on U.S. Highway 25E at the Laurel/Knox County line and on U.S. Highway 25W in the city of Corbin, near its intersection with Snyder Street that read, “Home of the Corbin High School Cheerleading Team 2016 UCA National Champions/Medium Division II.”
    • Honors the Clay County 13-14-year-old softball team by placing signs at mile points 17 and 18.9 on U.S. Highway 421 in Clay County that read “Home of 2015 Clay County Girls 13-14 Year Old Little League Softball Team/State and Central Region Champions/7th Place World Series.”

House Joint Resolution 197 (Rep. Palumbo) creates the Kentucky 225th Anniversary Commission to study and recommend activities and events to educate and commemorate the state’s quasquicentennial.

VETOED

Senate Bill 196 (Sen. Stan Humphries) establishes the Books for Brains Program to promote the development of a comprehensive statewide program for encouraging preschool children to develop an appreciation of books. Attaches the program to the Department for Libraries and Archives for administrative purposes and establishes a governing board of seven members appointed by the governor for staggered four-year terms. Establishes the Books for Brains Program trust fund to consist of funds collected through state appropriations, gifts, grants, and any other funds from the public and private sectors; directs the department to promulgate administrative regulations to establish the procedures for working with local partners to provide books for registered children.

House Bill 225 (Rep. Richards) requires administrative bodies to issue professional licenses or certificates to military service members or veterans within two years of an honorable discharge if the training received by the service member or veteran could reasonably be expected to provide the necessary experience and skills. Military training and experience cannot be substituted for the acquisition of a college degree or passage of a specific examination when either is a prerequisite for licensure or certification). It also grants the administrative body the right to deny licensure or certification if training is not equivalent and allows appeal rights. The bill requires administrative bodies to promulgate administrative regulations to carry out the provisions.

Senate Bill 245 (Sen. Ernie Harris) creates new provisions to bring licensing and personal identification procedures into compliance with the federal REAL ID act. A person under the age of 18 who applies for an instruction permit must (between the age of 16 and before the person’s 18th birthday) enroll in a designated driver training program.

House Bill 423 (Rep. Rick Rand) enacts the revenue measures related to the Executive Branch Budget. The proposal also includes additional provisions relating to revenue and taxation.

House Bill 626 (Rep. Greg Stumbo) establishes the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program and directs the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority to administer the program. IT defines student eligibility for the scholarship and prescribes the calculation of the scholarship amount. The bill also establishes the Dual Credit Scholarship Program, creates the Postsecondary Education Performance Fund and e stablishes a program for financing workforce development partnership projects through the creation of the Workforce Investment Fund Advisory Board and the Kentucky Workforce Investment Fund.

 

LINE-ITEM VETOES

House Bill 10 (Rep. Richards) amends House Bill 303 to appropriate general fund money for the College Access Program, the Kentucky Tuition Grant Program, the College Access Program and the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship Program.

House Bill 303 (Rep. Rand) relates to appropriations and revenue measures providing financing and conditions for the operations, maintenance, support, and functioning of the government of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its various officers, cabinets, departments, boards, commissions, institutions, subdivisions, agencies and other state-supported activities.

      • Removes all of the minimums for the additional School Facilities Construction Commission offers of assistance for the listed projects (but maintains the maximum offer).
      • Removes ACT and WorkKeys in deference to HB 15, which passed and removed specific vendors and replaced with generic language test types (leaves the money).
      • Eliminates Every1Reads line item.
      • Removes the language related to the expansion of the preschool program to 200 percent of poverty, but leaves the collaborative language.

House Concurrent Resolution 185 (Rep. Rick G. Nelson) directs the Legislative Research Commission to establish a Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Task Force to study the workers’ compensation system and develop consensus recommendations concerning that issue. Requires the final report to be submitted to the Legislative Research Commission by Dec. 1, 2016.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear pronounced (OAG 16-002) that “the effective date of legislation passed by the 2016 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly, except for general appropriation measures and those containing emergency or delayed effective date provisions, is the first moment of Friday, July 15, 2016, since 90 full days will then have passed after final adjournment on April 15, 2016.”

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