Time running short on legislative session, controversial bills
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- There are less than five days left in this legislative session and the future of three major bills is uncertain at best.
“Time is our biggest enemy right now,” Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R - Hopkinsville) said. “It's not civility or the willingness to compromise, it's just the clock.”
Whether it's the ticking clock or two winter storms, lawmakers now find themselves scrambling to finish their work and only one major bill -- the heroin bill -- seems highly likely to get done.
“There are discussions that are taking place -- I'm hoping right now -- but I think we're moving along,” Senate President Robert Stivers (R – Manchester) said.
The House and Senate have passed their own versions of the bill and must find compromises on issues like the needle exchange program.
“There are some members -- like me -- who, I think, are philosophically opposed to a needle exchange and feel like it condones bad behavior,” said Sen. Damon Thayer (R - Georgetown).
“I think, with the public health crisis at this point I think we still need to insist on it,” Rep. John Tilley (D - Hopkinsville) countered.
Right now, the two sides can't seem to agree as to whether the final measure will be a House bill or Senate bill, but the House and the Senate do agree on the urgency.
“This is one area that we've tried to avoid getting mired up in politics,” Rep. Greg Stumbo (D - Prestonsburg) said.
“I think time equates to saving lives,” Sen. Thayer said.
Meanwhile, a bill that would allow dating couples to take out emergency protective orders seems less certain to pass.
“I would hope that the support is there to pass it and that's what I'm Being told” said Rep. Tilley.
Despite hard lobbying from Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, the local opinion sales tax appears all but dead for this session -- though Fischer isn't giving up yet.
“It's about local control, it's about economic development and I would think the republic controlled senate should be all for that and again we ask them to call it for a vote,” Fischer said.
“It doesn't really have the votes here in the senate,” Sen. Thayer said.
Lawmakers will convene for three days this week, take a break for the Governor to consider possible vetoes and then wrap up the final two days in late March.
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