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Senate awaits action on House budget

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As March rolls along, we are near the end of our work in Frankfort for this session. Although we did not have session on Monday due to the wintery weather conditions, the Senate continues to work on bills to make governmental processes more efficient, clean up statutes and save taxpayer money.
Off of the floor, the members and staff of the Majority Caucus have been busy reviewing the budget situation in preparation for the House’s budget bill. Although we do not have an actual piece of legislation to work with, we still anticipate certain requests and appropriations, and can be ready to work quickly when the bill comes out of the House.
I sponsored Senate Bill 109, which passed, and would prohibit the sale of “electronic cigarettes” to minors.  E-cigarettes are sometimes marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they are smokeless.  But they still emit a vaporized form of nicotine to users that is addictive and unsafe for youth.
I also became a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 195 which would create a constitutional amendment shortening the legislative sessions. For even years, the session would be 45 days, and during odd years, it would be up to 15. This would save $7 million dollars annually and allow more involvement from citizens from many walks of life to become legislators while also working in their main field of employment.
Other legislation included two bills addressing the “conceal and carry deadly weapon” (CCDW) license process. With the increase of people applying for CCDW, the wait time to receive a license is growing due to the time it takes to process a paper application.
To address this, Senate Bill 100 would speed up CCDW licensing by a simple measure; allowing electronic applications for licenses and renewals. This will take advantage of modern technology and make the licensing process more efficient. The convenience of the electronic application will cost the applicant ten more dollars, but if the applicant does not want to pay that, the paper application is available at the current cost.
Regarding personal protection, Senate Bill 106 passed, which would permit a person protected by an EPO or DVO to be issued a temporary concealed weapon license for the period of the protective order. A background check by the State Police will have to be conducted, and the recipient will have to receive training within 45 days in order for the provisional to convert to a full CCDW license.
Senate Bill 81 addresses employee misclassification, and generated a lot of discussion before passage. The bill would define terms regarding employment, specifically “contractor”, “person”, “prime contractor” and “subcontractor.” Under the bill, any person determined to be independent contractor is not eligible for employee benefits or wages. It would also allow for an appeal process to circuit court in the county where the person resides or where the person has his principal office.
To ensure the information is clear and people understand the definitions, Senate Bill 81 would require the Labor Cabinet develop a corresponding training program to educate public and workers on classification criteria used by Labor Cabinet as well as a workplace poster. The measure also sets penalties for violation of misclassification. The House will now consider the bill.
Senate Bill 36 also passed, which provides a way to energize the real estate market in Kentucky. The legislation reduces the time period for the right of redemption of real property from one year to six months. After researching the issue, no cases of redemption after six months could be found. This legislation helps purchasers rehabilitate and sell these properties rather than leaving them empty and vulnerable to crime, vandalism and other misuse that not only hurts the value of the property, but also those in its vicinity.
Other legislation cleaned up work from previous sessions that addressed more comprehensive law, as well as making processes of utilities consistent. House Bill 197 also passed, and addressed some clean-up needs from House Bill 1 passed during the 2013 session.
I invite you to come to Frankfort for hearings of interest to you.  Citizens are always welcome in our committee meetings.  You can also view live-streaming and archived coverage of legislative proceedings at www.ket.org. Also, the work of our caucus can be followed on twitter at @kysenategop.
If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100.  I appreciate your time and input.
 
Senator Paul Hornback (R-Shelbyville) represents the 20th District including Carroll, Henry, Shelby and Trimble Counties, as well as part of Jefferson County.