FRANKFURT — The sounds of a legislative session have a flair all their own — the roll-call vote, the banging of the gavel, the chatter on the hall floor. In week six of the 2022 legislative session, it was the voice of a fourth-grade student from Louisville that captured the attention of all ears.
Nine-year-old D’Corey Johnson kicked off the annual celebration of black history on Tuesday with a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” that soared the 212-foot Capitol dome. When he sang the Senate’s national anthem, the normally reserved room couldn’t help but roar with applause.
The performance was perfectly suited to a busy week at the General Assembly, which included a visit from Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, a heated debate over unemployment benefits and action on a crowd of other measures related to education, children, health and taxes. .
Education was a key theme at Tuesday’s Black History Celebration, where lawmakers highlighted the importance of historically black colleges and universities — particularly Kentucky State University. The event culminated with the 2022 Legacy Award, which posthumously honored State Representative Darryl Owens.
On Wednesday, attention turned to Calipari and University of Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who testified before the Senate Education Committee on behalf of Senate Bill 6.
The bipartisan legislation would provide a framework in state law for college athletes to generate personal income from their name, image and likeness, known as NIL. Calipari and Barnhart told lawmakers the proposal would create both parameters and opportunities while protecting the interests of athletes.
SB 6 cleared the entire Senate on Thursday and is now heading to the House, where lawmakers spent much of Thursday afternoon deliberating on unemployment.
House Bill 4 aims to modify the duration of unemployment insurance based on the average unemployment rate in the Commonwealth. The bill would also require participants to engage in at least five verifiable job search activities each week to obtain benefits.
Supporters said the measure was badly needed to address labor shortages and attract more jobs to the state. Critics, however, argued that the legislation would disproportionately impact rural areas of Kentucky where unemployment is highest.
The bill passed after several hours of debate and is now heading to the Senate.
Lawmakers maintained a brisk pace throughout the week, both in committee and in the House and Senate. The General Assembly has put forward measures concerning:
Read to Succeed—House Bill 226 aims to invest in improving early literacy through evidence-based learning techniques and intensive interventions that can help struggling students catch up. It was approved in the House on Monday and serves as a companion bill to a Senate measure.
Child abuse – Senate Bill 97, which seeks to strengthen investigations into suspicious child deaths and serious injuries, was approved in the Senate on Monday. Among many purposes, it would require police to request a blood, breath or urine test from the child’s guardian if that person is suspected of being under the influence at the time of the child’s death.
Another measure, House Bill 263, would increase the penalty for first-degree criminal abuse to a Class B felony if the victim is under 12. He cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday with unanimous support.
Vehicle Taxes – House Bill 6 would require property assessment administrators to tax vehicle owners in 2022 in the same manner as in 2021. From next year, the bill would also require them to use the average trade-in value rather than the “gross” trade-in value. in value or in “clean” trade-in value when assessing the taxes. HB 6 cleared the House with a unanimous vote on Wednesday.
First Responders – Senate Bill 101 would prohibit first responders from taking photos of deceased persons at the scene of an accident or crime, unless the photos are for official purposes. Any unauthorized photos could result in a Class A misdemeanor, with fines ranging from $500 to $2,500. The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday.
COVID-19 – Joint Senate Resolution 80 would recognize natural immunity to COVID-19 as equivalent to vaccination – should the state implement vaccination mandates. Unvaccinated individuals should demonstrate the presence of COVID-19 antibodies through a serological test. The measure was approved by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday.
School Sports – Senate Bill 83, known as the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” calls for by-laws prohibiting biologically male students from participating in girl-only sports. He quit the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.
The halfway point of the 2022 session is approaching, and the House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene Monday for Day 28 of the 60-day session.
Kentuckians have many ways to stay connected with the legislative process. This includes the Legislative Record webpage, which allows users to review and track the progress of a bill through the chambers.
Citizens can also share their views on issues with lawmakers by calling the General Assembly’s toll-free messaging line at 1-800-372-7181.