Senator Douglas’ Legislative Update: Week 3 of the 2022 Legislative session

Published 12:02 pm Saturday, January 22, 2022

Children are the Commonwealth’s most precious asset.

Today’s investments in our youth make for a healthier, stronger and more economically sound commonwealth. Recognizing this, early legislative efforts by the Kentucky General Assembly have prioritized building a brighter future for Kentucky children. During week three of the legislative session, that continued, including Senate passage of bills addressing healthcare-related needs.

The following is an overview of bills recently passed by my colleagues and me in the Senate. The bills below are now on their way to the state House for consideration. I was greatly honored to have successfully carried two bills to passage in the state Senate as primary sponsor. They were Senate Bill (SB) 55 and SB 56.

SB 55 was the first bill I introduced as your state Senator. It gives our first responders a clearer indication of where stroke victims should be transported for the best possible care relative to their needs. The bill adds a fourth level of certification called ‘thrombectomy capable,’ to hospitals caring for stroke patients. Kentucky currently has three levels of identified care; acute, primary and comprehensive; SB 55 would add thrombectomy-capable as another, signifying the capability of surgical removal of blood clots.

SB 56 inspired passionate commentary on the Senate floor. It aims to save lives by making federally approved ‘opioid antagonist’ drugs more widely available to the public. An opioid antagonist is a drug that can rapidly reverse a drug overdose and is currently only available to first responders; this bill would make it more widely available.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky saw a near 50 percent increase in overdose related deaths. Seven out of ten of those deaths were opioid related. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, our state ranked 4th in the nation in those deaths. Nearly three percent of all Kentucky deaths can be attributed to drug overdoses. That is a staggering statistic.

Hope for redemption in life is something I believe in to my core and especially as a Christian. As a physician, my oath is to preserve life and help improve my patient’s health. SB 56 will help combat our ongoing battle against the opioid epidemic. I am proud to sponsor this bill and am hopeful it will eventually be signed into law by the Governor.

Additional bills clearing the Senate Chamber included:
• SB 9 systematically improves the quality and delivery of reading instruction to K-3 students across the state by implementing supports, interventions and a streamlined curriculum-based foundation in phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. SB 9 also requires reading-specific developmental training for all teachers K-3.

• SB 11 was sponsored by my fellow M.D. in the Senate, and friend, Dr. Ralph Alvarado. The bill modernizes and strengthens oversight and care for residents in assisted living communities by transitioning these services from a certification model to a licensure model within the Cabinet for Health and Family Service (CHFS). This bill brings assisted living communities like nursing homes under the Office of the Inspector General in CHFS, improving regulatory oversight on par with other states.

• SB 100 provides for residents of assisted-living facilities, long-term care facilities and mental hospitals to be visited by a ‘compassionate caregiver’ under certain health and safety protocols. A compassionate caregiver could be a family member, legal guardian, outside caregiver, friend or volunteer, who will be allowed at a resident’s bedside. The bill extends the original provision put in place by lawmakers during the recent Special Session. Prior to action by the Kentucky General Assembly, reports detailed heart wrenching stories of elderly residents passing away alone, separated from those who made their life meaningful. SB 100 considers the holistic well-being of the elderly by giving equal attention to social, emotional and spiritual needs.

In closing, I want to make you aware that January 18-21 was National Child Advocacy week. Priority Senate legislation, SB 8, was filed to tackle the issue of child abuse and neglect here in Kentucky.

According to the 2020 annual report released by the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel, our state has led the nation three years in a row in child abuse and neglect rates. A recent story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Journalism shined a light on a backlog of cases regarding suspicious child deaths. The statistics are horrific, and following early efforts this legislative session to strengthen education, keep students in school, improve health care, among other measures, we must do all we can to protect our children.

I’m excited about the policy successes thus far in the 2022 Session and look forward to continued efforts to better the lives of Kentuckians.
I’m thankful for the privilege of representing Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine, Mercer, and Washington Counties in the Kentucky Senate. 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, which includes 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; and Licensing and Occupations. He is also a member of the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee.