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John Schickel: Comments on productive 5th week of legislative session, continued budget discussions

It was a busy but productive fifth week of the 2020 Regular Session as we passed a wide array of bills through the Senate and continued biennial budget discussions. 

As we wait to receive a budget proposal from the House of Representatives, where all spending bills must originate, the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee has already begun an intensive review process of the budget proposed by the Governor. Crafting the Commonwealth’s two-year financial plan is a lengthy process. Still, I am confident that the final product will be fiscally responsible while ensuring sufficient funding for our critical programs. I will keep you updated on the status of the budget in the coming weeks. 

The Senate Majority made notable progress on the 2020 legislative agenda, successfully passing 11 bills over the week, including Senate Bill 1 and two bills I am the primary sponsor of, Senate Bills 7 and 99.

Sen. John Schickel

The language of Senate Bill 7 is no stranger to the Senate Chamber. In fact, it has been voted on at least three times in the past in different variations. The bill is very simple. It gives back to the community control over its school system. The school board is elected by the people of the district, who in turn hires the superintendent. However, under current law, the superintendent does not have authority to hire and fire principals. This bill provides authority to the superintendent, in consultation with the site-based council, to make decisions on school principals. The bill also adds one parent to site-based councils to better engage parents in decisions of school districts.

Senate Bill 99 allows collaboration between distilleries and breweries in the selling of their products by removing the sunset provision for local option elections for distilleries. The bill would allow distillery gift shops to sell products that were produced in collaboration with a brewer or microbrewer. Finally, the bill also establishes a minimum production amount for distillery licenses. Senate Bill 99 will benefit one of our most signature industries and help Kentucky Tourism.

Also known as the Federal Immigration Cooperation Act of 2020, Senate Bill 1 ensures the cooperation of state and local governments with the federal government in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The bill will create no additional responsibilities for law enforcement or agencies, but it does require no less be done than what federal statutory law states. Senate Bill 1 preemptively prohibits local municipalities from enacting sanctuary immigration policies. There had already been discussions in one of Kentucky’s major cities to adopt such policies. That would be irresponsible and dangerous. While many can agree that federal immigration law needs to be addressed by Congress, current laws should be enforced to ensure the safety of the public, and provide law enforcement with the assurance that they can enforce laws in good faith.

Several bills with bipartisan support passed through the Senate this week. Senate Bill 63 is a measure that would allow high school dropouts who are at least 21 years of age to complete their graduation requirements through online programs. Senate Bill 45 requires licensed childcare centers to have standards on nutrition and physical activity. Senate Bill 45 also incorporates state and national expertise in developing new standards regarding screen time and sugary drinks.
Also passing in the Senate this week: Senate Bill 102, legislation to remove unnecessary red tape in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services by repealing 48 outdated and obsolete statutes. Senate Bill 40, legislation that would provide additional protections for Kentucky’s vulnerable children by requiring fingerprint background checks for employees of child protection and child welfare agencies. Senate Bill 60, a measure to add spinal muscular atrophy to the list of heritable conditions tested at birth. This screening would be provided at no additional cost to the family or the Kentucky taxpayer.

It is an honor to represent you at the Kentucky State Capitol. If you have any questions or comments about these issues or any other public policy issue, I can be contacted by phone in Frankfort at 502-564-8100, Ext. 617, or at home at 859-384-7506. You can also reach me on twitter @Senatorschickel, or on Facebook, at State Senator John Schickel You can also review the legislature’s work online at www.legislature.ky.gov

Senator John Schickel (R-Union) represents the 11th District in Boone County. He serves as chairman of the Senate Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee and also serves as a member of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee; Judiciary Committee; Natural Resources and Energy Committee; and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary. 

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  1. SB-7 is badly needed to restore some rationality to Kentucky’s public school governance.

    At present, locally elected school boards and their superintendent have virtually no control over major parts of school operations, a situation that constantly stuns and amazes citizens when they find out their elected officials have virtually no say about what happens in schools those citizens’ tax dollars fund.

    The bill also adds a parent member to each school’s governing council, making the parent and teacher representation equal for the first time since KERA was enacted in 1990.

    SB-7 still allows the school councils to keep control of 11 very important functions like selection of curriculum and staff, so school council authority is not being ripped away, as some charge. Hopefully, the Kentucky House will do the right thing to restore some real accountability in our school system and pass this bill.

  2. Mark Gaunt says:

    Thank you Sen. John Schickel for all you do. Very proud to have you as our Senator

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