COLUMN: Senator Carroll Gibson's Frankfort Update

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 We have passed the midpoint of the General Assembly, and the activity has continued to be energetic and fast paced.

Another piece of legislation that passed Thursday is Senate Bill 119. The bill sets up a medical review panel for lawsuits against healthcare providers. It consists of three doctors and their opinion is admissible to court. It is not a finding of law or an opinion. This measure will help prevent frivolous lawsuits, it will protect victims that are taken advantage of by unscrupulous attorneys and will keep healthcare providers focused on what they need to do rather than worrying about entering into frivolous litigation.

Senate Bill 114 allows small lenders to raise interest from two to three percent to loans not exceeding $15,000. The current law has not been adjusted since 1982, and this update allows these financial lenders to continue meeting the needs of consumers with higher risk. The measure passed unanimously in Senate Wednesday.

Senate Bill 66 is a bill aimed to make our lakes more hospitable to visitors and vacationers. The legislation sets requirements for the Department of Fish and Wildlife peace officers to only enter boats if there is reasonable suspicion of a violation. Too often, our guests enjoying the lakes in Kentucky are boarded, searched and often for no apparent reason. This hurts the tourism industry of Kentucky which is important to our small businesses and economy. Along with the measure, the officers would be trained in hospitality toward the people enjoying outdoor activities and tourism.

To equip our children for kindergarten and beyond, we passed Senate Bill 54. Statistics and data show that early childhood education is critical to future academic success. A recent state screening showed only 49 percent of Kentucky’s children were kindergarten-ready when they entered school. However, students who go through preschool programs have much higher readiness. Senate Bill 54 would permit children to attend preschool for 15 instructional hours per week, rather than 9 without changing licensing requirements. This measure would benefit preschool aged children with two extra days of instruction better preparing them for Kindergarten and giving a foundation for future academic success.

On the other end of the age spectrum, we worked to protect our vulnerable adults this week. Senate Bill 98 would require entities that provide personal care services to adults to query the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for a prospective employee, contractor, or volunteer to find out if the prospect has been the subject of a validated substantiated finding of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation. An individual can also request the registry for a potential employer.

If you have any issues or concerns, please call my office in Frankfort at 502-564-8100 or toll free at 1-800-372-7181. I appreciate your time and input.

Senator Gibson (R-Leitchfield) represents the 5th Senate District, which includes Breckinridge, Edmonson, Grayson, Hart, LaRue and Meade Counties. He is a member of the Agriculture Committee, the Subcommittee on Horse Farming, the Judiciary Committee, the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee, and the Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection Committee.