Senate committees reject two bad House bills Skip to content

Senate committees reject two bad House bills

A bill to cut SNAP benefits, and a bill to loosen child labor laws, both failed in committee today in the Senate.

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Photo by Gemma Evans / Unsplash

In a rare occurrence, especially on the same day, two different committees in the Kentucky Senate rejected bills that had already passed the House.

However, the chairs of the committees said they may bring the bills back up for a vote, possibly as soon as Friday.

HB 367 – Limits on SNAP benefits

A bill which anti-hunger advocates had warned could lead to greater food insecurity in Kentucky fell short of the votes needed to advance to the full Senate, despite changes to the bill made by its sponsor.

The bill sponsor aimed to increase workforce participation with the legislation. It would, among other things, give the General Assembly power over decisions about work requirements for Kentucky’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP

Since his bill cleared the House in February, Rep. Wade Williams (R-Earlington) said he made it “a much narrower bill.” 

He deleted a section of the bill that would have restored the federal asset test, ending the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ ability to waive asset limits through the Broad Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE). This would have excluded households with savings worth $2,750 as long as there are no disabled or elderly people in the household and excluded seniors and people with disabilities who had $4,250 saved.

The edits weren’t enough to convince some senators. 

Sen. Jason Howell (R-Murray) said that he does not question the intention behind the legislation. But, he said, it “works against everything that we’ve done in the last few years” to address benefits cliffs.  

“All this does is it places another wedge between people who are working and are trying to do what is best for them and what we want them to do policy-wise for the commonwealth,” Howell said. “It throws another wedge in there to keep them down in a lower economic demographic; keeps them from … being able to build any wealth, to build any assets.” 

“I think it flies in the face of everything that we’ve been trying to do as a policy for the Commonwealth of Kentucky for the last few years,” Howell continued. “And I’m a solid no.”


Jordan Ojile with Feeding Kentucky said his organization feels “encouraged” about the changes to the bill. 

“However, the remaining provision would still leave Kentuckians hungry, and we are glad the Senate Committee chose not to pass through the amended legislation,” he said. “Obviously, the fight to protect SNAP is not over, but today is worth celebrating.”

Rev. James Todd Smith, the chair of the Justice and Advocacy Commission and of the Kentucky Council on Churches and the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, also praised the committee members who voted against HB367. 

“It is my prayer,” he told the Lantern, “that the committee will not take it up again and that hungry people in the commonwealth will continue to have access to SNAP benefits without impediment.”

HB 255 – Loosen child labor laws

Rep. Phillip Pratt’s House Bill 255, which would allow some teenagers to work longer and later hours, also fell short of the votes needed to advance to the Senate floor.

Lobbyist Jerald Adkins, speaking for the AFL-CIO and Kentucky State Building and Construction Trades Council, told the committee that labor is working with Pratt to improve the bill and asked the members to vote “in hopes of making it better on the floor” through amendments.

The measure would repeal Kentucky’s existing child labor laws and align them with federal laws, which are less restrictive for minors aged 16 and 17. 

Speaking in opposition was Dustin Pugel with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. He said under the bill, the current school and work hour cap of 75 hours would be removed. On work safety issues, Pugel told committee members in some instances the bill takes Kentucky protections below federal law.

“While we are grateful to the sponsor for making changes to ensure that Kentucky kids are not working overnight, we remain deeply concerned about the impacts that removing state protections on daily and weekly hours worked and going below the federal standards on allowable occupations would have on job safety,” said Pugel.

Pugel said the bill language on apprenticeships would allow 16 and 17- year-olds to work jobs in coal mining and logging as well as other higher-risk jobs.


Cross-posted from stories at WEKU and the Kentucky Lantern.

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