A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Sen. John Schickel: A legislative update for week 6 of General Assembly; six more days before veto period

The end of the 2023 Legislative Session is getting closer, with only six more days before we enter the veto period. Next week we will be in session Monday through Thursday with two days being for the House and Senate chambers to find agreement on any legislation that still has a chance to pass. Friday, March 17 will start the 10-day veto period until Tuesday, March 29 for the Governor to consider all legislation lawmakers have sent to his desk.

The session’s week six began to include the House and Senate chambers considering the other’s bills in committee meetings, giving several final passages and sending them to the Governor’s desk.

Sen. John Schickel

Probably the biggest bills that passed this week relate to Kentucky’s youth, ranging from the state’s broken Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) system to student behavior and teacher workforce. 

One of two DJJ bills would provide funding for a full independent audit of DJJ facilities, including access to staff in the facilities, to show a clearer picture on how some of the recent disasters we’ve seen in news reports could have happened. The other bill makes some reforms to the system, in a few ways helping with workforce challenges. It also provides staff with ways to protect themselves and others in facilities and provides funding to have designed identified to secure them better. The bill would bring the state back to a regional model and separate male and female detainees by the severity of the crime. As a former corrections officer, I know this bill or any amount of many will solve the problems we are having, but it is a good bill and I’m glad to support.

In a somewhat connected bill, Senate Bill 202 was passed. That bill hopes to address the increasing difficulty with student behavior that our teachers and other school staff face. The bill gives local school boards more options to place students into alternative learning programs if the student is considered a safety threat or is likely to cause disruptions by allowing an expulsion to expand beyond one year. Students could be placed—with review by the superintendent and due process for the parent—in an alternative education setting. It could be a virtual program or academy, including a performance-based program.

I think this bill and others similar to it are the most important things the legislature will do this session. Even though this isn’t directly connected, I think it is relevant. Boone County has the third largest school district in Kentucky. I can tell you first hand that we are having problems, and they go back to the breakdown in discipline to our school system. It’s contributed to recruiting teachers, bus drivers, janitors, everyone. Most of all it’s hurting our kids. I was lucky enough to grow up in a structured and discipline environment. I talk to our school district workers, and I feel like there is a significant disconnect from them to our central offices. I think this bill can help start to correct this issue.

Senate Bill 138 sets up guidelines to help the Education and Professional Standards Board improve certification of substitute teachers. This is one of several ideas to help address workforce challenges within school systems.

Other bills and resolutions approved by the Senate in week six and now with the state House of Representatives for consideration include:

Senate Bill 7 would stop automatic paycheck deductions of public employees going to political action committees and political activities and would instead require authorization.

Senate Bill 115 protects children from exposure to sexually explicit performances in the public square. It defines “adult performance” as a sexually explicit performance. This would include a live performance or a performance involving male or female impersonators who provide entertainment to sexually arouse or appeal to sexual desires, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration, which taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. A person would be guilty of engaging in an adult performance when the performance is held on publicly-owned property or in a location where the person knows —or should know — that the adult performance could be viewed by a person under 18.

Watch live legislative activity at KET.org/legislature. You can also track the status of other legislation by calling 866-840-2835, legislative meeting information at 800-633-9650, or leaving a message for lawmakers at 800-372-7181.

Please know it is important to me how you feel about issues. If you have an issue you would like to discuss, please email me through my Legislative Research Commission web form or call me at 502-564-8100.

Sen. John Schickel, R-Union, represents the 11th Senate District in northern and central Boone County. He is Senate Licensing and Occupations Committee chair. He also serves as a Senate Banking and Insurance, Judiciary, and Natural Resources and Energy committee member.


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