The first full week of February saw several key pieces of legislation deliberated in committee and on the House Floor. At the same time, members of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee and budget review subcommittees continue to work on the House version of the state budget. The budget must reflect our commitment to spend taxpayer money wisely, lay the groundwork for a solid financial future, and provide necessary services. We are working now to keep that commitment.
This week we also passed legislation that strengthens our ability to keep children safe as they ride and exit school buses. HB 34 would allow local school districts to install cameras on school bus stop arms – those mechanical signs that come out when school buses stop to let children on and off. As you know, it is illegal - and dangerous - to pass a school bus that stopped to allow children to disembark. However, there seems to be a growing disregard for this law and the safety of our school children. The bill also provides for cost and revenue sharing agreements with third parties to pay for camera installation and manage the enforcement. HB 34 also increases the fine for illegally passing a school bus.
I also joined fellow legislators in voting for a legislation aimed at protecting line-of-duty death benefits for surviving spouses. The measure, HB 271, preserves the death benefits of a widow or widower if he or she chooses to get remarried. Current law mandates that if a surviving spouse remarries, the death benefit they receive is reduced to 25 percent. Under the proposed legislation, the surviving spouse will receive 75 percent of the deceased spouse’s retirement if they choose to remarry. It is estimated that this legislation will only affect 14 people today, but it sends a strong message that we stand by the folks who serve and protect us.
Before I finish, I would like to share some information about the General Assembly's Legislative Page Program. This is a great educational opportunity to experience democracy in action by serving a day on the House Floor during the session. They work on the floor, delivering messages, running errands, and copying materials. Page supervisors oversee the program, ensuring that pages are safe and behaving appropriately. Children must be ten and older, and a parent or guardian must also be present. We all enjoy having the children in the chamber and, frankly, they serve as a fitting reminder that the work we do will impact our state for generations.
As you can see, we are off to a busy start. If you have any questions or comments about this session, I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through the toll-free message line at (800) 372-7181. You can also contact me via e-mail at Deanna.Frazier@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at legislature.ky.gov and you can also follow me on my Facebook page, Deanna Frazier State Representative or on Twitter @deanna_ky.