New laws aim to keep KY children safe from harm and abuse
Tuesday, more than 150 new laws will take affect across the commonwealth. Among them, two laws aimed at protecting some of Kentucky's youngest residents.
Putting kids like 4-year-old Luke in a booster seat isn't just a good idea in Kentucky. Now, it's the law. But, it's not the law that some were pushing for, like Amy Medley with the office of child advocacy at Kosair Children's Hospital.
Medley says, "We were hoping that the law would go up to age 8 and up to four feet, nine inches. What we got was up to seven years old and from 40 to 50 inches." Medley says, because the state settled for lesser requirements, it's missing out on federal funding.
Violators are being given a lot of leeway. For the next year, police will only give out warnings to those who don't have their kids in booster seats. After that, it's a $30 fine. But, you can still get out of that. By later proving that you've purchased a booster seat.
Medley says even though this law falls short, it will mean a huge improvement to child safety in Kentucky. We are anticipating a huge decrease in the amount of children in that age range that come visit our emergency room with internal injuries." Medley says.
Another new law gets tough with those who sexually abuse kids. It's now a felony for anyone over 21 to have any kind of sexual contact with a child under 16 before the cutoff was 12 years old.
In response to the sex abuse scandals among priests and school teachers, it's now a felony for anyone in a position of authority or trust to have sexual contact with someone under 18. Jeff Koenig with snap, or the survivors network of those abused by priests says the change is long overdue.
Koenig says, "A person could go on their computer and pull up child pornography and that would be a felony, whereas if they actually fondled a child, it would be a misdemeanor."
The issue hits home for Koenig. He says, when he was 12, he was abused by Daniel Clark, one of the priests at the center of the sexual abuse scandal that's cost the Louisville archdiocese millions. He says he's comforted by the fact that other Kentucky kids will be able to go after their abusers, something he couldn't do.
Koenig says, "I felt like the commonwealth of Kentucky had tied my hands behind my back and left me powerless to stop him from doing it to other kids after me."
Among Kentucky's other new laws one that requires more frequent inspections at amusement parks, and prevents anyone under 18 from operating rides.
Another requires a homeowner to notify someone considering buying or renting a residence, if the building was used to make methamphetamine and wasn't properly cleaned by a certified contractor.