Believe it or not, THREE good things happened in Frankfort yesterday Skip to content

Believe it or not, THREE good things happened in Frankfort yesterday

A Sine Die for which to be thankful.

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Photo by Tony Hand / Unsplash

Those of us who have followed the Lege for years are always nervous about the final days of the session. We wonder what horrific or ignorant bills are going to pop up at the last minute. And we are prepared at a moment’s notice to utter the famous Dorothy Parker quote: “What fresh hell is this?”

The last day of this year’s session surprised us all. Instead of coughing up one or more hairball bills as they rush toward Sine Die, our Republican-controlled legislature actually delivered good news! And not just one bit of good news – THREE pieces of good news!

So let us celebrate this Sine Die Miracle, and be thankful as we contemplate this list.

HB 509, yet another attack on open records

HB 509 was a bill that started bad and got worse. A committee sub would have basically eliminated open records entirely. Thankfully, that sub caused so much outrage that it got pulled. But the remaining bill was still bad. Its primary feature was putting into law an open records exception for government work done on private devices. Want to hide everything related to a government contract? Just text the gory details using your cell phone, and you’re golden.

The bill passed the House a while back. Would it get a vote in the Senate on Monday? We all waited to see if it got called ... but it never did. Callooh callay, the bill died on the last day!

SB 6, yet another anti-DEI bill

Like HB 509, SB 6 started out bad and got worse. The original bill was supposed to prevent higher ed institutions from requiring employees and students to “endorse a specific ideology or political viewpoint” as part of graduation or hiring practices. Most understood that the bill was aimed at undermining Diversity-Equity-Inclusion efforts at colleges and universities. That bill passed the Senate on party lines. (Note the low bill number; it was one of the Republican majority’s priority bills.)

But then the House got hold of it, and expanded it to actually require those same colleges and universities to completely end their DEI programs. And guess what? The Senate refused to concur with the House version. The bill was on the Senate’s Orders of the Day for Monday, but never got called.

The attacks on diversity will certainly continue. But for now, this attack died aborning.

Momnibus pulls an end run

KYGA watchers often get shocked and frustrated at the parliamentary shenanigans that take place in Frankfort. Remember the Sewer Bill? Take a bill that has already had two readings by title only, gut it and replace it with another bill, then pass that substitute bill in a hurry.

It’s frustrating, and unethical, but it is completely legal in terms of parliamentary procedure. And sometimes it actually results in something good.

HB 10, the so-called “Momnibus” bill that puts all sorts of maternal health improvments in place, had passed the House earlier in the session and appeared on its way. But then an amendment was tacked on: the “Baby Olivia” amendment, which would have required all school children to watch a video about pregnancy that was an obviously anti-abortion maneuver. Because of that add-on, “Momnibus” appeared dead.

But then, on Monday, the language of HB 10 was added to SB 74, a bill that establishes a review team to track and address the problem of maternal mortality. The original HB 10 was added to SB 74 — notably without the “Baby Olivia” amendment — and the whole package passed the House 95-1 and the Senate 29-5.

It’s an important and significant bill, and everyone involved in getting it over the finish line deserves our thanks. It was, frankly, a great way to end this year’s session of the General Assembly.

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There you have it: two bad bills that died, and one good bill that was reborn and passed. May we have more days like this in future legislative sessions.

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Bruce Maples

Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. (Read the rest of his bio on the Bruce Maples Bio page in the bottom nav bar.)

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