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Legislative update from Rep. Amy Neighbors

From Laura Leigh Goins

Lawmakers will reconvene for the remaining 26 days of the 2023 Regular Session in just a few days. Because this is an odd-year session, the legislature only meets for a total of 30 days, half the time devoted to session in even-numbered years. While also attending legislative meetings through this brief recess, I had the opportunity to meet with several of my legislative colleagues from the western region of the state to hear about new opportunities at Western Kentucky University. Because of expansions through several premiere industrial leaders such as Houchens Industries, and the campuses Innovation Commercialization Center, students are able to take advantage of the cutting edge in learning, as well as be presented with job opportunities not far from where they received their education.

Without major issues like a budget, redistricting, or the pandemic on the agenda, the Kentucky House of Representatives will have an opportunity to focus on existing programs with an eye towards ensuring the state's resources are used as effectively as possible. The House has 20 committees that meet during the session. Called "standing committees," these groups are tasked with individual subject areas and allow lawmakers a chance to focus on topics like transportation, education, health services, families and children. Legislation must first clear the appropriate committees before it can be considered on the House Floor.

More than 200 bills have already been filed this session. Some of the topics include those already being considered by House Standing Committees and include:

Natural Resources & Energy: Committee members will continue focusing on energy independence, as well as the current climate of Kentucky's coal industry. December's deep freeze left many Kentuckians in the cold as some energy providers reportedly implemented blackouts, reportedly to preserve energy reserves across the state.

Agriculture: Lawmakers will continue working to help Kentucky farmers access the resources they need, including access to farming equipment. Additionally, the committee will look at issues pertaining to how soil conservation districts are governed on both the state and local level.

Health Services: Members will explore potential measures to increase access to quality health care. These ideas include allowing cancer bio-marker screenings in "at-risk" patients to be covered by insurance, eliminating prior authorization mandates for certain providers, and expanding organ donation options. Currently, organs taken from donors who suffer a damaging injury before death go unused regardless of the condition of individual organs.

Tourism & Outdoor Recreation: The committee will evaluate the current state of tourism in our commonwealth and identify ways to help the industry recover from pandemic shutdowns and policies. Last session, the General Assembly passed the biennial budget. Legislators appropriated $75 million to support tourism recovery and investment. This session, the committee is likely to hear updates on tourism recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee will also receive the annual update on finances and administration of Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

House Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection: Kentucky's emergency response is among the best in the nation, as we saw in the days immediately following the December 2021 tornadoes in Western Kentucky and July flooding in Eastern Kentucky. However, those experiences have also given us an opportunity to update how we approach these emergencies. VMAPPS members will focus on this issue, as well as on legislation that deals with veteran cemeteries, and military licensure compacts to help with the transition military families face when moving to a new state.

Judiciary: Members are already working on two major issues, juvenile justice and child support reform. There have seen several incidents at juvenile centers across the state, and youths and the workers at these facilities face danger in places where safety is supposed to be a number one priority. Lawmakers worked on this issue during the interim and have met with the Department of Juvenile Justice, advocates, and other stakeholders. Helping collect back child support for Kentucky families will be another topic for the committee. During the 2022 interim, legislators heard testimony that there are millions owed, including almost $90 million in Jefferson County alone. Without a doubt, the children involved in these cases are suffering as a result of the nonpayment of the court-ordered support payments.

As always, I hope you will feel free to contact me with any questions or issues. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Please feel free to email me at If you would like more information about the legislature, you can visit the Legislative Research Commission website at

This story was posted on 2023-01-28 10:35:04
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