Kentucky legislature finishing work for 2014

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Associated Press

Posted on April 1, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 1 at 11:02 AM

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky General Assembly on Monday banned electronic cigarette sales to minors and approved the state's first use of a medicinal marijuana product, among other measures, on the legislature's last day before the upcoming veto session.

Notable bills that are likely dead include bills banning natural gas companies from seizing private land for a proposed oil pipeline and a bill restoring voting rights to some convicted felons.

Democratic leaders in the House and Republican leaders in the Senate spent most of the day in closed-door caucus meetings finishing work on the state's $20 billion biennial budget and working out compromises on various pieces of legislation.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, lamented what he called divided government hindering the work of the lawmakers.

"There are only four states like Kentucky where we have divided government. We have deep philosophical differences with (Democratic House) Speaker (Greg) Stumbo and his caucus," Thayer said. "They have deep philosophical differences with us about the role of government and about debt and about spending. So it's difficult to work through those."

Once they finish working Monday, lawmakers will adjourn for two weeks, giving Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear time to either sign or veto legislation.

Lawmakers will return on April 14 for a two-day session to review those vetoes. No bill is officially dead until after April 15, when the state constitution mandates lawmakers must adjourn for the year. But in general it is difficult for major bills to pass after the veto period.

Bills that passed the General Assembly on Monday and are headed to Beshear's desk include:

-SB.124, a bill legalizing the use of oil derived from marijuana for medical purposes. Supporters said the oil - known as cannabidiol - can treat seizures in children. The bill allows cannabidiol in two instances: a prescription from a doctor at the University of Kentucky or the University of Louisville research hospitals or someone in a trial administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The bill comes as states across the country are looking at relaxing their marijuana laws for medical purposes.

-SB.109, a bill banning the sale and use of electronic cigarettes to anyone under 18. Kentucky already bans the sale, possession and use of tobacco products to minors. This bill updates that to include electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes resemble traditional cigarettes except they use a battery to create vapor instead of smoke.

-HB.79, a bill which would allow a local board of education to provide services to refugees and legal aliens who are between the ages of 21 and 2.

-HB.232, a bill requiring consumers to be notified when an electronic data breach reveals personally identifiable information.

-HB.343, a bill that adds possessing or viewing child pornography to the list of the state's designated sex crimes.

-SB.49, a bill allowing teenagers under 14 to referee youth sports leagues. Kentucky state law does not allow anyone under the age of 14 to work, with some exceptions including golf caddies and yard work. This bill would add another exception for teens to referee youth sports leagues.

Bills that are likely dead this session included:

-HB.31, a bill barring natural gas companies from seizing private land for oil pipelines. The bill targets the Bluegrass Pipeline, a proposed pipeline that would run through Kentucky carrying natural gas liquids from the northeast to the Gulf of Mexico. The bill passed the House 75-16 earlier this month, but has had no action in the Senate.

Monday, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, tried to add the bill as an amendment to another bill the Senate was scheduled to pass. But Senate President Robert Stivers ruled the amendment out of order.

"Until the courts deal with it, we think it's inappropriate for the legislature to get involved," Stivers said

-HB.70, a bill that would have restored voting rights to some convicted felons. The bill received national attention after U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, testified before a state Senate committee in favor of the bill. Different versions of the bill passed both the House and the Senate, but lawmakers have been unable to reach a compromise.

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