News From Frankfort: Why Alvarado Opposes the Constable Reform Bill

Published 11:35 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

The final day of the 2022 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly is on the horizon, which means legislative activity is taking place rapidly.

We are required by the constitution to be finished by April 14. Week 12 of this year’s session included busy committee agendas and important legislation making final passage through the legislative process.

At this point in the 2022 session, 22 bills have been enacted into law. Approximately 30 bills are now with the governor for consideration; several other bills are nearly at the governor’s desk, with more to come.

The Senate finally passed several bills modified by the state House of Representatives, including priority legislation, Senate Bill 1, and Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 83. These bills are now with the governor. I have detailed each of these bills in previous legislative updates.

Notably, however, I want to let you know, added onto the Senate Bill 1 was the language of Senate Bill 138, the “Teaching American Principles Act,” which aligns history curriculum standards in middle and high school with those already present in elementary school history education. I cannot overstate the importance of this legislation to help young people to understand and appreciate the great history of this country.

The previously mentioned bills and others were returned to the Senate with changes applied by the House. The House asks the Senate to “concur,” or agree, to their changes. We often do so, and did with these three bills. On the occasions we do not agree, those bills go into a “conference committee,” where an agreement is hammered out on the bill’s language by members representing each chamber.

The most notable example of a conference committee is the two-year state budget bill. Both the House and the Senate have made their respective priorities for the budget clear. My previous legislative update outlined significant provisions of the Senate’s proposal. Budget negotiations are nearing their end, and you can expect a final product to be announced in the week ahead. While the final budget is always a compromise on individual line items, the end goal is to provide a great education, safe communities, and a high quality of life for every Kentuckian. I personally have submitted 22 budget requests from different constituency groups in the district. I am hopeful that some of these will find their way into the final bill.

As has become customary, the governor has vetoed several bills, and the House and Senate have begun to override them. Most notably was the governor’s veto of Senate Joint Resolution 150. Upon overriding his veto, the state of emergency in Kentucky effectively ended Tuesday, March 22. Following an unprecedented two-year-long state of emergency declaration, the enactment of Senate Joint Resolution 150 is a symbolic, yet strong, message to Kentucky residents that the emergency is over, and life as normal should quickly return to the Commonwealth.

The governor’s veto of House Bill 4, unemployment insurance reform, was also overridden on March 22. With the passage of more and more legislation in the waning days of the 2022 session, there are sure to be more vetoes issued by the governor. The session will soon enter what is known as the “veto period” to give the governor time to consider the bills passed by the legislature. The final days of the session will be reserved for the legislature’s consideration to override such vetoes.

A Senate bill passed out of the chamber and moving to the state House of Representatives in week 12 was Senate Bill 40¸ parents’ rights legislation.

I want to recognize two of the members of the Senate who will be retiring when this session concludes. They include a staple of the legislature since 2003, C.B. Embry, Jr. (R-Morgantown) who epitomizes public service and Wil Schroder (R-Wilder), who will hopefully return to public service in the future, perhaps after devoting his full attention to his wife and precious young children.

Both men were honored with Senate resolutions accompanied by emotional testimony and stories from their colleagues in the Senate. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to serve with both, and they will be deeply missed.

For those unaware, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is moving driver’s licensing services from local circuit clerks’ offices to regional drivers’ license offices. Clark County was among the most recent group of counties announced to make the transition. In a March 1 release, KYTC says the Office of the Circuit Court Clerk will cease licensing services at the close of business on Friday, March 25.

I understand this may appear burdensome to those in rural areas, but I want to make sure you know a few things. First, new REAL ID’s have an option to not expire for eight years opposed to the traditional four years.

Regional offices have been established because of the federal mandate for REAL ID compliance from the Department for Homeland Security and our local office not being technologically equipped to meet federal standards. Second, your initial visit to a regional driver’s licensing office could be the only in-person visit you will need to make. Online, local pop-up portable services and mail-in renewal of licenses are options available to the public.

On a related note, I expect this year’s budget to include funding to allow the Kentucky State Police to take care of the driver’s test for teenage drivers. For more information on driver’s licensing and the many options provided, please visit drive.ky.gov.

I want to inform you of a considerable measure clearing the Senate Health and Welfare Committee in week 12. House Bill 3 is a pro-life bill titled the “Humanity in Health Care Act,” ensuring young women first see a medical professional before receiving miscarriage-inducing abortion pills. As a doctor, it troubles me that a child can receive such pills in the mail without ever consulting with a doctor or without parental permission, especially considering the Kentucky Department of Education in collaboration with the Department for Public Health created a 109-page manual on the administration of medication to students in school even for something as simple as eye drops and pain relief medicine.

As chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, I provided the opposition to this pro-life measure considerable time to detail their concerns. I wish I were surprised by one committee member’s insistence that a pill made to trigger a miscarriage is “safe and effective,” but I’m not. House Bill 3 passed the committee with strong support, and I expect it to enjoy strong support on the Senate floor in week 13. Once the governor receives the bill, I suspect he will veto it, but I trust the legislature will successfully override that veto.

Finally, I want to express my opposition to the constable reform bill, House Bill 239, which passed the Senate on Friday, March 25. I voted no on this bill because we have fantastic law enforcement officers and local officials in the 28th Senate District. Clark County Sheriff Berl Purdue, Montgomery County Sheriff David Charles, Mount Sterling Police Chief Terry Landrum and Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer, and countless others across the district are top-tier in their service to our communities.

Similarly, we have wonderful constables who work closely with magistrates and other local officials to maximize their constitutional benefit to those they are elected by. I am grateful to have had Clark County constables present during the recent committee hearing on this bill. I’ll continue to stand by our constables.

Please call me about these issues or any other public policy issue toll-free at 1-800-372-7181 or email me at Ralph.Alvarado@LRC.ky.gov. Be safe. God bless.

Senator Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester) represents the 28th Senate District, including Clark and Montgomery counties and the eastern portion of Fayette County. He serves as chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare. He is also a member of the Senate Standing Committees on State and Local Government and Banking and Insurance. He is a liaison member of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources. Additionally, Senator Alvarado serves as a member of the Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Statutory Committee and the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee.