Perched just across the Kentucky River from the Capitol is a 150-year old building that celebrates our commonwealth’s rich military history. The legislature approved $8,000 to construct the building that houses the Kentucky Military History Museum during the 1850 Regular Session after an earlier arsenal was lost to fire. 

     Because the arsenal was used for the manufacture, maintenance, and storage of volatile weapons and substances, the legislature wisely stipulated the building be located away from the building that served as the center of state government at that time. 

     That allocation was certainly not the first legislative measure aimed at strengthening our military presence, as over the past few years we have worked hard to ensure our state is military friendly and welcoming to those who serve our nation.

     During the 2021 Regular Session, we passed several measures with this intent, and I thought I might share a few with you in this week’s update.

    Protections for Military Families - HB 109 ensures that deployed service members who have custody of their children do not lose permanent custody due to their deployment. Known as the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act, HB 109 allows custodial responsibility to be temporarily granted to a non-custodial parent during the deployment. 

   Preventing the “Patriot Penalty” - HB 196 prohibits automobile insurance companies from implementing a “Patriot Penalty,” by using a lapse in coverage due to deployment as cause to raise rates. 

    Kentucky Operator’s License Requirement Exemption for Armed Forces Families - HB 277 provides an exemption to the Kentucky operator’s license requirement for a member of the Armed Forces, their spouse, or dependent child. Under the provisions of this bill, Kentucky will recognize a valid driver’s license issued by the state of their permanent residence.

    Streamlining Services for Kentucky Veterans - HB 398 is a reorganization for the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs aimed at streamlining services for Kentucky veterans. 

    Construction Contracts - SB 99 exempts facilities at Bluegrass Station from the requirement to have construction contracts executed under the supervision of a licensed architect or professional engineer. The bill would relate only to facilities measuring 20,000 feet or less and used in the furtherance of security or defense contracts, grants, or agreements with the United States’ federal government located on property owned by the Commonwealth.

    Kentucky Emergency Response Commission - SB 133 requires the executive director of the Department of Military Affairs serve as vice-chair of the Kentucky Emergency Response Commission.

    Department of Military Affairs Reorganization - SB 147 redistributes powers and responsibilities from the Facilities Division of the Department of Military Affairs to the department’s adjutant general.

    National Guard Leadership - SB 161 reflects updated job titles for Air National Guard leadership and permits National Guard leadership to be employees of the Commonwealth.

    Before I conclude, I would like to share that the Kentucky Military History Museum is open to the public. It is operated by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department for Military Affairs, but my office can help make arrangements for your visit. If you are interested, please let me know. I can be reached here at home anytime, or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Feel free to contact me via email at Bill.Wesley@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information visit the LRC website www.legislature.ky.gov.

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