SENATOR WHEELER’S LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
Week 3 of the 2023 Legislative Session
The 2023 Legislative Session is moving along, with Senate committees approving numerous measures for the full chamber’s consideration. Several bills have cleared the chamber and have made their way over the state House.
Before summarizing legislation, I want to acknowledge a special occasion from Week 3, the 7th Annual Military Kids Day event.
I was happy to see constituents from our district participate in this event. We had over 100 military kids take part in the legislative process and witness their state government in action. When you added parents and others supporting the day’s events, your legislature hosted nearly 200 people.
Kids served as Senate pages, were honored during a committee meeting and in the House and Senate chambers and were treated to lunch where they heard from special guest speakers, many who were in the military themselves. The event was certainly the most successful yet, and I hope next year will exceed this year’s success.
A bill providing funding for the Bowling Green Veterans’ Center was signed into law in week 3 while several bills cleared the Senate. They were:
Senate Bill 24 — Expands homeschooled students’ access to Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship funds. KEES provides money to high school students mainly based on GPA and ACT scores. Homeschooled students are currently only eligible for 20 percent of available KEES money because they don’t have a traditional GPA. The bill will allow the KEES base to be calculated by an equivalent GPA determined by the homeschooled student’s ACT score.
Senate Bill 25 —A clean-up bill from the previous session’s Senate Bill 59. It clarifies the distinction between articulation and dual college credit for school accountability purposes.
Senate Bill 49 — Seeks to alleviate teacher workforce challenges by extending how long a provisional teacher certificate lasts. This bill provides more time for candidates with baccalaureate degrees to complete alternate teacher certification.
For those with baccalaureate degrees who seek alternative teacher certification through Options 6 and 7, this bill revises the provisional certification period from three years to five years.
Senate Bill 150 — Strengthens parental engagement and communication within public schools by ensuring school curriculum transparency regarding the subject of human sexuality and requiring notifications of health services offered and recommended by schools. Additionally the bill provides First Amendment protections to both staff and students.
Kentucky, like all states, is facing multi-industry workforce challenges. The same is true in public education. According to recent reporting by the Louisville Courier-Journal using figures from the Kentucky Department of Education, the state is short approximately 1,700 classroom educators. This is vastly lower than the 11,000 figure oft-cited by Governor Andy Beshear but is nonetheless an issue lawmakers are committed to addressing.
Looking back to September 2021, you may recall Governor Andy Beshear, citing security recommendations from the Secret Service and Kentucky State Police, closing the portion of Capital Avenue in Frankfort between the State Capitol and the Capitol Annex.
The Governor’s roadway closure to vehicular traffic came nearly one year after he spent over $300,000 on a security fence to be placed around the Governor’s Mansion and the complete closure of the State Capitol to visitors from March 2020 to July 2021. Since the route’s closure, there has been a tremendous increase in vehicular traffic through the Capitol Annex parking lot, and many are concerned about an increased risk of pedestrian injury.
Senate Bill 11 cleared the Senate in Week 3 and is now with the House for consideration. It would reopen that portion of Capital Avenue, once more providing access to the beautiful campus to residents and out-of-state tourists. The bill allows emergency responders and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to temporarily stop the flow of traffic while fulfilling any duties they may have on State Capitol grounds.
You can follow bill statuses at legislature.ky.gov and watch live legislative activity at KET/org/legislature. You can also track the status of other legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181.
Senator Phillip Wheeler, R-Pikeville, represents Kentucky’s 31st Senate District, including Elliott, Johnson, Lawrence, Martin, and Pike Counties. Wheeler is vice chair of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor, and the Senate Judiciary committees. He is also Capital Planning Advisory Board co-chair. Additionally, Wheeler serves as a member of the Senate Transportation, Natural Resources and Energy, State and Local Government, and Transportation committees. Wheeler recently served on the 2022 Interim Benefits Cliff Task Force.