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KING: House sends Senate education, public health, and pension legislation

want to take a moment to celebrate the big news coming out of Fort Knox. That post will soon be home to the U.S. Army’s newest headquarters. That means more than 635 soldiers will be added to the post, 200 of whom will support a new operational command post in Europe on a rotational basis.

This is going to have an incredible economic impact for the region, but also for the entire state.

Army leadership gave a great deal of credit to our state’s military-friendliness, citing many of the bills we have passed over the past couple of years as a reason for this decision.

We continue to see evidence that the policies we are adopting are paying off.

While it takes time, the hard work will pay off, and we will see every Kentucky community prosper.

Week six of the 2020 Regular Session allowed legislators an opportunity to work on critical issues, including education, public health and public pension legislation.

One of the education-focused bills we passed is a bill that would help ease the transition to a new school for Kentucky’s foster children.

HB 312 would expedite the transfer of the child’s confidential records between school districts and require more state collaboration with local school districts to help meet the child’s needs.

Many schools struggle to help foster children because they simply do not have the information they need.

I was happy to co-sponsor this bill as it shows continuation of our mission to improve opportunities for our children in foster care and builds on the Foster Child Bill of Rights passed during the 2019 Regular Session.

We also took an opportunity to honor our Family Resource and Youth Services Centers and the men and women who staff them.

The bill, HB 241, designates the second Wednesday in February as Family Resource and Youth Services (FRYSC) Day.

It is just seven short lines, but HB 241 conveys the respect the House has for this group of educators and the work they do in our public schools. A product of the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1994, FRYSCs basically plug both students and families into a network of resources and support to ensure children can focus on learning.

I am proud to be a co-sponsor on this bill to show my appreciation for the work FRYSCs do. Their work has a direct impact on how well our children do in school.

The House also approved HB 129, legislation that seeks to transform the way public health services are delivered.

The bill changes how local health departments approach the programs they offer by placing a priority on essential services they are mandated to provide. HB 129 has broad support from public health departments across the state.

Paying for public health has become a struggle in many of our communities.

I am happy to share that I spoke with representatives from our public health department and they are in support of this bill.

The state’s 81 public health departments face an almost $39 million deficit. Additionally, an estimated 18 face closure if they do not immediately deal with their financial problems.

The majority of financial issues are directly related to their public pension costs. However, many within the public health system have brought forward concerns that new programs have been added over time, while the ongoing need for existing programs is rarely evaluated.

Health departments and other “quasi-governmental” agencies are also the topic of HB 171, which we approved this week.

This bill is part of an ongoing effort to address our public pension crisis and provide relief to these “quasis” as we describe the public health departments, domestic violence shelters, and even our regional universities who participate in the Kentucky Employee Retirement System plan.

During the 2019 Special Session, we passed legislation aimed at giving relief to quasi-governmental agencies struggling with the skyrocketing cost of their employee pension payments.

HB 171 is based on the recommendations of the Public Pension Oversight Board and basically shifts how we base payments from a percentage of the payroll to the dollar value of how much they actually owe.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Mark Hanks and others from Leadership Jessamine for meeting with me in Frankfort this week. I always look forward to hearing from people and organizations in my district, so please feel free to reach out using the contact information at the end of this article.

If you have any questions or comments about this session, I can be reached during the week from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST) through the toll-free message line at 1-800-372-7181.

You can also contact me via e-mail at Kim.King@lrc.ky.gov. You can keep track of committee meetings and potential legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at legislature.ky.gov and you can also follow me on Facebook @RepKimKing or on Twitter @KimberlyKingGOP.