In any session of the lege, there are a large number of crappy bills introduced. (Along with a smaller number of good bills.) Keeping track of all of them would both keep you busy and destroy your faith in humanity.
Fortunately, many of them never go anywhere. (Also true of many good bills.) They never get assigned to a committee, or they never make it out of committee. In short, they just die.
But some are like Frankenstein’s monster. You think they are going to die – then one day you check the Bill Tracker update from the day before and exclaim “It’s alive!” And you begin doing all you can to kill it before it goes on a rampage across the state.
Here, then, are five crappy bills that are on the move in this year’s General Assembly. If you agree that they are very bad bills, call the Legislative Comment Line at 1-800-372-7181 and leave a message that you are opposed to this Crappy Bill and want it killed. (You can leave a message for your own rep or senator, for a committee, for leadership, or for the entire House or Senate.)
HB 4 – Cuts to Unemployment Benefits
This is the Repubs annual attack on people who are unemployed. This year’s version would cut the time you could get benefits based on the unemployment rate for the entire state – never mind what it is where you live. (If the Golden Triangle is having a boom year, but there are no jobs where you live, then sucks to be you.)
The bill also requires that you prove you made 5 job “inquiries” each week you are receiving benefits. AND, that you take pretty much any job offered, no matter what.
SB 83 / HB 23 – Trans Athletes Ban
This bill bans anyone transitioning to female from competing on a girls’ team in any school, from 6th grade through college. (Persons transitioning to male are okay, though.) The bill also says that if an educational institution at any level allows a trans athlete to compete, they can be sued by any other athlete who is “deprived of an athletic opportunity or suffers any direct or indirect harm.”
One of the sponsors of the bill was asked if this was a widespread problem, or if he could provide any examples of a trans girl competing on a girls team. The sponsor said he could not, but thought we should be “thinking ahead” and put this law in place.
SJR 80 – Antibodies Equivalent to Vaccination
This bill is pretty simple: if you have antibodies to COVID, then that is the equivalent of having been vaccinated. So, if you are in a situation where you are required to be vaccinated, you can just show them your Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card and ignore that vaccine mandate.
Never mind that the science clearly disputes this assertion. We’re the Kentucky Legislature – we do what we want, and science be damned.
SB 88 – Allow the Legislature to Call Itself into Session
This bill allows the lege to “bank” some days from its regular session, and use them later in the year to call themselves back into session, without a call by the governor. In other words, if the executive branch does something they don’t like, they can hie themselves to Frankfort and undo it, on their own, at any time before the end of the year.
HB 51 – No Masks in Schools (or Some Hospitals)
This is another of the “we don’t care about the science” bills coming out of this year’s session. (Also knows as the “F U Andy Beshear” bills.)
After undoing the governor’s state-wide mask mandate for schools, the Repubs said that they wanted mask mandates left to local school districts. “Local control, local control!” was their mantra all through that process.
Now they are reversing themselves, and throwing all the local control out the window. “We, the Repubs in Frankfort, know what’s best for your schools and your children. So, no mask mandates of any kind, even if COVID is spreading through your schools. Too bad for you.”
An interesting by-product of this bill is its effect on certain hospitals. “No, this is about schools,” you protest. “How can this include hospitals?”
Very simple – in their zeal to show their power over all the schools in the state, they included this clause in their bill:
“No state law, administrative regulation, executive order, executive directive, or governing board of a public postsecondary education institution shall require the wearing of any type of facial covering at any public postsecondary education institution or property located in the Commonwealth that is owned, leased, or operated by the institution in response to any virus or disease.”
Did you catch that? “Any ... property ... that is owned, leased, or operated by the institution.” You know what properties are owned and operated by universities in the state? Hospitals. Specifically, UK Hospital and UofL Hospital.
So now some hospitals cannot require masks in their buildings? No matter the reason? Yeah boy, if I’m already in the hospital suffering from some illness, I’m going to be so glad to see a maskless person in my semi-private room, coughing and sneezing whatever germs and virus they are carrying.
Can the hospital make its STAFF wear masks? To be honest, I’m not clear on that. The bill talks about regulations that were in place before COVID began – but that’s not the world we are in now. Again, I’m really excited about having an X-ray tech, for example, working on me without a mask.
A few others for good measure
I decided to just list five crappy bills, but there are certainly some more that are on the move. Here’s a short list:
- SB 44 – The Riot Act – One of the most poorly written bills in this session, and an obvious clap-back at the Black Lives Matter and Breonna Taylor protesters. It defines "riot" as "a public disturbance of five or more people which by tumultous and violent conduct creates grave danger of damage or injury." It then goes on to enhance penalties for anyone involved in one of these "riots," including minimum jail time before they can be released.
- SB 50 – More Vouchers – Another run at the scholarship tax credits. Let's hope it fails again.
- SB 63 – More Limits on Open Records – A bill so broad in its scope that the unintended consequences are pretty large. Essentially, it allows "public officers" to mark all their "personally identifiable information" as private and not subject to open records, and says that info cannot be published anywhere. Guess what? That includes their name. Taken to its logical conclusion, a reporter could get sued for using the name of an elected official in a story.
- SB 84 – No Gender Transition Treatment for Anyone Under 18 – There you go; more attacks on trans people.
- SB 93 – Religious Exemption to Vaccination Requirements – Man, these people are all wrapped up about vaccines and masks. This one is exactly what it says: if your employer requires vaccination, you just have to say "I don't believe in it" and you don't have to get vaccinated.
- SB 120 – School Boards Have Their Own Police Departments – Yep, requiring SROs in each school wasn't enough. Now we're going to let school systems form their own police forces. And check this out: "They shall have general police powers including the power to arrest, without process, all persons who within their view commit any crime or misdemeanor. They shall possess all of the common law and statutory powers, privileges, and immunities of sheriffs." Great. Just great.
A few final thoughts
As noted above, many bills that get out of committee don’t get passed, and many bills that pass in one chamber die in the other. So, we can be hopeful that all of these will suffer death, and quickly.
But in case they don’t, pay attention to who their sponsors are and who votes for them. And, while they are currently on the move, you can help stop them by calling the Comment Line as noted above.
And finally, if you are signed up for our emails, you have access to all of our Bill Trackers, including the Key Legislation tracker where you can watch these and others. If you are NOT signed up, why not? It’s free, and helps you stay better informed. Just go here to get your free access to the Bill Trackers, as well as other perks.
I’ll do a story in a few days on A Few Good Bills just to balance things out. (Yes, there are some!) In the meantime, if you found this useful, share it using the buttons at the top. Thanks!