How Will Kentucky’s New Laws Impact You

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FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY – Last week, more than 90 new laws went into effect in Kentucky that were passed during the 2016 Kentucky General Assembly.

The new laws include:

Hair Braiding: Senate Bill 269 removed the requirement that natural hair braiders get a cosmetology license.

Bullying: House Bill 316 requires adding a clear definition to state law books of what constitutes bullying

Marriage License: Marriage license law that authorizes the creation of a single form in which petitioners can identify themselves as a bride, a groom or simply as spouse. The legislation was sparked by the controversy over Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.

Sexual Assault: Senate Joint Resolution 20 requires the state forensic laboratory to gradually reduce the time it takes to test sexual assault kits down to 60 days or less by 2020.

DUI: The law increases felony convictions for DUI in Kentucky by allowing the courts to “look back” at 10 years of prior convictions instead of five years

Autism: Senate Bill 185 made the Advisory Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders (established in 2013) permanent and the state Office of Autism (created in 2014). The bodies will continue to ensure there are no gaps in providing services to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

Mugshots: Under House Bill 132, it is illegal to post mugshots to a website or include them in a publication, then require payment to remove them from public view. Damages start at $100 a day for each separate offense, along with attorney fees.

Child safety: House Bill 148 allows child daycare centers to receive prescriptions for EpiPen injectors to treat life-threatening allergic reactions while also giving parents more time to legally surrender their newborn under the state’s safe harbor laws. The bill amended Kentucky’s Safe Infants Act by giving parents up to 30 days to surrender their child at a state-approved safe place, instead of the previous standard of three days.

CPR in schools: Senate Bill 33 requires high school students be taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation, taught by an emergency medical professional. The life-saving measure would be taught as part of the students’ physical education or health class, or as part of ROTC training.

Alcohol sales: Senate Bill 11 modernizes the state’s 1930s-era alcohol regulations to aid new interest in bourbon, craft beer and small-farm wine products. Among other provisions, this law allows malt beverages to be sold at festivals and drinking on quadricycles (better known as “party bikes”), and permits bed and breakfasts to sell liquor by the drink. It also raises limits for on-site sales at distilleries from three liters to nine liters.

Election regulations: Senate Bill 169, which became law without the governor’s signature, changed several election-centered statutes. Among them, it directed county clerks to redact voters’ Social Security numbers before allowing the public to review voter rolls, and loosened restrictions on electioneering from 300 feet to 100 feet around polling sites. The law also expanded means of voter identification to include any county, state or federally issued ID.

Felony expungement: Under House Bill 40, Kentuckians convicted of low-level felonies can ask the court to permanently seal—or expunge—their records. The new law allows those convicted of Class-D felonies, or those who were charged but not formally indicted, to seek expungement after they have completed their sentence or probation. Sex crimes and crimes against children would not be included in the law.

Harassing telecommunications: House Bill 162 includes electronic communication, if it’s done with intent to intimidate, harass, annoy or alarm another person, to current harassment statutes. Electronic harassment would be a Class-B misdemeanor.

Helping the disabled: Designed to allow Kentuckians with disabilities to set up savings accounts for disability-related expenses, Senate Bill 179 allows them to save money in an ABLE account for those expenses without it being taxed, generally. It would also not count against Medicaid and other federal means-based benefits.

Abortion: The first bill delivered to the governor’s desk was Senate Bill 4, which requires an in-person or real-time video conference between a woman seeking an abortion and a health care provider at least 24 hours before the procedure.

Juvenile court transparency: Senate Bill 40 permits some family court judges to hold public hearings. The new law allows a handful of courts to hold the open hearings as a pilot project. Judges could volunteer their courts for the program, and close proceedings as necessary.

Local government: House Bill 189 makes it easier for local entities – like cities, police and fire departments – to share services. HB 189 sets procedures for amending inter-local agreements without the lengthy process of having to seek approval from the state Attorney General or the Department for Local Government.

Zip lines: Zip lines and other outdoor recreation will be safer, as House Bill 38 became law. The new law directs the state to set standards for the use and operation of zip lines and canopy tours.

Pension oversight: House Bill 271 requires all state-administered retirement systems to report specific information on their members or members’ beneficiaries to the state Public Pension Oversight Board each fiscal year. The information is to be used by the board to plan for future expenses and recommend changes to keep the retirement systems solvent.

Permanent Fund: House Bill 238 creates the “permanent fund” for public pensions funded in the Executive Branch budget bill, or HB 303. It also sets out specific requirements for public pension system reporting, including the requirement that an actuarial audit be performed on the state-administered retirement systems once every five years.

Petroleum tanks: House Bill 187 extends the period of the Petroleum Storage Tank Environmental Assistance Fund to aid in the safe removal of old underground gas and oil tanks. The bill moved back the end date to participate in the program to 2021, from 2016, and the date to perform corrective actions from 2019 to 2024. It also extended a program for small operators by five years, to 2021.

Dog fights: House Bill 428 makes it a felony to possess, breed, sell or otherwise handle dogs for the purpose of dog fighting. The bill also defines dog fighting, and allows people who intentionally own, possess, breed, train, sell or transfer dogs for dog fighting to be charged with first-degree cruelty to animals, a Class-D felony. In effect, it makes it easier to prosecute perpetrators.

Water resource protection: House Bill 529 created the Kentucky Water Resources Board to research current water resources in the Commonwealth, identify new available resources and examine efficiencies, especially to support farming. The new 11-member board includes officials from state interior and agriculture departments along with six gubernatorial appointees.

Learn more at the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.