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Senator C.B. Embry, Jr. Legislative Update 

KENTUCKY (01/13/15) - Senator C.B. Embry, Jr. has released the following information regarding legislative activities.

The Kentucky General Assembly convened its 2015 Regular Session this week, and I was excited to begin as a member of the Senate Majority. Our priorities are summed up best as working to ensure quality Kentucky Jobs for Strong Kentucky Families.

In many years past, the first week of this off-year “short” session was spent mainly on formalities like electing leaders and appointing committees, with the real work of passing bills beginning in February. But with only 30 days to accomplish so much, I’m proud to say the Senate Majority Caucus was ready to work from day one, already having the leadership and Committee Members in place. We got to work this first week by passing major anti-heroin legislation out of our chamber as well as other priority bills.

Our first bill to be enacted was Senate Bill 5, a measure providing tools and resources to fight the epidemic of heroin addiction in Kentucky. The bill calls an additional $13.3 million for treatment programs. County jails would get $7.5 million to administer treatment programs for their inmates. Community mental health centers would get the remaining $5.8 million to fund treatment programs for addicts not locked up. To help state officials monitor heroin abuse and measure its response, the bill increases reporting requirements for deaths related to heroin abuse and how treatment beds are being allocated.

It further provides for administration of naloxone, a medication used to counter the effects of an overdose, by first responders and provides immunity for those individuals and their employers when this life-saving drug is administered.

The bill also provides the ability for police officers to not charge suspects who are truthful about whether they have needles or other sharp objects on them during a search. I am a co-sponsor of this important legislation.

On the punishment end, the bill allows people caught carrying any quantity of heroin or fentanyl, a synthetic opioid often unknowingly substituted for heroin, to be charged with trafficking. The bill also requires someone convicted of trafficking to serve 50 percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole.

Friday, the Senate debated and passed two bills from our top five priorities. Senate Bill 2, a constitutional amendment relating to administrative regulations and Senate Bill 4, which requires a consultation with a physician before an abortion procedure. Senate Bill 2 addresses a balance of power issue regarding regulations that can be implemented by the executive branch without legislative oversight. This bill would establish a system for legislators to have oversight on executive administrative regulations and ensure that they are in keeping with Kentucky statutes. If it passes this session, Kentucky voters will have the opportunity to cast their vote on the issue since it would be an amendment to the Kentucky constitution.

My Senate Committee appointments include Vice Chair of Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection, Chair of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Education, and member of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy, and Transportation Committees. As the session continues, these committees will meet to review and vote on bills that come before us. Taking swift action, The Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection heard and voted out Senate Bill 4 so it could be presented on the floor. I am pleased to be placed on these committees as we review and oversee policy on these important issues.

Also, I am a member of the following caucuses, Senate Majority Caucus, Western Kentucky, Library, Sportsman, and Legislative Prayer Caucuses.

Kentuckians have numerous ways to follow legislative action throughout the session, including seeing legislative action in person in the State Capitol’s legislative chambers and committee meeting rooms, which are open to the public.

The Kentucky Legislature Home Page (www.lrc.ky.gov) is updated daily to provide the latest legislative information. Web surfers can view the issues before lawmakers by browsing through bill summaries, amendments, and resolutions. The website is regularly updated to indicate each bill’s status in the legislative process, as well as the next day’s committee-meeting schedule and agendas.

In addition to general information about the legislative process, the website also provides information on each of Kentucky’s senators and representatives, including their phone numbers, addresses, and legislative committee assignments.

The Kentucky General Assembly also maintains toll-free phone lines to help citizens follow legislative action and offer their input.

People who want to give lawmakers feedback on issues under consideration can call the Legislative Message Line at (800) 372-7181. Those who prefer to offer their feedback in Spanish can call the General Assembly's Spanish Line at (866) 840-6574. Citizens with hearing impairments can use the TTY Message Line at (800) 896-0305.

A taped message containing information on the daily schedule for legislative committee meetings is available by calling the Legislative Calendar Line at (800) 633-9650.

Citizens can write to any legislator by sending a letter with a lawmaker's name on it to: Legislative Offices, 702 Capitol Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601.

Information provided by Senator Embry
Posted by J.L. Graham
KenCo News