Legislative update: Second week of the session

Published 11:08 am Tuesday, January 16, 2024

By Sen. Donald Douglas

Guest Writer

President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983, designating a federal holiday to be observed annually on the third Monday of January. This year, the holiday falls on King’s actual birthday as he was born on Jan. 15, 1929. First celebrated in 1986, the holiday has come to commemorate the strides this country has made in civil rights. King was a leader who strived for progress in racial equity and equality during the modern civil rights movement and a world leader who focused on change and progress.

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As a proud Black man who grew up in rural Kentucky, I am all too familiar with the struggles that Black America faced and continues to face, but I never let that ugly past or the ignorance of others define my future or the path that I continue to walk through my life journey. We must continue to work together and look forward while remembering and learning from past mistakes.

Oftentimes, I am reminded of a quote by George Santayana in his book Life of Reason: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

While it’s true we have a long way to go as we continue to heal from past injustices and grapple with that painful history, we must not lose sight of achieving Dr. King’s vision or forget how far we have come. It is incumbent upon all of us, not just White America, or Black America, to remember the past, strive for equity and equality, and work to create a better future for the next generation.

As outlined in my previous legislative update, the state income tax rate dropped another half percent on January 1. In your next paycheck, you should notice an increase in your take-home pay as a result. I remain committed to the further responsible reduction of the state income tax, which was made possible by 2022 legislation establishing a measured framework to achieve that goal while ensuring we maintain needed state revenue.

The state House is still in the process of crafting its biennial budget and road plan proposals. We continue to monitor the effort in the Senate in preparation for our time to offer our own recommendations. I’ll keep you informed on budget details as it progresses through the legislative process.

The first bill to pass from the Senate chamber and move to the House was Senate Bill 5, which is a measure we moved swiftly as it was designated as priority legislation. The measure removes the requirement that resident owners of farmlands must own five or more acres of land to be exempt from sport hunting and sport fishing license requirements when hunting or fishing on their property. The measure rectifies the concerns of sportsmen and Kentucky landowners by correcting the statutory language imposing the requirement from the 2023 Regular Session.

Oftentimes in 60-day sessions, legislators remain laser-focused on crafting a conservative, fiscally sound budget.  Committee meetings this week have been light, though the Senate Family and Children Committee held an informational meeting specific to Kentucky’s child care needs.

With federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds expiring in 2023, lawmakers heard from many concerned about early childhood education during the interim.

Following COVID-mandated closures, federal funds provided stability for staff wages and relief for child care centers facing financial struggles. Committee members cautioned against proposals for universal public pre-K from the executive branch.  This one-size-fits-all approach to a complex issue would be beholden to the traditional school schedule and unable to meet the needs of many families who work the second shift and need care during the summer months.

The Kentucky Senate Republicans and members of our caucus have a more personal website, KYSenateRepublicans.com, where constituents and media members can find additional access and insight into Senate Majority Caucus Members. We have information on committee meetings and floor action and include important resources. This website showcases each individual member in a more personal way so Kentuckians can get to know their unique legislators.

I’m excited for this session and I take my responsibilities representing you seriously. Find the status of legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181. You can watch and follow legislative activity at KET/org/legislature and Legislature.ky.gov.

It’s genuinely humbling to represent you in our commonwealth’s Capitol, and want you to know that I will never stop fighting for the best interest of the 22nd Senate District. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if I or my staff can assist you by emailing me at Donald.Douglas@lrc.ky.gov or calling toll-free at 1-800-372-7181.

Senator Donald Douglas, M.D., R-Nicholasville, represents the 22nd Senate District, including Garrard and Jessamine Counties and a southwestern portion of Fayette County. Douglas serves as chair of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources. Additionally, Douglas serves as vice chair of Senate Health Services. Douglas is a member of the Senate standing committees on Appropriations and Revenue; Banking and Insurance; and Licensing and Occupations. Additionally, he is a member of the Government Contract Review Statutory Committee and the Legislative Oversight and Investigations Statutory Committee.