Several Bills Moving Through Legislature

PHYSICAL FITNESS
A bill requiring public elementary and middle schools to make physical activity part of the routine for children won approval from a Senate committee Thursday.

Under the bill, schools would have to include a half hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, or 150 minutes a week, by the 2008-09 school year.

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, said physical activity can be incorporated into a school's curriculum and can lead to better student achievement.

"Getting the heart pumping helps us learn better," she said as the Senate Education Committee approved the measure.

Schools would have the flexibility to tailor their physical activity programs.

Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Springs, expressed some misgivings but voted to advance the bill.

"I'm nervous about the potential that this is going to take away some time from the classroom," he said.

The proposal follows legislation passed two years ago that put restrictions on the types of food and drinks sold at Kentucky schools to promote healthy eating and curb childhood obesity. It also required elementary schools to have a wellness plan that includes daily physical activity but gave no time requirement.
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The legislation is Senate Bill 110.
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CHILD TESTIMONY
A bill passed by the Kentucky Senate on Thursday would increase instances when children can provide closed-circuit testimony in trials.

Under the measure, children aged 12 or younger could testify outside the courtroom via closed-circuit television in trials involving alleged violent offenses. It would apply to children who are the alleged victims or who witnesses the alleged offense.

State law currently limits such closed-circuit testimony by children to cases involving sexual-related offenses, said Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park, and the bill's lead sponsor.

Before winning 37-0 passage, the bill was amended by the Senate
to allow children to be brought back for additional testimony if requested by the prosecution or defense. The followup testimony also would be done via closed-circuit television.

The bill now goes to the House.
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The legislation is Senate Bill 31.
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SOCIAL WORKERS
A plan to boost safety for Kentucky social workers got a $2.5 million boost by a House committee Thursday.
The House Health and Welfare Committee approved adding the money, which was just a fraction of what had been removed from the measure previously. Lawmakers have dubbed the proposal the "Boni Bill," after a social worker who was killed on the job.

Last week, the removal of state funding was criticized by Gov. Ernie Fletcher and social workers.

Under the proposal, the a state agency could set up sites where biological parents could visit their foster children. The funding could also be used to buy safety devices for staff. The plan, however, does not offer funds to hire more social workers.

Fletcher endorsed an earlier version of the bill that called for about $20 million to add 300 social services staffers, with 225 of them as social workers.

The legislation stemmed from last year's death of Boni Frederick, who was stabbed and beaten when she took a 10-month-old boy to his mother's house for a visit in Henderson in western Kentucky last October.

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The legislation is House Bill 362.

How would you vote for these bills? and why?
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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