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FRANKFORT – Most new laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly's 2019 session will go into effect on Thursday, June 27.
That means law-abiding adults will be able to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, employers will be required to make certain reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees and electric scooters will be regulated by state law.
The Kentucky Constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature unless they have special effective dates, are general appropriation measures, or include emergency clauses that make them effective immediately upon becoming law. Final adjournment of the 2019 session was on March 28, making June 27 the effective date for most bills.
During this year’s 30-day session, 786 bills and 502 resolutions were introduced, including 263 Senate bills and 523 House bills. In all, 68 Senate bills and 130 House bills became law. The governor also received six joint and concurrent resolutions. Some of the laws taking effect on June 27 include measures on the following topics:
Caller ID. House Bill 84 will prohibit telephone solicitations that misrepresent the name or telephone number in caller identification services, increase fines for second offenses and allow for civil lawsuits against violators.
Concealed carry. Senate Bill 150 will allow concealed firearms to be carried without a concealed carry permit. The measure will allow Kentuckians age 21 and older who are legally eligible to possess a firearm to carry a concealed weapon without a license in the same location as people with valid state-issued licenses. Permitless carry will not be allowed where prohibited by federal law or otherwise prohibited.
Felony expungement. Senate Bill 57 will expand the number of Kentuckians eligible to have low-level felonies expunged from their criminal records. It will do this by expanding discretionary expungement to all Class D felonies with some exceptions for crimes such as stealing in office, abusing children and sexual abuse. It includes a five-year waiting period to apply for expungement, a $250 application fee and provisions for prosecutors to object and judges to reject the applications.
Free speech. House Bill 254, dubbed the campus free speech bill, will require the state’s public universities to affirm they favor a free marketplace of ideas where speech is not suppressed because it’s deemed “offensive, unwise, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional or radical.” SB 254 will also expand areas commonly known as “free speech zones” on many campuses to any accessible, open, outdoor venue.
Government contracts. House Bill 135 will prohibit public agencies from requiring that their contractors on public works projects have agreements with labor organizations.
Kinship care. House Bill 2, dubbed the kinship care bill, will create a caregiver assistance program for relatives and “fictive kin” – usually close family friends – of abused, neglected or dependent children. The measure will do this by offering different options to the caregivers based on the level of care they provide. HB 2 is designed to address growth in the out-of-home placement of Kentucky children amid the state’s current opioid crisis.
Lobbying. Senate Bill 6 will require disclosure of executive agency lobbyist compensation. The measure will also prohibit compensation contingent on awarding of a government contract. It will provide oversight, in part, by requiring executive branch lobbyists to register and list their clients. That’s already required of legislative lobbyists.
Midwives. Senate Bill 84 will recognize, certify and regulate home-birth midwives in Kentucky. The measure would create a council to advise the state Board of Nursing on the creation of regulations regarding qualifications, standards for training, competency, any necessary statutory changes and all other matters relating to certified professional midwives.
Pregnancy. Senate Bill 18, the Kentucky Pregnant Workers Act, clarifies employers’ responsibilities when it comes to making reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. It will make it unlawful for an employer to fail to accommodate a pregnant employee and will require employers to provide notice to employees regarding these rights.
Scooters. House Bill 258 will set operating standards for electric scooters and will allow the machines to legally operate much like bicycles on public streets. It also limits e-scooter speeds to no more than 20 mph.
Sex crimes. Senate Bill 67 will create the offense of sexual crimes against an animal.
Strangulation. Senate Bill 70 will make non-fatal strangulation its own felony crime under Kentucky's criminal code.
Student loan debt. House Bill 118, the Keep Americans Working Act of 2019, will prohibit someone from having an occupational license suspended or revoked because of delinquency on a student loan or work-conditional scholarship. The measure is meant to help keep people with student loan debt out of poverty and in the workforce.
Tobacco. House Bill 11 will ban the use of tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping devices on public school campuses, in school vehicles and at school activities beginning with the 2020-21 school year. School districts would have up to three years to opt out of the ban should they choose. The individual districts not opting out will also be able to set the penalties for violating the ban.
(NOTE: Robert Weber, of the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, assisted in the preparation of this article.)