2011 Legislative Accomplishments

Legislative Accomplishments 2011
The 2011 Session was a short session limited to 30 days which means any bill passed was a “Miracle.” This year I saw two of my bills become “Miracles” in Frankfort.
Westrom, Susan
HB 3, 11*, 13, 35, 52, 56, 69, 70, 90, 101, 106, 122, 125, 134, 164, 182, 193*, 198, 256, 274, 283, 288*, 310, 318, 319, 320, 418, 441*, 465*
HJR 10
HR 4, 18, 43, 59, 62, 64, 67, 77, 84, 91, 97, 137*, 141, 142, 156, 172, 176, 183, 189, 191, 201, 204, 205, 214, 220
HB 11: Tastings bill.
This is the same Tastings bill that was filed in 2010. I had pre-filed the bill, but did not pursue passage at the request of the industry.

HB 441: Relating to the external statewide child fatality and near fatality review panel
You see the headlines far too frequently; a child being abused to the point of death. When this happens, even legislators cannot request information from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services because of confidentiality. We have no way of knowing if the family had been identified as a possible danger to a child or if there was cabinet involvement. The cabinet worked with me on drafting of the bill but would not come out in favor or against it.
HB 441 creates a near fatality review panel to review child fatality or near fatality occurrences, sets out the duties of the panel and allows release of information, which creates transparency. The important goal of the panel is to identify best practices and to identify where lack of training had dire consequences. This will offer hope for social workers who want to have the best training possible since the decisions they make may mean the difference between the life and death of a child. At this point, it is difficult to determine what problem solving skills have proven effective and where training needs to be improved.
This bill passed the Health and Welfare Committee but did not get voted on in the House Floor due to added amendments which would have killed the bill.

HB 288: Relating to Real Estate Appraisal, another “Miracle” bill.
I was fortunate to work with an exceptional group of Real Estate Appraisers who desired to strengthen their profession by requiring registration of real estate management companies and their employees. We discovered that unlicensed appraisers were coming in from other states to do appraisal work for an out of state company. Not only did this cost the consumer more, but consumers had no idea of the credentials of the person making the final decision regarding the value of their home.
HB 288 did pass both chambers and was signed by the Governor, thus becoming a “miracle bill” during the short session.

HB193: Prohibiting smoking in all public places and places of employment.
During the summer of 2010, I was asked by several leaders in the Smoke Free Kentucky movement to be the principal sponsor of a statewide statute banning smoking in the workplace or in enclosed public places such as shopping centers or bowling alleys. At that time, 29 states had passed comprehensive statewide smoking legislation and we discovered that 34% of Kentucky was currently covered by local smoke-free ordinances.
I had to carefully deliberate on the issue, because in the past I was a proponent of the local-option only. In other words, I felt that local communities should make the decision for themselves. Ten years later, I found that local smoke free ordinances were becoming a patchwork across the state, because few were the same. This confused workers and consumers when traveling from one county to another, not knowing what to expect.
You may be old enough to recall that in 1964, the Surgeon General of the United States let the public know that cigarette smoking was a danger to our health. Warnings were placed on the side of cigarette packages, yet the danger did not sink in until people became alarmed as they found relatives and loved ones fight lung cancer and other smoking related disease.
In 1986, the first report regarding second hand smoke was released by the Surgeon General of the United States and the public reacted much the same as they had in 1964. It did not take long to recognize that the Surgeon General was right. In 2006, the Surgeon General under the Bush Administration issued yet another report which stated, “The debate is over. The science is clear. Second hand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard.” We now know that second hand smoke can lead to death and disease in non smokers.
HB 193 bill was not pressed for passage intentionally because my primary goal was to make people curious enough to do their homework. You might begin by visiting www.Phillipmorrisusa.com, click on “Smoking and Health Issues,” found in the left hand corner to see what manufacturers of cigarettes have to say about second hand smoke. During the interim of 2011, I will be concentrating on the redraft of the “Smoke Free Kentucky Act” for the 2012 legislative session.
HB 465: Creates an interstate compact for the horse racing industry
HB 465 was drafted to execute an interstate compact to enable member states to act jointly and cooperatively to create more uniform, effective, upper and efficient practices, programs, rules, and regulations related to the industry. This compact would improve the quality and integrity of racing and wagering.
This statute was created by experts from the industry found in Racing Commissions and organizations from across the country. The Council on State Governments provided their own legal specialist of interstate compacts, and over a two year period a final draft was available. Needless to say, the Kentucky Racing Commission wanted Kentucky to be the lead state in passage of the interstate racing compact, as we all know Kentucky is the Horse Capitol of the World. I was asked to carry the bill in November, but in December, Senator Damon Thayer filed a similar bill that became Senate Bill 24. His draft was not as current as HB 465, but I felt certain it could be amended to reflect the current changes.
Early in the session, SB 24 was passed out of the Senate without amendments, which meant that any changes would have to be made in the House. I went ahead and filed HB 465, which essentially invited all opposition to my office that had not been heard in the Senate. I will tell you that I worked hours hashing out amendments with people sent from the industry from across the United States, and fought to get an acceptable amendment to allow passage in a timely manner. By that time, it was the last week in the session; some lobbyists do not come forward until the last minute, hoping to delay the bill so long it dies. HB 465 was amended in the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, passed through the House Chamber and sent to the Senate. However, In the Senate, there was no time for a committee hearing.
The only hope in seeing the Racing Compact legislation pass was to sacrifice HB465 as a committee substitute for SB24 in committee which allowed the reformed (correct) Senate bill to pass out of the House and ultimately be signed by the Governor.
HB465 essentially passed as SB24. This goes to show that sometimes a principal sponsor in one chamber may have to rely on a principal sponsor in the other chamber to do all the work and allow them to take the credit. This demonstrates that Senator Thayer worked smarter, while I “worked” the bill. That being said, I am always proud to fight for this signature industry, since so often it looks like we do more harm than good!