FRANKFORT, Ky. — Starting June 29, more than 20 new laws go into effect in Kentucky. These laws, passed by the House and Senate during this year's General Assembly, cover everything from how Kentuckians vote to what is considered a "Kentucky-grown agricultural product."
Two laws, making changes to education and elections, grabbed particular attention during the session. After COVID-19 upended the 2020 election cycle, House Bill 574 cements three days of early in person voting before election day.
"In our last election they were given three weeks, this law only gives them three days,” Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw said of the early voting period.
Counties can petition for regional voting locations where anyone can vote. Any new voting machines purchased must have a paper trail and ballots must be counted on election night.
"I don't think that will be a challenge, we have good equipment, I don't think that will be a challenge," Holsclaw said.
In education, Kentucky students have new options.
House Bill 563 allows students to change school districts. It also creates organizations that would fund private school tuition and gives $25 million in tax breaks to those groups.
"This is not about whether public schools do a good job. I think they do a great job, and probably most of us in this room are graduates of public schools. This is about giving families a choice. That's it, just giving families a choice,” Rep. Chad McCoy, (R)-District 50, said earlier this year.
HB563 was one of the most controversial of the session, vetoed by Governor Beshear and pushed through by lawmakers.
Opponents, like the Kentucky Education Association worry now about the impact.
KEA President Eddie Campbell wrote in part in a statement Tuesday, "the provisions of HB563 should have never seen the light of day. The voucher/tax credit scheme embodied in HB563 is an unconstitutional use of public money without voter consent.”
Kentucky's new education bill is facing a court challenge from the Council for Better Education. The case is due back in court for a motions hearing next month.
20 other laws took effect Tuesday, including time off for new adoptive parents, anonymous surrender spaces, revised open records rules and expanded definitions of police wrongdoing.
HB 210: Ensures that employers provide parents adopting a child under 10 years old the same amount of time off as birth parents.
SB 127: Encourages schools to keep bronchodilator rescue inhalers in at least two accessible locations for students with asthma.
HB 212: Includes demographic, race, income and geography information in an annual state report on deaths among children and new mothers, when those factors are associated with the deaths.
HB 254: Raises the penalty for possession or viewing of pornography involving children under 12 to a Class C felony. Will also raise the penalties for distribution of pornography involving children under 12 to a Class C felony for the first offense and a Class B felony for each subsequent offense.
HB 402: Revises child support laws to increase flagrant non support from $1,000 to $2,500
HB 563: Gives families more options when decided where to send their kids to school. The bill allows the use of education opportunity accounts for students to attend public schools out of their district or get school supplies.
HB 574: Makes some of the changes from the 2020 election permanent, including early, in-person voting, ballot drop boxes and county voting centers.
SB 6: Creates standards for ethical conduct for transition team members for everyone elected to a state office. Standards include disclosure of current employment, board members appointments and non-state sources of money received for their services. Also bans transition team members from trading private information for money.
SB 86: Designates 100% of a new dumping violation fee to be paid in the county where the illegal dumping happened.
SB 84: Bans jails, correctional facilities and similar centers from putting female inmates who are pregnant or have recently given birth in restrictive housing, administrative segregation or solitary confinement. New mothers must be given 72 hours with their newborn before returning to the correctional facility and inmates will receive six weeks of postpartum care. Incarcerated pregnant women must have access to social workers and/or community-based programs to help with the placement of their child.
SB 102: Includes Asian carp, paddlefish and sturgeon in the definition of "Kentucky-grown agricultural product."
HB 272: Allows water districts to impose a 10% late fee and cut off service if bills aren't paid. Customers getting financial help with their bills will be exempt.
HB 229: Makes a person who intentionally or wantonly causes damage to livestock guilty of criminal mischief.
HB 75: Prohibits certain insurance coverage determinations based upon the status of a person as a living organ donor. Also encourages the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to create educational materials about being a living organ donor.
SB 55: Prohibits copays for Medicaid beneficiaries.
HB 155: Allows "newborn safety devices," which allow parents to anonymously surrender their newborn baby at a designated police station, fire station or hospital
SB 80: Expands the number of acts considered "professional wrongdoing" by police officers. Acts include use of excessive or deadly force and engaging in a sexual relationship with a victim. Requires an officer to intervene when another officer is using unlawful or unjustified force.
HB 312: Revises state's open records laws. Limits the ability of people who do not live, work or conduct business in Kentucky to obtain records to open records laws. Restrictions do not apply to journalists.
SB 52: Changes statutes so law enforcement officers can be charged with 3rd-degree rape, 3rd-degree sodomy and 2nd-degree sexual abuse if the officer engages in sexual acts with a person under investigation, in custody or under arrest.
HB 126: Increases the threshold of felony theft from $500 to $1,000. Also allows law enforcement to charge members of organized shoplifting rings with a felony if a member reaches a certain threshold.
SB 228: Requires the governor to select a replacement for U.S. Senator from a list of three nominees selected by the same party of the departing senator
HB 475: Starting July 1, the Kentucky Occupational and Health Standards Board cannot adopt or enforce occupation safety and health administrative regulations that are more stringent than corresponding federal rules.