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Steve Rawlings: A legislative update on new bills/resolutions related to families and children

As the dust settles on the legislative session, I find myself reflecting on the bills and resolutions we passed. This week, I would like to review legislation considered by the House Families and Children Committee. This is a new committee, carved out when leadership divided the House Health and Family Services Committee to provide greater focus on two of our Commonwealth’s most challenging areas: health and child welfare.

Despite the fact it was the first session for this panel, members took on an ambitious agenda and delivered substantive improvements in substance abuse, public assistance reform, maternal health, and how we provide for Kentuckians with disabilities.

Addressing the benefits cliff, Rep, Jonathan Dixon – HJR 39 directs executive branch agencies to study public assistance programs to find opportunities to address the benefits cliff and requires the state to study the cost of maintaining changes to the Child Care Assistance Program, as well as implement a benefits cliff calculator tool and a federal Earned Income Tax Credit outreach and education program. These changes were based on recommendations from a task force that studied the impact that an immediate loss of benefits (benefits cliff) has on individuals who want to transition from public assistance.
Technical cleanup to the Employee Child Care Assistance Program, Rep. Nick Wilson – HB 165 moves up the required reporting deadline for CHFS to update to legislators regarding the Employee Child Care Assistance Partnership Program to December 15, 2023. The bill also clarifies that a childcare provider to terminate an active contract created pursuant to the program.

Steve Rawlings

 Prohibiting discrimination in organ donation services, Rep. Wade Williams – HB 238 prohibits discrimination based solely on an individual’s disability when providing care related to an organ donation.
Exemption from compulsory attendance by qualified mental health provider, Rep. Jacob Justice – HB 241 allows any qualified mental health provider to submit a written notice for an exemption from compulsory attendance due to physical or mental condition.
Increasing beds at intermediate care facilities, Rep. DJ Johnson – HB 334 requires the Inspector General to amend the state health plan to increase the number of beds by an intermediate care facility for individuals with an intellectual disability.
Reorganization of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Sen. Stephen Meredith – SB 48 implements changes to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services based on recommendations from the 2022 Interim Cabinet for Health and Family Services Reorganizational Task Force. 
Improving maternal mental health outcomes, Sen. Shelley Funke Frommeyer – SB 135 directs the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide access on its website to an evidence based clinical assessment designed to detect the symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders. It seeks to create awareness and better educate about the symptoms of perinatal mental health disorders to expectant and new mothers.
Increasing access to public assistance for disabled Kentuckians, Sen. Danny Carroll – SB 160 exempts money held in STABLE Kentucky accounts from consideration when determining eligibility for public assistance programs.
Reporting of child abuse and neglect, Sen. Julie Raque Adams – SB 229 ensures that the reporting of child abuse and neglect is properly communicated to the appropriate agencies. The measure also allows the Department for Community Based Services to initiate an assessment or an investigation when child abuse is suspected and allows discretion to make announced or unannounced home visits depending on the severity of the case.
Most of these measures will take effect on Thursday, June 29, except for those that have emergency clauses or include a specific date.

Steve Rawlings is state representative for District 66, which includes northern Boone County. He lives in Burlington.

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