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Several Bills Are Moving Through The General Assembly

A bill that would make human trafficking a felony in Kentucky
won final passage in the state House on a 96-0 vote Friday.
The measure already cleared the Senate 37-0 and now goes to Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
Under the bill, the most severe punishment would go to those
trafficking children or injured people.
The bill would make human trafficking a crime punishable by 5 to
10 years in prison. The offense would carry a stiffer 10-to-20-year
sentence if the victim was seriously injured. Someone trafficking a
minor also would face longer penalties, including 20 years to life
in prison if the youngster is seriously injured.
Rep. Susan Westrom said it's uncertain how many people have been trafficking into the United States, but authorities believe
Kentucky is a pass through state.
"This crime is going on right under our very noses," said
Westrom, D-Lexington.
The bill's lead sponsor is Sen. David Boswell, D-Owensboro. Its
supporters include the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.
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The legislation is Senate Bill 43.
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FIRE-SAFE CIGARETTES
A proposal requiring cigarette makers to sell only
self-extinguishing cigarettes in Kentucky won House passage Friday
on a 98-0 vote.
Before giving its approval, the House attached an amendment to
the bill. That means the proposal goes back to the Senate, which
will decide whether to accept the change.
The bill previously passed the Senate 36-0.
Safety advocates say the measure would reduce fires and
fire-related deaths because the cigarettes extinguish themselves
when left unattended.
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The legislation is Senate Bill 134.
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POWER PLANTS
The process for deciding where coal gasification plants can be
built would be streamlined under a bill that received final passage
by the Senate on Friday.
The bill had been modified slightly by the House. It allows
proposed coal or biomass gasification projects to skip a review by
a siting board, which looks at a plant's compatibility with the
area.
Such proposals would still receive local planning and zoning
approval.
Tom FitzGerald, head of the environmental advocacy group
Kentucky Resources Council, has called the legislation "a slap in
the face of local input."
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The legislation is Senate Bill 196.
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LIQUOR SALES
A bill to allow local-option votes on whether to permit
liquor-by-the-drink in restaurants in historic buildings won
approval from the Kentucky Senate on Friday.
To qualify, the restaurant would have to seat at least 50
people. Also, the building would have to be located in a commercial
historic district listed on the National Register of Historic
Places and would have to include lodging.
The measure, which passed the Senate on a 21-13 vote, would
allow a precinct vote on whether to permit liquor sales in such
restaurants.
Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, said restaurants that "offer a
little atmosphere" can stimulate downtowns by enticing other
businesses to open nearby.
Opponents included Sen. Vernie McGaha, who noted that school
groups visit such historic buildings.
"Now we're going to be exposing these children to the sale of
alcohol," said McGaha, R-Russell Springs. "I just think we're
going in the wrong direction."
The House, which previously passed the bill, will get it back to
consider changes made by the Senate.
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The legislation is House Bill 138.
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DRUG DRIVING
The Kentucky Senate on Friday revived a bill meant to make it
easier to convict people who drive while impaired by drugs.
The proposal passed the Senate previously but stalled in a House
committee. The Senate attached the provisions to another bill that
would ban devices that vaporize liquor, allowing consumers to get
drunk by inhaling intoxicating fumes.
Sen. Ray Jones, D-Pikeville, urged his colleagues to revive his
proposal, which would create a presumption of guilt if motorists
are found with illegal drugs in their system. He said the proposal
seeks to crack down on an "epidemic" of drug-influenced motorists
who put other drivers at risk.
The bill now returns to the House, which will decide whether to
accept the Senate changes. The original parts of the bill would ban
people from selling or owning an alcohol vaporizer device.
Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Also under the bill, any bars, retailers or wholesalers caught
selling the device would have their liquor licenses suspended.
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The vaporizer legislation is House Bill 125. The anti-drug
driving legislation is Senate Bill 67.
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SPORTS ELIGIBILITY
A plan that would seek to end the debate over stricter sports
eligibility rules for pupils who switch from public to private
schools cleared the state Senate Friday.
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association had been
considering a plan to create a "feeder system" for high school
athletes based along geographical boundaries. Under that plan,
pupils who attended a private elementary school and then switched
to a public high school - or vice versa - would be ineligible to
play sports for one year.
Sen. Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville, said the KHSAA proposal
would be unfair for students who could be forced to sit out because
of the rule. Parents have the right to send their children to
religious or public schools and their children shouldn't be
penalized for changing educational systems.
Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park, said the KHSAA rule could
"stand in the way" of youngsters who want to play sports.
"I believe the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is a
little bit out of control with what they're trying to do here,"
Roeding said.
The athletics proposal had already been approved by the KHSAA's
18-member board, but was waiting on approval from the state school
board before it could be implemented.
Shaughnessy attached his proposal to block the KHSAA rule as an
amendment to another related education proposal. The Senate
approved the plan on a 32-0 vote and heads back to the House for
consideration.
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The legislation is House Bill 380.
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TAX INCENTIVES
The Senate approved a tax incentive package Friday aimed at
keeping Ford Motor Co. in Kentucky.
Jefferson County is home to two Ford manufacturing plants.
Kentucky lawmakers were seeking to offer tax incentives that would
keep the auto giant there in future years.
The proposal would offer tax incentives for the company to
retool its operations and retrain local employees to work there.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher, in his State of the Commonwealth speech,
had asked lawmakers to approve about $10 million in Ford
incentives.
The proposal cleared the Senate on a 36-0 vote and heads back to
the House for consideration.
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The legislation is House Bill 536.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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