Legislative Update from Rep. Randy Bridges
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - The pace picked up during week three of the 2019 General Assembly, with legislation clearing committees and passing the full House. As we left Frankfort on Friday, we are almost halfway through with this year’s session. Wednesday, February 20 is the last day that lawmakers can file new legislations, but already more than more than 800 bills and resolutions have been filed for consideration in both the House and Senate.

Removing a barrier for physicians to treat opioid addiction with a proven strategy is the goal of one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the House this session. The bill, HB 121, passed unanimously and would prevent insurance companies from requiring prior authorization for medication-assisted addiction treatments. Currently, someone struggling with an addiction must wait five to ten days before they can begin a medication-assisted treatment so that insurance companies can approve coverage. If passed by the Senate, HB 121 would remove the requirement of prior authorization and speed up the necessary treatment.

I also joined my fellow members of the House in approving HB 22. This piece of legislation changes the way that school board vacancies are filled. Currently, the Education Commissioner fills the vacancy, and this bill would transfer that power to the rest of the local school board, who would vote to fill the empty slot. The Kentucky School Board’s Association testified in support of the measure, which would also shorten the amount of time given to fill the vacancy from 90 to 60 days.

Legislative committees continued to meet this week, sending legislation to the full House for consideration. Members of the House Health and Family Services Committee approved HB 64, otherwise known as Kevin’s Law. This measure would allow a pharmacist to dispense a 30-day supply of medication - including lifesaving medicines like insulin and inhalers in emergency situations. Current law allows pharmacists to dispense a 72-hour supply, which is often not long enough to ensure proper supply and use.

The House Education Committee approved HB 118, also called the “Keep Americans Working Act of 2019.” If passed into law, this commonsense measure would prohibit someone from having their occupational license suspended or revoked because they are delinquent on a student loan or work-related scholarship. The last thing an individual struggling to pay back their loans needs is for their mechanism to earn a living to be stripped. Pulling out the rug from underneath a working individual is the opposite of what we should be doing, as incentivizing work should be and is a top priority of ours.

The House Agriculture Committee approved a hemp measure aimed at addressing issues brought to us by the farmers and marketers. The first, House Concurrent Resolution 43, addresses concerns that online marketplaces and social media sites are limiting access to sell legal hemp products. The hemp industry has exploded in our state, we went from having only 32 acres of hemp five years ago to having 6,700 acres planted in 2018. However, the actions of popular online marketing sites like Facebook are handicapping this growing industry. 

We are continuing to work on legislation to fine tune some of the tax reforms made during the 2018 session, as well as to clarify issues with misinterpretation by the Department of Revenue. I expect that we will be passing legislation to deal with these before we adjourn this session. House and Senate members on the bipartisan Pension Review Panel have continued to meet on the pension issue, I hope to have more to share on that issue in the next few days.

Over the next few weeks I will continue to update you on our progress. In the meantime, I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. If you would like more information, or to e-mail me, please visit the legislature's website

Published 04:30 PM, Saturday Feb. 16, 2019
Updated 07:50 PM, Sunday Feb. 17, 2019

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