2010 Legislative Accomplishments

Most people do not understand the time or commitment to see that a bill is successfully passed and signed by the Governor. A bill that passes the first time it is filed is either a miracle or an emergency. I prefer the “Miracles.”
The following list details the bills we filed with my name on them. I personally drafted the legislation as the Principal Sponsor which are identified by an asterisk (*) after the number. You will see that I was the Principal Sponsor for five bills during the 2010 Legislative Session. All others are those that I co-sponsored to show my support and agreement, but did not leave me with the challenge of passage. I will provide some detail for those that I passed.
Westrom, Susan
HB 354: HFA(1), 1, 16, 30, 39, 52, 55, 58, 70, 86, 110, 117, 118, 123, 127, 140, 146, 156, 159, 161, 165, 166*, 167*, 175, 185, 190, 192, 198, 228, 231, 245, 269*, 285, 301, 321, 335, 349, 354*, 356, 368, 377, 389, 398, 407*, 411, 425, 439, 444*, 543, 556
HCR 10
HR 6, 29, 30, 62, 68, 75, 76, 79, 81, 87, 131, 132, 134, 143, 145, 160, 167, 183, 196, 222, 227*, 241*, 245, 269, 272, 280, 289,

HB 167: An act related to the promotional sampling of distilled spirits and wine

Economic development is vitally important for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and experience has taught me there are two signature industries that our General Assembly has a tendency to neglect; the horse racing industry and the bourbon industry. Revenues from these industries contribute tax dollars that provide the funding for roads, courthouses, schools, public safety, and all things citizens have come to expect all across the state. What harms any important industry fiscally in Kentucky, shrinks the general fund, causing the loss of funding throughout the state. I have never seen any county turn away state funding, even if it was supported by these two specific industries.

During the past three sessions, the Kentucky Distillers Association, the wine industry, as well as, the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) asked that I sponsor a bill regarding “tasting” events. HB167 would make the law and individual state regulations consistent when distillers marketed their product. This bill was filed during the two previous sessions and was highly supported by Leadership in both chambers, except one individual who was against the bill for personal, non legislative reasons.

This being the third attempt for passage, we were under a time crunch because the goal had always been to pass the bill before the World Equestrian Games beginning in September 2010. The Kentucky Bourbon Association was a major host of the games, and had invested heavily as a sponsor. They knew the “tasting” of their product would provide a global opportunity to expand the knowledge base of bourbon and wine drinkers world-wide. Most people do not realize that Kentucky Bourbon is a world-wide favorite as reflected by the growing international sales.

I worked closely with the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) who were especially interested in seeing this bill pass to make the rules on “Tastings” perfectly clear. There is not enough space on this website to explain what eventually happened to this bill. I had enough votes to pass the bill, although the one member of House Leadership who had an axe to grind with one of our bourbon companies decided that by killing the bill AGAIN he could get revenge.

I point this out so you may understand that sometimes this is not an easy job and resilience is required when doors are slammed in your face literally. Composure is lost by those who should be leaders. Actually, I rather enjoy studying an adult having a full blown temper tantrum.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to work with people who decide their fragile ego demands “getting even,” and who forget the ideal has become purpose in being a legislator is to assist the state in moving forward. In Kentucky, it common place to see one person in the Senate Leadership, or one person in House Leadership determine the outcome of a bill. Let this be a reminder to you of how important it is to really know what motivates your elected officials.

HB 269 Related to Urban County Health Departments

There are only two urban health departments in our state, which are located in Lexington and Louisville. Local county health departments are allowed to make purchases up to $20,000 without a bid, but the urban departments were capped at $2,500. Because of this limitation, the urban departments were unable to purchase the refrigeration units needed prepare for the predicted swine flu crisis. HB 269 made the purchase limits without a bid equal in both the urban and rural departments.

I filed this bill in the House and asked Senator Kerr to file a companion (identical) bill in the Senate in the event that time ran out and we lost the bill. Eventually, my bill passed to the Senate and Senator Kerr’s bill passed to the House. We both agreed that I would get the senate bill passed on my side. This demonstrates that two political parties can support the same issue! This was signed by the Governor and is low in statute.

HB 354 Bed and Breakfast Inns

This was a great little bill that expanded statutes regarding Bed and Breakfast Inns across the state. Although the bill did pass the House and moved to the Senate, it did not receive a hearing. I suspect we will see this common sense bill in the future.

HB 407: Relating to the Court of Justice

One of the greatest challenges I fight annually, is with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. You may recall in 2006, I was able to expose the fact that parents who had their children removed from their home for neglect were likely to never get their children back home if they were of an adoptable age. This occurred even if they complied with all the assignments the cabinet demanded of them. I discovered the federal government was paying a bonus for each child removed from a home that ended up in a permanent (or adoptive) placement within two years. In other words, they became easy prey for a cash strapped cabinet.

To become familiar with this topic you may want to review the Investigative Report delivered to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services in January, 2007 which was drafted and released by Robert J. Benvenuti III, from the Office of the Inspector General. This report was written after an intensive investigation was made regarding serious misconduct of DCBS employees in Hardin County and demonstrated what happens when a transparency is not in place. Robert Benvenuti became my hero on the day the report was released. Unfortunately, he quit his position as Kentucky’s Inspector General the very next day and many of the gaps exposed still have not been remedied.

HB407 created a pilot project in seven jurisdictions to open the court when handling dependency, needy, neglect, and abuse cases involving children and termination of parental rights to provide the “transparency” key for the safety of families working for reunification. This bill did not pass, but will continue to be my number one priority before I leave office.