Senator Donald Douglas’ Legislative Update

Published 5:19 pm Monday, January 17, 2022

After the first week of the 2022 Regular Session extended into last weekend, allowing for passage of time-sensitive legislation, this week was an abbreviated one—only four days—ahead of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This allows for a four-day weekend which greatly benefits members of the western Kentucky delegation who are eager to be home as efforts to rebuild continue. It also allows me to provide a quicker report about what is being accomplished.

In the second week of work, vital legislation on disaster relief for western Kentucky ensures that in-person education is maintained for as many students as possible amid COVID-19 mitigation efforts in our schools.

Members of the western Kentucky delegation championed Senate Bill 5—ultimately passing as House Bill (HB) 5—and I and all other members of the Senate signed on as co-sponsors in a show of unity for western Kentucky.

HB 5 provides western Kentucky communities devastated by the recent tornadoes with $200 million in general aid. The Western Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) fund will immediately allocate $45 million, with $15 million of the funds going specifically to long-term but temporary housing for displaced families. The remaining $30 million will assist with education needs, bringing a sense of normalcy and much-needed stability to children’s lives through providing transportation to students displaced outside of their home school district, counseling, tutoring, and after-school programs.

Concerning the recovery of western Kentucky, the General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution (HJR) 29, which extended the state of emergency declaration for the impacted region. Lawmakers contend the Governor did not need an extension by the legislature to continue that state of emergency.

During the 2021 Regular Session, legislation passed that instituted much-needed checks and balances on the executive branch clearly outlined the types of emergency declarations that required lawmakers’ approval to be extended beyond 30 days. We believe that this would not apply to ongoing emergencies faced by the residents of western Kentucky. Out of an abundance of caution, we passed HJR 29 as another showing of the legislature’s commitment to the region.

SB 25 became enacted law upon the Governor’s signature. It will provide individual schools with ten remote instruction days instead of a district-wide allotment. This non-traditional instruction (NTI) may be used by the school in a variety of ways to ensure the fewest students are impacted. The bill also extended loosened regulations around state retirement benefits to allow schools to rehire previously retired staff to address staffing challenges. The bill provides our schools with the flexibility they need to continue operating during these challenging times.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” –MLK

I am thankful for the privilege of representing you in the Kentucky Senate. Please do not hesitate to contact my office on any matter of concern to you or if you have any thoughts on the ongoing 2022 legislative session. I welcome your comments on issues of importance to you. You can email me at Donald.Douglas@lrc.ky.gov.

Senator Donald Douglas, M.D. (R-Nicholasville) represents the 22nd District, including Garrard, Jessamine, Mercer, and Washington Counties and part of Fayette County. Senator Douglas serves as a member of the Senate Standing Committees on Appropriations and Revenue; Banking and Insurance; Licensing and occupations. He also serves on the Government Contract Review Committee.