While the past several sessions have been consumed by major issues like the budget, tax reform, redistricting, and the pandemic, this session provides legislators with an opportunity to address other areas and, hopefully, dig deep into issues that have plagued our state for far too long. In other words, we have laid the groundwork for a strong foundation and built a framework for opportunity. The time has come to make sure the fine details are in place.
Many of our committees will begin hearing bills and resolutions the first week, so I recommend visiting the legislature’s website at legislature.ky.gov to see what has already been filed and monitor new legislation as it comes in for consideration. In the meantime, here is a brief description of what some of the House committees will be considering:
Economic Development and Workforce Investment: Committee members will continue their focus on increasing workforce participation. Kentucky has one of the lowest workforce participation rates in the country, and it is still significantly below pre-pandemic levels. The committee may look at increasing work ready scholarships, remote worker incentives, dual credit, career pathways, and access to childcare, and even potentially expanding the Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship program.
Transportation: The committee will look at issues presented in the interim, including automating enforcement of traffic laws within highway work zones, monitoring for needed updates to electric vehicle infrastructure plan, and updating special license plate laws. Issues presented to the Committee on Transportation this past interim now present legislators with the opportunity to make travel in Kentucky safer and technologically sound. Hands-free communication device use in vehicles, updates to laws governing salvage yards, and the autonomous vehicle initiative may also be considered.
Education: Both long and short term solutions for the teacher shortage will be a major focus. The committee will be dedicated to identifying and promoting options to enhance the educator pipeline, support students pursuing teaching degrees as they transition to the classroom, and improve opportunities that encourage hiring in high-demand content areas like math and science. Also, literacy continues to be a primary focus. An additional $22 million was provided for literacy resources in the current budget. These monies are aimed at addressing the significant deficiencies in literacy across the state, illustrated by recent test scores that show 55% of elementary students and 56% of middle and high school students not reading at grade level.
As always, I hope you will feel free to contact me with any questions or issues. I can be reached through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Please feel free to email me at Amy.Neighbors@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information about the legislature, you can visit the Legislative Research Commission website at legislature.ky.gov.