By State Sen. Paul Hornback
After observing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, the legislature went back to work.
Tuesday was a significant day as Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine became the first female legislator to preside over the joint session of the Kentucky General Assembly during which Gov. Beshear presented his proposed budget.
During the address, Gov. Beshear presented a multi-faceted budget proposal of $20.3 billion for the next two fiscal years. The plan calls for five percent cuts to most state agencies, proposes a gas tax increase and borrows $1.9 billion in new debt. Of course, we all know it is easy to propose grand initiatives in broad strokes. However, the reality is that the economy is stagnant, and we will have to make tough choices and operate within our means.
On Wednesday, a major infrastructure project was proposed by Gov. Beshear and United States Congressman Hal Rogers to expand broadband service in Kentucky. The plan would combine $60 million in state bonds and $40 million from federal and private sources to fund broadband Internet expansion across the Commonwealth.
Later that day, we were honored to have Congressman Rogers in the Senate Chamber. He reminded us that we are statesmen and as such we must work on issues that affect all of Kentucky. I hope this becomes a mantra for all legislators as we work together to move Kentucky forward.
Despite the hazardous weather and somewhat dangerous road conditions, the Senate plowed ahead, passing bills brought to the floor this week. Among the bills passed were: Senate Bill 27, a measure that moves all elections of constitutional officers to even-numbered years. This bill saves local and state governments significant dollars by combining elections, and will help engage more citizens in choosing constitutional officers with higher voter turnout.
Senate Bill 3, a bill I co-sponsor, is a measure that requires a face-to-face consultation with a physician or designee prior to an abortion procedure, also passed. Making sure patients receive the valuable information regarding the medical procedure ensures they understand any health risks and allows them an audience for questions and answers.
I encourage you to come to Frankfort for hearings of interest to you. Citizens are always welcome in our committee meetings. You can also view live-streaming and archived coverage of legislative proceedings at www.ket.org <http://www.ket.org>